Women & headcoverings

I have been doing two things:  (1) writing a “What I Believe” page that details what I believe to be truth, and (2) reading through I Corinthians, both of which have led to today’s post:  I Corinthians 11:2-16 talks about women and their need to wear headcoverings when praying or prophesying as a recognition of the headship of man, of their subjection to man.  It is important to note that subjection does not indicate inferiority.  Although a woman is subject to her husband, she is not inferior.

I have not been in churches that have taught this, although I have seen occasional women honor this teaching.  Most of the time it seems to be ignored as a cultural instruction to those in Paul’s day or the long hair of the woman fulfills the requirement of a headcovering.

A couple things that the commentary I use says that have convicted me to pray and think on this further.  The commentary I use is the Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald.  First, it says, “Some think that the instruction given here was applicable only to Paul’s day.  Some even go so far as to contend that these verses reflect Paul’s prejudice against women, since he was a bachelor!  Still others simply accept the teaching of this portion, seeking to obey its precepts even if they do not understand them all.” (Emphasis in original).  The other thing pointed out by the commentary is: “Does Paul mean that the things he has just been saying are not important enough to contend about? Does he mean that there was no such custom of women veiling their heads in the churches?  Does he mean that these teachings are optional and not to be pressed upon women as the commandments of the Lord?  It seems strange that any such interpretation would ever be offered, yet they are commonly heard today.  This would mean that Paul considered these instructions as of no real consequence, and he had just been wasting over half a chapter of Holy Scripture in setting them forth!”

Of course, I don’t know what to do next if I become convicted on this but my wife does not.  That would be a strange result, would it not?

So, here is what I believe this portion of scripture teaches, without addressing whether it still applies today:  God is the head of Jesus, Jesus is the head of man, man is the head of woman.  This is the natural order of things.  Man is not to cover his head as this would be a covering of his glory — a covering of Jesus.  In the same way, woman is to cover her head as an acknowledgement of  her subjection to man.  The headcovering rules only apply when prophesying or praying.

Does this mean that when a woman wants to pray she must first find a headcovering?  I often pray in the middle of the night when I wake up and can’t sleep.  Must a woman find a headcovering at these times?  Or is she only to cover her head when she is in public, since the headcovering is simply an outward sign of an inward grace?



Filed under Bible

4 responses to “Women & headcoverings

  1. It would not be as odd as you think for the husband to be convicted that his wife should follow this very scriptural teaching. I, on the other hand, after two years of wrestling with this scripture (with God, you might even say) decided that I should wear a headcovering. I was completely surprised when my husband made obvious his disapproval of my decision. That, of course, put me in a great deal of confusion over what I should do. I prayed and prayed about it and asked my husband to read the actual scripture and some other information I had collected about headcovering and he was kind enough to read everything. After about a month, he agreed to let me wear a headcovering.

    I don’t know you or your wife, but I think this is something worth studying together and praying together about. I am the only woman in my congregation that practices this and we live in a fairly busy suburban area. Sometimes I feel a little alone in wearing my headcovering, but mostly I am joyful that I can please my heavenly Father in doing this small thing. It also has made me much more aware of my behavior towards my husband, so it has helped me in this area greatly.

    I do not think that I am less precious in any way than my husband in God’s eyes. We are co-inheritors to God’s kingdom. We both have to show obedience in our daily lives. I hope you are able to find God’s desire for you and your family as you study this passage. God bless.

  2. Oh..one last thing! Since we are taught to pray without ceasing, I felt the need to wear my covering all day, every day. I find that at night, it is easy enough just to pull the sheet up around my head. 😉 And I also know that God loves me and knows my heart. He knows that I obviously have to wash my hair and that my hair is something attractive to my husband. So, no my hair isn’t covered constantly. That would be nearly impossible and I don’t believe it would be God’s intent.

  3. Mariposa

    The Lord has directed me to cover while praying or prophesying but recently I have been feeling called to cover full-time. Unfortunately, this is still in progress. I am praying that God will strengthen me to do His will, and I pray the same for you and your wife! In His will is where the blessings are!

  4. Thank you both for your encouragement in this matter. I find it odd that this post has generated more traffic on my blog than any other post. It feels odd to me to be free from legalism and to be called to obey in what seems like such a legalistic fashion. I think that is why I struggle with this so much. But your comments about the blessings of obedience do not fall on deaf ears.

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