It's not all that recent of a conviction of mine to wear a head covering part-time. I've been doing it off and on for a while... like, two years I think? One of the most common questions I get is directly related to being Jewish or Muslim. It has become a common misconception that head covering is strictly a midde-Eastern practice. More and more Christians are head covering today (just as more and more Christians are allowing the Lord sovereignty of their wombs! Yay!) and for good reason usually.
It's also a misconception that head covering in Christianity is an outdated practice. There are many denominations that still practice optional headcovering, including some Protestants, Catholics, and Pentecostals. Most of them do not teach it as a salvation doctrine. If we can get past the that first notion that it is not a Christian practice, well then... we can move on to all these other misconceived ideas.
Many that choose to argue the significance of head covering begin with the "fact" that it was described by Paul due to being culturally relevant to that time period, and it isn't relevant any longer. But if you look at what Paul was trying to convey, the relevance may be greater today than ever. Paul was guiding the church of Corinth about many of their divisive issues...namely their paganism. I don't think that the purpose of the books of Corinthians should ever be lost to today's Christians. While the ideas presented in them are not rules for salvation, much can be gleaned from studying Corinthians and the points that Paul felt the need to address among his church. Otherwise, there would be no point in any of it being in the bible!
So in 1st Corinthians 11 Paul says;
Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. 11:2 Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and hold firm the traditions, even as I delivered them to you. 11:3 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. 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 11:5 But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head. For it is one and the same thing as if she were shaved. 11:6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to have his head covered, because he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. 11:8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man; 11:9 for neither was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 11:10 For this cause the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels.
11:11 Nevertheless, neither is the woman independent of the man, nor the man independent of the woman, in the Lord. 11:12 For as woman came from man, so a man also comes through a woman; but all things are from God. 11:13 Judge for yourselves. Is it appropriate that a woman pray to God unveiled? 11:14 Doesn’t even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 11:15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering. 11:16 But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither do God’s assemblies.
Paul devoted many verses to the subject of headship and covering. It was probably a huge issue in the church then, but why?
There are differing speculations about why the church was apparently rebelling from a custom they were supposed to be keeping (one really interesting theory HERE) but ultimately, the part that should take the most focus is the end: "But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God." (I Corinthians 11:16—NASV) He sums up his entire discussion about head covering by announcing that if you disagree, there is no contrary custom in God's assemblies. For whatever reason, the church was trying to break away from the head covering command they had been practicing and Paul wanted no dissension about it! He even tried to appeal to their logical reasoning, saying that even nature (creation beyond commandment) was teaching them that women are to have long hair and men short. Again, I don't think this is a rule by any means. I don't think that you are going to hell if you are a woman with short hair or a man with long hair. But I do think it's important to consider *why* Paul needed to address his unruly church to convince them in these ways. Obviously, if it made it into the Holy Word, it's there for a reason. What is the example here that is still relevant today?
The verse describes in great depth the matter of headship, but back when Paul wrote it, that is where the symbolism was - a woman in church uncovered was thought to be rebelling from the headship of her husband or even the Holy authority in her church. Our customs today are MUCH different obviously. If I go to church in a mini-skirt, someone will probably think I am rebelling in some way. If I go to church with my hair showing, it definitely does need even turn a head. But that does NOT mean that this is a custom that should be thrown out by any means (HERE is a lovely article about church history and customs. Definitely a good read)!
While many argue the laws from Leviticus and so forth, saying that Christ's blood set us free to be saved by Grace, it doesn't change the *significance* of these things having their place and importance in the Bible!
The fact that it is not one of our current "customs" is actually the part I find to be the most irrelevant. We are called to be the Lord's peculiar people and to set ourselves apart from the world. So even though it no longer symbolizes headship for most people that I would wear a head covering, it definitely draws attention. Not necessarily unwanted attention - much like wearing skirts or having a lot of children! It's a means to minister to unbelievers as well. One interesting and accurate excerpt from a great article on the meaning of Paul's urge for head coverings:
"The third argument admits that Paul was talking about women wearing head coverings, most probably during congregational prayers, but asserts that this was only a social custom of the day and thus is not binding on the church today. The assumption behind this teaching is that if an action, even if it is commanded to be done, is found to have been a cultural trait, it does not have to be performed today. Using this assumption, one may disregard many teachings of the New Testament which to follow would make one a social misfit. There is no Biblical authority for such an assumption to this writer's knowledge. This is rather a case of "teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Mark 7:7). It may be argued that "common sense" says that cultural commands are not binding today. But "common sense" is merely human wisdom and Paul says in I Corinthians 2:3, "which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, . . ." (Also compare I Corinthians 2:5-6). We are to speak as God has spoken in His word, not as common sense would tell us."
Read the rest of this amazing and in-depth article HERE!
We were not called to follow "cultural norms" anyhow, were we? *smile*
Romans 12:2 ESVDo not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Peter 2:9 ESVBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
John 17:15-18 ESVI do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
There are apparently abundant myths about head covering as it relates to Christianity and once you weed through them, you will probably still be scratching your head. Ultimately, the mantra when it comes to issues that are not what most consider to be "salvation issues" (or just *not* typical Christian doctrine) is this; Who cares? We are not bound by legalism, we are saved by grace, we are not saved by works, so who cares if you cover your head? You don't *HAVE TO.* I agree! You don't have to.
I also probably don't have to go to church, because you aren't saved by magical Jesus Points of Church Attendance.
I don't *have* to give the Lord sovereignty of my womb - I could easily tell him no, I'm done having children because I want to be and I struggle too much with trusting to have a million babies.
I don't have to dress feminine in any way because it won't change the fact that I am saved because I have Christ in my heart.
Ultimately though, I don't want to be a bare-minimum Christian. I want to please and honor God in every possible way. If that means that, when faced with something, I have to make a choice that may not be the most comfortable to me, I have to be honest with myself. Am I going to be too afraid of what others will say if I have to tell them I am honoring my husband's headship by covering my hair? Or are my eyes set on eternal things to where I am storing p treasures for heaven?
I'm both alarmed and ever-grateful for being able to open my heart to the Lord and truly pray for convictions. He has changed me in a lot of ways and I am constantly becoming less and less of this world while I transform into His vessel.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
I don't want to be the same as I was yesterday. As difficult as it is to be stretched further beyond my comfort zone I know that the desire for new convictions from the Lord will ensure that I am always someone different tomorrow, and hopefully it is more honoring to the Lord than the day before.