I remember in my teen and young adult years attending special church or city Christian events, and many times there were a few women who really stuck out in the crowd. They always wore very modest dresses and these “things” on their heads. I now believe these were most likely Mennonite women who wore prayer bonnets. I remember thinking I was glad I didn’t have to dress like that and feeling almost embarrassed on their behalf because they looked so different and “out of touch” with the times. I imagined what a drag it must have been to be brought up in their denomination. And on I went with my life giving VERY little thought of why these women dressed as they did.
Quantum leap 20 years ahead……I have gotten married, and God is teaching my husband and me so many truths in His word and is growing us by leaps and bounds (all thanks be to God). We have moved to Texas and are thriving living in community with like-minded Christian folks. God has begun teaching me about modesty as a Christian woman in dress and manner. Then the “H”-bomb was dropped.
Some earnest members of our little church community started studying the subject of women and head coverings in the Bible, particularly 1 Cor. 11, and other historical documents. Dave read a bunch of materials and then requested that I read and study them myself. “No problem, Honey! I’ll get right on it”. Laaaaa, deee, daaa, dum, deee, dum (scccrrreeeeeeeeecchhh). That was the sound of my flesh screaming NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, NOT MY HAIR!!!!
When I saw vs. 15 “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”, I thought, “Yes! No sweat, I can grow my hair long as the covering”. I was home free and my flesh relaxed. But after REALLY studying the chapter and reading other historical materials, it became very clear to me that God has provided an example in nature (long hair) to show that a woman’s head is to be veiled, and the long hair is not the veil itself.
A few other verses that proved to me the case for the head covering were:
vs. 6: “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”. It seems to me a woman’s covering here cannot mean her hair because this verse says that if she’s not covered she is being so disrespectful she may as well be shaven or shorn which was a sign of extreme shame back then. If the hair was meant to be the covering here the verse would make no sense, but if taken to mean an example of a covering over the hair it makes perfect sense.
vs. 7: “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.” This verse talks about a man not covering his head. Well, if people’s assumption is that a woman’s covering is her hair, then to be consistent they would be required to assume no covering on a man means he should shave his head. So you would think we would be seeing a lot more heads of professing Christian men shaved. It appears to me this passage means actual head covering and not just hair.
vs. 14-15: “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”. If a man grows his hair long it looks feminine and womanish which is not natural or proper according to this verse. But a covering in nature (long hair) on a woman does look appropriately feminine and womanish. It seems to me God is graciously putting up a neon sign in nature saying that women’s heads should be covered and men’s heads should not.
Lastly, I did consider the argument used by so many professing Christians today that this teaching from Paul only applied to Christians in Corinth at that time. When I thought of the principles behind the requirement to wear a head covering, it is clear to me that they are timeless principles and make just as much sense today as they did back in those times. In my opinion the only reason it is not subscribed to today is because it is WE who have changed, not God or His requirements or principles. And that is no excuse in God’s eyes.
Dave never commanded me to wear a head covering. He only requested that I wear one during family prayer and public worship. I absolutely submitted to him in that, at a minimum, because I am required to (that blog post is forthcoming, Lord willing); but also because I agreed it was my responsibility as set forth in 1 Cor 11. As for anything further than that, he simply asked me to study and ask for God to reveal His will to me. Well, at first I did only wear a covering (a bandanna in my case) during the family prayer and public worship times. But as I studied it further and understood the principles of “why” God instructs women to do this, I realized I should have it on pretty much all the time I’m in public or in any kind of prayer before God. All throughout the day I find myself praying things as they come to mind, and it would be silly to constantly be taking the head covering on and off. Also, I realized, AGAIN, that it’s not about me, it is part of putting and holding down my vain nature; and it contributes to the image of modesty I am instructed to put forth. Lastly, it is good for me to have a constant reminder of the role God has given me as a submitted, obedient Christian woman.
My prayer, since God began to open my eyes to His truths, has been for Him to grant me continued wisdom, understanding, repentance and obedience in all matters. Reluctantly, this was one of those times where it was too late to turn back once my eyes had been opened. There was no returning without my conscience convicting me. I believe that if one studies 1 Cor. 11 honestly, he or she can come to no other conclusion than that Christian women are to cover their heads. In a nutshell, I believe the head covering is a symbol to your husband, God and the heavenly realms that you are in obedience and submission to God and husband and their authority; it represents a covering or authority over you, and by not wearing one a woman is disrespecting God and her husband. (This applies to single women as well).
This was a rubber hitting the road point in my life. It is a subject that has obviously been cast aside and marginalized by 99% of professing Christianity, so I had a big question to ask myself: do I make current culture and society my compass, or God’s eternal Word and the principles behind it? Well, my conscience answered that question right quick; but my carnal man roared like a lion because I couldn’t show off my mane anymore!! Good grief, when it actually came down to putting on the head covering every day, I practically had to have a funeral to memorialize my hairstyle and all the cute ways to wear my hair. I had no idea how vain I was with my hair until I had to cover it. (That was another part of my journey into modesty).
I am not a Mennonite, nor do I subscribe to all of their theology; however, I now look back on those women and greatly appreciate that their desire to obey and honor God and their husbands in their lives superseded their desire to look cool for a fleeting time here on earth. It grieves me that I have spent so many years plainly dishonoring God in so many areas in my life, including this one, and thank God for dropping those scales from my eyes to show me how He wants me to live for Him. And I can’t stress enough the importance of learning the principles and purposes behind all of these commands that appear to be legalistic in the world’s eyes. What a blessing to live a life of increasing obedience to my God and husband. I have never desired to be called a “peculiar” person, but now I consider it an honor. (Deut 14:2; Deut 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9)
I could go on and on about the proof and reasons I believe for wearing a head covering, but I won’t. If you are interested in looking into this issue for yourself, here are a few modern-day resources I have found to be very helpful:
Headcoverings Required: the Biblical basis for a neglected practice by Steve Richardson (audio sermon)
Should Christian Women Wear Head Coverings Today? by Robert Spinney
Head Coverings in Public Worship by Brian Schwertley
Reasons for Head Covering by Troy Dukes
My prayer for those God has brought to this blog is for Him to draw them to Himself and lead them on a journey into all truth which will bring glory to Him, and that is what it is all about.