Head Coverings: Why Should I Wear One?

Here is a tremendous article written by my aunt. It goes into detail about our reason and belief for wearing the veiling or covering in our Anabaptist circles. This is why I wear my veiling.

Why should we wear a veil on our heads as Christian women?  What is its purpose?  Why would God ask us to wear it?  What about the feeling that we sometimes get about looking so different from others around us, when we are shopping or otherwise in the public?

First, those of us who have given our hearts to Jesus have become a member of His family.  He is our King, our Leader and our lifelong Guide for living. As a daughter of the King, we become a princess and we want to please Him in all that we do. The Bible is our written guide for living, a love letter to us from our King. The Bible is not like other books, but its words are living words of life.  Jesus is referred to as the Word, the Living Word of God. The Bible is the inspired, written Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16,17), which literally means God breathed. Therefore, reading it is like talking with God himself. Am I a follower of Jesus and His Word?

1 Corinthians 11 will be the main passage that we will use for this discussion, but we will look at several other verses as well.  Let us begin. First, I would like to note that Paul starts out His letter to the Corinthians in chapter 1 by addressing it to the church of God in Corinth- to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus- called to be saints- with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. We see that in this verse He was writing to the Corinthian church, but not only to them but to ALL in every place that call upon Jesus. We are part of ‘the all’ that call upon the name of Jesus. This teaching goes beyond specific Corinthian culture and includes all Christians in all places. Following is a short study verse by verse.

Verse 1: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 

In this verse, Paul identifies himself as a follower of Jesus and says to us that as he is following Christ, so we should follow him.  How do we follow him?  By following his teaching. 

Verse 2 : Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.  

Here he is telling us to KEEP the ordinances as he gives them to us.  An ordinance is an authoritative order or decree.  This tells us that the following is more than a suggestion. There are many people who look at a command as negative, but I challenge us to see the intent of love that surrounds all the commands of Christ. In Deuteronomy 4, 5 & 6 where God is giving the Old Testament law, He says at least 3 times that we should observe them ‘that it would go well for us.’ All of God’s commands have an intent of love and a purpose given with our well- being, happiness and success in mind! There may be times when a spiritual truth is taught that we do not fully understand and therefore remains a mystery. But can we, with the same faith that led us to salvation, embrace the mystery and follow in obedience? The very definition of faith has to do with trustful, loving obedience, even to those things which I do not completely understand.

Verse 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. 

This verse is teaching us about God’s system of governance or life authority structure. The principle is given to us because God knows that we as humans function best with order and structure.  Every institution that wants to move forward needs to have leadership.  Society could not function outside of some type of authority system.  God is simply telling us how it will work best. For a woman, authority is given to her for protection. We are protected from danger and making wrong choices as we seek to function-arrange ourselves under- our given authority. Eve made a catastrophic mistake when she stepped outside of Adam’s authority and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.  How much better for her it would have been if she had consulted Adam first. (See 1 Timothy 2:14) Am I willing to arrange myself under God’s authority structure for His glory and my own wellbeing?

In all the verses where it uses the word cover, covered, etc. the Greek text is katakalupto, except verse 4 where it is kata and verse 15 where it is peribolaion.  Katakalupto has the meaning to cover wholly while peribolaion has the meaning something thrown around. 

Verse 4 : Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered, dishonors (brings shame on) his head. 

Have you ever noticed that a man removes his hat during prayer in a public setting?  This seems to be a universally recognized practiced of respect. Why has the teaching of the woman covering her head during prayer been disregarded? Also, if hair itself is taught as the covering for women, then a man should shave his head to pray.

Verse 5 : But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered ‘something dishonors her head (man): for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

 It has always been considered a disgrace, in ancient times and even now, for a woman to have her head shaved. Naturally for a woman, her hair is her beauty and glory.

Verse 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 

Why is Paul teaching that the hair should be covered? Because it is our glory and women are to cover their glory as a principal of honor to Christ and to man.  In this verse the Christian woman has a choice either to cover her glory or to shear it very short. The word “also” in this verse, removes the possibility that the hair is the covering. If the hair is the covering and she refuses to have hair how could she then still have her hair cut off?

Verse 7 : For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God:  but the woman is the glory of man.

Woman was created as a helpmeet for man and is his glory. Gen 2:20-23

Verse 8 : For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. 

Verse 9 : Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.

Verse 10 : For this cause ought women to have power (a sign of evidence that I am under authority) on her head because of the angels.

What is he referring to when he says, “because of the angels”? I believe that he is referring to both the good and the evil angels. Angels understand and function in an authority structure and submit to their head. As a sign of submission and respect, the angels themselves are covered before the throne of God in Isa. 6:2. One of the functions of God’s angels is our protection. Psalm 91:11 For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. Although the angels of God are wise and powerful, visible and invisible, immortal and always present, they are not all knowing.  They cannot read our minds and so they must function on what they see. They operate by signs, as when the angels saw the blood on the door post of the Israelites in Egypt, they knew they were to pass over that house.  I am friends with a lady who had not always lived a clean moral life.  She made a life change and became convicted to wear the veil.  One day she encountered the man that she had been involved with and he told her, “I cannot touch you with that thing on your head”. What an amazing protection!  I also know of another woman who was wearing the head covering when a man attempted to molest her.  She called out to Jesus to help her and the man fled. 

Verse 11 : Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.  

Woman and man come together to Christ.  They are equal in value.

Verse 12 : For as the woman is of the man (made of, born from, come from) even so is the man also by the woman (made of, born from, come from), but all things of God. 

Men and women differ in function and relationship but are spiritually equal and valuable.

Verse 13 : Judge (form an opinion of or discern) in yourselves: is it comely (proper) that a woman prays unto God uncovered?

Verse 14 : Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man has long hair, it is a shame (contrast with honor) unto him?

Naturally, a man’s hair grows much shorter than women. 

Verse 15 : But if a woman have long hair,  it is a glory to her: for her hair is given to her for (this is the Greek word ‘anti’ which in context means in response to, or her hair is given to her to place a covering on) a covering (Greek: peribolian; something thrown or cast around). 

It does not make logical sense for the natural mind to cover up that which is to the woman her greatest beauty asset. This is a spiritual mystery, but one that we embrace for the honor of our King.  We choose to count beautiful that which He counts beautiful.

Verse 16 : But, if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom (custom of contention), neither the churches of God.

1 Corinthians 14:37 : If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

It is of interest to note that the early church writers such as Tertullian, Hippolytus, Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine unanimously teach the use of a cloth veil.  For 1500 years not a single voice opposed.  It started to be questioned in the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s and was abandoned by many by the mid 1900’s.  Also, it is of interest that in the catacombs of Rome where many of the early Christians buried their dead, many paintings and engravings depict women with veiled heads.  This artwork shows evidence of the apostolic teaching of the use of the veil.

Image Credits: http://truthinheart.com/EarlyOberlinCD/CD/Doctrine/BeVeiled.htm           https://www.gutenberg.org/files/47532/47532-h/47532-h.htm

In the beginning of the article we asked the question as to what the purpose is of our wearing the veil. In the Corinthian passage above, five purposes or times of application become clear. 1. When we pray 2. When we prophecy 3. For covering our glory 4. To demonstrate God’s authority structure, and 5. As a sign to the angels as to what Kingdom we identify with.

I would also like to mention an old testament analogy that has become meaningful to me in considering the significance of the women’s head veiling.  God gave the children of Israel a physical object to symbolize that His presence was with them. It was the ark of the covenant, their ‘Shekinah’ glory. The word Shekinah denotes the dwelling of God’s presence.  It was from the ark that God would speak to Moses. The Israelites were always to have it with them, and it was referred to as the glory of Israel. 1 Samuel 4:21. When they travelled the ark was to be covered with a covering of badgers skin and a cloth of blue, Numbers 4:5,6. In other words, the glory of Israel was to be covered and not seen by the people.  When the tabernacle was erected it was put into the most Holy place behind the veil into which only the priest could enter once a year.  Also, on top of the ark were two gold cherubim-the angels of God protecting the glory.  This is an analogy in the way that it represents the glory of God, His protection and power, it signifies Gods glory and the glory being covered. It is also a symbol of the angels covering and protecting the glory and presence of God.  The parallel meaning has significance in the teaching of the woman’s veiling.  Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning 

The ark was placed in the holy place. Holiness is beautiful! A number of times in scripture it talks about the ‘beauty of holiness’. 1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 29:2 The way we see beauty will depends on what kingdom we identify with. Let us unapologetically identify with the Kingdom of God.

Image Credit: http://evangeliku.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-ark-of-covenant.html

In closing think back to the beginning of the article where we talked about the daughters of King Jesus being princesses in His Kingdom.  A princess will happily wear a crown as a sign of her position and authority in the Kingdom.  We too wear an identifier of our position in the Kingdom.  Let us choose to wear the veil our of our love relationship with God, for the Glory of His Kingdom as a Princess and for the beauty of holiness.

Thoughts and inspiration for this article are credited to 1 Corinthians 11, ‘Let her be veiled’ Torch Publications ‘Introduction to Mennonite Doctrine and Practice’ David Null

Blogging Credits : Jerlene Miller

Jerri is the wife of Verlon and a mom of five wonderful children. Jerri has walk along side and blessed many ladies as a friend, mentor and pastor’s wife in a very gentle and gracious way. Her relationship with Jesus shines, as well as her loving spirit for Jesus and her sense of faith and trust in Him!

Published by Pursuing Our Purpose

Welcome! We are two sets of sisters that are best friends; longing to live the purpose and design that God has specially planned for every one of us. We would love to have you come along with us as we learn what it looks like to be a true woman glowing with an inward beauty that comes from our Heavenly Father.

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