Head Covering: What it is and Why I Do It

I would like to begin this discussion with 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 so that we all know which passage of the Bible this topic is coming from.

2 Now I praise you because you always remember me and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since that is one and the same as having her head shaved. 6 So if a woman’s head is not covered, her hair should be cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should be covered.

7 A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. 9 And man was not created for woman, but woman for man. 10 This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a covering. 16 But if anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.

I have read this passage many times but it never occurred to me to question whether covering my head during worship was something I should be doing. I didn’t question it because no one I knew ever did and I was never told that I should. It is no longer a custom among Christian woman as a whole in America so when I read this passage I didn’t stop to think about it. It wasn’t until I met Christian women who do cover that it even occurred to me that I should study this topic for myself. I began by reading 1 Corinthians 11 and reading commentary on it by theologians whom I respect. I also spent a lot of time reading through the articles at headcoveringmovement.com which gave me an immense amount of insight on the passage. As I studied, I began to feel convicted. Then when I spoke with my husband about it I discovered that he too believed it was something I should do and that just confirmed it for me.

The argument against head covering is that it was a cultural thing during the time of the Corinthian church and that it is no longer applicable today. But in my study, I learned that what Paul (the author of 1 Corinthians) is saying is actually a command for Christian women to cover their heads during the corporate worship service. We should cover our heads when the saints gather as a symbol that we are under the authority and headship of our husbands who are under the authority and headship of Christ. I won’t give an argument here on why I believe the passage is giving a command (other than to say that Paul is pretty clear that this is something he believes should be done) as I believe that the articles at The Head Covering Movement website have done a fantastic job of explaining it. To read those articles, begin here.

Head covering from Garlands of Grace

Head covering from Garlands of Grace

I do, however, want to discuss why I personally chose to cover. First and foremost, I do believe that it is a biblical command and so I follow it because I want to be biblical and faithful to God’s Word. But a secondary reason, and an important one I believe, is because I want to display what head covering represents, which is to show that I submit to my husband as leader in our household. In this day and age, where feminism is running rampant, I want to show that I stand by my role as woman. As a woman, I came from man and as a wife, I am under my husband’s authority. I submit to him; I do not rule over him or emasculate him. I am to be respected and not walked over by him, but I am not in a position of authority over him. Covering my head when in worship displays that I submit to my role as a woman, a role that God ordained at creation.

Despite what feminist would have us believe, this is not degrading. This is beautiful. To be a woman, created for man, to take care of my husband, to bear children, and to partner with my husband in the Lord’s divine plan for His people, to further His Kingdom, is a privilege to be celebrated. It does not make me weak or inferior. To submit to God’s role for me as wife to my husband makes me strong. God made me for my husband and gave me to him as his bride and that is why I should be respected. Not because I am strong in my own right but because I need my husband and my husband needs me. We were created to work together, to bond together and become one. This is how God designed marriage to work and I love that He chose me to be a wife, to submit to my husband, and to stand with quiet strength under my husband’s guidance and authority. I want to display this beautiful role that God has given me (and in doing so displaying my husband’s role of authority) by covering my head, my glory, when we gather to worship and pray to our Creator. It is a reminder to me of who I am; a woman whose identity lies in Christ and not in herself.  

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