Okay, so, I don't know about you, but I've just been bombarded with the issue of head coverings for the past 6 months at least—and I ignored it for 5 months. Maybe it's the groups I worship with or the type of surfing I do on the web, but all I know is that I just couldn't seem to get away from it. So, I finally consented to looking into it and gaining a better understanding of the passage in 1 Corinthians 11. I mean, what could it hurt, I knew I wouldn't be convinced I'd have to wear them anyways, right? Hehe, reminds me of the saying "young and stupid." ;-)
Whenever I get to the point of checking something out, I like to be very thorough. Time is precious for me, so if I'm going to try to understand something, I find it more efficient to really grasp and understand the issue at hand in order to prevent having to keep returning to the topic over and over again later. So, I did my research: I read the Bible passage over and over again, I looked up and read article after article and study after study from many different perspectives about head coverings, and I asked several sisters, both pro- and anti-covering, what they personally thought and took away from the passage. At first, I was a bit confused, but as I continued to seek an understanding and prayed for my Father's guidance through His Son, my mind cleared and I began to see the Scriptures in their own light. What I found amazed me--astounded me—to point of joyful conviction. (I say joyful because, to me, conviction is joyful—not always easy, but joyful—as it marks blessed stages of growth in one's walk with their Creator.)
So what exactly is my stance and personal take-away on this issue? I believe that both uncovering and covering are totally Biblical, relevant, beautiful, and important for sons and daughters of God. Now, I know that for a lot of you, this is probably hard to accept, as the practice of covering is not only so widely misunderstood, but it also seems cumbersome, unfashionable, and uncomfortable in our modern Christian world. Hey, I can totally relate to this, as these were my exact thoughts and feelings toward the whole issue. But I urge you, dear sisters, to approach God with a softness of heart towards this issue as with any other. Ask our Father to lead and guide you through His Son in this particular aspect which has close and important ties to our Biblical femininity.
More precisely, I believe head covering for women at large to be a symbol of a principle, that principle being the focal point of my worship experience, as it gives a visible testimony to who I worship and my own individual choice of submission and surrender to Him and His Son. As one sister pointed out to me, it's like baptism. Baptism is a symbol of the principle of cleansing from sin and receiving the Spirit of Christ. Likewise, covering or uncovering the head is a symbol of the principle of accepting the Divine pattern of the Father and His Son according to 1 Corinthians 8:6 and surrendering to the headship order.
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 1 Corinthians 8:6
Okay, so these are nice thoughts, but you're probably wondering where I can specifically pull this from the text. Well, that would require a verse-by-verse synopsis of what I have come to understand what the Scriptures are saying, so… you’re in for a study. Ready? Fabulous. ;-) I’m going to go through this as quickly and as thoroughly as I can to keep it both informative and interesting, so stay with me.
In verses 1–3 Paul establishes an introduction to the piece of instruction he is about to give as well as a foundation for the Biblical headship order, which is fashioned after the Divine pattern of the Father and the Son: the Father as head to His Son (1 Cor 8:6; Heb 1:1–3), Christ to the husband or man, and the man to the woman (Gen 3:16; Eph 5:25; 1 Pet 3:1). In other words, Christ is accountable to His Father, the man to Christ and the Father, and the woman to the man, Christ, and the Father. This is not only a fundamental object lesson on the nature of the God that Bible-believing Christians claim to worship, but is also a hierarchy in God's created order of respect, honor, and submission.
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 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. 1 Corinthians 11:1–3
Okay, sure, headship a beautiful thing, but why go over it in such detail? Like I said, it is fundamental to the Christian's faith, but Paul specifically addressed it as a way to open up and explain the issue at hand in verses 4–16: covering and uncovering. Covering is evidently of great importance to the Christian's faith, for Paul has the boldness to tell his readers to follow him because he is a follower of Christ, and then he goes on to explain his stance on the issue, or ‘ordinance’, or covering. In the following verses, the apostle provides several reasons for why the Christian should practice covering. In my book, Paul goes the extra mile to explain covering, since I believe that all Scripture is Divinely inspired and none therefore irrelevant to the people of God (1 Timothy 3:16–17). I'll say more about this later on, but for now I want to just briefly go over Paul's reasons for covering, and then I'll address some common questions and thoughts that I've encountered in my studies of covering.
Now, let’s discuss some very real concerns and thoughts regarding the practice of covering. These are some that I personally have struggled with before and some that I have seen others wrestle with when trying to comprehend the meaning of the text or when attempting to put the practice into a realistic perspective.
“Judge In Yourselves ”
For those who aren't totally sold (or wanting to be sold) on covering, this phrase is often used as a way out. It is commonly understood that Paul was leaving the matter up to the reader and whether they judged it important enough to practice or not; but this isn't necessarily the case. This phrase is more like a figure of speech that the apostle used to further prove the point he has been trying to make throughout the previous verses. He has given reason after reason and has been careful to thoroughly explain the ‘ordinance’ of covering, and then he says, “Judge in yourselves,” to emphasize and kind of wake the reader up to see the big picture at hand.
“We Have No Such Custom ”
This is also another phrase commonly used to show that the practice is not really binding. Those opposed to covering use verse 16 in just such a way so as to say that covering is the custom being spoken of, and so Paul is saying that we really have no such custom as covering. Firstly, does this even make sense? Paul just finished explaining in detail throughout 14 verses his arguments for why covering is so important, and then sums it all up by saying that the churches of God have no such custom. What?
According to the King James Version, Paul seems to be referring to ‘custom’ as the contentiousness spoken of earlier in the sentence; he was saying that the churches of God have no such custom of being contentious over covering. Interestingly, in other versions where more of the meaning of the original Greek comes out, Paul appears to be saying that the churches of God hold to no other custom than head covering during worship.
But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:16, KJV
Now if anyone is disposed to be argumentative and contentious about this, we hold to and recognize no other custom [in worship] than this, nor do the churches of God generally. 1 Corinthians 11:16, AMP
Some say that the practice of covering is limited to the cultural of the church of Corinth that Paul was writing to. This, however, is a rather weak argument as Paul takes into account the sake of the angels, who definitely have no ties to any earthly culture, when proving his point.
I Need a ‘Thus Saith the Lord ’
I have heard this argument time and time again, but it really has no Scriptural foundation. Earlier I mentioned that I believe all Scripture is inspired by God and thus whether He says He is saying it when He says it or not doesn't change the fact that He is saying it. You with me? I mean, a mother could tell her child to do the dishes two ways: “Do the dishes,” or, “So say I, your mother, do the dishes.” Does it change the fact that the child has to do the dishes? No. Likewise, even though Paul was the instrument for writing this epistle to the church of Corinth, it is nonetheless the Word of God.
When Exactly Should the Head Be Covered?
While this isn't really an argument against the practice, it nonetheless requires attention because there are few different beliefs out there with regard to it. Basically, the original Greek meaning of the word ‘prayeth’ is, to pray, supplicate, or worship. So, some women choose wear them all the time, while others only in public worship, while others still in any form of worship, whether public or private. What's the reasoning and which is Biblical? Those who choose to wear them constantly are often of the conviction that if their lives are to be entirely worshipful towards their Creator, then they should wear them all the time; this way, they can also utilize the practice as a major means of evangelism, since they are apt to provoke thoughts and question on their covering and thus will be able to give testimony to their beliefs. Others believe that the text was written within the context of public worship practices, while others see no differentiation between public or private worship spoken of in the text. I believe that, here, it is up to a woman's personal conviction and study over the matter.
A Word to Address the “Salvational Issue ”
So now that I've explained to you why I believe the practice of covering to be so important, you’re probably left wondering if I deem it a “salvational issue”. To be perfectly honest, I hate this question. People ask this no matter the issue or concept, and I’m sad to say that it really just speaks volumes of the individual’s own legalistic mindset. (I realize I’m not being super cautious with my terminology, but just hear me out.) You see, there are two serious and underlying problems at hand here. First, when someone is worried about whether they have to do something in order to be called a Christian, they aren’t really interested in Christianity, just the reward of Christianity. That’s called legalism, when someone tries to earn their way through works into the Celestial City. Second, they by default put the other person in the place of God; and although this is most likely not realized, it’s still wrong. Whatever the issue at hand may be, it is absolutely and completely personal between you and your Heavenly Father and whether or not He has placed conviction upon your heart for the matter. No body else should be involved to tell you if you are endangering your salvation by it; they simply cannot rightly do so because they don’t have the access necessary to know every aspect of your relationship with your Father in Heaven. Now, if God has brought you out of ignorance and into accountability on an issue and has placed personal conviction upon your heart, then it is time for you to make a decision for you that no one else can.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9–10
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:19
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him:for he is thy life, and the length of thy days:that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19–20
The strength a sister can give to her sister is a true gift. I pray that these posts may be uplifting, inspiring, and motivating. All centered around modesty and biblical femininity in a modern world. Hugs! ❤︎ Erica