My dear fellow Proverbs 31 women in progress,
I hope you are well and that you continually grow in faith in the Lord. Today, I wanted to address a topic that is a source of controversy within Christianity: head covering.
Some say that Christian women must cover their heads when they pray and when they go to Church. Some say that it should be taken into the context of the Biblical times and that head covering is not required anymore.
Let’s examine this topic.
What does the Scripture say
“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory for her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God .”
1 Corinthians 11:3-16
I must admit that this Biblical passage is quite clear and unambiguous: women must cover their heads when they pray or prophesy. Until at least the beginning of the 20th century, women used to cover their heads when they went to Church, either with a scarf or a hat.
Why does Paul urge women to cover their heads when they pray? And why this practice disappeared in the current Church?
Paul’s admonition explained
First of all, let me remind you that there is no commandment in the Old Testament which makes head covering mandatory for women. Yes, I checked!
However, we can assume from some Biblical texts that at least married women did cover their heads as a sign of submission and modesty.
For example, when Rebekah met Isaac, and that she was told who he was, she covered her head with her veil as a sign of submission, modesty and humility.
If Paul recommends head covering, it’s for three main reasons:
- Sexual hierarchy: he explains that women are the glory of men and that we are to be submitted to men – we’ll never thank our mother Eve enough for that. Therefore, the veil represents the sign of our submission. However, it doesn’t mean that men don’t depend on us. That’s why Paul reminds us that we all come from God and that the relationships between men and women should be interdependent.
- Angels: Paul is not really clear on the reference to the angels here. However, we can assume that there’s a reference to the fact that angels cover their face with their wings when they worship God.
- Modesty: hair represents the beauty of women and is a pride for her. Since we are all required to be reverent in the presence of the Lord, Paul advocates head covering for women.
- Moral grounds: apparently, during Paul’s times, only prostitutes had their hair loose. Head covering encouraged proper Christian behaviour, good morals and good standing.
- Jewish heritage: Jewish women traditionally cover their heads when they pray or when they go to the synagogue. Paul just follows the customs he knew.
Why head covering has been abandoned today in most churches?
At least until the 1960s, head covering was practiced by women in the Church, either with a veil, a scarf or a hat. Some churches still require head covering for women was a cultural norm of modesty that does not stand nowadays. Some even say that it’s the influence of feminism which ended this practice.
However, I’ve noticed that this practice is rediscovered in some Christian communities and that Christian women cover their head more and more, especially in America.
My opinion on this topic
For once, I won’t have any opinion about it. Personally, I don’t cover my head every time I pray. If I have my head covered when I pray, it’s really by chance.
For example, if I sleep with a scarf on my head and that I wake up to pray, I will have my head covered. However, if my prayer time finds me without it, I will pray without it.
As I am not used to systematically covering my hair, I will not tell to do it as a mandatory thing. However, in case of doubt, pray about it and listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you. If you are convinced to cover your hair, then go ahead! If not, continue to look for God in spirit and in truth, because God looks first and foremost to our hearts.
Don’t count on me to be like some legalistic people on this matter who are “scarf-shaming” women who don’t cover their heads when you pray. If you are dressed modestly and if you are reverent in front of the Lord, you behave without any wrongdoing.
Well, that’s all for today! What do you think of this topic? Do you cover your hair when you pray or not? Please let me know your thoughts about this topic in the comments below!
And as usual, stay blessed!
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