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.  

Woman: The Helpmeet

Wednesday we talked about men being the head of the household so today we are taking a look at the role of women in marriage. I think this one is going to be a little bit harder to write because the biblical concept of “helpmeet” is vastly misunderstood. It isn’t demeaning and it doesn’t make women inferior. God made the genders uniquely with different strengths and weaknesses and each are valuable and essential to God’s design.  I want to make that clear here and now. In no way will I ever say that one gender is more important or better than the other. Each is wonderful and beautiful in its own way and I think both male and female scream the image of God. It is actually quite amazing how God has portrayed His image in such different genders which is why I will always call for us to appreciate the opposite sex more. With that said, let’s look at the awesome role God has given women: the role of being the helpmeet.

In Genesis 2:18 God declares, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So God created animals and brought them before Adam. Adam then gave them each a name but he did not find a helper suitable for him. So God put Adam in a deep sleep and used one of his ribs to form woman. When God presented the woman to Adam he said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” After this we find the infamous verse 24 that reads, “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” How romantic! They are of the same bone and flesh and they unite as one – marriage. And women play an important role in this union called marriage. If you read Genesis 2 & 3 you will notice that God doesn’t create anymore. The woman was the last thing He created. She was the pinnacle of His creation! It’s like God said, “There, now everything is good, as it should be. It’s complete.” Man and woman were together, united as one, to rule over creation and worship God their Maker. All was well.

But then something terrible happened. Sin crept in. The woman was deceived and her husband, failing to protect his wife, fell into sin as well and they ushered in a fallenness that would forever attack their union, seeking to destroy it. They were cursed and the roles that God had given them became hard. In Genesis 3:16 we find the woman’s curse: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” That desire is to be the leader, not the helper that she was created to be, and to rule over her husband.

What this means for women today is that we have this role to be the helpmeet but a desire to be the leader and that tension causes problems within marriage. I think this is one of the biggest issues in male/female roles. It is evident everywhere but it is most troubling in a marriage. Because in marriage you have a man who is suppose to be the head of his household and you have a woman who is suppose to be his helpmeet but she is wanting to reverse the roles. She wants to be the head and have him follow her because she knows what is best, not him. She is better and smarter at everything and he’s just a big goofball that couldn’t survive without her. This way of thinking has saturated our society but it isn’t fair nor is it true.

Men need women, yes, but women need men too. God created us to need each other, to complete each other. God made men to be the picture of strength, courage, logic, and headship. God created women to be the picture of gentleness, relationship, nurture, and emotion. It’s not that men can’t experience or possess gentleness or that women can’t experience or possess strength but we experience and possess differently. And we need that difference to function as God wants us to.

Wives are their husband’s helpmeet in the way that they use their womanly characteristics and skills to help their husbands live, work, and enjoy life. That is an awesome role. Wives, you have what it takes to support your husband, to help him make decisions, to help him enjoy a quality of life only you can give him. God made Adam a helper fit for him. That helper that is fit for your husband, that helper that is suitable and right, is you. Your husband cannot lead as he should without your help; not because he is inferior but because he is incomplete without you. It is not good for him to be alone so God gave him you. Don’t dishonor that by trying to take on a position or an authority that is not meant for you.

Wives, you have a special and important role and it is one that only you can fill. You and your husband are one. Live as one, work together as one, and fulfill your role of being helpmeet, God’s image of femininity.