Thursday, March 10, 2005

Heads and Hair

Continuing on the 'controversial issues' kick I am apparently on lately, let's talk about 1 Cor 11:2-16. As always, I issue the following disclaimers: I do not know everything and don't claim to; this is NOT an exhaustive treatment of the topic at hand; and I totally understand (especially on this issue) that everyone's in a different place or may have a differing interpretation. (Imagine that was said VERY QUICKLY by the guy who used to do the UPS (?) commercials in the 80s. If you're too young to know what I am talking about, don't let me know.)

First, our text on this fine day:

1 Cor 11:2-16 NASB
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

I first examined this passage about three years ago. Before that time, if I had read it at all, I skimmed it, thinking, "that has nothing to do with me." About three years ago, though, I read it again--and this time I knew that it had at least something to do with me. It's in there for a reason.

I'll start by commenting on the text briefly, and then addressing some common arguments. As usual, I'll give you the bottom line right away. ;-)

After reading this passage myriad times and pondering (seemingly) every conceivable interpretation, my husband and I came to the conclusion that I should cover my head in the assembly of believers, and particularly where there might be praying or prophesying going on (I'll try to comment later on the practicalities of this).

Paul gives several reasons why women should cover their heads:
1. Headship. Man is the head of woman as Christ is the head of the church.
2. Covering glory of man before God. The woman is the glory of man, and her hair is her glory--covering the hair/head hits two birds with one stone. You'll see that the angels do something similar in God's presence in Isaiah 6:1-2. I admit, this is deep stuff, but we shouldn't let that make us give up trying to understand what's being said and commanded here.
3. Creation order. Woman was created for man's sake.

Do you notice anything about the reasons Paul gives? I do--they are universal and time-transcending. Nothing has changed regarding any of those reasons, which is why I reject the argument that this passage is cultural and has no practical modern application. Paul was perfectly capable of telling the Corinthian believers, "Hey, since your town does things this way, let's not offend anyone...keep their custom even though you're free in Christ not to." Nope. He is issuing a command based on things that do not change. Not only that, but he stresses that this is the way things are done in all the churches.

In the course of doing my research on this topic, I took a gander at what the early church fathers had to say about this. One of the primary interpretations I encountered is that the "covering" spoken of throughout the passage is supposed to mean a woman's long hair. Now, I do agree that a woman should have long hair if she can, but that is not the covering being described here. In fact, the Greek katakalupto, used in most of the verses for various forms of "to cover," is not even the same word as is used when Paul says a woman's hair is "given to her as a covering" at the end of the passage. That word is peribolaion, and Paul is using the woman's hair as a natural example of the covering required by God in His presence.

But back to the early church fathers. When I was examining the issue, trying to determine whether Paul meant a veil or hair, it occurred to me that if this was truly a Christian custom in the first centuries, the leaders would have surely mentioned it. Well, they did. You can read some of the early church fathers' commentary here.

"Around the year 200, at Carthage, North Africa, Tertullian wrote a tract entitled, The Veiling of Virgins. Tertullian makes the argument that the passage applies to all females of age—not just to married women. Of course, Tertullian’s personal view is of little concern to us. But what is so valuable about this work of his is that he discusses the practices of different church in various parts of the world. Here are some key excerpts from his work:

'I also admonish you second group of women, who are married, not to outgrow the discipline of the veil. Not even for a moment of an hour. Because you can't avoid wearing a veil, you should not find some other way to nullify it. That is, by going about neither covered nor bare. For some women do not veil their heads, but rather bind them up with turbans and woollen bands. It's true that they are protected in front. But where the head properly lies, they are bare.' (snip)

Clement of Alexandria, an elder writing from Egypt around the year 190, counseled: 'Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.' [Clement, The Instructor 3.12]"

Do we have to dress like first-century Christians? I don't think so. But there is ample evidence that the first Christian women DID veil their heads.

Bruce Terry provides some wonderful scholarship and insight in his work:

Five Myths about Corinthian Headwear
and
Aspects of Culture at Corinth

So, what does that mean for the modern church?

1. No, it doesn't mean--to anyone I've ever met--that you aren't saved if you don't practice this.
2. This is a New Testament, apostolic command. Why don't we obey it? Just consider: could it be because of Western pop culture, vanity, fashion, and feminism? Ask your grandmother whether women used to wear hats to church. Yep, they did. When did it stop? Depending on where you live, anywhere from the 1950s-60s (I'd love a correction from anyone old enough to know for sure). Anyway, it was still a tradition up until very recent times. I don't know if people knew why they were doing it, but the tradition came from this passage.

Unfortunately, the plain facts are that every Christian isn't going to see this passage this way--and I don't think that's the end of the world. I think anytime we disregard a command of God (or explain it away, etc), we miss out on tremendous blessing. It is freedom, not bondage, to obey God.

Sometimes people bring up things like "Greet one another with a holy kiss" and point out that no one does that in Western culture. As my pastor says, if a man came up to give him a holy kiss, he'd feel a little uncomfortable! :-) But I don't see that as having any bearing on this command. In my view, God wants us to greet each other warmly, as family in Christ should. I don't think, though, that the headcovering passage has the same cultural flexibility, if you will, because the reasons for doing it are clearly stated.

So, do I veil? Well, I have some veils from Jerusalem that I love (by the way, headcovering for women is still an Orthodox Jewish practice...hmmmm). I don't wear those to church, though, because it'd stick out like a sore thumb! I am the only woman in my church who holds this belief. So I wear hats every week; that's my "cultural accomodation." If it was good enough for ladies for hundreds of years, it's good enough for me. Truthfully, I see the veil as even more Biblical and love wearing them and thinking of the old paths:

Jer 6:16
Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.

I actually don't talk about this that much. I wanted to share it with you guys, though. No one at my church (with the exception of my husband and two approving brothers) really knows why I am wearing hats when I am there--I don't want to stir up controversy in my local assembly.

Mrs. Jennifer P. and Molly have both blogged about this before. I am slow...sorry!

I reserve the right to come back and add things I forgot! :)

61 comments:

Rachel said...

Is -- is it really working? Has blogger really put down the crack pipe long enough to let me comment on this post? Wow.

(for those of you just joining us, today has not been exactly a banner day for blogger.)

I'm going to be brutally (to myself) honest here and say that this is one area where I pretty much know that God says one thing and yet I do another.

Um, ouch.

I have long hair. I am bringing up C with long hair. I do think that it's important to look feminine, and for men to look masculine. And really, in my heart of hearts, I think it's probably right for women to have their heads covered in the congregation. Our house church (should just start abbreviating that OHC; I talk about it often enough) was a place where most of the women covered their heads, and I did too, generally with a little lace mantilla thing that the hostess provided a basketful of by the door, although I thought that was totally, um, ugly. And I used to have a lot of hats. But now I find that hats don't suit me as well as they used to. So I wimp out and just go without. Not that a nice hat goes too well with a sweater and jeans, which is what I generally wear to church on Sundays nowadays.

It doesn't help that this isn't an area where T is terribly convicted either way.

I am totally rambling here, sorry. But dangit, Kristen, would you STOP with the posts that sound like I used to sound back when I was a more on-fire believer? Ouch! the conviction, it hurts!

Kristen said...

Ooh Rachel, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!! :-p

I appreciate what you are saying--and let me hasten to add that I cover because Ryan says it's okay. If he had a major problem with it and I'd be in rebellion to him if I did it...well, I just don't see that as being in line with one of the main thrusts of the passage: headship order. If Ryan is my head, and he doesn't see the scripture that way, how can I best honor him and obey him as unto the Lord?

I know others feel differently about that, but that's how I see it. I spent a LONG time (too long) obsessing over the issue.

I think your honesty is AWESOME.

Brian Burkett said...

Kristen,

I've checked your blog out from time to time, and I have to say that this post really floored me...

Not in a bad way at all though... I am actually really impressed by your desire to follow God and conform to His will. I don't know that I agree with you completely, and I'm not about to demand that my wife, or any of the rest of my congregants, follow suit on this one.

Still, you have some really cool thoughts. I think I may have to make a link to this post on my own blog in the next day or two, if you don't mind.

God bless!

Brian Burkett

Kristen said...

Brian--thanks! I appreciate that you found it at least thought-provoking.

I am certainly not trying to tell you how to pastor your congregation! :) I can only imagine what it would be like to be a pastor trying to bring this up to a whole church...it's definitely something to be led by the Spirit about. Of course, I'd still argue that the Bible says what it says... ;-)

You're perfectly welcome to link to the post, and to come back anytime. (Now did that sound Southern or what?)

molly said...

Hey, I can post at long last!

(I actually posted earlier, but it ate my post...hopefully that won't happen this time...maybe I'll keep it short...if such a thing is even possible)...

Kristen,
As you already know, I'm more in agreement with you than not. It's VERY difficult to do a sound exegesis on 1 Cor. 11 and then go off on "cultural reasons why this doesn't apply," becuase Paul is not making his primary appeal to cultural ANYthing, but to representing a theological truth: ie, husband and wife being representatives (expressions) of the relationship between God and Christ (who submitted to His Father on the earth, right?) and then the relationship mankind has with Christ (supposed to submit to Christ, right?). And it's not even so much for OUR sakes that women are to cover--again, can't say "it's just cultural!"--becuase Paul clearly says it's for the sake of the angels! Woah...

Just a really interesting passage, no matter which way you look at it...as is the history behind it (meaning, Christian women covering has been the norm until this century in modern countries, basically)...

And all this commentary coming from a woman who doesn't even cover her head! :o) As Kristen said, it makes no sense to cover if you're doing so in rebellion to your husband! Mine isn't opposed to the idea...but as has been shared, has a lot of questions about the women issue in general (good ones, too) and so prefers me to not cover until (and/or if) he comes to some sort of position on the issue as a whole.

With Love from...
A very covered uncovered gal,
Molly
:o)

Wes said...

This passage of Scripture had confused me up until recently. I had thought it was just a 'culture thing', but I have realized most (if not all) Scripture in the Bible is about eternal things, even if it does seem to be a 'culture thing'. My grandmother has actually shown me some pictures from decades ago with the ladies in church wearing hats. I've seen one woman my age wearing a hat at church within the last few months, and I was going to encourage her to continue it, but never got the chance (haven't seen her since).

I just wish women would stop cutting their hair so short, because pretty soon I'm going to have to shave mine for there to be any difference! I've also become aware that I take my hat off without knowing it when I'm studying the Scriptures and praying, or even when I'm discussing Scripture with someone (prophesying?).

Jenna said...

Hi Kristen! :o )

Isn't it just funny, how things work out? :o ) I am the only lady in our congregation that covers her head. As a norm, I don't wear hats, just because we have flat-floor seating and it gets hard for some folks to see around my headwear. lol So, I just pin my hair up and then wear a kerchief.

I, actually, haven't even seen other women wearing any type of hat in church. Wait, there are little girls in bonnets at Easter time. I guess that counts, kinda.

Our pastor has taught that headcovering is simply cultural though, and I am sure that that influences a lot of women. *laughs* Just not me. I'm one stubborn ewe. I think that the more that we talk about it though, the more it brings up other subjects that many people have not seriously considered, because they wrote it off as no longer being of relevance.

Woo! Sorry about the mouth. It ran away with me. Probably all of those pent up frustrations over the 'comments' glitch earlier. lol

Kristen said...

Here are Amy's comments she has not been able to leave ALL DAY! She e-mailed them to me.

"To Cover or not cover, that is the question…

I want to preface this whole comment by assuring my friends and family that I have not gone off the deep end. I am still the same Amy you all know and love. My six-month stint here in liberal California has not backfired with me turning Amish in response to all the Godlessness.

However…. (Clear throat, swallow, and make note to brace myself)

A kind woman wrote a lovely letter to me the other week asking me why I don’t cover my head. I think my post on Rockin’ Ryan inspired her question, but it’s a subject I’ve pondered significantly in the past and managed to brush aside.

Several years ago, I posed the 1 Cor. 11:3-10 passage to my husband. I asked him to exegete the passage for me not only because he is my “head”, but also because he has a fancy seminary degree from RTS. I thought he should know something. So, he read John Piper’s paper on the matter, and said, “This is what I think too.”

Now, my husband is a wise man. He said that if my conscience was telling me that I should cover my head after careful study of the passage, then to not cover it would be sin. (Since whatever is not of faith is sin—see Romans 14.)

The problem I’m having with the cultural explanation of Paul’s instruction to cover is that a plain reading of the passage would lead you to believe that he just means that you should just, duh, cover your head. I cannot think of another New Testament passage that we slough off as cultural. Can anyone help me here?

(The only example I can think of is the use of grape juice instead of wine during the Lord’s Supper. Now, I personally believe that you should use real wine when remembering the Lord’s Supper, and, for what it’s worth, you should remember it often. However, we modern Christians haven’t just ditched the Lord’s Supper like we do the head covering…)

My second dilemma with the Corinthian passage is that I don’t buy the explanation that a woman’s hair is her covering. A plain reading states that a woman should just cut off her hair (and I don’t want to do that!) if she doesn’t cover her head. From verse 6: If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off.

To my defense on not covering my head, I believe I’d cause quite a bit of worshippers to gawk and stare, prohibiting the real business of the corporate worship of God. Perhaps women covering their heads is common where you live, but I only see women covering their heads at the beach (but not much else) where I’m from. Not that public humiliation is a reason to disobey Scripture, but shouldn’t one consider the greater good in this instance? (Probably not…) Does the desire not to cause a spectacle during public worship trump Paul’s seemingly explicit admonition to cover?"

Kristen said...

And in response, I e-mailed Amy the following:

"Sounds like several of us have been in the same boat.

I just wondered when reading your comment--I don't think people would think it's that weird if you wore a hat to church. You know? I mean, I am the only one here who does, but no one really thinks anything of it. It doesn't have to be a BIG OL MAMA. Would your dh care if you did that?

Anyway, I know where you are coming from...I don't think it would cause nearly the stir you think it would, though."

Kristen said...

Oops, here's the rest of Amy's comment that I left out. I am a geek!

"In conclusion, if you cover your head, I understand, admire, and respect you for that. To the rest of us, given the plain reading of Scripture, I believe the burden is upon our shoulders to explain clearly why we don’t.

For now, I don’t know that I’ve made myself clear or coherent, but I hope that in our debating and pondering we will learn the mind of God on the matter. This is my prayer, and no, I didn’t cover my head when I said it."

molly the great said...

And there's where I get to weeny out...because while I do feel it's MORE than likely that the covering is for today...my man has asked me to wait.

I'll admit, there is a (big huge vain) part of me that is glad he's asked that. When I mentioned I was studying 1 Cor. 11 to the gals at my church about 4 years back, there was a HUGE surge of the grumps that came my way...laughing, mocking, rude comments, angry accusations, you name it. I was totally floored! I can't imagine what I'd have to face if I actually DID it...

So the part of me that wants to "please people" doesn't mind a bit that I still look mostly normal... (Notice I said *look*, not *am*--snickerguffawSNORTchucklewheeze...)

Rachel said...

(takes a deep breath and starts planning a hat shopping trip)

Jenna said...

Hey, no bones about it, it can be awkward when covering at first. When my hair was real long, I had a hard time putting it up in a bun because the weight of it hurt my head, so I wore veils. They were nothing too fancy, just simple things that I had gotten over the internet (because I stink at sewing). I've had little kids refer to me as a nun, and their mamas just look at me like they are intimidated. Teenage girls giggle, and boys are just confused why I don't take my hat off in church like they do. *laughs*

Personally, because I believe in having long hair, it is actually more of a distraction to not cover my hair than the distraction caused because I've got my kerchief on. For some reason, folks seem to get used to the kerchief a lot faster, and it becomes just my same boring ole thing. My hair, however, has earned me the gaping looks and completely flattering comments of so many older ladies that it is almost worth the covering, just to keep myself from blushing all the time. I blame it on my dad, being that I got my curly hair from him. Older women seem to appreciate it so much more than girls my age.

Anyway, regardless of how pretty we think our hair is, what do y'all think would be more in-line with the desires of God? Would He want us to put off what He says is His will, because someone might look at us funny or mock us? I don't know about y'all, but I get that every day anyway. I guess that the long and short of it is, that if a person is going to be momentarily distracted in church, maybe it should be with a show of obedience instead of rebellion. Eh?

Oh, and I hear ya, Mol. *laughs* My husband has had some opinions of his own about how I clothe myself and the things that I do with my days. There have been times when I have found myself relieved when he has taken a few steps back to think on things. In the end, I'm glad that he took the time that he needed to get his thoughts in order, for when we came to any agreement, at least we could support each other in the face of opposition or downright ridicule.

*looks around sheepishly* Baaa! Ran off with the blog again! *blushes and runs out*

JP Manzi said...

Hey Kristen,

I came across this study from someone theolgically I respect

http://www.rubelshelly.com/content.asp?CID=10502

I am disecting it now, love to hear your comments...

Lindsey said...

I just wanted to comment on not covering because it will be a distraction and cause a stir. I struggled with this when I first began to cover a couple years ago. I bought some of the D shaped veils, and other standoutish (is that a word?) covers, and I was never comfortable in them. For a while I just used bandanas and the little triangle ties that are semi-popular these days (you know, the kind the coordinate with an outfit). That helped me to not be feel so in-your-face about. The white lacey veil was just too much. Now, I primarily use a couple head band veils - they are kind of like the triangles, but they have encased elastic to go under your hair, in a more drapey material than cotton, and a more rounded triangle. I got them in Vietnam. They are really pretty and inconspicuous. So, you should just go to Vietnam and get one. :) Okay, since that's probably out of the question... What about a simple print scarf, or something that doesn't scream "headcover"? I've never had anyone in any church I've visited comment on my covering. Only those who knew already from me telling them said anything, they they were encouraging me to be obedient. No one else at my church covers. Okay, I've rambled enough and it's late so I don't know if I even made any sense. Time for bed.
Lindsey ^_^

Holly said...

Two teency weency questions and an observation..I've come very late to the party.

Observation first. If you have ratty, thin, brittle hair like mine, it most definitely cannot be referred to as your "glory." Must've been some other woman with better hair that scripture is talking about. No man has ever desired me because of my hair.

Question #1 - If your head is covered, but your heart is harboring iniquity of any size or shape...does it still matter if your head is covered?

Question #2 - If your head is covered, but you still are wearing jeans - are you in line with scripture?

Gotta be honest friends, I have NEVER considered whether I should do this or not. I have not even been prompted. I HAVE BEEN VERY WRONG ABOUT LOTS OF THINGS BEFORE, SO LIKELY AM AGAIN!!! (Smile.) I have considered myself covered by the blood of the Lamb, and proper before him by the state of my heart. Okay, I promise to reread the scriptures this weekend. :)

Jenna said...

Hey Holly, the heart is where it's at, so rock on! :o ) Whether it is a headcovering, modest dress, attending church, etc- they are all just simple outward manifestations of the inward condition. If a person has a bad attitude, no headcovering is going to "fix" that problem.

Amy said...

Holly,

It is true that the heart is what truly matters. But, your question is a smokescreen (I can say this, because it is the smokescreen that I use myself) for getting out of the plain teaching of Scripture.

I mean, if it's neither here nor there, why did God include it in Scripture's canon? And the NT, no less. Yo, doesn't He know about future Christians and all?

More importantly, if it's such a minor matter, why don't we just don the darn thing and get on with it?

Talk about heart problems. :)

I liken this issue to birth control. Hold on, everyone, I'm going to make the connection. Up until the last century, Christians all agreed that is was plain sin. All the sudden, we get enlighten in this century? Were was the Holy Spirit all this time?! Whenever we veer from our fathers in the faith, it should give us reason to pause. There is nothing new under the sun, ya know.

Maybe the reason I don't cover my head is because I'm still reeling from ditching the birth control. A head covering wouldn't stay on.

Signed,
The Devil's Advocate

Anonymous said...

Okay, has anyone read "The Pauline Doctrine of Male Headship; The Apostle vs. Biblical Feminists" by Rev. James Bordwine?
The word in verse 15 refers to a physical object that covers, and verse 15 identifies the physical covering as the hair. The fact that it is a different word than what is used in the rest of the passage emphasizes the idea that the "covering" mentioned everywhere else in the passage is referring to something OTHER than the physical covering. Looking at the use of the same word in other places in the Bible in this case in the OT septuigant the word is translated "unkempt" as in unseen to. Kind of like we use the phrase "I've got it covered!" So we have an attitude that shows in our appearance.
When I feel as though my husband has failed to lead in something, I say, "I feel uncovered." I certainly do not mean that I am naked, only that I am not being cared for, unkempt.

How does this fit into the discussion?

Now if we are saying that our church fathers always practiced this until just a 100 or so years ago, well that is reason to pause. Checking that one out.
Margaret in VA

Holly said...

Dear Devil's Advocate...(aka Amy, dahling!)

I was thinking along the same lines last night...good grief! Be gentle with me. I already have done away with birth control! Isn't that enough???? (I am kidding, for the humorless amongst us.)

Does anyone care to continue to explain to me why we would cover, if we are going to continue to wear braided hair or adornments or to not keep the Sabbath, or to wear men's apparel? The scripture seems plain on this to me as well.(Even if men wore robes in NT times.) I'm thinkin' we can't do only one, but must do all. I'm not being obstreperous here...I am truly wanting to know the reasoning, so help me out as to how you view these things.

As far as copping out because my husband gives me a reason to, I've never thought this was an option either. I've always felt that I alone stood responsible before God for MY own actions. In reverse, if my husband ASKED me to cover, and I did not, I would be in rebellion.

Thank you so much, Kristen, for being willing to talk about this and share what you have learned on your journey. It is an excellent thing to be in obedience to something God has called you to. Thanks for being patient with me, you all! kiss kiss smooch smooch!

Rachel said...

Holly, I've used that line of reasoning in the past, but I had to finally realize that logically and spiritually, it just doesn't stand. We will never be perfect, and if we wait to be obedient about one issue until we have cleared up a lot of similar ones, we'll just remain in disobedience till we die. The answer isn't to decide not to do something we may feel convicted about because we are still doing other things that may contradict it -- the answer is to clean up all of them.

Unless you're asking in a roundabout way why Kristen (or anyone else) might make a big deal out of headcovering while leaving alone topics like wearing jeans and makeup -- and I guess the answer to that would be that either she doesn't see Scripture as saying the other issues are on the same level as headcovering, or that at least those aren't specific areas where the Spirit has convicted her. I personally see a lot more room for interpretation in "let not your beauty be in braided hair but in a Godly spirit" (there's that Rachel paraphrase again) and in the issue of dressing like a man than in the issue of covering our heads, which is SO straightforward in the text. In using the culture card to get out of headcovering, you have to actually disobey what the text itself says. Whereas in the issue of wearing pants, there's much more room for cultural interpretation, IMO. Granted, if women had never started dressing like men, we'd all still be wearing skirts, but in the time we find ourselves today it is not considered exclusively masculine to wear pants, and we can still look feminine wearing them. I don't think (and correct me if I'm wrong) we're ever admonished specifically to wear certain types of garments, just to avoid dressing like men, but we ARE told in so many words that we should have our heads covered while praying and prophesying.

I think sometimes God -- not exactly tests us -- but it must be interesting to Him to see how we deal with areas of conviction in our lives. The Holy Spirit tells us that we should be doing things a certain way -- like, for years, I've been pretty much convinced that I should cover my head in church -- but do we ignore that conviction like I have for so long, or address it? And maybe He lays conviction on our hearts in some difficult areas, while he might leave other areas quiet, to let us learn for ourselves about obedience before he moves us on to the next issue in our lives.

I do not mean to sound combative, if I do; it can be so hard to show a friendly attitude in an online discussion. Just picture me smiling, speaking softly, and making eye contact, with my head tilted to the side in an open-to-discussion kind of way. ;)

Holly said...

Thank you Rachel. :) I in no way dishonor Kristen or anyone else who covers. Kristen is my friend, so I would never try to undermine her. That's why I put the kiss kiss smooch, smooch on the end of the last post. :) I greatly greatly honor the desire to be obedient to what the Lord has convicted of. I am only asking, because it is an open topic, and one I've wondered about...such as..."why do one thing, but not another." I'm pretty certain there are things I feel convicted against, that many people would not have trouble with at all. It is, however, how the Lord has convicted me and I am obedient as He does so. I agree with you...I think he convicts us in certain areas, we grow, he convicts again, we grow...:)

I am not questioning to cause trouble. I think it is good to know why we do things, to be able to explain. I love hearing how each of you lovely women search out how God would have you live and then obey! He is glorified thru that. This isn't an easy topic to talk about with people in real life...it is too easy to offend or feel judged. I am just loving learning from all of you, why you do what you do! :) You are correct, that the medium of print doesn't exactly convey the warmness with which a statement is made. Kiss, kiss, smooch, smooch, hug, hug.

jodi said...

Kristen,

I'll admit that when I first saw the topic of your post I sort of rolled my eyes. In my 24 years as a Christian, I've never known anyone who believed this aside from the Mennonites I worshipped with for a time while in College. In my contemporary circle of Christian friends and family, this type of practice is really unheard of.

So at first, I assumed you must come from a background so traditional that I wasn't even familiar with it (because I am pretty sure you aren't Amish or Mennonite). As I read your post in detail I was really struck by the clarity with which you were able to explain your (or, Paul's) position. I'm also just incredibly impressed that you stand by your belief and convictions regarding this teaching especially given that you do so more or less alone and not because it is expected in your tradition of worship.

The statement that caught my attention and turned my attitude from one of possible judgment (not of sin but of some form of legalism) to one of admiration and even challenge was this statement: "It is freedom, not bondage, to obey God." This statement caught my attention because I know from experience that it is true.

You have given me much to think about. I do not expect I will start covering my head, but I love it when I read something that makes me rethink why I believe what I believe, why others might make the choices that they make, and how we can love, accept, and learn from one another as God's children. After all, we're family for eternity!

molly said...

QUOTE:
"As far as copping out because my husband gives me a reason to, I've never thought this was an option either. I've always felt that I alone stood responsible before God for MY own actions. In reverse, if my husband ASKED me to cover, and I did not, I would be in rebellion. "


REPLY:

Well...we are to obey our husbands in everything 'as unto the Lord,' so I'm not sure it would be appropriate to decide to do something that will obviously "stand out" so much, without talking about it with our husband first.

...Especially when you consider that the whole idea of the headcovering is to allegorize how our husband is our 'covering' on earth, a figure/type/shadow of our True Covering Himself.

Seems like it would be rather out of place to *inform* my earthly head that I was now going to start covering out of respect to him and the Lord, whether he liked it or not! *big huge grin*


Btw, just finally peeped in again at the conversation---WOW. This is the NICEST conversation on headcoverings that I've EVER EVER EVER seen! I'm soooooo impressed with everybody!!! :o)

Anonymous said...

This is my first time reading your blog, I have been referred to you by other blogsters. I read and re-read this post and skimmed through some of the comments. There are many thoughts in my mind regarding this topic, but I will simply leave a question. In your opinion (And I only ask this because you seem well read on the subject) do you feel that if your husband doesn't want you to wear any sort of head-dress, are you committing a sin by obeying your husband even though the scriptures command that a woman do so? If you feel in your heart that your husband makes a bad choice for you, should you go against him and do what you think God would want? Or should you obey your husband at all costs?

molly said...

I'm not Kristen, but I'll tell you my opinion...

In the big matters, we obey God before we obey man. For example, if my husband tells me to murder, or commit adultery, then I *respectfully* refuse.


In the smaller things (the things that actually aren't *named-as-sins*, such as issues of birth control, head coverings, matters of personal conviction, etc, then (while my husband and I may discuss Scripture late into the night!), I think 1 Peter 3 paints a very clear picture about my duty as a wife. I am to obey him "even if he does not obey the Word," and to trust the Lord that He will work it out

I note that in 1 Peter 3, Peter assures these women to "be not afraid with any fear", that just as God worked it out in Sarah's case (when hubby told her to go join another man's harem), God got her out of it BEFORE any sin on her part was committed. So in the smaller matters (which are often the more difficult ones, to be honest!), we are counseled to OBEY our husbands, even if they are "obeying not the Word." Pretty strong stuff...yeah...but the issue is that in so doing, we are actually obeying GOD. It shows a beautiful picture to the world--a woman being a respectful loving helpmeet to a man who "doesn't deserve it." And Peter tells us that if there's any chance of that man becoming obedient, our silent obedience/reverence for him (DESPITE his wrong!) will be what God can use to wake him up.


That being said, I'm not sure my husband is in sin for asking me to hold off on the covering thing. He generally is very in tune with God's leading for our family, and I really trust him. So when he asked me to wait, though I struggled with it for a few months, I eventually took it as "from the Lord" and have really come to peace with it. I know that if God wanted me to cover, He could easily wake my husband up tonight in a dream and tell him so. :o) But...God hasn't. So...it's my job to simply trust.

Another passage that is really interesting (anyone have time to find the reference? I"m typing in a mad rush here! *grin*) is the OT one where a woman makes a vow to God...but her husband can break it if he feels the need, and if he does, then God says she needs to break it. The MAN will then be held accountable to God for whether or not he should or shouldn't have made her break the vow, NOT the wife. Again, showing that in a "spiritual matter of personal conviction," a husband has leadership over his wife. If he's wrong about his decisions, HE bears the blame for it, not her, though, so it's not like he has this easy task there! :o)

Ok, enough late night rambling!

Holly said...

I've been thinking about this alot, so here I am, back again.

Molly, as usual, you made your point well. I can buy that. (smile)

I am wanting ALL of you to know that I am NOT trying to offend you. I have no ulterior motives. I am really trying to sincerely understand what Kristen and the rest of you have been saying. I was raised to believe that this scripture IS cultural. My husband believes it is cultural. It seems such an external action, and I cannot find any other instances where God asks this of us. He tends to look straight at the heart.

If I have offended you, I humbly ask you to forgive me. What Kristen has shared is a very wonderful thing. She has searched the scriptures, wrestled with them, come to the conclusion that THIS is what God expects of her, then she has DONE it! (With her husband's approval, of course.) Obviously, she hasn't done it to be popular, if no one else in her congregation covers. She has obeyed, out of love!

Some things I wrestle with in regards to the big topic:
1)Some of you have said, "Yes, this is what we should do. But I don't do it." If you believe it to be what God wants, why don't you?
2)I am an all or nothing girl. If God convicts me of something, and I don't do it, it is sin for me. I have trouble seeing that this one command has MORE onus upon it for the believer than the other dictates regarding womanly dress. (long hair, braided hair, jewelry, etc.) I am truly intrigued by the idea that one can cover yet not do the other. If my heart is indeed prompted to cover, I'm guessing that I will feel it necessary to do ALL that is instructed.

Thanks for all the wonderful insight, everyone. It is a rare glimpse into a private topic.

molly schmolly said...

Holly,

It's clear from your posts and your tone of *typed-voice* that you are entirely too rebellious.






*wicked runny-nosed giggle*

Darting quickly away before Holly bops me on my uncovered head,
Mol

Rachel said...

Holly, I just want to make sure you knew that I didn't think you were trying to undermine Kristen, or to do anything with any sort of ulterior motive ;-), and I hope my reply didn't give you that impression. I apologize if it did.

Jenna said...

Without honest inquiries, all we'd ever do is pat each other on the back and say "good job". lol It's all the questions and wonderful conversation with other sisters that makes the discussions so enjoyable, whether we all come to the same conclusions or not. :o )

Oh, and I can definitely identify, Holly. I am an "all or nothing" girl also. Of course, that doesn't mean that I get stuff right. But, at least I try and find ways to please God. Sometimes it can be real awkward, sometimes even painful, but I've never been disappointed at all. Every time that the Lord has convicted my heart about something, and I have obeyed, I've been greatly blessed in one way or another.

.....folks still think I'm weird though.... *laughs*

Holly said...

Molly, you make me laugh. I can picture you doing just THAT! :) Poor thing. Here. Have a kleenex.

Rachel, no, don't worry. I just wanted to check and apologize if necessary. I have such a weird sense of humor...I can sound real sarcastic and snotty and not mean to.

And Mrs. Jennifer P, (may I call you Jenna?) Thanks for your sweetness. I appreciate it so much.

Kristen, Where on earth are you?

If anyone is interested...I blogged a few reasons why I think this is so intriguing to me.

Threefold Cord

Kristen said...

Sorry, I am back! :) We went away...again...this weekend and I've been indisposed (other than the five seconds it took to upload the BEAUTIFUL template Rachel made me).

I'll answer Holly first. Holly, I think Moll touched on this some, but the one or two scriptures we have on modest/feminine dress and apprearance is not as specific as what we have for headcovering. Sure, I think we should look feminine. I am not dresses only, as you know, but I just haven't blogged on the feminine dress topic (YET!). I am not ignoring those scriptures...but those scriptures simply do not teach what some say they do (here I am referring to people who say the scripture EXPLICITLY teaches that women should wear dresses. I don't believe that is true).

I gave my reasons in the post for why I don't think it's cultural. I went through a similar realization when I studied the Bible regarding the gifts of the Spirit; I'd been taught that they had ceased, but then found no Scriptural evidence that they had. Similarly, you may have been taught that this is a cultural matter, but Paul's telling you it's not.

Now, to everyone who wondered if I think husbands who don't agree about this should be ignored and overridden: NO. I don't. I agree with Molly's assessment of that.

Also, I don't think braided hair is forbidden. I think fancy hairstyles--a la rich Roman women, who had gold and jewels interwoven in their hair--are what is being discouraged. Now that has some interesting applications today, though I don't know that I could list them. Certainly something to seek the Spirit about.

I don't think Christian women should wear lots of jewels...but I also think what is being said in that passage is that that's not where our beauty should emanate from.

And listen...you ARE covered by the blood of Christ. Your sins and mine are covered because we follow Christ. What Paul is talking about is not covering sins, but covering glory before God for propriety in response to creation order and headship. It has nothing to do with your being forgiven from sins. :) See what I mean?

I love you, Holly, so much, and I think your sweet spirit is totally evident every time you post. Don't worry one minute about that. ((HUG))

Kristen said...

Jodi--you continue to amaze me with your openness to other brothers' and sisters' viewpoints. I am not used to reactions like yours. I feel like a broken record around here, but I really am not used to such great discussions. Not only are they CIVIL, they are loving and enjoyable. You guys have a love for the truth AND a love for other Christians that is such an example. I am glad that you, Jodi, and everyone else who posts here continue to come back and bless me with your insights and fellowship.

And Jodi, thanks for relating kind of a blow-by-blow of how you experienced the post. I am so thankful that you didn't just judge me, but looked at what I had to say. :) That means a lot. It's so funny, too, because I don't really have a "tradition of worship," if you know what I mean. I've always gone to non-denom churches. This conviction is definitely just from studying the Word and not from any observed or experienced traditions. :)

Anonymous: I hope that Molly and I answered your questions. I don't think a husband should be obeyed if he is asking his wife to sin against God. I don't necessarily think that headcovering falls under that umbrella. I read a book once that said that if your husband says get an abortion, go to do it and God will get you out of it somehow. I don't agree with that book. Please ask any more questions...and feel free to use your name! I don't bite! :)

Kristen said...

JP--I need some more time to read the article. I'll get to it. Thanks so much for posting the URL, bro.

iggy said...

Just a thought here.
If the covering is as Paul put it a "sign of authority on her head", wouldn't the ring a married woman be a sign in our culture. I think the main point is that a "married woman" show she is married and not eligable to be taken in marriage.
The verse "because of the angels" is a direct recall of the time of Noah and how the fallen angels lusted and took human wives. So if one reads this passage I think it is not about what to wear as it is more about giving the right signal that as a married women that she is married and has a husband. To respresent your self in a way not to cause other men to lust or desire you.
It is a sign of respect. In our culture it would be like a married woman removing her wedding ring before entering a church... very disrespectful to her husband... and to the unmarried men who may be looking for a wife.

Blessings,
iggy

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting topic. I have been wearing a head covering for about 5 years now, ever since I was married. At first it was easy, everyone at our church did (members must). Though I wore a little lacy thing because hats hurt my head, my husband didn't like most of the ones he saw (too big, showy, etc.). Now we go to a church where only about 6 out of 300 women wear them. Sometimes I feel weird because people stare when I put it on, but usually I forget about it when we get into worship (except when my son gets interested in it and tries to pull it off my head). Some people left our church and part of their complaint was that the preaching was attracting people like us. I wondered if I was a fungus or something. What is wrong with people like us who want to obey scripture as best we can. Anyway, my husband has done great study on this and continues to do so because he says if it is not a command and he can spare me the "embarrasment" he will, because it's a decision he makes as the head that affects my head the most:-). He did talk about this topic with one of his professors at RTS. As my feeble mind understands it, there is a word in the greek that can be translated one of two ways. One way supports a literal covering, the other way does not. So the theologians take their pick. When my husband said he thought the meaning of the word supported headcoverings his professor said something to the effect of "Ah-ha, then your wife would have to wear one!" Too which my husband replied, "She does." The professor then seemed at a loss for words. I know this post is going long, but the point of this little story is that it seems some people look at this issue and say "That can't be right because then we would have to do it."
Christ's love to all covered or not.
Leigh Ann

Leigh Ann said...

Sorry, that last long comment published twice. You can see that wearing a head covering doesn't automatically make one smarter;-).
Leigh Ann

Kristen said...

Iggy, you wrote, "I think the main point is that a 'married woman' show she is married and not eligable to be taken in marriage."

The problem I have with this interpretation is that it reads INTO the text instead of just accepting the reasons Paul did give. He could easily have explained that women need something on their persons to indicate they are not available for marriage. Aside from your interpretation of the angels phrase (one of the hardest parts of that passage to interpret, IMO), there is no indication that what you're saying is what Paul is talking about. Paul didn't issue the command without an explanation: he said the veil is to cover the woman's glory because of headship and creation order...not to show she's married.

Also, if you read the early church fathers' writings on this, there was speculation as to whether unmarried women should veil or not (because of the Greek gyne, which can just mean "woman" or can mean "wife." There were differing interpretations even then of the age at which women should veil, but not whether they should.

I've heard another plausible explanation about "because of the angels": we know from Isaiah 6 that the angels in God's presence cover parts of themselves while they worship Him. We know from 1 Pet 1:12 that angels long to look into the gospel ("It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look"). Perhaps the Lord desired a visible sign of obedience, humility, headship, and creation order to be displayed even to the angels. They understand authority and obedience. It's just a thought...that's a difficult part of the passage, IMO, but I don't really accept the argument that women should cover because the angels would lust after them otherwise. It just is too far away from the text's meaning.

Leigh Ann--thanks so much for your contribution! :) That is interesting about the Greek words. I see how someone who wants to interpret the covering as hair could, if they chose. But with the evidence so clearly on the side of veiling, I can't see it that way...I am with you and your dh. :)

Amy said...

Leigh Ann,

You. Crack. Me. Up. Anyway, are we neighbors? (My dh went to RTS-Orlando...just wondering where you are, if we know each other--probably not because the only time I've seen someone with a headcovering is when we visited Lancaster Amish country.) Anyway, drop me a line.

Sorry, for the hijack, people, but she doesn't have a website...

Amy said...

THIS
COMMENT
BOX
IS
POSSESSED.

Kristen said...

Ack! Help!! Is there someone skilled at exorcism of comment boxes?

Holly said...

Fine, fine, fine, well and dandy. But no one addressed my topic of "not glorious hair!"

:)

Holly

Kristen said...

Oh YEAH! I meant to do that.

In a nutshell, it doesn't matter. Again, Paul didn't say that you should cover your head because men will stumble if you don't. That would make it a modesty issue, which it's really not. (Granted, the early church fathers seemed to treat it at times as a modesty issue as well, but I'm willing to look at THAT as somewhat cultural since that reasoning is not in the Scripture.)

If you say your hair isn't your glory, well, that's arguing with God. It is because He says it is, not because you think it's not purdy enough to be called that. ;-) I bet your husband loves your hair.

Holly, I also want you to know that I really understand what a bomb this is when you first encounter it, particularly if (like me) you didn't know such a thing existed. Sure, I knew Amish ladies wore little caps, but I didn't know WHY! ((HUG))

Jenna said...

I struggled for many years, not feeling as though my hair was my "glory". From the time that children first started ridiculing me, I had hated my hair and thought that it was icky. So, I used to keep it cut real short.

After I had my last "my hair isn't a glory" haircut, I had to do a lot of thinking. For me, it seemed that the reason I didn't view my hair in the same light as God does is because I wasn't treating it as though it was a treasure. I was hating my hair, not nurturing it and caring for it like a special possession. As I began to change my mindset and allow my actions to match, my hair began to become a real treat for me. That doesn't mean that I don't have bad hair days, but it could definitely be worse. I'd much rather have fuzzy hair than to be bald.

Kristen said...

I wanted to mention, too, that of course there are exceptions to this "long hair" thing. There are women who have such brittle hair that it falls out before it can grow long. There are women who suffer baldness. There are women on chemo.

Are all these women out of the will of God because of these things? Of course not! But we don't disregard Scripture because of the exceptions. If I ever am numbered as one of the women mentioned above, I'll still cover my head as the Spirit leads. It's the principle and the heart that are important, not the technicalities. I hope that makes sense. :)

There are also practical situations that each woman (and her husband) must work out to the satisfaction of their own consciences. Is a home gathering of believers for a meal, for example, a situation where a woman should cover (there will be prayer before the meal, usually)? Honestly, I don't. I know Ryan doesn't prefer it. I've confined my covering to the "official" assembly meetings. But I totally see the gray area and offer this as an area where we must do as we feel the Spirit leading and as conscience directs. Some of my sisters solve the problem by covering all day, and that's what their husbands want...that's okay too! It is my belief that obedience to the Scripture is important, but there may be varying ways that it plays out in our lives, depending on the will of husbands, etc. :)

jodi said...

Hi again.

You said: Sure, I knew Amish ladies wore little caps, but I didn't know WHY!

Funny because I had that same thought after pondering this topic further. I had never thought to ask why Amish or Mennonite women covered their heads. I just assumed it was a modesty issue. So if nothing else, I am grateful for this scripture to have even been brought to my attention.

Another further thought I had as I pondered this over the past several days... I have mentioned before that I do not live my life with a separation between so-called secular and sacred elements. So I don't see church as any more "holy" a place than my bedroom, bathroom, car, etc (esp. since our church meets in the dollar theatre! LOL). Is the scripture surrounding this issue specific to the "gathering of believers"? Or is it regarding public life? To me anytime two or more are gather in His name, He is there. Would all of those situations require covering?

Just curious. Once I got thinking about it, I got to wondering.

My final thought to share is just listening to some of you nit-pick about what exactly means what does sometimes seem reminiscent of the judaizers in Jesus' time, and Jesus made it quite clear what he thought of them arguing day and night about the "fine points of the law".

Not to say the discussion hasn't been clothed in love - amazingly it has! But it does still sound sometimes like legalism, and I still "react" to that in a way that leads me to question if it is the kind of focus Christ would want us to have as we seek to serve Him wholeheartedly...

Just thinking out loud here. Thoughts? Follow-up?

BTW, Kristen, I need to write a follow-up to the faith and entertainment stuff. I will soon. I'm not quite done processing it all with God and Steve. ;-)

Kristen said...

Jodi, I'll answer your questions in order.

1. An EXCELLENT question, and why I posted the addendum comment right above yours. I honestly don't see anywhere that Paul specifies that this is only for church. I do what I do because it is a way for me to somehow obey this scripture AND Ryan. :) Even the early church fathers didn't think it necessary for a woman to cover in her home, so...I don't know. I think that however a woman chooses to obey this is dandy. If someone asked me about it, I'd tell them what I do and why, and urge them to seek the Lord.

2. The Judaizers were telling people to obey the Law in order to be saved. I see no correllation between this discussion (in which people are trying to apply a New Testament command) and the Judaizers' seeking to bring people under the Law for salvation's sake. Honestly, I don't. Remember what I wrote that stood out to you? "It is freedom, not bondage, to obey God." I am not shackled by my attempts to obey this scripture. I am not weighed down with any condemnation when I am not praying with my head covered (I do not cover in private prayer).

I think there IS danger when extra-Biblical rules are presented as Law. But this discussion, founded on the application of an apostolic command for New Covenant believers, is not extra-Biblical. Talking about how no one should dance, however, would be. It IS seeking Christ whole-heartedly to strive to follow His commands--He said that if we LOVE Him, we will obey His commands. Does that make sense? :)

jodi said...

Good responses. Excellent food for thought.

I agree that obedience demonstrates our love to Him, but it seems more complicated than that. It seems like what we are called to is constant, daily surrendering to Him and not solely demonstrating obedience to what is written verbatim in scripture. By that I mean that our relationship in Christ is *more* than just doing certain things and not doing others. (I'm sure you don't disagree, I'm just thinking out loud again. ;-)) I guess this attitude or approach has led me to live more "off the cuff" than scripture-bound. On one hand, that has felt "right" for quite awhile now, but on the other hand, I find your arguments compelling, and at the same time, having finally engaged in the practice of true scripture study, I am finding the Word to be so life-giving and life-changing.

I will say this much, keep blogging. I think God is really challenging me through your posts!! You know how you read something and don't think anything of it, but then God just keeps bringing you back to it again and again...? Yeah, it's something like that. ;-)

Kristen said...

((JODI)) :)

You're right; I agree. Of course I would never advocate "demonstrating obedience"...kinda sounds like you're thinking of 'obedience' that is born out of some kind of rote obligation. I am talking about obedience born solely out of love and gratitude to Jesus. I think that's part of why He linked the two ('if you love Me, you will obey My commandments'). They're inextricably intertwined. :)

I REALLY LIKE what you said about "constant, daily surrender" to Him. Truly, that is what is required. And truly, as you said later, the Word is life-giving and life-changing. That is not at odds with obeying the Word, being "scripture-bound."

Shouldn't we, really, be scripture-'bound', in a way? We are slaves to righteousness now. It's a freeing slavery, not slavery to death, as we had when we were in our sins.

Christy said...

I'm so sorry that I came in so late...now I'll be at the bottom LOL!! I've been covering for 6 years now. This was a decision my dh and I made together after LOTS of prayer and study...after all we knew NO ONE who did this. We had seen a woman, non mennonite or amish, covering her head, and this is what sparked our research...we had just embarked on a house cleansing/soul cleansing/get closer to God through the Word type journey then. We wanted to know the truth: was this cultural for the day? Was it for today? If so, we would gladly do it...God had brought us through so many hard trials...this would be one way to show Him, and others, our love for Him.

For Today?
----------
We prayed this, literally...and these scriptures were brought to us as we continued to study and read:
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God...to them that are sanctified in Christ...called to be saints...with ALL that in EVERY PLACE CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD..." I Cor.1:1-2
*sounded like us for sure...and it seemed to be the only "timeless" greeting we had seen to date in the Epistles...and it was to the Corinthians, the ones he was talking to about the covering...

*someone had just told us when you study the Bible you have to look at verses this way...how do they relate to the
1.verses that surround them
2.chapter they are in
3.book they are in
4.testament they are in (Old or New)
5.Bible as a whole
what ever verse you are studying, make sure that all these things agree. No verse is an island :0)

"ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" IITimothy 3:16

Ok, so God does not put anything idly in His Word. What is there, He means to be there. We have to believe that God will not let His word be corrupted, or changed in a way that does not meet His will. The Word is our Rock!

"No flesh should glory in {God's} presence" I Cor. 1:29

If the hair is the woman's glory (I Cor.11:7) then it made sense that when we came before the Lord, I should cover my glory, my hair. Rob is in the image of God, so the same passage seemed to say just as strongly that he should be uncovered in the presence of God (ie worship, prayer)...

I was a decided anti-hat/anti-long hair type person, this was hard for me...wear something on my head for the rest of my life?? It was going to have to be thoroughly researched...so to the greek we went to find out what covering meant for real...(english has many fewer words to describe than greek...had to be some clarity there)

I Cor. 11:3 talks about man being woman's head, and Christ being man's head...easy enough...
vs 4, if he covers his head, he is dishonoring Jesus Christ, man's authority...ok...
vs. 5 ok, this cover is different...in the greek it is "katakalupto" or "cloth, veil, covering" a physical thing...if she does not have a katakalupto, she is dishonoring her head, or her husband (back to vs. 3)
back to vs 7...woman is the image and glory of man...ICor. 1:29 "no flesh should glory before the Lord"...

ok, so that was pretty easy...I was all set to cover then with something physical...when I hit I Cor 11:15:
"for her hair is given her for a covering..." wait a minute! Didn't Paul just spend 14 verses talking about a physical thing, after a spiritual thing...now is he just throwing it out? I went back to the greek...

in vs. 15, this covering was a different word again...this time "peribolian" a verb...meaning TO COVER, or the act of covering...now this was interesting...I plugged it in:

"but if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her, for her hair is given her {to be covered}
I Cor. 1:29 no flesh should glory before the Lord...I Cor. 11:15 hair is a glory to her...given to be covered...woman is glory of man...no flesh should glory before the Lord...man is woman's head...it just started to fit together...

so we decided to do it...give it a try for a while and see with Prayer what God wanted for us. We were getting rid of old things in our life, and were having spiritual problems due to our past involvement with sorcery...all that started disappearing and did not come back, since we covered (I Cor. 11:10). After covering a while, I tried praying without the veil, cause I was not really convinced (had been getting pressure from you know...stares, and questions I could not answer yet) of the covering for 100%...and I remember feeling my hair cascading around my face, feeling so feminine (hair had grown out), yet...feeling like I was like naked in front of my Dad or something...I know it sounds funny...that's what kept going through my mind..."youre naked in front of your Father..." I think it was a spiritual analogy... and I felt ashamed without really knowing why...I prayed about it a lot, and then put the veil back on...and immediately felt that God was approving...He wanted me to do this...the feeling was so strong that I never went back to prayer uncovered.

Now I think that there are many uncovered women who will go to heaven...its not a salvation issue...its simply a matter of heart...IF God brings it to you...and asks you to do it, then will you? If God did not bring it in your life time, whatever it is, covering or otherwise, then you won't be held accountable for it. But if He did/does...

"to him who knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" James 4:17

Whatever we are asked by God to do, we should do because we love God and want to, not because we think any THING will save us. Christ's gift of life to us was free (all we have to do is accept it, and then follow Him).

If you wear a covering, but you are really in rebellion to God or husband...what good it it?
Its like being an unbeliever, and getting baptised...its of no effect or benefit...unless your heart is right.

Its an act of love as well as for our protection, even though we cannot understand everything about the head covering yet.

I felt pretty strongly, after trying out different styles, that one does not want to wear a covering that makes her unapproachable by others...same goes for dress...so I picked a veil that is a simple square for that reason. K has hats, and I saw someone here who wears a kercheif...I agree with their stand on why. Our mission here is to witness and harvest the field for Christ. We can't do that unless we are able to talk to others. But we should also be able to do what God wants for us to do as well...I think that's why the Bible is not detailed on type of covering or dress...God knew that times would change...but there would always be ways to obey.

There have been lots of stares yes...but also many many more blessings...people have come up to me and asked for prayer for them, or people they knew...and I didn't know these people personally at all...sometimes the only witness for Christ we have is how we look to others...the veil for us, has been a handy tool to show the spiritual state of our family...

I think the veil/covering covers a woman so that other men do not look at her lustfully, too. Men are very visual, and a woman who has hair/body covered modestly is not a hinderance/temptation to other men. I do not wear wedding rings personally by choice (another story of prayer/research on the origin of the rings) but no man has ever approached me thinking that I am not married. Maybe the I Cor. 11:10 thing has something to do with that...who knows? I also do not invite men's glances by meeting their eye unnecessarilly as well. There are a lot more reasons than lack of rings why a man feels he can approach a married woman...know what I mean?

ok, so that is my journey with the covering to this date...hope it was not confusing ( I have 5 little children around me doing all sorts of things right now...hope my thoughts came out straight)

Thanks Kristen for letting me post this! This discussion has been really great...I've read all the comments and have been really blessed.

Kristen said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Christy. :)

Jenna said...

As far as the 'when' of covering, that seems to be up to person conviction. It does seem clear that we are supposed to cover during our church gatherings. Some women are devoted so deeply to covering during prayer that they wear a covering all of the time, since we are to "pray without ceasing". To my understanding, this is why the Amish and Mennonites wear their coverings with such frequency.

I, personally, am a lot more loose with it. Some days I feel compelled to cover, and I spend more time in prayer than other days. Some days I don't wear a covering, but it sure doesn't stop me from praying if my heart is touched by someone's need, or my own thankfulness. I've just decided to not let the covering distract me from what is really important, which is that I pray. So, if I'm sitting in the car and we drive by a wreck, my first reaction is definitely not to reach for a covering. I don't think that God cares a wit about whether my head is covered when I am suddenly struck with the urge to pray for people who could be hurt or dying.

On the other hand, I don't see there as being anything wrong with ladies who choose to cover all of the time. If they feel convicted to cover full-time, then that is what they should do. It is right for them to do this, if God is moving them in that direction.

:o )

Kristen said...

Jenna, I completely agree with you.

JP Manzi said...

Hey Kristen, do you have enough comments yet? Geez girl, trying to hit the 3 digit plateau?

Jeannine said...

If been following this really interesting discussion for a while now and finally decided to put in my share. This is one of the verses I've always pushed aside, but everytime I read it there is like a little voice calling me to really think about it. There is freedom in obeying God's word, I absolutely agree. Like the verses about wives submitting to their husbands, so many women I know have a problem with that. I just believe that this order God establihed gives us so much freedom after we really understood what it means. But that's not the topic here...
I saw a documentary about Amish people once and they expressly said that the covering they wear shows their submission to their husbands and to God. (Pushed the thought away though again...)
So, does the covering only apply to married women or also to singles (like me)?

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,
You and Orthodox Jewish women are not the only women who wear head coverings. :) Many women in the Messianic Judaism(Jewish and Gentile) wear head coverings; married and unmarried. I believe it applies to married and unmarried women.
HaShem(The Name) love you through His Son Yeshua(Jesus),
Erik

Kristen said...

JP--LOL! Now you know why so many of the comments are mine! ;-)

Jeannine--I can only urge you to seek the Lord (sounds like HE's already speaking to YOU, from what I can tell). :) You read above that gyne can mean woman or wife. The early church fathers weren't even sure: some said women should be covered from puberty, others said only wives. I think that in Jewish tradition, women cover after marrying. I would absolutely tell you to do as the Spirit leads you! You are SO right about obedience bringing freedom in Christ! And that, by the way, is not off-topic at all. And I bookmarked your blog.

Erik--thanks so much for pointing that out. You're absolutely right, and I have known several Messianic sisters who cover.

Lindsey said...

Jeannine,
I believe that these verses are refering to all women, regardless of marital status. I am 24 and single, and have been covering during public worship for about 2 1/2 years. I am the only women in my church who covers. For me, it reminds me that I am to submit to God. Covering is something I came to accept after a couple years of wrestling with it. Finally, God made it so clear to me that I had to obey. Whether married or single, I think this really needs to be a conviction from the heart, and not something you do out of pride or thinking that it gains you "points" with God - it doesn't. I encourage you to seek the Lord about this, first, before you go looking up various people's opinions (no offense, Kristen). I say this because you can get caught up in what other people are doing, whether you know them in person or via the internet, and you think you have a conviction, but really you are just going with the crowd. Something that stands out as much as a covering really needs to be your own belief and conviction. (I know, everything we do should be our own conviction) Dig into the word, and pray, asking God for wisdom. Do not be swayed by the opinions of people, but by the heart of God.

Blessings,
Lindsey ^_^

Kristen said...

No, Lindsey, I agree with you. That's why I told Jeannine to seek God. I'm sorry if I sounded like I don't think unmarried women should cover; I didn't mean that at all.

Thanks for the wise words (re: gathering the opinions of others). Yes, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, but I think we must rightly divide the Word ourselves first and foremost. Not that you're not doing that, Jeannine...Lindsey just makes a good point.

I used to subscribe to lots of e-mail lists that consisted solely of a group of women who mostly talked about modesty and headcovering. It was exciting at times, but ultimately most of the fruit was not that good. I think that was due in part to everyone seeking one another before God (and their husbands, in that particular case).

I pray, for all of us who blog and who read blogs, that the Lord will help us to listen for His voice (and not drown it out with others'). We can dialogue and fellowship--it's not wrong!--but if we are ignoring God, it becomes wrong.

Coffee and a Muffin said...

Phew! I finally read this post and all the comments! Great discussion everyone! Kristen, you rock, Girl! ((hug))

Boy, am I a rebel! For the last year I've been using a Robocut to cut my own hair. It's easier to cut it shorter with the thing, and at one point I had cut it really short! I was in a hurry and was slack in setting the length. So I've been living with shorter hair ever since. But I am trying to patiently wait for it to grow out with intermittent cutting to keep it in shape. I've really struggled with the whole long hair thing since getting older. It's thinner and just looks awful when long. So I've been cutting it shorter. So not only am I not covering, I'm not letting my hair grow long. I may just have to give up the Robocut haircutting (on me) and go back to getting it professionally trimmed so I can grow it out. It takes FOREVER for my hair to grow these days.

Kristen, I went and re-read the passage again and am curious about when we're to wear the covering. It says when praying or prophesying. Do you sense this passage is referencing public prayer and prophesying? (Well, obviously prophesying should be public or it's not of much use to anyone.) Should we cover for private prayer, that is, time specifically set aside for prayer (not on-the-fly prayer)?

Also, why do many Jewish Christian men wear a covering (yarmulka) when worshipping if men are to be uncovered? Isn't it disobedience also, for men?

Kim the Head Rebel

Kristen said...

((Kim)), first of all, I do NOT think you're a rebel. :) God brings up different things to us at different times.

Second of all, give me a minute to LOL! ROBOCUT!! That is hilarious!! ;-)

Okay, now down to beeswax. Women have differing convictions on when to cover, to be honest with you. The teachers I trust the most that I think are on target about this say that it's talking about the assembly. TO BE VERY HONEST WITH YOU, I don't really see where it specifies that. It says "praying or prophesying." Now, perhaps where they're coming from is exactly what you mentioned--that prophecy is something that happens when believers are gathered, so the whole context is assembly. I can buy that. But I have Christian sisters I respect very much who cover either full time or in private and public prayer.

The only thing I can tell you with confidence is that I do think this passage is telling Christian women to cover their heads, and I would encourage you just to seek the Lord with your husband about how you interpret that.

Regarding men covering at all for prayer: I think the Scripture is incredibly clear there. If they understand theh Scripture and do it anyway, yes, it's disobedience. If they are ignorant of the Scripture, a loving brother or sister should point out their error to them.

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