The Head Covering
What does it signify, and are Christian women required by the Scriptures to
wear one for public worship in the modern era? A closer look at this neglected doctrine.
Whenever someone mentions women using head coverings in today's modern
world, there are many Christians and non-Christians alike who generally think of Muslim
women wearing the modest apparel or they think of Jewish people covering their
heads. But sadly, when it comes to the church overall especially in places
in the world like the United States, there are many believers in the Lord making
claims that it was a custom of a particular time in the past. So they believe
there is no obligation to wear one in today's modern world. Would that
also mean, if the custom or law govern by the church of a particular time and
culture would be mandating men to cover their heads, would it then be accepted
by the saints of God for public worship? Let's
look at this important subject more closely.
What the Scriptures Say In Regards to Head
In answer to this vital question we must ask for God's Holy Spirit for guidance.
For the source of our understanding clearly comes from God who rules over all. Please open your bibles and turn with me to 1 Corthinans 11:1-6.
Later on, we are going to also look at verse 10 of the same chapter. This is going to be a verse by verse
study with a step by step approach in a very simple manner followed by a brief
commentary which leads to what head coverings signify. The Scripture reads as
"Be ye followers of me, even as
I also am of Christ."
Paul the Apostle appeals to the church to use him as an example who was taught
by Christ Himself. During this period of time, many problems with sin crept into
the Corinthian assembly. As a result, sin was staining God's people into drawing
them away from Him rather than growing more in grace. There was a great need for
repentance and Paul was using himself as an example on how to live godly.
Moving on to the next verse...
"Now I praise you, brethren, that ye
remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you."
Ordinances means tradition, in the Greek it means "handed down or on". Paul
uses this term in this context so he would not be accused of making up some new
doctrine that Christ didn't approve of. He basically avoids any charge of what
he thinks the church should be doing rather than what Christ wants for His
church. Next verse
states and I quote....
"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."
This is at the very core of Paul's argument. He seeks to establish the order of
God's authority by basically pointing out these three facts...
1) The Head of Christ is God
2) The Head of Man is Christ
3) The Head of the Woman is Man
The 'head' is the main controlling force of the body, all are subject to follow
it's lead. Likewise, all believers rejoice in Christ being head of the church and
follow His lead. But what about the head of Christ being God? While this concept is
plainly understood by Christians thanks to the Lord, I know many Muslims who
might be reading this article would point out in defiance of the trinity, I can
hear them now saying, "see even the Bible said Jesus wasn't God in your
trinity, because God was above Jesus." I know from vast experience when it
comes to witnessing to Muslims. This very issue always comes up. And it's not only Muslims but other cults who deny the trinity in this fashion
as well. Let's look again at the meaning of this argument as it will lead
to the subject matter at hand, and I quote, "But if Jesus was God," some would say,
"then God couldn't be
above Him because they wouldn't be all equal." While it's true, the
Godhead is not unequal in any way shape or form, the Scriptures make it clear however, the essence of the
Godhead is not only one and the same, but their
functions are different.
Jesus said God the Father was over him in John 14:28.
Christ was appointed by God to accomplish His particular
the Messiah. To come into the world in a form of human flesh and die for the
sins of His people. God the Father speaks of Christ as His servant in Isaiah
42:1 and Jesus said when he was on earth, it wasn't to do His will but to do the
will of the one who sent him (John 6:38). The Scriptures say the
the Holy Spirit which is also part of the trinity is to guide and dwell in the believer's heart.
The Holy Spirit leads a
Christian into all truths and understanding. The trinity overall are so united as
one, they are in each other as John 17:21 points out, "“Thou, Father, art in me,
and I in thee.”
(Also see Col. 2:9).
All of these points are related when it comes to the relationship between a man
and a women. To a radical feminist's amazement and shock, there is no essential inequality
between the two genders which is always asserted in liberal circles about
what they call "conservative" Christianity. But their
are different in God's order which of course the
have a problem with. In a way, the order is similar to a workplace which varies
at times, where you have general labors who have bosses, and then you have
managers above those bosses and so on. The women is to be subordinate to the man
in her role. The man has position of authority over the women and Christ being
over the man. This is not to say the woman should feel she is a 'slave' or a
'second class citizen' but a role pleasing to God.
Moving on to the next couple of verses....
"Every man praying or prophesying,
having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 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. 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." 1Cor. 11:4-6.
(see I Chron. 25:1-3).
Singing to the Lord is part of public worship and a woman may fully participate
which in a sense prophesy
The Scriptures by the will of God, laid down the order of authority which is at the very foundation of
Christian belief. Paul next moves to public worship where we see a woman being
able to "prophesieth". How can a woman be
involved with "prophesying" when the Scriptures say a woman must be silent in
the church service as we see in other verses such as
Charismatic Catholics and Pentecostals would
claim this is proof a woman being a minister, speak in tongues and so forth and
so on. Is there a conflict with Scripture? No, there is not, let me explain, part of public worship is speaking or singing. Such a practice
was part of the Old Testament as well and on occasions spoken of as a "prophesy"
When it comes to the man, the Scriptures make it
clear, he may not wear a head covering while in public worship. Nothing is said
this just a cultural custom either so it's not an ever changing practice. If a man wears
a head covering in public worship he is denying his rightful place of authority
and submission under Christ. This is what it signifies. When a women doesn't
wear a head covering for public worship, she is also denying her very role which
is to be in subjection to the man.
What is "shorn or shaven" which is mentioned in
The image of her hair "shorn or shaven" was generally practice in Jewish
traditions when a women would be convicted of adultery. Shorn hair was a means
of identifying some women caught for the sin of fornication. So the act of a
woman wearing a head covering signifies her submission to her role that God has
given her to be under the man, and to not wear the head covering during public
worship signifies rebellion toward that role and as the imagery of a woman with
"shorn hair" would signify.
"For this cause ought the woman to have power on [her] head because of the
1 Corinthians 11:10 can be a little
confusing at times for Christians no doubt about it. What does Paul mean by a woman having power on her
head? The word "power" translates to 'privilege', 'right' or 'authority'. This
means a woman must have this sign of power on her head which shows subjection.
Paul's makes the reference of "angels" as a means of using their role for
importance. So it's not only submission for man when a woman covers her head for
public worship, but it's shows a woman's obedience in the presence of angels. It's a known fact angels are
aware of what's happening on Earth as suggested in such verses as 1 Cor. 4:9.
Also in Hebrews 1:14, where the Scriptures speak about the works of angels in
relation to the people of God. The angles are given authority over the people of
the Lord, to keep us in all of our ways (Ps. 91:11).
What about the
Custom Consideration of Different Cultures?
|"Men of the time
period did not wear a veil and women were considered
rebellious and disrespectful without one."
--Maranatha Baptist Bible College on
"Head Coverings in Worship"
This is generally a commonly held argument for a woman not to wear a head covering during
the assembling of the church. In fact, I had a discussion once with a female who knew a friend
of mine. Early on in the relationship I made it known to her that I believed head coverings
for the modern era are Scriptural. It was indeed a surprise to her because
many assemblies do not believe in a woman covering their head. With this new information
about me, my female decided to tell one of her closest friends who
later wanted to take the debate to me at our very first meeting in person. When
the time to be introduced, it didn't take long at all for the conversation on the subject to be
brought up. She attempted to use a cultural
connection as the foundation of her argument, but when looking closely at
various parts of Scripture we see the Jews both men and women
were covering their heads most of the time
(Ex. 28:40, 29:9, 39:28, Dan. 3:21).
In fact, as we see today, the Jews are still required to wear head coverings
most of the
time. The Greek pagans which were located in the area where Paul was
addressing the church about this issue, didn't wear any head coverings for their
My point is this and it's very clear, the very thing Paul was teaching according to Scripture was contrary
customs and practices of his day. So we see no cultural connection there, none
whatsoever. The New Testament church was set apart not only from the pagan
temples which many say is the reason why Paul taught about head coverings, but
also the Jewish synagogues as well. As a result, a Christian woman
was to be distinctive: she was to behave differently in contrast to the world
which is against God, likewise a man was to be distinctive and behave
differently in contrast to the world. All Christians should not
pattern themselves after the customs of a continuing faithless world that is
progressing each day getting more rebellious towards our Lord, but pattern
themselves after an never changing Word
of God, preserved for us through the ages according His will.
The Answer to a Question Posed by Paul the Apostle
in 1 Cor. 11:13
also another part of the woman's argument which I have
not forgotten nor was I purposely ignoring it. In defense of her
position and this is very common, she used this verse which poses a question to believers in the Lord
which goes like this,
"Judge in yourselves: is it
comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" 1 Cor. 11:13. She
asserted this question was biblical proof that women covering their heads for
church is cultural rather than required by the Scriptures. However, Paul
wasn't teaching about this statement
every woman that prayeth or
prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head as a mere suggestion
on how a woman in the church should conduct herself in
appearance, but rather pose a question after
explaining about head coverings for Christian women with the
answer of "no." It wouldn't be proper or as the Bible puts it; "comely" for a woman to be uncovered
in a assembly for it brings no glory to God's order in which He
has created for us as Christians to obey. Just like a
man who wears a head covering for public worship brings no glory to God's order.
The Scriptures are clear, this is not a cultural teaching, nor is it just a "religious covering for women"
but a Christian one that brings glory to God.
The Importance of God's Word when it comes to
Faith And Practice
he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by
every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Every word that comes from God in the Bible is important, not just a
portion of the Bible here and then another portion elsewhere, but the entire
Word of God. On the other hand, Christians should not get so bogged down on
these types of issues which are not connected with salvation. Meaning that believers in the Lord
should not get hung up so much that it affects their relationship with one
another to the point
of not having any fellowship. While it's important to show a brother or
sister in Christ of their error, dealing with Christians outside your own assembly,
shouldn't become a fishing expedition in order to try and find all their faults as the dominate force of the conversation. Sadly, some
Christians believe if they are not in full agreement on all doctrines issues they
should shun the person or persons in the faith to the point where they no longer
are conversing like brothers and sisters in the faith. Romans 14:1;
"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations."
Having said that, this by no means diminishes the importance of every single word from God
in which a Christian should believe in and live by, however there must be a biblical balance between the two issues of right and wrong
when it comes to obeying all of God's word among believers of different
assemblies, alright moving on...
Covering in Islam
Some people often ask, why do Muslims wear head
coverings in their cultures or in their religion in general? The answer is
basically simple, in contrast to Christianity, Islam has a different reason and
purpose for requiring head coverings for all women. The Arabic word "Hijab"
comes from a word "haya" which means modesty. Most Muslims believe they are
judged and represented by a head covering placed on a Muslim woman. It also signifies
Islamic modesty and womanhood. The larger the head covering is, the more
modesty of womanhood is displayed to the world which they believe glorifies
Islam even more. It's the main reason why some Muslim women have huge
coverings that only reveal the eyes.
Many Muslims take the head covering very
seriously. If a Muslim woman is caught for refusing to wear one in
public there are very serve punishments carried out under Islamic law by Arabic governments, and in some cases result in
death with particular Muslims in all parts of the world. Recently, a devout Muslim father in Canada named Muhammad Parvez had
killed his daughter by strangulation for refusing to wear a "Hijab". He called
the police to inform them he had killed his daughter. No doubt in the eyes of
this man who performed the wicked deed on his daughter considered it as
protecting Islam, and his role which to him (and others as well) is more
important than life itself. Another point I would like to make is on the
subject of "many Muslims taking the head covering seriously" as I wish not to
imply that force is the backbone for compliment. Many Muslim
women do in fact accept the teaching, and are more than willing to wear one on
their heads to show their particular brand of spirituality. But in countries
like Egypt it's changing. A recent survey was conducted and 70 percent of the
women in Egypt no longer want to wear a Hijab. Alright on to the next verse of Scripture
which I already briefly addressed in part now...
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."
When it comes to head coverings in Christianity the Scriptures talk about 'ample covering' not a invisible net, tiny
little bows, and
flimsy veils as we see today in various places. They may enhance the glory of a woman but do
not cover it. Scripture is not referring to a Burka either which many Muslims use
in such places as Iran, but as the Bible said, it must be an 'ample covering'.
As you may have noticed, there are pictures displayed in this web page as examples
of different head coverings. These pictures displayed and I want to make
this perfectly clear, I'm not
endorsing those styles as the only proper ones to have. There are many styles
which will cover a woman's head more than others, but both types are biblical.
Men and women should obey God's Word, and not the world's style when it
comes to choosing a head covering.
It's amazing, thanks to the Lord, what comes out while discussing the issue of a
woman covering her head for public worship.
We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ on this matter. This
been a very neglected issue in recent times in various places around the world...The teaching of head coverings in
the New Testament as stated before, was not requiring the saints of God to wear
them all the time but required a woman to wear one for public worship for the
glory of God's order...Yes in
certain cultures it is required by their laws from their religion, and it
wouldn't be sinful for a Christian woman who lives in one of those countries to
wear one all the time if needed to do so. But Paul was only referring to public
worship within the confines of a group of believers known as an assembly (with
possible visitors in their mist) on the subject of Christian head coverings.
We need not to forget, with remaining sin in the world, and with
which is the liberal dogma on
how women should act and their redefining roles contrary to Scriptures.
Christians need to pray for these lost souls who believe in such things as they
need the Gospel to be presented to them. Because just believing in head coverings as a Scriptural
foundation and not knowing who Christ is, makes one's faith vain.
The Lord doesn't save people who don't know Him. The Scriptures are able to make even little children wise until salvation. Seek
ye first, the Kingdom of God and the rest will be added unto you! And with that statement
in mind, I'm going to conclude this segment for now, thanks for
coming and taking the time in studying this important but very neglected doctrine on
the head covering.