Friday, January 20, 2006

Something the other tour guides won't tell you

Recently I've received enquiries about the practice of head coverings as related to Paul's instructions in Corinthians 11.

I will try to address this issue and answer a few questions, all the while realizing that many more may still need to be
addressed. I don't anticipate that this will be an issue that most folks will settle in one pass anyway. I will encourage further contemplation with questions of my own in my conclusion.

Personally, this was an issue that I took years to really come to solid conclusions on, so I am more
than patient with others wrestling through such.

Paul deals with various topics in 1 Corinthians 11, including headship and its demonstration, hair length,
and regulations regarding the Lord's Supper. Our primary concern here is whether or not Paul's admonitions regarding women/wives wearing head coverings (1 Cor 11:2-16) is still binding on 21st century Christians.

Paul writes:
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
- 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (ESV)

The majority position and/or practice among contemporary churches (at least in the USofA) is that this Paul's words are not binding. They may have been binding at one time (and/or place ... i.e., Corinth), but they are not anymore.

Let me give you a few quick points as to why I endorse the position that Paul's admonitions are still binding for Christians today.

1. There is nothing in the text that indicates this was only a situation that needed to be practiced in Corinth. In fact, the opposite is true. Paul addressed the letter to the church in Corinth and to all the churches everywhere who call on the name of the Lord (1 Cor 1:2). Also, he notes the churches of God have no other practice in 1 Cor 11:16 (i.e., this was something universally practiced by the church). In other words, nothing in the text indicates that this was a practice only to be implemented in Corinth.

2. Paul's reasons for the practice of women/wives having their heads covered has nothing to do with culture. Those not wanting to do what Paul here commands might tell us that his reasons were tied to the culture and when the culture changed Paul would say that we should change with it. However, Paul's reasons for such practice were explicitly given by him and they have absolutely nothing to do with the culture:
  1. the headship of husband over wife (the Greek word could be translated "wife" or "woman," but the ESV seems to best capture the concept of husband & wife) (11:3)
  2. woman is the glory of man (11:7)
  3. the order of creation (man then women) (11:8-9)
  4. because of the angels (presumably to demonstrate submission) (11:10)
  5. a wife should have a symbol ("on her head") that signifies her husband's ("her head") authority is recognized (11:10)
  6. the natural order of differentiation between men and women in hair length - God's already wired things so that she has a built in covering as well as the material one needed (11:13-15)
  7. universal church practice - there was no other practice among the churches but the head covering (1 Cor 11:16)

As an aside, I'm not sure what exactly Paul means regarding the length of hair. In other words, I don't know exactly what Paul would call short and what Paul would call long. Ironically, one thinks of Jesus as having long-ish hair in pictures. Of course, no one today knows really what He looked like physically (although he probably wasn't the pretty boy Caucasian with the blue eyes that one typically sees). In the OT there was something called the Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:1-21) where a man would grow his hair out as part of a vow (also abstinence from wine & grape stuff & not touching anything dead). This vow would be for a time and at the end of the time the hair would be shaved off and given up as an offering to the Lord. Then life would be back to normal.

Outside of that, it seems Paul's
words indicate that there should be a visible distinction between the length of hair on males & females and that there was back in his day (perhaps Jesus' hair was much shorter than is typically portrayed). I might be the wrong guy to ask what short is, because I like Marine cuts as a personal preference.

I think the reality is that Paul is saying one should be able to tell the difference between men and women and there
shouldn't be confusion by one having hair too long or the other having hair too short.

Is long hair the covering about which Paul speaks? Would lon
g hair suffice for him? First, the Greek word used earlier in the chapter regarding covering and uncovered is not the same as that used in verse 15. I'm convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that Paul is not saying that a woman should have long hair when she prays. There seems to be something specific Paul wants women in the assembly to do (wear a head covering) that differs from what he wants them to do all the time (have long hair). I think his words about long hair are an appeal to nature as if to say just as a lady physically has her hair long as a type of covering, so should she have a visible sign to all of her spiritual covering.

When should this covering be in practice? I would have you snoop around in the context and see that
we're in the midst of Paul's teachings regarding how worship should be conducted (see Chapters 10, the rest of 11, and 12-14). Thus, I think the admonitions are for when the saints come together for worship and at a minimum I would say that entails the "main" Sunday morning service.

Beyond that, it's a hard for me to b
e too dogmatic. What about Sunday school and/or Sunday nights? What about family devotions? Some of that stuff is more a matter of conscience of application, it seems to me. The fact that it's a sign of authority ... on her head seems to me that it is a practice that is meant to communicate to others a wife's submission to her husband (although there may be some disagreement here among head covering proponents, I don't find this binding to unmarried women). Thus, other people have to be gathered for this worship. I know some that advocate any and every time prayer is offered up, up comes the hat/covering. I certainly would not fault anyone for what I would consider "playing it safe."

To further illustrate, the case has been made that with regard
to the whole thing of head covering one should cover up even if not convinced. The argument goes like this: if it's not necessary and a head covering is still worn, there is certainly no sin that has been committed. Conversely, if it is binding and not done then grave sin would have been committed where the order of creation and the angels are snubbed.

Interestingly enough, we still observe one aspect of this pretty much universally, that is the removal of hats for gentlemen during prayer (and really upon
entering a church in many instances). Also, historically the ladies wearing head coverings was practiced in our country (and all throughout Christian churches) pretty uniformly at least up into the 1950s and some churches are still doing it. It seems to have fallen out of vogue in the 60s, but so did a lot of things (e.g., modesty, chastity, sobriety, etc.). Granted, there were probably many who lost sight of why they were doing what they were doing, but the practice was still there even then.

Some practical questions for those contemplating implementation:
  • When/Where to wear a head covering? all the time? at all times in a church building? during the full assembly (i.e., main worship time)? only when a prayer is actually offered?
  • What to wear for a covering? a veil? a lace scarf? a hat? a handkerchief?
  • Who to cover? wives? all women? all females?

These are not irrelevant issues, but I also hope they would not be seen as the essential issues.

In my mind the principle is espoused in 1 Cor 11:10: the wife "ought to have a sign of authority on her head." Thus, I would suggest that while I would commend those who practice the wearing of some form of head covering in congregational worship, I would also urge any and all so doing to be sure to know what you're doing and why. You're communicating to those watching (humans and angels) your willing submission to your husband's authority. Now, if that's not counter-cultural, I don't know what is.

Recently, I had a conversation with R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries about this topic at a pastor's conference. I wanted to gain some insight from him. I said, "Dr. Sproul, I'm an advocate of the practice of head coverings and I understand that you lean in that direction as well." To which he emphatically replied, "Oh, I don't just lean there ... I STAND there."

My last question: For those who say that the principle is binding, but not that particular practice, how do your congregations practice that principle? In other words, if not with a head covering, how do your women/wives communicate submission to their men/husbands? I'm convinced Paul gave a binding principle and binding practice for that principle, but I'm curious to hear how others might have alternate practices for said principle.

I encourage all to prayerfully study this topic so you too can have somewhere to stand with a clear conscience on this issue.

P.S. As it has been my experience that this concept is more reluctantly embraced by ladies, I thought a feminine perspective might prove helpful. The purpose of the following site is to inform and encourage women in their faith and daily living from a practical Reformed view.Reformed Puritan Home: For Women of Like Faith and Daily Living ... Why Should One Cover?

Labels: , ,


At 21 January, 2006 16:05, Anonymous Ron said...

I think context is very important here. The bulk of 1 Cor is written as a corrective to bad practices the Corinthians were engaged in (and there were some pretty bad ones). I think a thorough hermeneutic will take this into consideration. It seems that Paul was primarily giving a corrective to problematic behavior, and in order to properly understand the corrective, we need to know what behavior. Obviously, it was that either men had started wearing headcoverings while praying/prophesying, women had stopped wearing them, or possibly even both.

It's my understanding that Jewish practice was for both men and women to cover their heads. The argument has been made elsewhere that a practice of the New Covenant Jews was to abolish men's head coverings (because with the sacrifice of Christ, there was no longer a veil between men and God) and that the Corinthian women --- given their community's penchant for "enthusiastic freedom" --- had stopped wearing coverings as well. Paul would then seem to be correcting the erroneous assumption that the event which removed the need for a covering between man and God does not imply the removing of a covering between husbands and wives.

In any event, contrary to your claim that Paul's reasons had nothing to do with culture, it seems to me that Paul's argument about hair and headcovering per se was actually mostly an argument from culture. Specifically, that the Church, the City of God, had cultural practices governing headcovering (which had meaning based in Scriptural truth), and the Corinthian believers were pridefully ignoring that culture in favor of going their own way (in headcovering, use of spiritual gifts, observation of the Communion meal, morality, sectarianism, and pretty much everything else). Paul was desiring them to conform to the culture of the Body of Christ (and hence not society), and explaining the truth that lay under the cultural practice in the first place. In other words, there is a truth of which the practice of headcovering is a cultural manifestation within the covenant community. "Nature" itself (as we understand the term today) teaches absolutely nothing about either hair or hats. A man's hair will naturally grow just as long as a woman's, and there are plenty of cultures where that has been common. And Eve was created naked --- sans hat, doily, kerchief, etc. The "nature" and common sense Paul appeals to in 1 Cor 11:13-15 obviously stems from the cultural practice of the church (vs 16).

The thrust of the point here would then seem to me to be less the wearing of a covering by women, and more the unified story that the church is telling to the world about how men and women live together before God under the New Covenant. (A story the world understood in Paul's day since it knew full well what a woman with a covered head meant --- unlike our world today.)

I think the important thing to note is that whatever is done must be a picture of the truth of our relationships with each other, that the picture should have meaning both to us and to the world, and that the Church of God should be culturally unified so far as it is feasible. Modern hat-wearing clearly fails on the last two points, and I would argue on the first one as well.

(Incidentally, a point I can't resist making is that Paul specifically addresses covering while (publicly) praying or prophesying. However, even those who do cover at the Murph don't do so during Sunday School or Sunday night meeting which is when most of the public praying takes place...)

One more point: the "do it just in case" argument would seem to fly in the face of Romans 14. And there are those who take 1Tim. 2:9-15 far more literally than we do, but we don't forbid women to speak in church or wear jewelry "just in case" that understanding of the passage is correct.

Just some thoughts which are, as Rod Serling would say, "submitted for your consideration". ;-)


At 23 January, 2006 21:33, Anonymous StuckMonkey said...

My questions to those who refuse to see that this command applies to us now is this: If the first part of 1 Cor 11 (addressing head coverings) is no longer needed, then why does the latter part of the chapter hold as much relevance and importance for our service as it does? Why is the Lord's Supper not considered outdated or culturally specific?

At 01 February, 2006 00:20, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to what Ron said (I don't know who that is, but at any rate...),I was thinking the same thing about the fact the Jewish men also covered their heads, and I think he made some very relevant points, though I cannot answer "stuckmonkey"'s question; which is what makes it an interesting topic. Still, I'm not convinced, even though I don't necessarily fear doing something "out of the ordinary", if I believe it is right. The argument that what is done ought to be that picture that has meaning to the world in which we live makes sense to me. Even amongst Christians, the wearing of head coverings is quite rare and only the most conservative of denominations/churches do it, and even then, it is not universal usually to that body. My impression is that it becomes a "holier than thou" type of outward display, and even if the person practicing it doesn't feel that way, it is usually interpreted that way. Now, the use of this argument is not terribly substantive, I will grant you, but it is there anyway, to be considered, and offered in frankness, though many might not like to admit it. Finally, the point that Mr. Sproul (whom I respect) "stands" on it is not terribly relevant to me. He would, I assume, also stand strongly for infant baptism, but I believe from Scripture that that is a terribly misguided practice.

Pemberley (I don't have a "blogger identity, and smileys made from punctuation marks just make me think of unfinished punctuation, so I'll forsake the indulgence (though I am in no way offended by them (insert smiley of choice here)).

At 02 February, 2006 02:20, Blogger GUNNY said...

Ron ...

In the powerful words of Judge Chamberlain Holler to Vincent Gambini: "That is a lucid, intelligent, well-thought out objection. ... Overruled."

But ... I do like the promotion of further discussion and I like the nuance you force with regard to making a distinction between Christian (i.e., New Covenant congregations) culture and the culture of the world.

However, I would not say that Paul's reasons for the practice (head coverings) were cultural (even in the sense of the covenant community), but rather that his theological reasons he lists necessitate specific action within the covenant community (i.e., cultural impact on the community).

In other words, I'm not able to see Paul's rationale being cultural so much as theological with implication(s) for the covenant culture.

However, I want to dwell just a bit on your 5th paragraph. You note three things. The first, I would submit to you, seems a bit of a cop out, not necessarily by yourself, but I've heard it as such. In other words, the head covering (practice) should signify submission (principle) but if it doesn't then the practice should be abandoned ... lest it appear as hypocrisy. I would respond that one should not abandon either the principle or the practice. Yet, if you're going to abandon the practice, how instead, would you apply the principle? In other words, I would rather educate people on why they're doing what Scripture tells them to do (i.e., overcoming ignorance of principle) than have to educate on both.

Second, you note that "the picture should have meaning both to us and to the world," with which I would agree. However, I'm willing for the church to bear the burden of education of the relevance/significance of the picture as opposed to abandoning it since it has not that meaning in the present.

Third, you note that "the Church of God should be culturally unified so far as it is feasible." Here's where I'm wanting to disagree, but I don't want to negate the sentiment I perceive there. I would say that, in general, I'd like to see unity. However, I believe that unity comes in and from truth and obedience. In other words, I would be against those who want unity at the sake of truth (or at least its proclamation), as I think you'd agree. But, I also would say that God's people should be obedient, and counter-cultural, if necessary, even if that means causing division and/or disunity in the body of Christ. My hope, of course, would be that the others would get on board.

I think you might agree with that last part, but perhaps not on seeing this as an issue of obedience, or at least not in the manner in which I do.

More to say and more that wants to be said in response to other points, but I'll defer to more conversants.

Thanks for your comments.

At 07 February, 2006 23:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Pemberley again. I was thinking about this topic and I hope I am not doing the wrong thing by bringing this up publicly. I realize the owner of this blog can edit it or choose not to publish it, so I think I'm safe. I don't want to sound critical, but I see what seems to be some irony in speaking of the female submission issue as it relates to head-coverings, but not as it relates to something much more obvious which is women being silent in the church. Perhaps that is only as it relates to the worship service itself, I think it could be more broadly applied to any time the church is formally gathered for stated meetings. Still, if we must say it is only for worship and that they are free to speak/teach during other times like Sunday school or a Bible study, so be it. Still, I am speaking of it in regards to leading in public prayer. I have been to The Murph and have attended a number of services. I am really concerned that, since I have been observing, women have done most of the public praying in Sunday school and in the evening Bible study. There have been 2 times when only men volunteered to pray, most of the time it is both men & women, but there have been times when more women prayed than men, and even times when ONLY women prayed and none of the men volunteered at all. It may sound like I was keeping a tally, I wasn't at all, but it is something I've noticed. This cannot be good. Men in our Christian society are so apt to abdicate authority and leadership. When women are allowed to take any leadership, they usually run amok with it, and we see men sitting idly by way too much (and here I am, a woman, pointing it out). It's not the women I'm being critical of really but the men who sit by and wait. I'm not sure at all why there is any hesitation to volunteer to pray for something. Are they afraid that they are hogging all the prayer opportunities? I hope it does not indicate spiritual sloth, but I still say, it is not good. The whole issue speaks to the woman's place in the church. Another extension of the question is regarding the laying on of hands. I've never seen a woman participate in this before. I tried to look it up in Scripture, but since the word "they" or "their" is used so much in the English translation, I can't tell if it is the apostles who do it, the leadership of the church, the men, or all the people of the church. Perhaps the original language gives insight. I am just curious on the last point, and it's something to think about. The men needing to lead is the thing about which I have the most concern. Personally, I would not pray aloud in a public church meeting where men were present.

Also, I was wondering what men think whose wives actually wear head-coverings. Do they agree that their wives are submissive? If they didn't feel that they were, would they ask them to remove them? Finally, in a rather simplistic response to Stuckmonkey's inquiry, one reason I can quickly give for not dismissing the Lord's Supper section of the chapter in question is that He particularly said we are to do it in remembrance of Him and to show His death until He comes.

At 25 February, 2006 02:20, Blogger GUNNY said...

Anon/Pemberley1: "Even amongst Christians, the wearing of head coverings is quite rare and only the most conservative of denominations/churches do it, and even then, it is not universal usually to that body. My impression is that it becomes a "holier than thou" type of outward display, and even if the person practicing it doesn't feel that way, it is usually interpreted that way."

Granted, you noted this is not a very strong argument yourself, but are you fairly assessing the situation where you perceive women wearing headcoverings as attemping to one up others spiritually? Should they not be obedient to their understanding of Scripture? Could one not use the same argument against yourself for wanting women to be silent, thereby demonstrating a holier than thou persona to the talkies?

Anon/Pemberley2: "I don't want to sound critical, but I see what seems to be some irony in speaking of the female submission issue as it relates to head-coverings, but not as it relates to something much more obvious which is women being silent in the church." But is it not ironic that you obviously hold to one aspect (i.e., silence as submission), but not the other (i.e., headcovering as sign of submission)?

On the other hand, though the ins and outs of it might not be apparent, I do feel the portions you mentioned (about silence) are pertinent, relevant, and still binding. The application of them (e.g., when, where, how, etc.) may be a bit different than perhaps you're used to, however.

Incidentally, I have wholeheartedly agree that men need to "step up" and take greater leadership roles, even (and particularly) in public prayer.

In the interests of brevity to attempt to address your perception of irony, let me just say that I see our Sunday night Bible study as different than our Sunday morning service. More could be said, of course, but that's it in a nutshell.

Thanks for the dialogue and comments, Pemberley et al.

At 25 February, 2006 16:59, Blogger GUNNY said...

I added a postscript to the original post, the intention being a feminine perspective. The site of origin is by a woman for women to to inform and encourage women in their faith and daily living from a practical Reformed view.
Why Should One Cover?

At 06 March, 2006 20:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some women do not wear a head covering because their husband has instructed them not to, not because of a lack of submission, but because their husband disagrees with the practice.

At 06 March, 2006 23:08, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks for that insight, Anon II.

I'm curious to hear more in this regard, especially if you have first-hand experience.

It sounds as though you're saying that the women mentioned desire to wear a head covering, but the reason they do not is because their husbands told them not to. So, in submission to their husbands they do not wear a covering.

Is that what you're saying? In other words, their conviction/desire is to cover, but they don't because their husband's is not? In other words, the reason is not because the women don't want to.

Is that your situation?

At 07 March, 2006 13:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good questions. Speaking to the point of my husband not wanting me to wear one, I’m comfortable with his decision because I know what his heart motive is for me. Are there women who cover who’s husband desire that they didn’t- yes. Are there women who don’t cover because their husband’s desire them not to, and out of submission they obey- yes. Personally, I rarely disagree, and even more rarely publicly, on issues of theology, doctrine, or interpretation of scripture, with my husband. Though me agreeing or not agreeing is irrelevant. If he wanted me to I would, and if he didn't I would not.
Now, feel free to chop any of this (though obviously this goes without saying) lest someone be offended. I am in no means in favor of disunity over this issue. My husband believes (and ergo I understand) that many women who wear head coverings do so to the point of distraction. He also believes that the point of that section of scripture is for women to refrain from drawing attention to themselves. For example, the text regarding 1 Tim. 2:9 regarding women wearing gold etc. In today’s society, for me to be a pregnant woman with a few little ones scurrying under my feet, not wearing a wedding band would lead people to the wrong conclusion, and would or could damage my testimony, therefore I do not keep that one. My husband believes (and ergo I) that doing anything so as to draw unnecessary attention undermines the heart of the scripture. That said, if we lived in a culture where women wore head coverings, I would by all means wear one. I guess I would try to become all things. The purpose would be not to draw attention to myself.
Just out of curiosity, are there any other sections of scripture that require a physical outside adornment of oneself? (apart from Old Testament, Levitical style dress). Do you feel it necessary to abide by all scripture, or are there other sections discounted based on culture etc or other filters? (I know this is a tad rhetorical since I’ve just read that you do allow women to speak at certain times.) How do you decide? If you do believe that women who are not wearing a head covering are sinning, do you plan on doing anything about it in your church (for example having head coverings available when you walk in)?

At 07 March, 2006 15:24, Blogger GUNNY said...

Anon2 et al.,

I hope to never have to censor a comment, unless vulgar (e.g., racial slurs, profanity) or libelous. Good theological discussion may offend, but it, in and of itself, is not offensive.

Thanks for your perspective.

You mentioned that your husband believes "that many women who wear head coverings do so to the point of distraction." For women he/you believe do not do so the point of distraction, what is it that makes the difference? In other words, what is it they do right that the others do wrong? Would it be the method of covering or the motivation?

"Just out of curiosity, are there any other sections of scripture that require a physical outside adornment of oneself?" Good question. Nothing comes to mind, but I will have to do a little research before I could say no with relative confidence.

"Do you feel it necessary to abide by all scripture, or are there other sections discounted based on culture etc or other filters?" I do, yet that abiding/application for us might be different. For example, there are many rules and regulations in Leviticus that are applicable to us in ways different than they would have been for the original context and/or audience.

"How do you decide?" This is not as easy to determine as some might think, and I hope I haven't given the impression that it is. One has to make an interpretative judgement call as to whether or not the practice might be binding. What might be different in our context? In the Lev. example, we're of a different covenant.

Did the author intend the principle and the practice to be timeless? For example, did Paul want wifely submission to be timeless for the church and the particular expression of it to be timeless (e.g., head covering) or neither? I would say both and I get the impression you would say just the principle of submission; others would say neither.

The reason I go with both is because of (1) Paul's list of reasons for the practice and (2) the fact that he mentions the sign of authority must be on her head (1 Cor 11:10), an allusion I believe to husband being head of the wife (11:3,5).

I'm often asked about greeting one another with a "holy kiss." Is Paul just wanting folks to express warmth to each other, which could be practiced by a handshake among some or bowing among others or a high five or the manly hand clutch right shoulder bump? If I knew what a "holy kiss" was it might help me here, but I lean toward the principle being binding, but the practice of it being culturally determined.

But this is where I come back to my query as to how one (visibly) demonstrates/symbolizes the wifely submission if not through head coverings.

Dan Wallace (DTS Greek prof) in the folling piece does a nice job of depicting 4 views of our passage in qustion. He differs in that he sees the principle as binding, but not the practice. It's very hard to find many who discuss this issue at all, so his thoughts are helpful and well worth a read, though we obviously differ at the point of application (and to whom it applies (me - wives, he - all women; and when it applies).

What is the Head Covering in 1 Cor 11:2-16 and Does it Apply to Us Today?

He seems to have trouble coming up with an alternative "meaningful symbol" and I disagree with his rationale for eliminating the head covering from the realm of possibility. I would think someone could hold his position and see head covering as one legitimate means of expression, though not the only one. The expression might be individually determined ecclesiastically, as he seems to advocate.

"If you do believe that women who are not wearing a head covering are sinning, do you plan on doing anything about it in your church (for example having head coverings available when you walk in)?"

Kind of like fancy restaurants that provide a coat and/or tie when necessary? Another great question. Oddly enough, I'd not thought about that too much, but I can see how that might concern a wife in my congregation who is not a coverer.

Well, as stated in my original post, this is not an issue that lends itself to too dogmatic of an application, though I have certainly felt some heat from those dogmatic on the other side of the aisle.

For example, while I don't ever recall covering proponents in my church saying that the non-coverers are insubordinate to their husbands or sinners or such, I have certainly heard accusations by the non-coverers that the coverers are just doing it for show or think they are holier than thou, etc. In other words, it's been my experience that one group is much quicker to judge the motives of the other.

I find it at least unkind to ridicule a woman who is humbly trying do what she and/or her husband see as obedience to the Scripture, but I've heard of it done. (N.B., I'm in NO WAY saying you're doing anything of the sort.)

I think this is an issue that Christians need to think through and come to some conclusions on. I'm, obviously, convinced of a view, but I love those in the body of Christ who differ nonetheless, just as I might another who differs on eschatology, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, a believer's relationship to the Mosaic Law, etc. I would only hope the same in return. In my mind, unity does not necessitate uniformity, though some agreement on essentials and perhaps highly valued areas may be needed.

My situation is perhaps unique because I am an authority in a church and am called upon to expound the Scriptures and I can only "call it" as I see it.

So, back to your original question ... I don't know.

Personally, I really do think that if people would approach the text with minimal previously conceived notions/assumptions (the absence being unrealistic for any of us), then there would be more coverers than less.

Because the norm is to not cover, I think it's that much harder for one to be a head covering proponent. That doesn't make it right or wrong, but even when I was not a head covering advocate, I respected the fact that the women who were would risk all that goes with swimming upstream.

So, in any church with which I'm ever affiliated (and the body of Christ in general) I would hope to see love, patience, and respect ... even in the midst of healthy disagreement and/or discussion, particularly on this issue.

Thanks again for your comments/contribution.

At 08 March, 2006 09:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok. Slight chuckle. I can’t imagine you receiving heat from the pro covering side, so the fact that the non-covering side is only giving heat makes logical sense to me. ;)
Your question for me- when is and when is it not distracting… First, let me preface with I know women on both side of this issue, and equally godly. What makes me want to be a better wife, more submissive, and a godly woman isn’t what they wear but how they act. It is their fruit I admire and often convicts me. The opposite side of the coin is that I’ve known quite a few women who really do have the holier than thou mentality, bear no fruit, and are that way regardless of covering or no covering. Perhaps it is a coincidence (but that’s not the word I really mean) that there are more women who cover that have a legalistic mindset that is probably the most offensive. When is it not distracting- in a congregation, or place, where everyone is wearing one, and if not there, when it is not done for show. I know of a very honorable woman who wears a head covering, meaning a large piece of fabric she covers her entire head with, but sits at the back of the church because she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself or from the service. I respect that, but I respect her anyway because she is quite a godly woman. It’s the same as abiding by the unspoken dress code. You don’t wear Gucchi on mission trips to poor countries, and you don’t wear flip flops to meet the President.
Here’s where I’m basically getting caught up. It seems odd, and rather counter Paul, for coverings to be anything other than cultural as he seems to condemn the attitude of outwardly doing something as to appear a certain way. He’s more of the “I became all things to all men” kind of guy. In fact I would say Christ Himself denounces cleaning the outside of the cup. (I am in no means suggesting this is the motivation of coverers.) The idea of submission runs through out the whole Bible, though I’m not sure it becomes obvious until after the fall. But the concept of outer adornment (aside from Old Testament- which I’m in no way discounting) I’ve never seen anywhere else in the Bible, though I’m open to correction here. In fact, there is more admonishment not to do a thing for appearances. (like not looking like you’re fasting. Not praying on corners, etc ) It seems bizarre that Paul would be instructing a woman to do something that would make her stand out on purpose. To me, it doesn’t line up with the bulk of scripture.
I can understand your support and defense of the coverers. But how do you really know what they are saying and thinking? (I don’t mean to be accusing.) As a non coverer, I have found some coverers will talk quite naughtily when the cat’s away about other mice. The whole “I’m obeying scripture because I’m wearing a real head covering of a certain size, texture etc, while those hat wearers are just wearing fashion accessories, and well that means nothing at all. They aren’t really being submissive at all.” The attitude that unless you believe as I do, and do as I do, you are not a godly and submissive wife. Of course non coverers are going to be repulsed by this. I’ve heard it in person, and it’s pervasive on the internet. ( I’m wondering if you realized that for a holy kiss you are allowing room for it to be culturally determined and the bit of irony here. )
I have spent time studying and praying over this. In fact I have read the article you mentioned above. I am perfectly comfortable with having differing opinions. In fact I’ll go so far as to say some things are sinful for me that might not be for you and vice versa. There are some women I truly admire that wear head coverings and I would not ridicule them. And then there’s the kind who do it as a one up thing that I have no respect for.
I truly appreciate your time, openness and willingness to sincerely delve into this.

At 09 March, 2006 01:07, Blogger GUNNY said...

"Ok. Slight chuckle. I can’t imagine you receiving heat from the pro covering side"

My apologies, Anon2, I meant to convey that (myself excepted) I've seen coverers take flak from non-coverers, with accusations like the ones mentioned. I'm not saying it doesn't go the other way and it probably would more likely do so in an arena where coverers were in the majority.

"It seems odd, and rather counter Paul, for coverings to be anything other than cultural as he seems to condemn the attitude of outwardly doing something as to appear a certain way."

Well, if all we had in 1 Cor 11 was "Make sure the women/wives are covered." Then I would agree that the cultural aspect would certainly be tops on my list of Reasons Paul So Emphatically Commands Head Coverings. However, the fact that he gives multiple reasons tells me that culture wasn't his reason.

To put it simply, the arguments I hear against this being done today are:
(1) Paul's insistence of this practice was only cultural and therefore only for the church in Corith
(2) (somewhat related) Paul wanted the women to cover because the others were and that way they would blend in, that is not distract.

But, Paul doesn't leave us to speculate. He gives his reasons. I don't fully understand them, but I perceive his insistence and appeal to that which transcends culture.

This is why the "holy kiss" is more prone to the cultural aspect. There is neither explanation of what or why. It might not be cultural, but without explicit reasons, culture seems to have to be a legitimate option.

"I can understand your support and defense of the coverers. But how do you really know what they are saying and thinking?"

To some extent, I don't, but that applies to any area of the Christian life. I never truly know anyone's motives and even question my awareness of my own at times.

Now, I'll be the first to say that wearing a head covering doesn't automatically make one a submissive wife, other than perhaps with regard to that practice. Wearing a cross doesn't necessarily make one a Christian either. However, hopefully, in both cases, that which is symbolized is at least intended.

I hope that wife intends/tries to be biblically submissive. I hope that cross wearer intends/tries to follow Christ. I don't expect sinners in process of being sanctified to do either absolutely or perfectly, but I would certainly hope to see improvement and resolve.

Thanks so much for your contribution(s) and keeping the discussion going.

At 19 September, 2006 16:44, Blogger GUNNY said...

A few more sites I'd recommend on the issue (though the views expressed, particularly on other issues, may or may not necessarily represent the views of the management of this station)

Women's Head Coverings & the Glory of God

Head Coverings in Public Worship

The Woman's Headcovering

At 06 October, 2007 12:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i’m wondering if i can get some help here…

i am having an on-line discussion about head-coverings with fellow reformed christian women. here is what one of my friends wrote:

“I understand the reasons women wear them - & believe that’s what Paul was talking about there in Corinthians. but look at verse 10 - it says it is a ’symbol’ of authority, & in the NIV ’symbol’ is italicized which means it may not be the right word, but the closest English can come to it. it would be interesting & helpful to have someone explain a word study from the Greek on ’symbol.’…”

can someone help me answer this question? my friend adheres to the cultural symbol explanation (not a command for all time)…

thank you! - mira


Post a Comment

<< Home

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting