WOMEN WEARING HEAD COVERINGS

It is very difficult to discuss this topic without sounding like an archaic weirdo or a "male chauvinist pig." This is a conviction that my wife came to first, and I came to agree after studying it with her. Following is a brief summary of the results of that study:

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is the primary passage in the Bible that discusses head coverings:

"Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."
(1 Corinthians 11:2-16, KJV, emphasis mine)

The passage is straightforward in its assertions: women should cover their heads, men should not. This is attributed to the fundamental flow of authority in Creation:

GOD is the head of CHRIST who is the head of MAN who is the head of WOMAN.

This perspective is consistent with other passages which teach that submission is rooted not in cultural conditions, but in the very order of God's creation (1 Timothy 2:11-15). It is important to emphasize here, in today's equality-oriented society, that there is no indication that such ordering is belittling or demeaning. The existence of different roles does not suggest greater or lesser importance or human worth.

"But aren't head coverings archaic and outdated? Didn't they only apply to people a long time ago?"

This is the primary objection that is made in regard to head coverings. Many argue that head coverings were merely an outward cultural sign of the inherent Biblical chain of authority, and that they are not applicable in our culture today. It is further argued that the two other New Testament passages that address the issue of women's dress in the context of submission to male authority (1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 1 Peter 3:1-6) do not mention head coverings. The conclusions of this line of reasoning is that head coverings were a practice that God had never commanded, but which had grown to be a part of many cultures to distinguish men and women and display the more humble and subordinate role of women.

Though I understand this line of reasoning, and appreciate it's possible merits, I find it inconclusive at best. First of all, we should always be very wary about arguing away clearly-stated words of scripture as relative or figurative. This is how many groups have done away with large portions of the Bible, all to satisfy their own preconceived opinions and morals.

Also, the passage cited does not trace head coverings to cultural roots, but rather to creation and the nature of authority.

As for cultural relevance, consider the following question:

Does a fish know it's wet?

Does a fish, who lives all of it's life submerged in water even know what "dryness" is? What about us? We live our lives in a society that, in our lifetimes, has never known head coverings, never practiced head coverings, and even largely disregarded the Biblical ideas of authority. In this context, we are told that head coverings are old-fashioned and of course they don't apply to us today. This brings to mind 2 Corinthians 10:12 which states, "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (KJV).

Yes, it is true that society has changed. Yes, it is true that society has moved away from head coverings. But SHOULD it have? Culture has moved in many other ways that are certainly not right! How can we be so sure that this isn't one of them?

This brief summary would become quite lengthy if I even tried to summarize the historical evidence that proves that head coverings were practiced for hundreds and hundreds of years following Christ. For my purposes, I will let that statement stand as observable fact. In light of this fact, the key question is when and why did this ever change? The answer lies in the humanistic disintegration of God's chain of command, and, consequently, the Biblical family. We live in an authority-starved society that God never intended, and whose results have been devastating to society, the family, and the church.

In the end, I respect the convictions of those who believe that head coverings are outdated, and do not apply to us today, but my family and I are not convinced. Some teachings in the Bible are difficult and hard to understand (like the Trinity, the need for God to sacrifice His Son, and head coverings, among others). I would rather trust God and obey a difficult teaching as it is plainly worded, rather than rationalize it away through my own limited cultural world view, and run the risk of being wrong.

Please accept this as a brief summary of why my family practices head coverings, and not a blanket condemnation of those who do not. In terms of Prefer, Perish, or Preach, this is not a "perish" level item. In fact, it is not even something I actively preach. None of the churches I have served in have ever practiced head coverings. I know too many leaders in the church that I greatly respect who do not share my family's conviction on this point for me to feel comfortable being very dogmatic about this point. So here I place my passive apology (in the apologetics sense of the word "apology") and would be happy to discuss this topic further with anyone who cares to ask.

May God bless you with wisdom and discernment as you further study this and other difficult teachings.

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