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Should women wear head coverings?
I have looked over your Q & A site and found no answer concerning head coverings. I was wondering about your view on that, in regards to 1 Cor. 11:1-16, and whether you felt that women should wear a covering?
I Corinthians 11:1-16 says, Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.It is clear that men are not to pray (publicly) or to prophesy with their heads covered. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. Now the matter of women is discussed, and it states that the exact opposite is to be true of them. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. The reason for the above is then given. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. The mans head is to be uncovered, to symbolize his being made in the image and glory of God; and the womans head is to be covered to acknowledge that she was made of man, and that she is in subjection to him. By acknowledging such, she is not a helpless slave to her husband; but, rather, by humbling herself in such a way, she has power on her head because of the angels. God places the angels to help and protect her in her needs. An illustration from nature is now used to show the point that he has just made. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. An exception is now given at the end of this matter. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. If a man contends this matter because his people do not have the custom of women wearing head coverings, then the Bible says, ...neither the churches of God. If the people to whom they are ministering do not have the custom of women wearing head coverings, then the church is not to make this a matter of contention, because ...if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for HER HAIR IS GIVEN HER FOR A COVERING. Even if her people do not have the custom of women wearing head coverings, the woman will still be covered by her long hair; that is, if she obeys what God has built into her nature, that she is to wear her hair long. The Bible is clear that the churches are not to make the matter of women wearing head coverings a point of contention. But the matter of women having long hair is not a point on which the church can vary. That is not just a custom that can be followed, or not followed. Short hair on a man, and long hair on a woman is one of the God-ordained differences that God wants men and women to maintain, to keep a distinction in the appearances. If there is not a definite distinction in the appearances of men and women, the end result is lust, as the eyes rove to then determine whether the person is a male or female. Please see the Bible Course on the Christians Appearance. Based upon the above verses, we should also note some other points concerning this matter. First, if a woman is going to wear a head covering, it should completely cover the head like long hair covers the head. Long hair covers the whole top of the head, and hangs down (normally, down on the shoulders). To wear a little piece of cloth on the top of the head, is not really a head covering, because it is not really covering the head, but only a small portion of it. In Bible times, when a woman covered her head, she really did cover her head with a veil that hung down on her shoulders. If a woman is going to follow this custom, then she needs to truly follow it, not a small imitation of it. Why do women try to imitate a head covering by wearing just a small piece of cloth on the top of their heads? It goes right back to the fact that they are living in a place where head coverings are not the custom; and, because of that, they do not want to stick out in the crowd. The result is that they do not really cover their heads, but only have a token symbol of a real head covering. The point is, in that case, that they are pressured into trying to obey the letter of the law (by wearing something on their heads), but end up not truly obeying the spirit of the law (which is to truly cover the head). This pressure upon women is unfortunate, because the church is instructed to not make this a matter of contention. If head coverings are not the custom where she lives, then why try to imitate the matter in a small way? Her long hair is given her for a covering. Secondly, sometimes women wear these small token symbols of a head covering, and then cut their hair. That is going against clear Scripture that the woman is to have long hair. Thirdly, many times women take this teaching farther than it really goes, and they wear head coverings all of the time not just when at a religious gathering of prayer and prophesying. They get the idea that they must wear a covering whenever they appear in public. Or they draw the conclusion that if we are all to pray without ceasing, then they should wear the covering all of the time (if that were true, then they would also have to wear it all night, because many times we wake up in the night and pray). If that is what the Bible teaches (that a woman is to wear a head covering all of the time), then how can long hair be a glory to her? Her long hair would not be a glory to her, because it would never be seen. Many times, it would not even be seen by her husband, because of wearing the covering from sun-up to sun-down. If head coverings were to be worn by women whenever they appeared in public, then why did not the Bible clearly say, Whenever the woman appears in public, let her be covered.? If head coverings were to be worn by women from sun-up to sun-down, then why did not the Bible clearly say, A woman shall wear a head covering from sun-up to sun-down.? Consider the example of when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. John 11:1,2 says, Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Why would she use her hair to wipe His feet, and not her veil? That would be the natural thing to use, if she was wearing a veil. It seems clear that she was not wearing a veil, and that is why she used her hair. Women in the Bible did not wear veils all of the time. More could also be covered as to what women do with their long hair. It is a glory to her when it covers her head and drapes down like a veil. Remember, God desires that the hair be a distinctive mark between men and women. If a woman wears her hair in such a way that it does not serve as a clear distinction (from a distance) that she is a woman, then she may be keeping the letter of the law (her hair is long), but she is not keeping the true spirit of the law (which is that her hair be long and flowing so that it may be easily seen from a distance that she is a woman). What are common things to do with long hair, if it is not draped down like a veil? Some women place it all on the top of their heads. Others pull it back tightly, and do something with it on the back of the head. Still others braid it in some fashion. On this latter point, the Bible speaks. I Timothy 2:9,10 says, In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Broided means, to embroider; to form with needlework; to ornament with needlework (Merriam Websters Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). The above passage is not saying that a woman cannot wear ANY gold; or pearls; or braid her hair at all. Consider I Peter 3:1-4, Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. If you are going to say that these passages forbid ANY gold, or broidery, or clips in the hair, then you are going to also have to come to the conclusion that it also forbids the wearing of any clothes! That would obviously not be the right conclusion! The proper interpretation is that it teaches discretion in all of these matters. None of those things should be the point of attention when looking at a woman not flashy clothes, and not flashy accessories. Just a meek and modestly dressed woman, whose love and adoration goes strictly toward her husband not the attention of any other man. If a woman is not careful, she may follow the letter of the law (she will have long hair); but she will not be following the true spirit of the law (that her hair be easily seen to be distinctive from a mans short hair), because she is trying to so fashion her long hair to be as out of the way as much as is possible just like short hair would be. When working or preparing food, a woman has to have her hair held back in some fashion; but, too often, that becomes the normal look all of the time. Long hair treated in such a fashion is not going to appear as a glory to a woman, because she is actually hiding the fact that her hair is long. Do a little test by gathering some pictures of wedding dresses. Have pictures of wedding dresses with no train; some with a little train; and some with long, flowing trains. Now, go around and ask people to pick out the dress that they would describe as the most glorious. The poll will show that the more long and flowing the wedding dress the more glorious it is in peoples eyes. It is no different with hair. The more long and flowing it is, the more glorious. The more that you try and hide the long, flowing look, of a womans hair, the less glorious it is in appearance. In summary, if a woman is going to wear a head covering, then it must truly cover the entire head, and it only need be worn at religious gatherings of praying and prophesying, and then it may be removed. The church is not to make head coverings a matter of contention, if it is not the custom of the people where it ministers. But the church is to firmly stand and preach that women are to have long hair, and that men are to have short hair. The church is also to stand upon the true spirit of the law, and not just the letter of the law. We need to follow Gods law in such a way as to fulfill the true purpose for which it was given. I Timothy 1:8 says, But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.
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