Head Coverings

Are Head Coverings for today?

Introduction

Whenever I bring up the subject of head coverings in a church as something we ought to be practicing I am labeled as divisive or otherwise made to feel that there is something wrong with me for insisting on a practice that is no longer considered relevant (according to the prevailing beliefs in most churches about this issue).

Yet Paul makes mention of the fact that head coverings as he taught them was the practice in all the churches of the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 11:16).

What am I to make of that?

I mean Christian leaders everywhere like to claim that their churches are modeled after the New Testament Church. But in practice what do we make of such claims when something that was practiced in all New Testament churches is no longer considered relevant for reasons that are not even biblical plausible?

Church leaders everywhere ignore the teaching about head coverings (along with other issues talked of in the Bible) based not on biblically sound reasoning and correct principles of interpretation but rather based on little more than conjecture, unsupported assumptions, and theories.

We set aside the commands of God through the inspired Word and embrace modern church traditions which leave no room for obedience of what is written.

The Bible is not a matter of individual interpretation about such matters. Where one Christian can believe one thing about an issue, like head coverings, and another Christian can believe something else entirely opposite to the first with both of their positions being considered…well…right for them. There is no such thing as spiritual relativism. God says what He means in the Word and means what He says.

The correct meaning or interpretation of what is written is not all that difficult to arrive at. I mean what is written is written. In a language we can all understand (assuming you understand the English language at least).

The problem is deeper than our intellect.

It is a problem of the heart as it has always been with respect to understanding the things of God.

John 7:17

If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.

Jesus made it clear that the way to know whether a particular teaching was of God or whether it was man-made and not of God lay squarely through our willingness to apply that teaching.

If we are unwilling to apply Paul’s instructions about head coverings, our hearts will be blinded by our own unwillingness such that we will not discern the voice of God in the matter. We will justify our lack of willingness using any excuse, assumption, or conjecture rather than face the truth that we are simply unwilling to obey God.

On the other hand if we are willing…nothing will stand in the way of knowing whether Paul’s teaching about head coverings is for today. We will readily embrace the truth when we see it and we will not fight against it.

So the essential question to answer before reading what I write here is…are you willing? Are you really and honestly willing to have women start wearing head coverings when they pray and prophesy just like Paul said they should if the reasons commonly used to negate the teaching on head coverings are shown to be less than biblical and invalid?

If you are unwilling to become obedient if the Bible makes it clear that you should apply the teaching of head coverings today, then you might as well stop reading right now.  You will side with your unwillingness no matter what I say and latch on to whatever conjecture or excuse you can to justify a lack of obedience to Paul’s teachings on head coverings.

But if you are indeed willing and are purely interested in knowing whether or not head coverings as practiced in New Testament times are likewise to be practiced today…read on.

Carlos

Next -> Is this an issue worth discussing?

6 Comments on “Head Coverings”


  1. I have a problem with your theology.

    Jewish custom was for men to always have their heads covered when they prayed, just as they do today with the Kippah. Even Jesus and the other disciples would have worn prayer shawls. This practice is clearly opposite to what you believe Paul is teaching here.

    The primary purpose of 1Cor11 lies in the concept of a believer being covered by Christ as his head, and NOT being covered by another man such as a pastor.

    If I have any other man, such as a Pastor, above my head from whom I need authority to pray or prophesy, then I am dishonouring Christ when I speak out. This is what the whole passage is about, not hats.

    I have one covering only and that is Christ, there is absolutely no other human above me.
    Paul is speaking against hierarchy, not promoting hats.

    • Carlos Says:

      Hmm…

      Interesting take on the head covering issue Frank.

      While I very much appreciate your input on this I would like to comment a bit on the points you bring up if I may. Not to argue but to address what you bring up in light of what the Word says. I hope that is okay.

      Whatever the Jewish custom was Frank, and I do believe that Jewish men covered up in general when praying (at least that is what I have always assumed), the question is not one of what the Jewish custom was but rather one of understanding what Paul said first and foremost in the passages in question. Taking into account the rest of the Scriptures and New Testament practices to be sure but we must not allow ourselves to ignore what he said by inserting an interpretation that is not consistent with what is actually written.

      I do agree with the concept of the believer being covered by Christ as head in general Frank though I think the more specific teaching in what Paul writes is that God the Father is head over Christ, Christ is the head over the man, and man is the head over the woman. Not so much that Christ is the head in general of us all and that we have no other head other than Jesus though certainly the implication of that is there but as a side note so to speak to the main thrust of what Paul is teaching. Which has to do with the hirearchial order of authority relationships within the church.

      No where in the passages in question is there any reference to needing authority from anyone to pray or prophecy. Such is not needed and is not even addressed by these passages. The whole point is that if we do not exercise head coverings in a proper way that we publicly dishonor our head and God’s order of authority.

      To say that the whole section on head coverings is about not needing permission from anyone to pray or prophecy is to miss the whole purpose of these verses Frank. Paul does not address the issue of needing authority from anyone anywhere in these verses. Pastors aren’t even mentioned.

      Paul is most definitely not speaking against hirearchy Frank. He is rather speaking for God’s hirearchy. God the Father as authority over Jesus Christ. Jesus over man. Man over woman.

      To be sure the wrong hirearchy is condemned but by implication. The wrong order of hirearchal authority is not the thrust of what Paul is saying. He is not speaking so much against a wrong hirearchy as much as speaking in support of God’s hirearchy and the need to recognize God’s order of headship working it’s way to us through the relationships between Christ, man, and woman as symbolized in the head covering.

      That head coverings are an outward symbol that acknowledges and points others to His order of authority.

      I feel a need to add Frank that this is not matter of a difference that we can have in good conscience but rather one of accurately interpreting what is written as opposed to not doing so. Often the problem with differences of supposed opinion regarding what is written is not a matter of what is written allowing for differences but rather of something in our hearts getting in the way of arriving at a correct interpretation.

      I’d be happy to discuss this more in private if you think it best.

      Carlos


  2. If you put the passage on head covering back into the context of the whole of 1Cor. you will see that hierarchy is a recurring theme of Paul.
    It actually starts when he rebukes the saints for following Paul/Apollos/Cephas etc. in chapter 1.
    It seems that human nature of seeking to follow man rather than God was a problem right back at the beginning!
    The theme continues right through, and Paul continually juxtaposes following man as against having Christ at the helm of the church.
    1Cor3v4
    “For while one says I am of Paul and another I am of Apollos, are you not carnal.” He expounds that Paul and Apollos are nobodies. He, Paul planted seeds and then left the scene.
    1Cor4v6 “………….that you might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one is puffed up for one against another”.
    1Cor4v16 “be imitators of me” (this is as opposed to making Paul their leader)

    1Cor10 points out that Christ, the Rock, was the one who led the Israelites through the wilderness.

    (THIS THEME CONTINUES)
    I SHALL TAKE A BREAK HERE AS I AM SUPPOSED TO BE SOMEWHERE ELSE. I JUST WANTED TO START A THOUGHT PROCESS SHOWING WHY THE PASSAGE ON HEAD COVERING IS ACTUALLY ABOUT HEADSHIP NOT HATS.

    TALK LATER
    Frank

    • Carlos Says:

      I appreciate your further thoughts Frank.

      I am all for taking things in context bro. No question whatsoever of that.

      And I believe that you make a valid point about being careful to follow the Lord and not man. For sure that thought is to be found weaved throughout what Paul says.

      But having said that I would also say this Frank.

      We should not ignore what is plainly written anywhere because of the deeper meaning to be found in the context. What is written is written and we should take it at face value unless something tells us to do otherwise.

      For example, if I have a son and I tell my son to let his sister play with the toy truck, my son would act rebelliously if he deemed it unnecessary to actually give his sister the truck since the context of daddy’s instructions is that we have a good relationship with each other such that he could continue to play with the truck while allowing his sister to watch.

      When Paul says that women should wear a head covering while praying or prophecying (and God through Paul) he meant exactly that and no less. We may not like it. We may not agree with it. We may even think it ridiculous that God might have inspired Paul to focus attention on the wearing of hats (as you call it Frank…which seems rather derogatory of Paul’s teaching by the way). But that is what God said to do.

      We need to obey what is written as written unless there are valid and biblically plausible reasons to do otherwise…which there aren’t.

      We cannot spiritualize what is said away and render it null and void and meaningless without being rebellious.
      We cannot contextualize it away and render it null and void and meaningless as a command without being rebellious.

      It really is a matter of whether we are going to prove our love for God by being obedient to what is written.

      If we contextualize away the need to obey what Paul said about head coverings then we might as well contextualize away all manner of other things that are written in the Bible and that we may find inconvenient or that we don’t particularly like to obey.

      Baptism – in context the important thing is the new birth and being associated with Christ not the actual dunking in water (akin to calling head coverings hats). So forget the need to actually be baptized in water. That’s unimportant. The contextual lesson is what is important.

      The Lord’s Supper – in context the important thing is to remember what Jesus did. So whether one wants to use an oreo cookie or a Dorito chip for the bread and coca cola or Sprite for the wine doesn’t really matter. For that matter it doesn’t even matter that we use anything at all since we can remember what the Lord did for us with or without any bread, wine, or substitute for either.

      Having elders / Pastors – in context the important thing is that we help each other and be good examples to each other and that Jesus is our real head. So elders / Pastors are not even needed since we can all focus on being the best example we can be for each other and recognize only Jesus as our leader.

      Do you see what I am saying Frank?

      Contextualized interpretation is a very dangerous thing if by that we completely discount what is actually written in favor of the perceived context. Contextulized interpretation is just a fancy way of justifying our lack of obedience to what is written. It takes the contextual lesson, applies it to what is written, and comes out leaving the clear and practical instruction to do something aside.

      If a child did that he would get a spanking.

      If Christians do that they are simply being rebellious and are setting themselves up for God’s discipline (once they become aware of what is written and the instructions of God that they are to do something such that they simply ignore those instructions and continue in defiance of God’s command) or worse yet…they fall into deceptive thinking that they are doing the right thing by God when in fact they are not.

      God’s commands through Paul are God’s commands. We ought to be about our Father’s business and obey what He says to bring greater honor and glory to Him.

      Carlos


  3. Carlos
    Please tell me, does a woman’s righteousness come from wearing hats in church?
    Is she a sinner if she has no hat?
    Frank

    • Carlos Says:

      Hi Frank.

      A woman’s righteousness does not come from wearing a head covering (what you refer to as hats) in an assembly of the church.

      Her righteousness, like that of every other Christian, comes by chosing to believe what Jesus did on the cross as the truth and acting on that truth by faith to turn her life over to God unconditionally.

      Covering her head in line with Paul’s instructions does not save her or make her more righteous than she already is in Christ. Rather it is an act of righteous behaviour that pleases God and more practically publicly acknowledges God’s order of authority before man and the angels.

      If a woman refuses to wear a head covering while praying and prophecying, she disgraces her head – the man and through the man, Jesus Christ. Ultimately she disgraces the ultimate giver of authority, God the Father from whom all authority comes.

      She sins by acting rebelliously against the clear command of God to wear a head covering.

      I am not making this up Frank. It’s there in black and white for all to see, including yourself. The words are not difficult to understand. They are quite clear.

      The problem lies in our hearts. We don’t want to submit to God. We want to do things our way. We don’t want to publicly do something that might bring derision on us. We don’t want to look foolish in the eyes of others.

      Our response to Paul’s teaching on head coverings reveals much about where our hearts are at.

      I mean it would be one thing if there was a biblically plausible basis for objecting to the practice but…there isn’t. At least I have never seen one.

      To discount what is written Frank because of a deeper meaning to the context and ignore the plain and practical command to do something such as wear a head covering is to walk in disobedience by any other name.

      I mean no offense bro but I want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who called things as He saw them for the sake of those he was speaking to. Such will undoubtedly bring down on my head all kinds of flack from those who should rather be supportive of my stance that we ought to be about our Father’s business and do what He says but I have come to the point of realizing that such is the way of the cross for me. There is no way around it.

      Man, religious man which to some extent lies inside every one of us, must be confronted in no uncertain terms. God wants professing believers to repent and obey that He might be glorified within the Body and might become known to more people than ever. As the one who can heal any wound, comfort our hearts, and forgive us of our sins.

      The teaching about head coverings has an amazing ability to draw out of the heart that which lies within it respecting our attitudes toward authority, how to correctly interpret the bible, the role of men and women, and all manner of things.

      Carlos


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