Is this an issue worth discussing?

Sometimes, otherwise sincere Christians think that this issue isn’t even worth discussing.

I was talking to an Assistant Pastor once who, when push came to shove, simply did not think it worth his time to discuss this issue.  That there were a lot of other issues which he deemed to be much more important for him to deal with and which required his attention.

Another Christian told me in a sarcastic manner that “the wearing of hats” wasn’t worth discussing as if we were engaging in what amounted to nothing more than a silly discussion about various types of hats.

More recently I started talking about this issue with a Christian friend of mine.  His response was to say that this issue was not nearly as important as love was and that as such that it wasn’t worth focusing on this issue (as if discussing it for the bare minimum of time that we had been talking about it would somehow cause love to take a back seat).  His real objection I think had more to do with something else he had said earlier in our conversation.  That if women started wearing head coverings that we would go back to a time when women had to wear long skirts, be quiet and submissive, and such that Church life would become very patriarchal again.  As it apparently was in the New Testament.

Meaning that men would predominate and that women, by implication, would take a back seat in all things.

Unimportant in what sense?

When Christians state that this is issue is not worth discussing they usually mean that in a relative sense.  That is to say that in their minds there are weightier matters which are far more important to get right than head coverings.

I would agree with that but does such mean that we should not make any effort to understand this issue correctly at all?

Compared to other Church practices

Let’s look at the relative importance of head coverings compared to other Church practices from the standpoint of the number of verses that are found covering an issue.

How many verses in the New Testament talk of the head covering issue?  1 Corinthians 11:2 to 11:16 is a total of 14 verses.  That’s it.

In the entire New Testament there are only 14 verses that talk of head coverings.  On first glance that doesn’t seem like much does it?

Baptism

What about the practice of baptizing newly converted Christians?  How many verses talk of that in the New Testament?  Let’s leave aside verses that describe someone being baptized since we cannot rightly build a case for needing to baptize new converts today based solely on descriptions of someone being baptized in New Testament times.  Let’s look at verses that instruct us to baptize new converts, explain what baptism is, when it should be done, and otherwise lay out a doctrine of baptism.

Matthew 28:19 – 1 verse
Romans 6:3-4 – 2 verses
Colossians 2:11-12 – 2 verses
1 Peter 3:20-21 – 2 verses
Mark 7:3-4 – 2 verses (the washing here is literally baptizing)
1 Corinthians 1:13-17 – 5 verses

I think that’s about it.  So, let’s see…that’s a total of 14 verses.  The same amount of verses as Paul’s teaching on head coverings.

Is baptism important?  Why?

It is an outward symbol of what happens in the heart at conversion.  But what is so all out important about that symbolism that every Christian religion practices the baptism of new converts?

Certainly it can be said that the outward symbolism is important both for the spiritual health of new converts in their public profession of faith at the time of being baptized and for the health of the church in being witness to the faith of new converts but the bottom line is that God’s Word commands that it be done.  Period.

As a side not I feel a need to point out that baptism is an outward symbol for something that has happened in the heart no less than head coverings is also an outward symbol for something happening in the heart.

Communion

What about the practice of remembering the Lord’s body and blood shed for us through the breaking of bread (i.e. communion)?  How many verses talk about that?   A few more than about baptism but not many more.

Yet no Church would say that we should not practice communion now would they?

Church Discipline

Church discipline.  Is that important?  Same thing. Relatively few verses talk of church discipline.  Even fewer describe someone being disciplined.  Yet no Church should ever say that Church discipline is not something that ought to be practiced up to this very day.

We cannot rightly say that head coverings is a non-issue or an issue not worth discussing based solely on the number of verses that talk of this issue in the New Testament compared to those which talk of other Church practices.

Let me ask you something else.

Is it important for a wife to honor her husband?

To respect him?  If you say…”Of course!” you would be right.  There is no question that such is important for the health of a marriage (as is the need of the husband to love his wife).

So why do so many otherwise sincere Christian women dishonor their husbands by not wearing a head covering?

1 Corinthians 11:3-5

But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head…

Is it important of us as Christians within the Body to honor and properly acknowledge Jesus as our Head?  As the Head of the Church?  Again…of course!

So why are most Christian men indifferent if not altogether antagonistic to the proper practice of head coverings?

1 Corinthians 11:3-5

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.  Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.

We may indeed object to the practice of head coverings for various reasons that seem, on the surface, biblical.  Such as that Paul’s teaching might have been intended only for the Corinthians and nobody else (which objection is countered elsewhere on these pages).

But let’s not object to head coverings from the standpoint that it is of little importance.

A veil on the head of a woman by itself is of little to no consequence.  I mean it’s a piece of cloth.  We put on hats, toques, and what have you on our heads all day long to keep them warm or just because they look good on us.  But a veil put on the head of a Christian woman as an act of obedience to Paul’s teaching on the matter has great significance both for the well being of that woman and for the well being of all who observe her doing it.

That piece of cloth becomes a symbol for something much more profound.  It becomes a symbol of submission.  Of a submission that we all must have toward God in our hearts.

A submission that is sorely lacking in the Church of today.

On what basis can it rightly be said that head coverings are an unimportant issue?  I mean if we do not say that about communion, baptism, and church discipline why do we say that about head coverings?

To embrace the belief that head coverings is an unimportant issue is to focus on the outward symbol on the head as nothing more than a mere piece of cloth and to completely miss the profound importance of what is represented by that symbol…submission of the heart toward God and recognition and acknowledgement of His order of authority within the Church.

To engage in a discussion of head coverings is to engage in a discussion of submission and of what that submission looks like in the life of the Church.

That my dear reader is very important and not something that we should so readily put on the back burner as unworthy of our attention!

According to Paul’s teaching the outward symbol of the head covering is intimately tied to the submission that we should all have toward God.

It visibly demonstrates that submission for all the world to see within the life of the Church.

To ignore what Paul said for no other reason than that we think the issue to be unimportant is to ignore what that symbol stands for in the life of the Church!

That we must not do!

Carlos

Next -> What Paul said to the Corinthians

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