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Why Christian Women Cover Their Hair. - Comments (9)

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Author: John Malone
Date: 10th January, 2014 @ 11:52:49 AM

Ok, generally speaking, Christian women no longer cover their hair in Christian gatherings. That’s been something that’s developed over the course of my lifetime, or a significant part of it.

When I was a boy, attending Roman Catholic school, the Catholic women and girls around me all covered their hair “in church.” Sometimes it was embarrassing: they’d use bobbie pins to place tissue on their heads if they had no veil.

On Sundays, I’d wander down the street a ways to discover the large black Baptist congregations dressed in their Sunday best (black people seemed to dress much nicer than we did for church), and every single woman wore a hat of some sort, as did some of the men. The women left those hats on in church, the men removed theirs. As it turns out, we went to church because it was “a Sunday obligation,” while these folks seemed to enjoy it and spent much of the day together, “in church.” Later I discovered they even attended on Saturday nights, too! But that is another story, an interesting one.

Almost every time you watch a “period” movie, set some time in the past, you will see church scenes with woman nearly always wearing hats, bonnets, veils: always having their hair covered.

We have therefore seen a nearly universal practice, women covering their hair in churches, completely effaced over the course of, say, the past 50 years or so. In fact, the practice has gone so unpracticed, that when my own wife wore a covering over her hair in the church we attended almost 30 years ago, she was the ONLY woman in the church so doing.

What happened? Well, in my opinion, the truth behind the practice got lost. This is what happens when traditions are practiced without faith. And, as we know, {faith comes only one way|Rom 10:17}, and that is by hearing God’s word. The sequence seems to be this: truth is learned, truth held becomes faith, faith becomes practice, truth is generationally lost, practice continues, practice is questioned, faith behind the practice is gone, the practice is terminated.

So maybe the question of why did women USED to wear head coverings in church is a better question to address. And, parenthetically perhaps, why men DON’T cover their heads.

Because the practice stems from Scripture, it’s probably a good place to start. The practice is taught by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, the first part of Chapter 11:

Chapter 11
1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
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.
4. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head:for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
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.
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.
8. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.–
9. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13. Judge in yourselves:is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14. Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15. But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her:for her hair is given her for a covering.
16. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

The first and obvious observation is that the apostle is reflecting on something commendable by these Corinthians in that they did keep the “ordinances” he delivered to them. We discover just a little later in this letter that they did not necessarily keep these ordinances well, for one of the principal ones he gave them had to do with the Lord’s supper, and that while they were practicing it, they were doing a lousy job of it. So this is the beginning of a section on ordinances, and first up is this ordinance of a woman’s head covering.

The problem of recalcitrant women is not new. In fact, as Solomon wrote, there is nothing new under the sun. Even the Gentiles knew about this woman problem, and the Book (Megillat) of Esther demonstrates this problem was well understood when Vashti refused to come at the command of Astyages. Those Medes and Persians knew that if the King’s wife was not submissive to him, every woman in the kingdom would break out against her husband. It was Memucan who pointed this out, and advised the king to act. The result was Cyrus, an Artaxerxes of Peria, and a Jew, because son of a Jewess.

So there is this long-standing problem of submission by women to the authority of their husbands, and there’s not much sense asking the women how they feel about it, especially in our society today, where they have been completely deceived about their own well-being, as their arch-enemy Satan has ever done.

Into this problem, Paul explains the symbology of the woman’s head covering, and why it is to be practiced in every church, even though is hardly today practiced in any of them. I suppose that means the praiseworthiness of the this very troubled church is largely unmatched today by the best of churches. Sad story.

It’s interesting to me that this ordinance covers both men and women, that women ought to be covered, but men uncovered. I have not seen much trouble with men covering their heads in church, but I’ve seen a few problems. I’ve seen a preacher who insisted on wearing a cowboy hat when he spoke. We had an older fellow in our church who was asked to remove his cap in a church meeting and refused. He turned out to be a heretic (schismatic person) in the most clear definition of that term.

A man can get arrested for wearing a hat in our country’s court rooms if he insists. But there is no doubt that women’s practice of this ordinance is the one most contested.

The central issues about this ordinance are “headship” and “glory.” One old man taught me years ago that “authority is the central issue in the universe.” I can see that more clearly now that I’m an old man.

Verse 3 (above) begins the meat of the Apostle’s reasoning in this matter. It’s about “headship” and authority. The head of every man is Christ. He is the Chief Cornerstone, the Lord from heaven, the first among unequals. The rest of us are {“all brethren,”|Mat 23:8-9} even the sisters. And the head of the woman is the man. This is the divine order.

In verse 11, the apostle points out an invisible reality. Angels attend the gatherings of true churches, {just as Peter intimates|1Pe 1:12} from his observation about the ancient Ark of the Covenant, where two angels were depicted looking into the coffin-shaped ark: a representation of the Lord Jesus Himself.

And who is it that gets glory and honor? That’s the big question. The apostle states that if a man prays or prophesies with his head covered, he dishonors his head: Christ. If a woman prays or prophesies uncovered, she shames her head. That is, she shames her husband.

We now learn, in verse 7, that the man is the image and glory of God. The woman is the glory of the man. This goes back to the creation account. God is father. God is male. The {exact representation of His being is Jesus Christ|Col 1:13-15}. A man. This should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Today, it needs to be said.

In the creation account, we learn that the woman was taken out of the man, made for the man, and placed under his authority. This is God’s intention, his perfect plan, and the order of the universe. When I counsel with men and women who seek marriage, I point out to this woman that she is placing herself under this fellow’s authority, warts and all. I have not found one yet who wants to call it off because of this principle, just as I rarely find one already married who doesn’t rankle under that authority.

Now, to say whose glory is represented by man and woman is not to say that one stands better or even without the other. Every man has a mother. In the Lord they are different, but equals. Not equals in authority, but in standing. God took away the Court of Women, just as he demolished the Court of the Gentiles, when He allowed for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Christian women have a dignified place not found anywhere else in history. Still.

It is not about favoritism by God that puts man in Authority over the woman but it is about design. This is how the creation is to run for a time. I am convinced that in the coming age, this order will change. There will be no marriage arrangement in the coming age, when we enjoy glorified bodies. In that aspect, we will be like the holy angels, with no sexual identity to fulfill. But for now, God’s glory is at stake when it comes to the submissive expression of women, and the expression of headship by men.

The practice has far greater impact than the visibility here below. For this reason, verse 10 stands out strikingly. A woman should have a symbol of authority on her head because of the angels looking on. Christian gatherings are elevated into the heavens as a spectacle for angels. For 4,000 years, angels beheld the rebellion of man. Then they saw the defeat of Satan at the cross of Christ. After that they witnessed the salvation of God going out to the Gentiles, the temporary and partial blindness of the nation of Israel, the destruction of the Temple, and God taking up a new people that are a new creation, neither Jew nor Gentile. God wants to put this new creation on display in heaven and earth. It brings him glory. Part of what brings him glory is the order therein displayed, where men and women show their rightful place in the new creation.

Well, one might say, “Hey, today women in general are not at all in authority to their husbands.” Exactly. And they do not cover their heads. One might say the practice today is fitting, but still wrong. The covering of a woman’s head in Christian gatherings is one of four symbols in the Scriptures for Christians to practice today, together with water baptism, the loaf, and the cup. Just four. Not crosses, fishes, bracelets, or collection plates. None of those are Bible-based symbols. So of course they are practiced! And the four symbols? They are either not on display, as is the case with the head covering, and often the case with immersion in water of the believer, or are distorted beyond recognition, as is often the case of the single loaf and single cup of the Lord’s supper.

The teaching of the practice of the woman’s head covering is further brought to a close by the Apostle with the discussion of propriety and glory. The Scripture points out it is a shame for a man to wear long hair. Despite so much practice to the contrary, especially about 40 years ago in the USA, it remains a shame. Yet, long hair on a woman brings her attention: glory.

Indeed, a woman’s hair IS her glory. They don’t look good when they go “butch.” The shaving of a woman’s head historically marked her as a prostitute. If you’d like further evidence that a woman’s hair is her glory, just go price some haircuts between men and women. The statement is so obvious, Paul can reference that “nature” teaches us this. For those who deny what is evident in nature, God has little to say. He calls such people fools.

So the order becomes this: a woman covers her glory (her hair). She, being the glory of the man, by so covering does not put her head to shame (her husband), and therefore the man is now unashamedly capable of showing forth the glory of Christ by NOT covering his head. Because his head is Christ Himself. So, the glory of Christ goes uncovered, being seen in the congregation of the believers. By men and angels.

I must say that it’s pretty instructive to see women refuse to attend our gatherings because we teach and practice this ordinance in our church. I do not remember this ever being a conversation in my youth, but maybe the girls and women always hated wearing hats, veils and scarves and I was out of the loop. I don’t actually think that was going on, but Paul’s final words on the subject anticipate that it will.

The apostle warns at the end of the section that if anyone wants to be contentious about the subject in any church anywhere, at any time, we have either no practice of such contentiousness, or no other practice besides the head covering. In our own church, we do not take any measures to enforce the practice – we teach it and do not allow contention about it – but we don’t enforce water immersion or the Lord’s supper either.

We merely practice them. As should all the churches of God.

Pingback by Covering the Web: Feb 21/14 | The Head Covering Movement » 21st February, 2014 @ 05:04:13 AM

[…] Why Christian Women Cover Their Hair. ( “We have therefore seen a nearly universal practice, women covering their hair in churches, completely effaced over the course of, say, the past 50 years or so. In fact, the practice has gone so unpracticed, that when my own wife wore a covering over her hair in the church we attended almost 30 years ago, she was the ONLY woman in the church so doing.” […]

Comment by Devlin Idell » 20th August, 2014 @ 07:23:16 AM

As a word of precaution, there are those that take this further when it comes to head covering. The results can be lesser or much severe. This puts women at risk and again under authority. I have no qualms against those that want to practice this in a church. But I will say this though, God gave each one of us ‘Free Will’ and to convey that every church should practice what you do will not bring others to you but rather drive them away. I say this also to those who are the Muslim faith.

Comment by John Malone » 25th August, 2014 @ 08:09:22 AM

Muslims do not practice a head covering.

Fifty years ago, nearly every church in America practiced the women’s head covering. To make the comparisons to Islam is to miss the point entirely. The Bible itself conveys to the churches what they should practice, and the ordinances are very few: the Lord’s supper, the head covering, and baptism. The practice is found clearly in the Scriptures. What does that have to do with “free will?”

If you will not cover your glory when meeting in the church, you simply shame your head: your husband, and in his stead, your father.

Comment by Kristen Dugas » 9th September, 2014 @ 02:08:59 PM

You said, “We now learn, in verse 7, that the man is the image and glory of God.” That is incorrect. The Bible is clear that Jesus Christ is the image and glory of God. (See below.)

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4: 3-4 NASB)

“He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1: 15 NASB)

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God (Christ) has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb (Christ). (Revelation 21: 23 NASB)

So male and female are both CREATED IN God’s image (Genesis 1: 27) but Jesus Christ alone IS the very image and glory of God.

So Paul, in verse 7, is referring to a man’s FIGURATIVE head, Christ. And he is doing so because he is using Jesus Christ as a correlation as to why women should NOT be veiled because a faction of men wrote to him (vss. 4-6) who wanted women to be veiled while praying and prophesying. So 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 consists of three parts. They are as follows:

Verse 3 – Paul’s model.
Verses 4-6 – Paul quotes a faction of men from Corinth who wrote him.
Verses 7-16 – Paul’s rebuttal where he refers back to his model.

It is also important to know that the men made a LITERAL head argument. They are saying 4″Every man who has anything down over his head (L) while praying or prophesying disgraces his head (L). 5But every woman who has her head (L) unveiled while praying or prophesying disgraces her head (L).” We know this because they compare it to having been shaved. A woman whose head is shaved disgraces her OWN LITERAL head, not her husband. So they are also making the point that a woman who prays or prophesies unveiled disgraces her own literal head. Because the men have made a literal head argument, Paul gives his model with the figurative meaning of head (“head” means “source” in the Greek when used figuratively) so that he can refer back to it when he gives his rebuttal.

It is also important to know that the translators have added words in the rebuttal portion, that are not in the original Greek, in an attempt to harmonize it with the quoted portion. However, no words need to be added because Paul is refuting their words.

Comment by John Malone » 13th September, 2014 @ 06:57:06 PM

I’ve read this post several times, and can’t make any sense of it.

Jesus is a man, not a woman. God looks like a man. First piece of poetry on Scripture, Gen 1:27: “In the image of God created He him, male and female created he them.” That does NOT say woman is the image of God, because, well, she isn’t.

Women should cover their glory in the churches, and should not be teaching, being easily deceived.

The context of the head covering is clear. The teaching of the head covering is clear, and this post by this woman is a mess.

Comment by Kristen Dugas » 14th September, 2014 @ 09:37:20 AM

You can’t make any sense of it? Maybe the following will help.

3″But I want you to understand that Christ is the head [source] of every man, and the man is the head [source] of a woman, and God is the head [source] of Christ [incarnate].”

4″Every man who has anything down over his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his [own] head. 5But every woman who has her head unveiled while praying or prophesying disgraces her [own] head; for it is one and the same thing as having been shaved. 6For if a woman is not veiled, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, let her be veiled.”

7″For a man indeed ought not to veil his head [Christ], since He is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man [so she ought not to be veiled either]. 8For man is not of woman, but woman of man; 9for indeed, man was not created because of the woman, but woman because of the man [because of his need for her]. 10For this reason the woman ought to have authority over her head [the man], because of our Messengers [Elohim; plural of majesty]. 11However, in the Lord, [we do not rule over one another because] neither is woman without man, nor is man without woman. 12For as the woman is from the man, so also the man through the woman, and all things from God [so give Him the glory and let neither one boast]. 13Judge for yourselves that it is proper for a woman to pray to God unveiled. 14For not even nature itself teaches you that if a man has long hair it is a dishonor to him, 15but if a woman has long hair it is a glory to her, because the long hair has been given [to us all] instead of a covering. 16But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice [of requiring women to veil their heads], nor have the people of God.”

Furthermore, my previous post is not a mess. You just have a hard heart towards women and do not want to see the truth. No where did I say Jesus was a woman. I said that the Bible clearly teaches us that Jesus Christ is the image and glory of God, not man. Maybe you don’t think there is a difference between BEING the image of God and being CREATED IN the image of God but there surely is a difference. Jesus Christ was not CREATED IN the image of God, He IS the image of God. He is God in human flesh. Likewise, male and female are not THE image of God, we are CREATED IN God’s image. So, as I stated above, Paul is referring to a man’s figurative head, Christ, in verse 7. He is refuting the men who wrote to him. Furthermore, if you are trying to say that women are not created in the image of God, then you certainly are in the minority. The Bible is clear that women are created in the image of God just as men are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1: 27) I would give you more information about the correct way to interpret this passage but I don’t want to confuse you since you have trouble understanding simple sentences. [Self promotion removed] I can see that you are a contentious man, who will not even acknowledge Jesus Christ as the image and glory of God, so there is no use arguing with you.

Comment by John Malone » 16th September, 2014 @ 01:25:40 AM

Well, you’re certainly are arrogant about your ignorance!

Eve was NOT created in the image of God. Adam was. This is proven with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ AS A MAN. While you correctly say Jesus Christ is the image of God – the expressed image of His Person – you do despite to the Scriptures that teach why a woman should cover her glory, and, incidentally, you demonstrate why a woman is proscribed from teaching.

This statement:

3?But I want you to understand that Christ is the head [source] of every man, and the man is the head [source] of a woman, and God is the head [source] of Christ [incarnate].”

wherein you crush 1st Cor 11:5 by altering the word “head,” to mean “source.”

Actually, this if taken to be so, does despite to the Lord Jesus in a terrible way. The overall teaching of the verse is “headship,” not “sourcing.” This is about authority, the central proposition of the universe. It’s not about origination. The command to Eve is the one you dislike. The old humanity failed with your rebellion. The new humanity is teaching the angels, who saw Lucifer lifted up with pride, that it can order itself under the Lord Jesus, as the Lord Jesus perfectly ordered Himself under His Father, and thus inherit the glory won by the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, as a man, has ascended above the angels, and taken a new humanity to that position in Him.

The rested of your stuff is not worthy of a response, but let it be known that churches have no other practice than this practice of men not covering their heads, and women covering theirs.

A woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, “Because of the angels.”

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