Should Christian women wear head coverings?

headcover[Article derived based on the Bible Study notes on “head covering” – A study series on “Angels” at HIPM]
Reasons for head covering

1.The created order-1Corinthians 11:3-16
2.Need to practice head covering because of the angels – 1 Corinthians 11:10b
3.What nature teaches us – 1 Corinthians 11:14 & 15
4.Church practice

  1. Created Order – 1 Corinthians 11:3-16
  • The order of Authority established by God.
  • Men & Women are equal in value & worth
  • Neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman (V 11)
  • Equal does not mean that they have the same role, authority or function

Created Order – 1 Corinthians 11:7-10a.
Headship & authority was God’s original intent.

  • Where do you find man being directly created in the image of God? Genesis 1.
  • Where do you find woman being created from man, or being the “glory of man”? Genesis 2.
  • Where do you find that the woman was created for man, not the other way around? Genesis 2.
  • And when do you find sin entering the picture? Not until Genesis 3.

Why does the command look different for men and women?

MEN (Uncovered)
WOMEN (Covered)
Man is the head of a woman (1 Cor 11:3).
Women submit to the proper male authority in their lives as head (1 Cor 11:3).
Men were created directly by God from the dust and are the “glory of God” (1 Cor 11:7-8).
Women were created by God from man’s rib and are the “glory of man” (1 Cor 11:7-8).
Man was not created for the woman’s sake (1 Cor 11:9).
Women were created for the man’s sake (1 Cor 11:9).

R.C. Sproul says“…the thing that is most astonishing here is that he appeals to creation, not to Corinth. If anything transcends local custom it is those things that are rooted and ordered in creation. That’s why I’m very frightened to be loose with this passage.”

  1. Because of the angels – 1 Corinthians 11:10b

 K.P. Yohannan (Founder, Gospel for Asia) says, “Paul’s admonition for women to wear a head covering ‘because of the angels’ removes any doubt that this teaching is universal and timeless.”
 Angels watch our worship

  • Paul is passing without explaining what he meant.
  • If angels are a reason, then they must be watching our worship
  • Our worship may rightly symbolizes the created order to both visible and invisible

Let angels behold the manifold wisdom of God

Ephesians 3:10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

  • 1 Peter 1:12 …(the worship and service we do here)…—things which angels desire to look into.
  • They are captivated by what God is doing and want to see more.

Angels observe, record and report
Charles Spurgeon –Sermons on Angels says, “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 (impoliteness, indecent behavior), and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits.”
1 Timothy 5:21 I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

  1. What nature teaches us – 1 Corinthians 11:14 & 15

Two things nature is teaching us.
1.That there are distinct differences between men and women in terms of hair length
2.When gender distinction is disregarded and crossed that dishonors a person
Head covering what Paul taught is a feminine symbol of authority. Crossing this brings dishonor to men & God
In line with what nature says
“…the long hair is an indication from ‘nature’ of the differentiation between men and women, and so the head covering required is in line with what ‘nature’ teaches.” – John Murray (Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1930-66)

  1. Church practice

Teaching of head covering is sandwiched between V 2 & V 17

  • Corinthians followed teaching on head covering, but didn’t follow Lord’s supper and spiritual gifts. They were misusing.
  • V 2 Paul praised them following the traditions followed by teaching on head covering

 Apostles’ teachings as traditions are expected to follow
2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
 Head covering is a tradition of men or the Apostle?
Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.
This means that head covering is authoritative apostolic teaching.
What is church’s position?
Just now we understood that it is Paul’s authoritative teaching.

  • 1 Corinthians 11:16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
  • Paul is simply saying – do not argue or debate about this. We don’t have any other custom or practice as alternate, just practice this one.

Head covering is not a new doctrine
This teaching remained the standard practice of most churches throughout the majority of Church History.
As R.C. Sproul notes “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”?
Sproul is saying if we don’t want to subscribe to this truth based on “equality of men and women” it is wrong.
Woman wearing head cover

  • Is a sign of her submission to her husband
  • To ensure decent behavior in front of the angels
  • Not to cross the natural order and cause dishonor to husband and to God
  • Not to violate the authoritative teaching of the apostle and no one can contest.

Concluding thoughts
Wearing or not wearing head cover is not going to change the biblical authority & responsibility of men & women
If head covering is one of Paul’s teaching, if we tend to take it lightly, what about the teachings followed – communion and spiritual gifts???

  • Today’s women don’t want to outwardly display their submission to their husbands
  • Considering men and women are equal not in value & worth, but in authority, roles and responsibilities will not recommend to wear head cover
  • Should we teach this truth to the church? – Yes
  • Should we force this truth over the church? – No
  • Why? – The heart attitude is more important than the external

Having head covered and being not submissive to husband & God is hypocrisy (sin) deserves punishment in hell

  • Same as removing jewelleries and living a life that doesn’t please the Lord

Does it mean that these teachings are optional, or lower in importance than what Jesus taught?
Answer: No.

  • We need to take these steps not because it is forced to follow, but because of the inner change taken place.

For example, because of an urging desire towards holiness letting gold or pearls or expensive clothes to go.

  • Because of a stronger commitment to the authority of husband and God, wearing head cover.
  • For God, inner attitude is more important than the outer appearance.
  • That is the reason forcing such teaching is not effective

Here is a checklist that may help you to analyze what the spirit of God is telling you after reading this article/presentation.
Checklist: (can be filled only after going through the above study)

Ask these questions to yourself.
Answer “Yes” or “No”
1. Do you agree the order of authority God established? (wife–>Husband–>Christ–>God) (1 Corinthians 11)
2. Do you believe in the angelic involvement in worship?
3. Do you agree that when gender distinction is disregarded, God is dishonored?
4. If so, do you agree if gender distinction in terms of head covering is disregarded, it dishonors your husband and God?
5. Do you believe head covering is authoritative apostolic teaching?
6. In your heart do you regard your husband/future husband is your head and Jesus is his head?

If the answer to all the above questions is “Yes” there is no reason why you cannot use head cover while praying and worshiping.

3 thoughts on “Should Christian women wear head coverings?”

  1. I’m reading Sproul’s writings are these people stupid or were they just not led by God and blinded like the Bible says closed eyes and ears? Paul clearly says at the end of that verse that in our churches we have no such customs as head coverings how much more simple can this be when Paul is talking about head coverings he is addressing an issue that that Church is actually having…..he’s not the one giving the speech he is recapping what they are discussing people really need to wake up Paul never Says to cover your head yeah she says the opposite in our churches we have no such customs

  2. “Should Christian women wear head coverings?” As I have been blessed to discover this year, yes, Christian women should wear headcoverings, but I fall short from saying: must. “There is no reason why you cannot…” For sure I am glad that I tried it. Trying is the most difficult part because you get self-conscious on what reaction you will get, but one I did get the courage to try, it was very eye-opening.

  3. I don’t think Christian women must wear head covering, but I do think we should all try head covering. The act of one time trying a head covering will allow the individual to make a decision on what is right for her and if it has a place in her life.
    In my case, my opinion on covering is vastly different now after having tried it than before. It wasn’t at all what I expected.

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