Christian head covering
My daughters and I wear a head covering in corporate worship. We are usually alone in this but the Lord doesn’t call us to obedience if others are also obeying; He calls us to obedience even if we stand alone. Concerning Christian headcoverings, most women who wear them stand alone.
This wasn’t always the case. Once wearing headcoverings in worship was the common practice of Christian women. It was and is the testimony of church fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans, and of many godly men right up to our own time.
Feminism’s assault on the practice of Christian head covering
National Organization for Women, December 1968: “Because the wearing of a head covering by women at religious services is a symbol of subjection with many churches, NOW recommends that all chapters undertake an effort to have all women participate in a “national unveiling” by sending their head coverings to the task force chairman. At the Spring meeting of the task force of women and religion, these veils will be publicly burned to protest the second class status of women in all churches.
Scripture teaches that women wearing a head covering in corporate worship is biblically mandated. Church history testifies to that. Until feminism was nearly universally embraced in one form or another, women covered their heads in corporate worship. Sometimes it was by veiling, other times by a hat, a bonnet, or a scarf, but whatever the means, it was the practice of nearly all the churches. Only those churches which didn’t take the teaching of Scripture as authoritative defied the practice.
Once I was convicted that the wearing of a head covering in worship wasn’t a cultural practice of Corinth but are a practice for women in the church universal and for all time, I began to teach my daughters what I was learning. Further study taught me that women are to wear a head covering when the church is gathered in corporate worship as well as other times Christians are gathered (such as for a wedding, funeral, Sunday School, conferences, etc.) since worship and the reading of God’s Holy Word and the offering of prayer takes place in these settings.
My daughters and I read books on the practice of Christian head covering. We studied the Scriptural references to headcovers. We studied the creation order and how that related to 1 Corinthians 11. We came to realize that every other command in Scripture tied to the creation order is considered to be in effect for today. But not headcoverings. Why was that, we wondered. We came to realize that feminism was the answer.
The women’s movement and headcoverings
As the women’s movement gained steam, fewer and fewer women wore headcoverings. Feminism taught them that head coverings were oppressive and old fashioned. As the women rebelled just as their mother Eve did, the men capitulated just as Adam had. As the women pushed, the men, few of whom were grounded in Scripture, crumbled.
Often when a doctrine is taken for granted, the reasoning behind the Scriptural truth is often no longer emphasized or taught. This allows those with a nefarious desire to attack Scriptural truth the inroads they need to do so. Concerning head coverings, when feminists started pushing against the practice few church leaders had a real Scriptural understanding of the reasons for them. Some simply lacked the spiritual fortitude to stand against the warring women. Others simply didn’t care. Too many were happy to bring the church into modern times. Soon, head covering was consigned to the dust bin of church history, those few who wore them considered to be giving a quaint but unnecessary nod to the past. Those few women who still practiced headcovering were either in a group such as the Amish or Mennonites or were considered a relic of a time now long gone. In a time of growing support for equality, women’s rights, and feminism, the support for the Christlike women who wore head coverings in obedience to their Lord completely evaporated.
But man’s disobedience, misunderstanding, or denial of truth has never been the true basis for our worship. So the question is, what does Scripture say?
1 Corinthians 11: 1-16
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.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[a] is her husband,[b] 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[c] 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.[d] 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. (ESV)
Paul gives four reasons for women to observe head covering in Christian worship
- The first reason Paul gives for women covering their heads in worship is because of creation order. The Lord created men and women equal in worth but not in our roles or authority. Adam was created first and the woman Eve was created out of his rib. Both the order of creation and the fact that she was created from man rather than directly as man was testifies to the differing roles of men and women. Men were created by God to rule in the home, the church, and in society. Women were created as a helpmeet to man with her sphere being the home. Paul’s argument for the wearing of a head covering by women is tied to creation order. He is not appealing to a cultural practice of a particular place and time but to the order of creation of men and women. What else is tied to creation order? Why women cannot preach (1 Timothy 2: 12-14). If we are to be consistent, we cannot argue for creation order in 1 Timothy 2: 12-14 and against it in 1 Corinthians 1: 1-16. Each is tied to creation order. Either God meant what He said in both passages or He didn’t mean it in either one.
- Paul’s second reason for women to cover their heads is because of the angels. Whatever the fullness of this verse means, apparently the meaning was understood by Paul’s audience. Understanding what we know of the angels, we can draw a few conclusions. Angels are created beings. They observed God creating the world. They were present when Lucifer sinned and, along with his angel followers, was cast out of heaven and given no chance of redemption. The angels witnessed Adam’s creation, his subsequent sin and the fall of mankind. They have observed God’s intervention on behalf of mankind, culminating in the death of His own Son. They’ve seen all of this and more. When we worship God as He has commanded (in spirit and in truth), the angels are observing God’s enemy worshipping the One they had rebelled against. They see the beauty of Jesus’s sacrifice and the result of it (our salvation). When women wear a head covering, they see a woman who formerly was in rebellion (as her mother Eve was), seeking a place not given to her by her Creator (man’s place of ruling) now willingly submitting to the place God has chosen to give to her (that of being in submission). Though not a full exposition of this verse, this gives us insight into the possible meaning of it.
- Paul had just explained why women must wear a head covering in worship when he tells his audience to judge for themselves from nature. 1 Corinthians 11: 13, “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” Paul is appealing to the nature. Paul isn’t arguing that nature tells women to wear headcoverings but that nature testifies that God created male and female with each designed for a separate and perfect purpose. Men were designed to lead; women were designed as subordinate. Head coverings testify to this God-designed order and thus Paul uses the nature of the created order as one of his arguments for women wearing a covering when she worships her Creator.
- Church practice is the final reason the Apostle gives for the practice of head covering. Paul argues that the practice of women covering their heads during worship is a universal practice. Verse 16, which many interpret as if this is contentious to you, don’t worry about obeying it is actually saying that it is contentious to not practice head coverings. NASB translates verse 16 as, “we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” Tertullian, a Christian apologist who lived from 160-220AD, wrote a book called “The Veiling of Virgins”; in it he argued that all women are to be covered in worship, not just those who are married. He said, “So, too, did the Corinthians themselves understand him. In fact, at this day the Corinthians do veil their virgins. What the apostles taught, their disciples approve.” Tertullian, having observed the Corinthian church in the third century argues that they and all other churches at that time observed the practice of covering their women. The practice was universal then and ought to be universal even in our day.
Study to show thyself approved
A thousand thousand people can tell us something is right and yet it be wrong or tell us something is wrong and yet it be right. In matters of doctrine, it matters only what the Lord hath said. Scripture tells us to be like the Bereans who examined Scripture daily to make sure that what they were being taught was actually what God’s Word said (Acts 17: 11). In 2 Timothy 2: 15 God commands us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” This includes the teachings on head coverings. Below you will find many links to sermons, books, quotes and articles. Study, pray, and see what God hath said.
An examination of 1 Corinthians 11: 1-16
Websites, Blogs, and Podcasts
Head coverings #1: the logic of glory and veiling byBronn Tennant
Headcovering by the Reformed Presbyterian Church
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1 Corinthians 11 through the ages
“Though the many authors differ on various issues associated with headcoverings, one important issue upon which they are all agreed is that Paul was not commanding the women in Corinth either to let their hair grow long so as to use their long hair as a headcovering in worship, or to neatly place their hair upon their heads as a headcovering in worship, but rather to place upon their heads a fabric headcovering when they worship before the Lord. This conclusion is reached by scholars from various denominational backgrounds, from different geographical locations, and from many periods of church history. The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ which is “the pillar and ground of the truth.””
“I am convinced that when Paul says the women are to cover their heads, he is basing that action on how God created male and female. It would seem to me, using a principle of interpretation of what we call hermeneutics, that if there ever an indication of a perpetual ordinance in the church, it is that which is based on an appeal to Creation. I’m persuaded that the principle of covering the head is still in effect because it was built into creation. And even though it’s not culturally accepted anymore in our society, I still believe it’s principle. I don’t think it matters one bit whether it’s a babushka, a veil, or a hat, but I think that the symbol should remain intact as a sign of our obedience to God.” R.C. Sproul, Now, That’s a Good Question, 48
“It is one thing to seek a more lucid understanding of the biblical content by investigating the cultural situation of the first century; it is quite another to interpret the New Testament as if it were merely an echo of the first-century culture. To do so would be to fail to account for the serious conflict the church experienced as it confronted the first-century world. Christians were not thrown to the lions for their penchant for conformity. Some very subtle means of relativizing the text occur when we read into the text cultural considerations that ought not to be there. For example, with respect to the hair-covering issue in Corinth, numerous commentators on the Epistle point out that the local sign of the prostitute in Corinth was the uncovered head. Therefore, the argument runs, the reason why Paul wanted women to cover their heads was to avoid a scandalous appearance of Christian women in the external guise of prostitutes. What is wrong with this kind of speculation? The basic problem here is that our reconstructed knowledge of first-century Corinth has led us to supply Paul with a rationale that is foreign to the one he gives himself. In a word, we are not only putting words into the apostle’s mouth, but we are ignoring words that are there. If Paul merely told women in Corinth to cover their heads and gave no rationale for such instruction, we would be strongly inclined to supply it via our cultural knowledge. In this case, however, Paul provides a rationale which is based on an appeal to creation, not to the custom of Corinthian harlots. We must be careful not to let our zeal for knowledge of the culture obscure what is actually said. To subordinate Paul’s stated reason to our speculatively conceived reason is to slander the apostle and turn exegesis into eisogesis. The creation ordinances are indicators of the transcultural principle. If any biblical principles transcend local customary limits, they are the appeals drawn from creation… What if, after careful consideration of a biblical mandate, we remain uncertain as to its character as principle or custom? If we must decide to treat it one way or the other but have no conclusive means to make the decision, what can we do? Here the biblical principle of humility can be helpful. The issue is simple. Would it be better to treat a possible custom as a principle and be guilty of being overscrupulous in our design to obey God? Or would it be better to treat a possible principle as a custom and be guilty of being unscrupulous in demoting a transcendent requirement of God to the level of a mere human convention? I hope the answer is obvious.” R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, 110
“They (the angels) reverence the greatness and majesty of Christ. Though they be high and glorious, yet they see so vast a distance between Christ and themselves, that they cover their faces, Isa. vi. And their bodies, here; they come not into his presence rudely, but with great respect and reverence. As God is to be had in reverence of all that are about him, Psalm 89:7, so Christ is reverenced of all the angels that are about him. Women are to be veiled in the assemblies, because of the angels, 1 Cor. 11:10, to show their reverence and subjection to them being present; and angels are covered, to show their reverence and subjection to Christ. It is an honour to the angels, that in reverence to them the women are to be veiled; and it is a great honour to Christ, that angels reverence and adore him.” Commentary on Ezekiel (Ch. 1:23), by William Greenhill, member of the Westminster Assembly.
“It was the common usage of the churches for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was manifestly decent that they should do so. Those must be very contentious indeed who would quarrel with this, or lay it aside.” – Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1706
“Paul’s admonition for women to wear a head covering ‘because of the angels’ removes any doubt that this teaching is universal and timeless.”
Therefore the Apostle requires the vailing of women in Religious worship, by the same notion and reason, as men veiled themselves, namely for reverence towards God. But certainly it may be required, whether he so much urgeth the vailing of women, as reproves the vailing of men. However, by this most fit argument, he well chastiseth the contrary custom, and foolishness of the men: as though he had said, do ye not consider, that the man is doxa theou the glory of God, but the woman is only doxa andros, the glory of the man; that the woman was made for man; that man is the head of the woman: and how ridiculous is it, that men should use a vail, when they pray, out of reverence and shame before God, and women not use it, whose glory is less?~ Commentary on First Corinthians (ch. 11:5), by John Lightfoot, member of the Westminster Assembly.
“Therefore if a woman is not covered — If she will throw off the badge of subjection, let her appear with her hair cut like a man’s. But if it be shameful far a woman to appear thus in public, especially in a religious assembly, let her, for the same reason, keep on her veil.” – John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible
“For a man indeed ought not to veil his head because he is the image and glory of God in the dominion he bears over the creation, representing the supreme dominion of God, which is his glory. But the woman is a matter of glory to the man, who has a becoming dominion over her. Therefore she ought not to appear except with her head veiled as a tacit acknowledgement of it.” – John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, 1 Corinthians 11:7
There are a number of Reformed denominations in North America and the Netherlands who now endorse women in church offices. The disturbing fact is that it appears that in some cases the pathway toward this unscriptural position began with the rejection of the teaching of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 regarding the divinely mandated use of the woman’s head-covering in public worship. Once the symbol of the head-covering was rejected (along with all of its theological implications), a first step was taken that could ultimately lead toward teaching that women should also be permitted to hold positions of authority in the church as office-bearers.
Paul reinforces this argument in verse 7 when he emphasizes that the man’s head may not be covered since he is ‘the image and glory of God’; that is, he is the divinely appointed representative and bearer of authority in the church. Since the woman is the glory of the man, that glory must be veiled, so that only God’s glory be visible in His house. Since that glory is symbolized by her long hair (v15), this glory must be veiled or covered in public worship. In public worship only God’s glory (reflected in the man) must be visible, and man’s glory (reflected in the woman) must be veiled.
The wearing of the female head-covering in public worship visibly reinforces God’s authority structure in the community of the church – a community that recognizes and submits to divine authority. Paul teaches us here that there is a divine hierarchy that must be observed. That hierarchy is as follows: God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman. Or to put it this way, the divine order is God, Christ, the man, and then the woman. Paul tells us in verses 3 & 4 that if a man engages in public worship with his physical head covered (his hair is not the issue), he dishonours his spiritual head, Christ. In a sinful way he would be challenging God’s established hierarchy.
Paul is emphasizing that the woman’s position in God’s order of things, also in the church, is rooted in the order in which God created the man and the woman – and in His purpose in creating them in this order. God created the woman to be the man’s helpmeet (ie, a help suitable for him) and his ‘completer’. Therefore to allow women to have a position of equality in public worship is contrary to God’s creation ordinance. This challenge to God’s order cannot be permitted in the public activity of the church, for it defies God’s revealed will. Also in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 Paul uses the creation argument to establish this position when he writes, ‘Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression’.
“It is not becoming even in married women to uncover their hair, since the apostle commands women to keep their heads covered.” ~Augustine, Letter CCXL
“In the assembly you meet with angels and devils; angels observe your garb and carriage and devils tempt you. Therefore, be covered because of the angels. The practice of women (who come hither with a shameless impudence into the presence of God, men and angels) neither suits with modesty nor conveniency…(Such boldness) feeds your own pride, and provokes …others of your rank to imitate your vanity. Now we should rather please God than men; better never please men than offend God” Sermons on Titus 2:11-14, Complete Works, vol. 16, p. 138 of Thomas Manton
“Eighth, the angels are present with us, beholding us in our church assemblies when we come to worship before God. When you are in the worship and service of God, the angels are with you, beholding you, though you see them not. This is hinted at in 1 Cor. 11:10 ‘For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head, because of the angels.” Some refer these words to ministers, who are elsewhere called angels, but we may understand it of the angels themselves because they delight in the things of the gospel. Here the apostle speaks of women not coming into church without covering. Why? Because of the angels, not the ministers. It is meant of the angels of heaven, and therein the women are to take heed how they come into the church, because the angels are spectators and behold how you behave yourselves, they being fellow-worshippers of God with you in church assemblies. And this should make you take heed of your carriage; for although they do not know your hearts, yet they behold your carriage as you come into the presence of God.” A Treatise of the Angels by Christopher Love.
“For this cause ought the woman to have power”, that is a covering, “on her head, because of the angels” 1 Corinthians 11:10…Methinks, holy and beloved sisters, you should be content to wear this power or badge…”~ John Bunyan (1628-1688)
“How is the public worship of God to be ordered and administered in the church? All the members of the church being met together as one man (i) in the sight of God (ii) are to join together in holy duties with one accord (iii) the men with their heads uncovered, the women covered.”~John Cotton (1585-1652)
I answer, that Paul taught by mouth such things as he wrote in his epistles. And his traditions were the gospel of Christ, and honest manners and living, and such a good order as becometh the doctrine of Christ: as that a woman obey her husband, have her head covered, keep silence, and go womanly and christianly apparelled; that children and servants be in subjection: and that the young obey their elders; that no man eat but he that laboureth and worketh; and that men make an earnest thing of God’s word and of his holy sacraments; and to watch, fast, and pray, and such like as the scripture commandeth: which things he that would break were no christian man. 4)
“The apostle tells us (1 Corinthians 11:10) that the woman was ‘to have power on her head, because of the angels’. Which place, especially the latter clause of it, is diversely interpreted. But I think all agree in this, that this power which they were to have on their heads was a vail or covering, which at other times, but most especially in the congregation, women ought to wear on their heads…But the men were uncovered in their assemblies, as the apostle tells us (v. 4) to signify that they had nothing over them, but were superior to all visible creatures, and subject only to God.”~ Ezekiel Hopkins (1633-1690)
John Angel James
“If the veil were thrown aside, they might as well cut off their flowing hair, one of the woman’s distinctions from the man, the ornament, as well as the peculiarity of the sex. Constantly and completely Christianity is the parent of order, and the enemy of indecorum of every kind. Why were not the women to lay aside their veils? Because it would be forgetting their subordination and dependence, and assuming an equal rank with man. This is the gist of the apostle’s reason. It was not merely indecorous, and contrary to modesty, but it was ambitious, and violating the order of heaven.”
“Do you think you and I have sufficiently considered that we are always looked upon by angels, and that they desire to learn by us the wisdom of God? The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is ‘because of the angels’. The apostle says that a woman is to have a covering upon her head, because of the angels, since the angels are present in the assembly and they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits.”
Robert L. Dabney
“Thus he who stands up in public as the herald and representative of heaven’s King must stand with uncovered head; the honour of the Sovereign for whom he speaks demands this. But no woman can present herself in public with uncovered head without sinning against nature and her sex. Hence no woman can be a public herald of Christ.”
“The thing signified is sometimes put for the sign materially… 1Cor.11:10, ‘A woman ought to have power on her head,’ that is a garment signifying that she was under the power of her husband.”
Andrew R. Fausset
“1 Corinthians 11:10-power on her head–the kerchief: French couvre chef, head-covering, the emblem of “power on her head”; the sign of her being under man’s power, and exercising delegated authority under him. …As woman’s hair is given by nature as her covering (v.15), to cut it off like a man would be palpably indecorous, therefore, to put away the head-covering like a man would be similarly indecorous. It is natural to her to have long hair for her covering, to show that she does of her own will that which nature teaches she ought to do, in token of her subjection to man.” ~ Andrew R. Fausset (1821-1910), the English one of the three collaborators of the familiar Commentary of Jamieson, Fausset & Brown
Arthur W. Pink (A.W. Pink)
“Because the woman has not been given rule and headship her head must be covered, and covered with a double covering: first, the long hair that God has given her by nature, so that even when she is outside the church that covering shall indicate that she is not her own head, but that she is under the dominion of the head of her household: secondly, that when she comes into the house of God there must be the additional cover of the hat because she is also in subjection to her spiritual brethren to whom God has appointed rule.”
What is so solemn in that sixth verse is the word “also.” I want you to notice that the Holy Spirit has there linked two things together. “If the woman be not covered let her also be shorn.”―In other words, God requires a double covering. He has given the woman the long hair to cover her head naturally, so that her head is covered when she is outside the church, to show that she is not her own ruler, her own head, but in subjection to the head of her household; but when she enters the house of God, another covering is required, to show that she is also in subjection to her spiritual head—those who have the rule in the house of God.
As far as my personal opinion is concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that in many things the woman is the superior of the man: in the finer sensibilities, in the nobler qualities that go to make up character, in patience and powers of endurance, in gentleness, in tenderness, in unselfishness, in ministering to the suffering, in love, the woman is the superior to man. But that is not what is under discussion here. What is under discussion here is the position that God has given unto each and how that position must be owned and acknowledged by the symbol that God has appointed—Because God has placed woman in the position of subordination her head must be covered.
“Now God has appointed that because man is the head, because headship or dominion or rule has been delegated by God into the hands of man, God has ordained that that shall be symbolically shown forth when he enters the house of God. His head shall be uncovered; his head shall be revealed; his head shall be manifest because God has given to him the headship. But because God has not given headship to the woman, because he has placed her in subjection to man, therefore that must be symbolically shown forth by her having head covered, her head concealed, showing that she is not her own head, and her own ruler.” – A.W. Pink’s Studies in the Scriptures, 1926-27, volume 3, 257-263
“It (the veil) hath a threefold use, 1) For decoration, as in Isaiah 3:23. 2) For a sign of modesty, pleaded for by the Apostle, 1Cor.11:6. 3) And mainly a sign of women’s subjection to their own husbands…” (Song of Solomon Commentary).
“Women should be veiled or covered in the meeting of the church, and the men should not. Paul’s reasons were based on theology (headship v.3), the order of creation (v.7-9), and the presence of angels in the meeting (v.10). None of these reasons was based on contemporary social custom.” – Charles Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible (1976), p. 303
S. Lewis Johnson
“In the final analysis, the hat, or veil, is not the important thing, but the subordination for which it stands. The presence of both is the ideal.” ~S. Lewis Johnson, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1248
“This writer concludes, then, that a woman who prays or prophesies in an assembly of believers should cover her head as a symbol of her submission to the absolute will of God who has ordered His universe according to His own good pleasure… Thus the face with which God chose to reveal Himself to the world is one that the world desperately needs to see, namely, a man who displays the image and glory of God through Christ, and a woman who, despite her ontological equality with the man, submits to him. In the historical process of administering His church, however, God has been pleased with the completion of the canon of Scripture to withdraw the gift of prophecy. In the practice of the churches today the apostolic teaching has relevance directly only to prayer. In this writer’s judgment, however, it would be well for Christian women to wear head coverings at church meetings as a symbol of an abiding theological truth.” – Bruce Waltke, “1 Corinthians 1:2-16: An Interpretation”, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1978
The covering is not simply her long hair. This supposition would make nonsense of verse 6; for the thought there is, that if she does not have a covering she might as well be shorn or shaven, a supposition without any force whatever if the hair covering is deemed sufficient.
“Since Paul appeals to the order of creation (vss. 3b, vss. 7ff.), it is totally indefensible to suppose that what is in view and enjoined had only local or temporary relevance.”
“So if women are thus permitted to have their heads uncovered and to show their hair, they will eventually be allowed to expose their entire breasts, and they will come to make their exhibitions as if it were a tavern show; they will become so brazen that modesty and shame will be no more; in short they will forget the duty of nature. Further, we know that the world takes everything to its own advantage. So, if one has liberty in lesser things, why not do the same with this the same way as with that? And in making such comparisons they will make such a mess that there will be utter chaos. So, when it is permissible for the women to uncover their heads, one will say, `Well, what harm in uncovering the stomach also?’ And then after that one will plead for something else; `Now if the women go bareheaded, why not also bare this and bare that?’ Then the men, for their part, will break loose too. In short, there will be no decency left, unless people contain themselves and respect what is proper and fitting, so as not to go headlong overboard”
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
But thus, you see, we argue with Scripture. Instead of taking its plain teaching, we say that times have changed—when it suits our thesis we say it is no longer relevant…The apostle tells them that that’s quite wrong; it’s not only wrong because a woman should have her head covered to show that she is under the authority of the man, but in addition to that he says that she should be covered because of the presence of the angels.
“Head coverings represent what God teaches about marriage. Therefore, we should not mock or hate this biblical practice, but embrace it wholeheartedly… Culture at the present time in America is becoming increasingly pagan, hedonistic and anti-Christian. Any biblical practice that sets God’s people apart from our culture and sets an example for it ought to be embraced by believers. We certainly do not act as a salt and light to our heathen culture when we reject biblical imperatives relating to covenant headship and instead imitate the world.”~Head Coverings in Public Worship by Brian Schwertley
“The headcovering requirement is based on the order of creation. It has been argued that this means that the principle of male headship is permanent, but the particular application of it (i.e. headcovering) was cultural. There is no evidence in the passage for this. Indeed, the evidence is in the opposite direction.”
Mary A. Kassian
“Paul taught all the churches this custom (head covering) and he expected them to follow it. In this final statement he cuts off all further argument by appealing to universal Christian usage.”
Meaning of head-covering by Zac Poonen
There are at least three reasons given in the New Testament why a woman should cover her head when she prays or prophesies in the meetings of the church:
First: The Bible says, “A man should NOT cover his head…” – and the reason given is: … because he is the image and glory of God”. In contrast, we are told, “but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Cor.11:7). The glory of man must be covered in the church – and since woman is the glory of man, she testifies to this fact by covering her head. This is the plain and simple meaning of this verse.
Second: The Bible says, “A woman’s long hair is her glory” (1 Cor.11:15). The glory of the woman also must be covered in the church, just like the glory of man. And so she must cover her head which has the glory of her long hair. Almost all women are conscious that their long hair is a major part of what makes them look attractive – and that is why even among those women who do put a covering on their heads, most of them cover only a part of their hair!! If a woman does not want to cover her head, then the only alternative that the New Testament offers is to remove that glory, by shaving her head completely: “If a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head” (1 Cor.11:6).
Third: The Bible says: “Man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Cor.11:10). The head-covering symbolizes the fact that a woman accepts her God-appointed role as having been created “for man’s sake” as his helper and therefore her willingness to be submissive to male authority – whether as a wife to her husband, or as a daughter to her father, or as a sister in the church to the church-elders. It is significant that the disappearance of the head-covering from women in Western churches (on a large scale) coincided with the time that the movement for “Women’s Liberation” (a phrase used in a book in 1949) began to spread in Western countries – about 60 years ago. The “angels” mentioned in this verse could refer either to the fallen angels or to the angels in heaven. So it could either be a reminder to women to bear in mind that the fallen angels fell because they were not submissive to authority.
1 Corinthians 11:16 says that every church that is a church of God, will insist on this head covering for women when they pray or prophesy. The Holy Spirit recognized that 20 centuries later this would become a controversial issue; and so He made Paul to state (in this same verse) that if anyone was going to be argumentative about this matter, he would not argue with such a person. He would just allow that person to continue on in his/her disobedience and inconsistency.
How to begin with head covering?
There are many options for coverings one’s head during worship. You can purchase special coverings or wear a hat, scarf, pretty bandana, or a snood. I usually wear a scarf, either large or small, and twist it, tie it, drape it, and so on. One daughter wears a hat. Another daughter usually wears a head covering she found inexpensively on Amazon (see picture above).