I originally thought to put this in the appearance and clothing page but decided it is a related yet separate issue. You can find a lot more by Googling “Christian women’s headcovering”. These are just my personal thoughts on the subject and this page may change as my understanding of Christian women’s headcovering changes. I recently found a great defense of headcovering if you want more reading.
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always liked sensible hats. In summer, we wear sun hats whenever we go outside. I think most ball caps look sloppy. I have cloth hats for the kids (which they love) and I wear a round brim straw hat. I do wear a ball cap with Alaska logo for working outside, berry picking or hiking since it stays on better and is more durable. In winter we wear knit or fur hats. I don’t understand people who complain of being cold or having cold ears but are unwilling to wear a warm hat. I also think it very hypocritical and vain to put a hat on a child but the parents go bareheaded. If the kids need a hat, I will lead by example and wear one too.
What about Christian women’s headcovering? Lately the issue of a specific Christian headcovering has been on my heart. Why is it for me? Why don’t all Christian women wear them? There are several Biblical reasons for women to wear a headcovering laid out in 1 Corinthians 11.
Most women historically wore some sort of head covering until the mid 20th century. As the women’s movement gained ground in the 1960’s and ‘70’s more women started to forgo the wearing of a headcovering, both in church and public in general. Also, the churches slowly moved to not enforce headcovering doctrine to the point that most churches today would call it legalistic or minor and therefore unimportant. The Catholic church abrogated its 1917 enforcement of the wearing of headcoverings by women in church in its 1983 Code of Canon of Law. I heard a rumor that the Catholic church may start again enforcing heacoverings (they have started gaining popularity among Christian women again). This is clearly the case of church directly being influenced by society.
What about the hair? Some would say that is the covering described because of verse 15 “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” However, in view of the rest of the chapter, I see the “a” as important. The hair is a covering, but not the primary covering for several reasons. It talks about the men’s covering being removed. Yet no one expects men to shave their heads every time just to pray. It is talking about a separate, cloth covering such as a hat.
The same for women. Hair is a covering, but another covering is to be put over it because of verses 5-6:
“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.”
As if she were shaven. Let her ALSO be shorn. If hair were the only covering, you couldn’t take it off twice. That doesn’t make sense. However if you wear a cloth covering, you can remove it and also shave your hair.
One added benefit of wearing a headcovering is not having to worry about hairstyles. Following the latest hairstyles can be as expensive as clothes. Usually women who wear a headcovering wear a simple bun, braid(s) or ponytail under it. She can hide a “bad hair day” under her covering. This is another example of how submitting to God’s ways can simplify a woman’s life.
It may seem strange to see a woman wear a headcovering, yet many men remove their hats when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing national songs, when in church, or praying anytime without giving much thought to why. The reasons are the same only opposite. The men dishonor God and their headship if they pray with a covered head. I wonder how many men who remove their hats realize to significance of or even the reasons for doing so? It is becoming merely cultural courtesy as churches drift toward apostasy and away from teaching strict Biblical adherence. Sadly, this is a practice that is becoming less and less common, especially among young people.
So if a man’s uncovered head isn’t questioned, why is a woman’s covering? Simply, because it isn’t culturally popular in Western Culture today. It labels her as a Christian. Not just any Christian, but a woman who considers her obedience to God more important than popular culture. One who believes in the Biblical headship order and submission to male authority. If most women wore hats, scarves, or other headcoverings all the time, she wouldn’t be seen as “different” unless she wore a specific type of covering intended to be different such as the Amish and Mennonite styles.
I don’t think headcovering need to be a specific type or color. The churches that do are regulating it for unity, tradition, and/or to make a statement to the rest of the world. While this is not wrong, it just shouldn’t be the only or limiting factor as to whether or not to cover. I think it is a personal decision along with baptism. However, if you belong to a church that does regulate what type of headcovering women wear, you should wear what they expect. (Can I fit another “or” in here anywhere?)
A man at church last night was talking to me about baptism. He said the ordinance of baptism has more significance in regions where Christians face persecution because the baptism aligns the person with the church. Candidates fully understand that if they go through with the baptism, they too will face persecution, yet they do so anyway because their desire to be obedient to God is more important than popular culture (or even national laws in some places).
Sadly, this is the situation facing many Christian women who desire to wear a headcovering in Western Culture. It probably will not be severe. You likely won’t be killed for wearing a Christian headcovering, but you may get stares, snide remarks, and prejudicial treatment (both good and bad). You will be asked “why do you wear that thing on you head” by family, friends, or even strangers.
I have been wearing modest dresses and headcovering for almost 2 years now. At first my friends and family was skeptical. Now they’ve gotten used to it. I have more doors held and hear Ma’am a lot when I have my covering on.
A woman must enter into wearing a headcovering with prayer. She must understand clearly her motives and reasons for doing so as not to be seen as a hypocrite. It is hypocritical to wear a headcovering if you also wear a mini skirt and skimpy top for instance as this isn’t showing Christian modesty. Nor is it right to engage in gossip or fighting wearing a headcovering as these aren’t depicting Christian values either. I also wouldn’t expect to see it in a bar or nightclub. The headcovering should be an outward symbol of a committed, Christian heart obedient to the Biblical doctrines of faith, charity, peace, and purety.
I am still confused. I spoke to my husband about it and he wasn’t very encouraging. There are many websites with all opinions on the subject. If there were a group of ladies who I could talk to in my area it would help. Alas, there seems to be only sporadic obedience to 1 Corinthians here in Fairbanks and no single church which encourages it in daily life (there is a Russian Orthodox church which requires ladies to cover in church). The ladies who I have seen covering are all independently doing so. I understand that the covering is not simply a woman’s hair since you can’t remove it and cut it off at the same time.
However, in spite of all that I wrote and read so far, I am unsure of covering or what type; some say a simple kerchief, others just a hat (like I do in summer), still others a specific kerchief or prayer cap. I’m not sure the type matters as much as much as the result. I’ve even read about a woman who forgot her covering and used a paper towel from the church restroom. That’s quite a statement for adhering to such a “minor” ordinance! I’m just not sure what will work best for me. I need to do more prayer, research and try to contact some women who cover in my local area to talk to.
Despite reading just about everything I could find online and some books about Christian woman’s headcovering from 1 Corinthians 11, I am still undecided. I am leaning toward it because it’s better to err on the side of caution in matters of faith. Plus I like scarves and hats. I recently bought 6 colorful bandanas from Fred Meyer.
I have been wearing a headcovering for about 2 months. I usually wear the kerchiefs I got from Fred Meyer but now that it is summer, I wear my straw hat on sunny days.
One of my friends has started wearing one occasionally. Another friend still doesn’t get the connection between dressing modestly and living a Christian life. She’s a very outgoing personality and wears colorful tights a lot. She believes (rightly so) that God looks at our hearts. Still, outward modesty is a sign of inward peace and obedience.
I am going to Virginia next month via Washington DC for about 2 weeks. I am worried that the colored scarves I usually wear may be taken for gang colors (not very likely but not something I want to even take a chance with). I ordered a white Eastern Round style mesh headcovering from Mennnonite Maiden (it will be interesting going through the airports wearing that). I also ordered a calico sunbonnet (I burn easy) plus one for my daughter and a friend. The total was $40 including shipping to Alaska. If I like this one, I may order another bonnet I liked. I am going to order some new scarves from another vendor since they now have a color I like to wear and have been keeping an eye out for.
I’ve now switched to a more conservative Biblical church (surprisingly, it is one my brother has been attending for several years). What an encouragement it was to find other families that believe as I do. Many of the ladies there also wear headcoverings. They don’t have a standard type or color they wear, but it’s usually a kerchief style. Several of the girls wear them as well.
My husband has also come to an agreement with me on it. I don’t wear it when showing apartments to potential tenants, but will other times. Afterall, wives should submit to their husbands understanding and desires. Her headcovering should not be a contentious issue between a husband and wife.
I was just re-reading this post and the comments while thinking about what the New Testament says on prayer. Yes. It does say to cover when praying or prophesying. However, this doesn’t mean we should only cover in church or personal prayer time. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 tell us we are to “pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. That means if we are to be in a constant state of prayer, we should cover all the time. Or at least whenever practical.
I’ve been sick this weekend. Blah. That gave me time to read and ponder. Among other things, when reading Isaiah, I came to a passage that struck me as a condemnation of a woman’s uncovered head and nudity.
Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks [hair], make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.
Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.
So the argument some make that headcovering and modest dress were just something cultural in the New Testament simply isn’t true. There are other places in the Old Testament that headcovering is mentioned. Even back in Genesis 24:65, Rebekka covered her head when she saw Issac. Song of Solomon 5:7 mentions watchmen beating a woman and taking away her veil. No, it started before Corinth and still holds true.