Posted by: Heather | October 28, 2008

Head coverings – dare I go there?

Heather and I have been discussing (and it has come out on a few of our friends blogs in the comment sections) the subject of head coverings. Let me say in advance that this is just my opinion.

The only place I have found head coverings to be discussed in Scripture is in 1Cor 11.

1Co 11:1 Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.
1Co 11:2 Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.
1Co 11:3 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.
1Co 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.
1Co 11:5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.
1Co 11:6 For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.
1Co 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
1Co 11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man:
1Co 11:9 for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man:
1Co 11:10 for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.
1Co 11:11 Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord.
1Co 11:12 For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God.
1Co 11:13 Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?
1Co 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him?
1Co 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
1Co 11:16 But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
1Co 11:17 But in giving you this charge, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better but for the worse.
1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it.

I won’t attempt to say that I have the answer about this. Let me just say I have some thoughts. First, this appears to be about being under authority. (verse 3 speaks of headship – Christ over man, man over woman, God over Christ) Not about value or worth, about position. Then it goes directly into illustrating how head covering is a symbol of being under authority. Many say this is a cultural thing. They may be correct. I would tend to think so. However, later in verse 10 it talks about women having their heads covered for the sake of the angels, and then verses 14 and 15 talk about how in nature man has short hair and woman has long hair.

My simple understanding of this is that man and woman have differences that are evident since the beginning of time. They also have different roles that God has ordained for them to fill. The visible differences are a reminder of the different roles. In our current culture, there has been a move to blur both the visible differences and the different roles. I think this may have been the case in Corinth, too. If we look at the broader context, it seems that Paul is repeatedly telling the church at Corinth to look to God for their personal identities, and live life accordingly and with appropriate humility. It seems to have the overall idea of submitting to God by being in one’s proper place.

  • Chapter 7 talks about living life where God has placed you.
  • Chapter 8 talks about protecting our brother’s conscience by not offending him in what we do.
  • Chapter 9 talks about how Paul could expect them to pay him, but did not require it (for their sake -humility).
  • Chapter 10 speaks of honoring one another in what they eat and drink.
  • Chapter 11 talks about taking ones proper place in family life and not being involved in divisions.
  • Chapter 12 speaks of how we all serve different functions, (eyes, nose, mouth, various gifts that come from God, not from our own ambitions)
  • Chapter 13 speaks of the posture our hearts are to have.
  • Chapter 14 talks about gifting again, but focused on the edification of the body, not of ourselves.
  • And in Chapter 15 he redirects our hope in Christ and his work for us rather than in our own flesh.

Having said this, I think it is rather interesting how we tend to take chapter 11 and only look at whether or not a woman has to wear a beanie or handkerchief and then stop there. Some say it is cultural and move on. However, even if it is cultural, (and I believe it is) there is a direct application to our day. That application is this. God has ordained that men look like men and women look like women. He has also ordained that men are to act like men and women are to act like women. We are not to dress (or act) provocatively, and we are not to blur the lines between masculinity and femininity. Each culture has their own way of doing this. In North Idaho it looks one way, in Brazil it looks another. If we keep in mind that we are to protect each other’s consciences, and have proper humility one to another, and then dress appropriately . . then BINGO . . YOU GOT IT!!

So that’s my take on head coverings. So, I don’t require Heather to wear a head covering, but she needs to look feminine and lady like. (she has no problem doing this, in 16 years of marriage, I have not had to say a word about this) However, since a head covering is a sign of submission in a Mennonite church, if we were to visit one, I would suggest she and our girls wear head coverings in deference to those who are there. Make sense?

What do you think?




  1. That’s pretty much where I finally landed. Thanks for chatting about this with me. 😀I do feel a key to understanding the entire book is reading through glasses that say: “my new freedom in Christ and my duty of love to other members of the body”. The process of shedding of the “old” life in favor of the “new”, so to speak. The Corinthians apparently still had one foot in both lives in many areas. Their spiritually directed consciences needed a jump-start, so Paul was giving them a nudge. In many ways, I think our modern church needs this sort of boot in the patoot. We can so easily let the culture define what we are about, or be “churchy” on Sunday but look like the world the rest of the week. Eventually, the careless attitude can invade our fellowship gatherings. I believe the underlying principle of Paul’s instruction transcends the culture. So in my opinion, it is worthwhile to examine carefully what Paul is saying. Guess that’s why I’m such a pain about this subject. (Thinking there MUST be something that applies to us today–even if it doesn’t mean we all need to swath ourselves in sheets and wear hats. If there isn’t something that I need to be applying now, then at least I can KNOW because I actually looked. ) Sometimes it can just take a while to sort through all the info in order to recognize the essence of the instructions. Bouncing the ideas off other peoples heads is one way I learn. Thanks for being a good sport! 🙂

  2. I read through this quickly this morning and ended up late for work. I will have to read it again before I can comment on your comments. Sounds good though! I really don’t have time to keep digging up these hard subjects, so thanks for taking this one! 🙂

  3. I did not remember that this was in scripture until I came upon it a couple of weeks ago during my devotion. It kind of kept nagging at me so I finally asked your brother and he said you had a great blog on it and to look it up, so here I am. I guess I don’t really know where I stand yet. I’m not about to cut my husband’s hair, well, mostly because he looks great and I asked him to do it! HA! HA! But, well, the honoring thing in verse 14 is important to me. I also question where it talks about nature. To me, that would mean let it grow and don’t cut it like other cultures do. I guess my conclusion would be that it all stems from your motivation. If you want to look like a woman, it’s wrong. If it is something God is talking to you about or is getting in the way of your relationship, or so you can look a certain way (like to be ina a gang or something like that) it’s wrong. But if it’s motivation is pure, I think it’s ok.

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