Saturday, March 21, 2009

If men are to remove their hats in church, shouldn't women cover their heads?

Since someone who has a website about head covering (Lisa) recently came along and posted here I've been thinking I need to do more on that subject. In fact I may have to start a separate blog because the topic can get very involved, as you can see if you visit that link and start tracking down other links from that site.

My own focus is strictly Biblical, and I do believe the Bible requires us to cover our heads. It's interesting that more women seem to be discovering this in the last few years, to judge by the number of blogs on the subject that have appeared recently.

I think that the more women spend time praying about this the more we'll see a move in this direction, because the Holy Spirit will certainly bring about that conviction for any who wait on Him for guidance. He would also show the wrongness of the idea that Paul was saying that long hair is the covering, or that he could have had a mere cultural custom in mind that is now no longer in force. I have no doubt about this. The churches understood Paul to be requiring a head covering and enforced it for 1800 years, until feminism came along.

This question, like too many others, has been too often decided by intellectual investigation of the scripture with too little prayer behind it. I'm convinced that serious dedicated prayer and meditation on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 along with diligent research into the history of the question would show that we are required to cover our heads. Research should be based on intimations from the Holy Spirit, it shouldn't itself be the foundation for arriving at a conclusion.

As I read that passage I don't connect it as directly with the other Biblical writings on women's role as many do. Of course it's not unrelated, but just in itself it isn't calling women to submissiveness or to modesty or even particular roles as other passages are, it's making a completely objective statement about the meaning of the head and whether it is covered or uncovered.

Paul says quite a bit about the necessity of the man's head being uncovered as well as the woman's being covered, and the fact that Jewish men did and still do cover their heads for worship helps prove that Paul was giving a specifically Christian directive. Even Roman men covered their heads for worship of their pagan gods.

Paul uses hair as an example for BOTH men and women. He points to the natural state of men's usually having shorter hair, even less hair than women if you consider that baldness is natural to men, as well as the natural state of women's hair being longer. When you recognize that he is addressing both sexes it may be easier to see that his point is that the natural state is to be reflected in men's uncovering their heads in church as well as women's covering theirs. Women's naturally longer way of wearing their hair (universal in Paul's day and in fact throughout history with some striking but rare exceptions) is to be taken as a cue to cover their heads, just as men's shorter hair is a natural cue to uncover.

Therefore: if we ask men to uncover their heads when they enter church, we should also ask women to cover their heads.

But we do the former and don't do the latter.

You'll often find discussions that treat it as a matter of a woman's conscience and advocate leaving it up to her whether to cover or not. Well, as long as church leadership doesn't take a position on it I suppose there's no other choice, but in the spirit of the teaching it's not about individual conscience, it's something the church should simply require of its members. Instead, they obey part of Paul's teaching and ask men to take off their hats while leaving the women's heads to their own discretion. This all by itself ought to show that the teaching has become infected with feminist hypersensitivities and is far from reflecting God's will.

The more I think about this the more I think it's far from a minor little thing, and Paul didn't treat it as minor. He appealed to God's order at Creation, he appealed to nature, he appealed to the fact that angels watch. I'm convinced this is one of the things the church is doing that offends God and has weakened us spiritually and in fact is bringing judgment against the church.

This topic is usually discussed in the blogs in tandem with modest feminine dress, and while I don't think it's specifically related in Paul's thinking in the passage about the head covering, both are certainly Paul's concern and I think there's a lot to be said about how women are pushing the envelope about dressing modestly, even in the conservative churches. I think this is apparent to anyone who gives it any serious thought. I'll take that up soon, or maybe I'll move all this to another blog.

Later: Here's my new blog Hidden Glory.