Head coverings

This is something that both Moose and Cane have discussed before in multiple different posts (which I can’t all find at the moment), but I’m going to go over it a bit too.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that [a]Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of [b]Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman [c]whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover [d]her head, let her also [e]have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to [f]have her hair cut off or [g]her head shaved, let her cover [h]her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man [i]does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman [j]independent of man, nor is man [k]independent of woman. 12 For as the woman [l]originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things [m]originate from God. 13 Judge [n]for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no [o]other practice, nor have the churches of God.

The key points of this passage are:

  • Paul urges the Corinthians to act as he does as he imitates Christ.
  • There is a hierarchy of authority: God > Christ > man > woman
  • Men who prophesy or pray with their head covered are disgraced, but women who prophesy or pray without their head covered are disgraced (and it is if as their heads are shaved).
  • The reason for this is not just from an authority perspective, but also a creation order perspective.
  • The symbol of [being under] authority is because of the angels (as an angel is assigned to each Church to watch over it: Revelations 2-3)
  • Repeating that it’s a disgrace for covering a man’s head, and disgrace for an uncovered woman’s head. Long hair is a glory to a woman, much like a head covering.
  • Tells us that this is a practice of the Churches of God. It is not solely to the Corinthian Church and thus the culture of the Corinthian Church but of all of God’s Churches. It’s universal.

There’s a lot of commentary on this passage and a lot of debate. There is some cultural context to this in terms of prostitution and not covering the head.

The argument from creation order on head coverings is similar to women not being able to teach or have authority over men in 1 Timothy 2. Conveniently, this is also one of the “culturally relevant” passages that many “liberal” Churches like to explain away.

It is universally “disgraceful” for women to have short hair. This is no coincidence. While outward appearances may be disgraceful, outward appearance is not everything. In fact, 1 Peter 3 states beauty in wives is not merely outward but inward. To win unbelieving husbands a wife should have chaste and respectful behavior, a gentle and quiet spirit, and submit to her husband. Such methods and actions outwardly show her respect and submission. It makes sense then that head coverings are likewise an outward expression of a symbol of [being under] authority as chaste and respectful behavior, a gentle and quiet spirit, and submissiveness is to an unbelieving husband.

Indeed, the symbol of being under authority is to her own husband and God. It is a form of outwardly honoring the principles of godly living in Christ Jesus. Not only that, but because of the angels [of each church] as they are also under the authority of God and are commissioned by God to judge our obedience. For example,

Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the [k]Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, thalmostat you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will [l]spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Are the Scriptures only culturally relevant or is it timeless Truth?

If they’re only “culturally relevant” then what’s the point? We can just pick and choose what we want to obey in the Bible. Picking and choosing what you want to obey is the modicum of almost everyone who calls themselves Christians in the Western hemisphere. Oh, don’t want to go to Church? I guess I’ll only go when I feel like it. Oh, don’t want to obey my husband? Guess I won’t. Oh, I want a divorce but the Bible says not to… well, there were irreconcilable differences so God wants me to leave.

Indeed, the Scripture itself in v16 speaks that this is not “culturally relevant” [to the Corinthians] but a practice of all of the Churches of God in all of the various cultures that they were in from: Judea, to Africa, to Asia Minor, to Greece, to Italy and everywhere a Church was planted by the Apostles. The practice of head coverings to show proper submission to authority was and is still universal for the Church.

The simple truth about the matter is that head coverings were practiced in every Church, even in the West, until perhaps 70-100ish years ago. As the Church became much more infected by the culture, this practice has become non-PC, odd, weird, and whatever “negative” attribute you want to call it. Hence, it has stopped being practice in most Churches. However, this is not a reason not to follow the commands of Scripture. Following the commands of Scripture are often difficult, uncomfortable, and un-PC. Women being outwardly submissive to authority? Definitely un-PC.

Is it no surprise that in our individualistic and rebellious culture that we have gotten rid of symbols of submission to authority?

In any case, I discussed this previously with my girl a year or so ago, and I have recently discussed it with her again. Apparently, she didn’t remember that we discussed it. She doesn’t like it (at least at first), but will do it if I ask her to. I let her know that it will be something that I require in marriage, not because I am asking her to but as Christians we want to be in alignment with God’s Word. It is also clear that head coverings as an outward symbol of [being under] authority can be an excellent witnessing tool for believers to lukewarm Christians, especially in our individualistic and rebellious culture.

The thing about being obedient is that we don’t have to like it at first. It’s great if we do, but much of the time when we are tasked with being obedient to God we don’t like it at first. But we have faith and trust God that as we are obedient to His commands that He will be gracious to us and help us cultivate the right attitude and heart.

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56 Responses to Head coverings

  1. SnapperTrx says:

    I probably sound like a broken record, but I’ll ask again. If one believes that head coverings for women are, indeed, a commandment from the Lord (toward which I am leaning), how does one implement that when the majority of “modern women” would never agree to it. I was talking to my wife about it a couple of weeks ago and she flat out told me that she would never agree to wearing a head covering. She doesn’t much like to draw attention and, even if I said that it would be as a witness for her, she would never do it.

    I am starting to realize that the modern church is so out of whack with the scripture that it can hardly be recognized as “The Bride of Christ” any longer. I mean, those who are His should be obeying His commandments, yet we see left and right, and through sites like your own and Dalrock, that every attempt is made by modern man to snake past the scriptures, with the goal being to do only the most minimum that is needed to say one is compliant. There is no one zealous out there! No one willing to rub against society and say, “Gods way IS my way! Culture be damned!”. Those who do are castigated as kooks, fringe, creepy and, my favorite, legalistic.

    Do we jump into the lifeboat and let the rest of the ship just sink? Even with our own loved ones left on it? What does a man do?

  2. Jeff says:

    I think women should cover their head if they prophesy or pray out load or read scripture. I do wonder about Pauls command to greet each other with a holy kiss….

  3. Alan K says:

    “What does a man do?”

    Look to the scriptural accounts of various men of God, especially the prophets; many were solitary and mocked for their dedication. They persisted.

    Concerning leading a wife in the Truth of Gods’ Word, she will likely need a few things from you to quell the noise in her mind. Simply put:
    * State your requirements plainly and with calm conviction, as mentioned in the OT.
    * Express the reasons for upholding these basic symbols, focusing on the opportunity for your woman to express her feminine glory (her hair, etc.) appropriately, while accomplishing a good witness and receiving personal blessing all at the same time. She will come to see the advantage in this.
    * You will become her source of confidence and security. making the scriptures come alive in direct application to her life. She should recognize you as her head and wish to honor you.

    Women are curious creatures and we learn a lot in our attempts to lead them in the right path. We gain a great insight into God’s purposes, practicing faithful husbandry with a reluctant follower. Women constantly test us and try our mettle. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. At any rate, life is much easier with sound scriptural guidance.

  4. Alan K says:

    * God’s Word * (sorry about the typo)

  5. SnapperTrx says:

    This logical and calm approach makes sense – if your a man. I have recently posted on my own blog my leaving our current church because of some issue with our pastor which has lead to my wife and I having a bit of a fall out for the past week (which has since somewhat patched up).

    I took this approach and talked with her extensively about the situation and what I was planning on doing. Nonetheless, she has rebelled and decided SHE will continue to go to the church, regardless of what I think God or the bible has said.

    She is a typical Christian woman raised in a feminist society. I love her, but only too late realize what she is, and what most “modern women” are.

    Logic and calm will not work.

  6. Alan K says:

    “Logic and calm will not work.”

    I understand. For her, perhaps; not as much for you. I am (briefly) sketching out the path for you to follow, pointing to some unpleasant facts along the way–ones that you will need to understand and master. (In faith, you should overcome.)

    The Hard Reality of Women: There are things that she loves more than God’s ways as manifested in Jesus Christ, or even her own faithful husband; likewise, there are things in this world that she fears much more than God, Christ and you.

    These feminine weaknesses are exactly what you are facing in the pursuit of becoming stronger in your own right.

    What does she love? And more to the point, what does she fear? I can probably guess….

  7. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    1 Corinthians 11:10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

    I posit that the angles also cover themselves in the presence of higher authority to show honor and demonstrate God’s ultimate holiness.

    Isaiah 6:2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

    The concept of face covering was to hide shame, the idea of covering the head was protection. When a woman wears a covering on her head she is indicating that she is under the rule and protection of her husband-lord (1 Pe 3:6) ie he is her head. It is fitting that women who rebel against their husband’s and father’s authority do not wear a head covering, for their behavior is shameful and so the symbol of rebellion and shame is correct. Which came first the feminist mutiny or the loss of the symbol of subordination I do not know, but a symbol without concurrent fidelity to its meaning is dishonest. Feminism has made women today act as shameful as if they were all bald, they have eschewed the covering for themselves and refused to give honor that authority from God demands.

  8. @ Jonadab-the-Rechabite

    On covering of the angels. Yeah, I’ve seen that mentioned before as well.

    I don’t doubt that like with many Scripture there are multiple meanings of revelation.

  9. @ SnapperTrx

    I mean, it could be worse.

    You could be like Hosea where God told you to marry a prostitute who constantly committed adultery against you.

    Or it could be like Job where he got everything taken from him: his wealth, his children, his health, and his wife railed against him to “[stop holding onto his] integrity and curse God and die.”

    If you can cultivate peace and joy amidst suffering, that is truly a place of being blessed. Perhaps not temporarily, but eternally. And it is a good witness for Christ.

  10. SnapperTrx says:

    Yes, I am starting to understand that more and more each day as I realize that I can’t really change anyone who isn’t willing to even consider the possibility that the bible just says what it means, even the stuff that doesn’t seem like it matches up with todays societal beliefs. Think I will concentrate on peace for a time. Probably better for the ol’ blood pressure anyhow.

  11. shredifier says:

    Are we fighting a losing battle then?
    Unless you’re willing to find a very tiny community of like minded Amish women then you’re not going to find any modern day women wiling to wear head coverings as a symbol of their submission to a man…..no way, no how
    Does that mean the scriptures are wrong? Or that those verses about head coverings are a cultural thing not relevant for today’s feminized society?
    In order to keep peace in the home I suspect most husbands would concede some ground to women in this regard and give up fighting for his woman’s obedience and not insist she has to wear a head covering
    To illustrate a point, I saw a funny video on YouTube about the almost impossibility for a man to find a godly woman to date her….even though it was meant to convey the opposite reaction than the one derived from seeing this video, it showed that if a man wanted a woman who believed in being compliant, submissive, wore head coverings, never spoke in church, rejected Sunday school, rejected all forms of musical instruments whilst singing, rejected Xmas celebrations, rejected Easter celebrations, believed that her body belongs to her husband, rejected all her wordy friends and social networking unless specifically saved Christians then good luck in finding ANY woman who would fit that bill…..women are far too gone, too indoctrinated into feminism to EVERYTHING accept such a narrow way of looking at life
    Now we as Christian men can either accept that, reject all women and go MGTOW, or find ourselves some brainwashed subservient Amish women in a cult community because that’s the only way we will find women who accept what the scriptures say is her role in society

  12. shredifier says:

    Meant to say “too indoctrinated into feminism to EVER accept such a narrow way of looking at life”

  13. feeriker says:

    It would be very interesting to see if women will tell God to His face on Judgment Day to pack His commandments where the eternal sun don’t shine like they do down here on Earth every day by proxy.

  14. Cassie says:

    @ Shredifier

    There are women outside of Amish communities that wear head coverings to church. You just need to know where to look. You’ll still find some in good traditional Catholic churches, particularly ones that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass (though some of us wear them even if we aren’t at a TLM).

  15. Robin Munn says:

    I’ve always read that passage, seen verse 15’s “For her hair is given to her for a covering.” and thought that that was the intent: not to have an extra piece of clothing (or even just a piece of cloth) as a head covering, but to tell women “Your long hair should be your head covering, and that is (part of) why you should not cut your hair short.” But on re-reading it, I’m not sure anymore. It does sound like he’s talking about something separate from hair: a hat, or a veil, or some piece of clothing or cloth. But if so, why does he spend so much time talking about a woman’s hair? I know there was a big thing about wearing your hair up in some kind of hairstyle if you were a respectable woman, and literally “letting your hair down” was a symbol of sexual availability — which is why it would only be done in public by prostitutes or sluts, and a respectable woman would only let her hair down in private with her husband.

    I think what I’m asking for is to see arguments, pro and con, for the “this passage says that women should not come to church with short hair” position vs. the “this passage says that women should wear something on their heads besides their hair” position. That the church worldwide has widely held the latter position, if that’s true (I think it is, but I’d like to see the evidence from, say, the early church fathers that shows that “head coverings” meant something besides long hair) is a very strong argument, and it’s almost persuasive all by itself. But I’d like to see some of the discussion that has happened by people honestly seeking the truth (I know there are lots of people who are not honestly seeking the truth on things like this) about the meaning of this passage. I have not so far asked my wife to wear a head covering in church, because I have not thought that this passage required something other than long hair (I did ask her to keep her hair long when we were dating, and she did it gladly). So if I become persuaded that this *is* a requirement, then I need to take action. Therefore, I’d like to see the arguments pro and con, so I can evaluate them for myself and see whether my current understanding of the passage (that it requires long hair but not necessarily a hat or veil) is actually correct.

  16. Robin Munn says:

    @shredifier –

    While I agree with many of the things you listed, why do you think it’s a Scriptural requirement to “reject[] all forms of musical instruments whilst singing”? When I see verses like Psalm 147:7, or Psalm 149:1-3, or Psalm 150, it seems to me that the worship practice in Israel was to sing accompanied by musical instruments like lyres, and that God clearly approved of that practice since he inspired the psalmist(s) to write those psalms. So I don’t know where you’re getting that particular requirement to “reject[] all forms of musical instruments whilst singing”. Many of the others that you list are clearly Scriptural, but could you explain this particular one to me?

  17. shredifier says:


    Oh God no, I wasn’t agreeing with that guy who posted that video, I have no problem with using musical instruments whilst singing, I believe the Lord is honored by our use of music in church
    So I hope that clarifies my position
    I guess what I was trying to say is that it becomes problematic if we try to become too “biblical” we end up being legalistic and it just turns everyone off
    Short hair on a woman is the actual current trend so I agree it’s very hard to combat that without coming across in being too controlling and telling women how they ought to dress etc

  18. Elspeth says:

    Head coverings are ultimately a sign of submission to godly authority and not about “this is the way we go to church”. It is important not to miss this distinction because there are husbands who so not desire that their wives cover and there can be a false dichotomy created when that needn’t be the case.

    Define “short hair”.

  19. @ Robin Munn

    I initially though that too. However,

    The initial argument is: women should pray and prophesy with their heads covered [in Church setting] as not doing so is disgraceful, hierarchy, and follow Paul as he imitates Christ which is V1-7.

    V13-15 is its own separate argument, in favor and for head coverings while praying and prophesying. Paul makes a couple of mini-arguments for it which are cumulatively: V7-9, V10-12, V13-15.

    Then he sums it up with V16 as a universal practice: that women should have long hair because it is a covering and glory to her (V13-15). That women should also wear a covering on her head because creation order (V7-9), symbol of [being under authority] (V10-12) and coverings like hair are a glory to her like head coverings during praying and prophesying (V13-15). In other words, just as a long hair is a glory to a woman and is disgraceful if she shaves her head, so too is praying and prophesying without a head covering.

    Then it’s summed up by stating that this practice is universal through the Churches of God. If you’re contentious… well, that’s not good… because the Church has no other practice.

    The only arguments I’ve seen against it is that this was “cultural” or “only to the Corinthian Church” which are clearly false given when you look at early Church history and adherence to head coverings all the way up until 1900. Paul even discards the notion of cultural relevance in V16. The only other argument I’ve seen which “may” have merit is that women only need head coverings when praying and prophesying (and not necessarily in the Church… only if they are praying and prophesying in a Church function). However, this seems dubious to me given that this letter is specifically written to the Church in Corinth for Church practices inside the Church like much of the other letter. This also wouldn’t explain why all the Churches of God did it as well in their congregations.

    It should be no surprise that if you look up arguments against head coverings, it’s mostly Christo-feminists trying to discard the notion.

    Therefore, given the godly nature of head coverings (outward sign of being under godly authority), I think there are only arguments for women wearing them.

  20. @ shredifier

    I guess what I was trying to say is that it becomes problematic if we try to become too “biblical” we end up being legalistic and it just turns everyone off

    The goal of the Christian walk is to put faith to action. Head coverings, like many have said, are an outward sign of submission to godly authority.

    I don’t see how outwardly showing submission to godly authority, especially in a culture that lauds independence and rebelliousness (especially in wives), can be in any way misconstrued as being legalistic.

    It’s absolutely what Jesus described by being a “light in the darkness” or a “city on a hill.” It’s something that stands out as bringing glory and honor to God as THE authority.

  21. shredifier says:

    I guess the reason why submission to godly authority can be misconstrued as legalistic is because the entire culture in the west is seeped in feminist ideology and submission to male authority is seen as an archaic throwback to patriarchal oppression of women…..this viewpoint has unfortunately seeped into the church and women in general
    So now, submission to male or godly authority is not seen as a good thing, it’s seen as a negative thing to be discarded and husbands who push submission are seen as acting legalistic

  22. donalgraeme says:

    @ Robin

    I knew that John Chrysostom taught that head coverings were not simply long hair, but actual, you know, coverings. In fact, IIRC he taught that women should wear them all the time. After all, we are supposed to pray unceasingly.

  23. Don Quixote says:

    Great post, and great discussion. I would like to add me $0.02 cents.
    I attended an independent church in the late 80s, and some [most] of the women covered their heads during the service. That church had a split, and I went through a divorce but through it all I have maintained fellowship with some of that group. We still meet every 3 months although we are spread far and wide and are few in number. The women still cover their heads. But in-between our 3 monthly meetings I attend various local churches, none of them will teach things like male headship. Some of them don’t seem to know it exists.
    There is some hope, recently we had two converts, on two separate occasions. These will learn the New Testament order as per the apostle Paul, praise God! But its most likely they will be assimilated into a local church.

  24. @ donalgraeme

    In fact, IIRC he taught that women should wear them all the time. After all, we are supposed to pray unceasingly.

    I suspect that for those who have never done it before it will have to be a work in progress!

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  26. Neguy says:

    Deep, you make an interesting statement here about the history of headcoverings. Is there a good source that documents their history in the church? One thing you typically see today is that Protestants ignore everything between the first century and modern day. By suggesting that headcoverings are culturally contingent, they sort of imply that the Corinthians did it, but nobody else did. But it’s important to ask what the general practice of the church has been through its history.

    I have seen women in an Orthodox church in an eastern European country all wearing headcoverings.

    Also, women wear headcoverings in mosques – including secular western tourist females. So clearly many women are willing to put on one.

  27. @ Neguy

    I haven’t found a website that sources everything but as far as I can tell all of the earth church fathers agree on it.

    So did a lot of Protestants: Martin Luther’s wife, Calvin, Knox, Gill, Spurgeon, Henry, and so on.

    The only reason I can see “not” to do it is cultural relevance, which is quite clearly false given the nature of the arguments Paul puts forth (v16 universal of the Churches of God), and wanting to be contentious (v16) which is a sin.

    Basically, the rebellious nature of the past 70-100 years is the only reason, which is obviously not a reason

  28. Cassie says:

    I don’t have a source in my hands at the moment, but I’ve read (and posted about on my old blog) that in the Catholic Church, mantillas (aka veils) were common until after Vatican 2 (though it’s worth noting that the council never said women should stop wearing their veils – this was one of the things that people did in response to Vatican 2 that wasn’t intended). That was in the 60’s. You still see veils commonly in Traditional Latin Masses, and sporadically in other types of masses. I’ve been wearing one regardless of the mass I go to, and I’ve seen other women on occasion wearing them too.

  29. Maea says:

    I think some of you are thinking about headcoverings incorrectly. Headcoverings aren’t about men or about husbands. Unmarried women, girls, and widows can attend church wearing a headcovering and they aren’t submissive to a husband. I’ve heard the argument they’re submissive to the priest but ultimately everyone is under the priest’s authority. It also misses the point to “require” a wife to cover when she doesn’t understand the scriptural basis behind it.

    Throughout Christian history and tradition, it was intuitively understood why it was important for all women to cover in church. It was a sign of reverence and respect. People understood that things that were covered were holy. Covering is symbolic of the holiness of being a vessel and the potential of giving life. Since this understanding was intuitive, it’s difficult to find a hard and fast “rule” behind covering. It is a custom all Christian women should voluntarily follow. He’s a retired blogger now, but The Catholic Knight wrote a good article about the central purpose of covering.

  30. @ Maea

    Reverence/respect is an heart attitude which cultivates the action of submission to authority. It’s about the whole picture: loving God with all your heart, soul, and strength.

    Unmarried women and girls are submissive to their father.

    I agree that it’s not simply about submission to earthly authority. Everything in Scripture is about sanctification, which is becoming more holy like God. This includes submission to earthly authority, submission to God, and other God created orders. The practice includes all of these.

  31. Novaseeker says:

    In EO (and EC) churches quite a few women cover — not all women, and in some parishes much more than others, but it isn’t something that’s restricted to Amish cults. I suppose it helps that in Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism women are restricted in other significant ways (no readings by women, generally, unless in a convent, no women at all behind the iconostasis, no altar girls at all, no EEMs at all, etc.) so it syncs better — similarly to how it does with a TLM community. It’s hard to expect women to wear head coverings when women are routinely up on the altar doing the readings, assisting in the mass, and distributing the Eucharist and basically doing everything short of being ordained – it really doesn’t sync with that approach.

    I do think that the reason is the rebellion in the contemporary culture and the ideas of egalitarianism that are at the root. “Why should women have to behave differently than men in church? How sexist!!” type of thing. That’s the root of it, because it was only when the sex rev really started to take off in the 60s that the coverings started flying off in Catholic and some Orthodox parishes. It’s a part of the feminist rebellion against treating the sexes differentially.

  32. shredifier says:

    I’m not too sure that this has been brought up in conversation but how about the contention that 1: women are only commanded to have a head covering while praying or prophesying. …the clear implication from this verse is that any “head coverings” worn by women was not to be at all times during the church service and 2: that Paul identifies that a woman’s covering is her long hair…..the clear thrust of this teaching on the matter is that NO additional ornament or gear to cover a woman’s head is needed, her long hair is sufficient

  33. @ shredifier

    As I said to Robin, Paul points out three different arguments in favor of head coverings:

    1. V6-9 — It’s a shame otherwise and because of creation order

    2. V10-12 — As a symbol of [being under] authority, though there is no independence

    3. V13-15 — A woman’s hair is her glory and given to her as a covering, which by like argument means that a woman should have a head covering when praying/prophesying. Essentially the argument that women have a natural head covering IS an argument for wearing head coverings when praying or prophesying (even when a woman has long hair). Looking at the early Church, this seems to be the way it was interpreted.

    V16 sums up the three arguments by saying that it’s universal for all of the Churches and there is no other practice… and if they disagree they are being contentious (normally classified as a sin: e.g. contentious women in Proverbs).

    Now, I could see the case made for “only” when praying or prophesying, but if this is the case then it must be worn even when praying/prophesying at home or elsewhere outside the Church. Generally speaking, however, the passage reads as specifically an ordinance of the Churches specific to the Churches so I don’t favor that argument, although you could make the case to do it all the time if you were “very conservative” on the issue.

  34. shredifier says:

    I think you’ve misunderstood the thrust of what I’m saying
    No one disputes the FACT that a woman should have a head covering as a symbol of her respect for her husbands authority BUT the bible makes it quite clear that the “covering” that is required is her natural long hair according to verse 15…..there is NO getting around that verse, Paul specifically says that a woman’s long hair is given to her “for a covering” and those who dispute that are being contentious and I would dare to add, legalistic

  35. Cassie says:

    Wearing a veil has nothing to do with a woman’s husband or father having authority over her. Yes they do have authority over her, but wearing a veil isn’t about them. It’s about showing reference for God. Notice scripture says to have a covering when praying and prophesying, which are God things. It doesn’t say to wear one when talking to your husband or father. Only when talking to God. You guys need to understand that it’s not about you at all. It’s about her submitting to God.

    Also, about whether the covering required is a woman’s hair or a veil of some sort – we can’t remove our hair after praying and put it back on the next time. That only makes sense if it’s something we put on our heads, such as a veil.

  36. Pilgrim of the East says:

    “It is universally “disgraceful” for women to have short hair.” – really? This is definitely not universal for all cultures – e.g. various african tribes . Or our today’s culture anyway.

    You’re using the same argument of “no head coverings for women => isn’t God’s church” as Moose does – but that begs the question: who is “we” in “16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no [o]other practice, nor have the churches of God” ? – because if you take it as universal property of God’s churches instead of there being implied “[other] churches”, it’s obvious from wording that he excludes the “we” (“we, nor churches”) from the churches of God. (whereas if we accept that “other” was implied it ceases to be universal argument and becomes just “don’t do it because neither we nor others do it”).

  37. @ Cassie

    It seems that it’s all God-given authority based on the 3 arguments that Paul makes. One being on creation order.

    Of course, honoring God is the main thrust of every passage of Scripture, even including things like “wives submit to your husbands, **as to the Lord.**”

  38. @ Pilgrim of the East

    It’s also “universally” wrong in cultures to steal, lie, murder, and do other evil acts.

    The main point is that God has written some form of natural order/conscience on our hearts of what is good and what is bad.

    I don’t understand your argument on V16. It can only be used as a “for” the practice because of the prior 3 arguments, given that it honors God via creation order, [being under] authority, shame/disgrace, etc.

  39. shredifier says:

    *it’s not about you at all. It’s about her submitting to God”*

    You fail to see though, that the primary way a wife shows submission to God IS BY her submission to her husband, so it actually is about us “guys”……a wife that is truly submitted to God expresses that submission by being an obedient, compliant and submissive wife
    Because of the curse placed upon Eve, the natural sinful state of ALL women is to resent and hate male authority, this is why especially in marriage wives must be broken in and learn submission because it doesn’t come naturally
    The one and only time I’ve ever agreed with Islam is how Sharia law must be applied to women otherwise you will get the same pathetic state of affairs in the west with disobedient women and chaos in society caused by letting women run wild…..Islam is at least smart enough to know this and where Christianity has completely failed, in so far as it’s liberal, corrupt, weak pandering to women is concerned

  40. Pilgrim of the East says:

    unlike the hairstyles the stealing and murdering really is universally considered wrong at least when done to member of the same group/tribe etc.

    prior 3 arguments seem very culturally dependent and, well ad hoc – eg Corinthians 11:4 vs Exodus 24.
    “God > Christ > man > woman” – why is it just woman with covered head? Or is it like every even position should have head covered (=> Christ and women?).
    Shame/disgrace/dishonor – well, nature certainly didn’t teach that Celts either and OTOH it seems that “nature itself” teaches us that homosexuality is normal and natural because animals do it, right?

    Honestly, I wouldn’t have any problem with taking head covering as a simple rule for Christians and not a cultural thing of Paul’s time only, if he didn’t give any reasons at all instead of arguments like “do it (only) if you consider shaving women’s hair shameful”, “nature itself teaches us”, verse 12 weakening 8, and finally and seemingly according to Paul most convincing argument “do it because it’s custom/tradition/practice which we and other hold”. Why didn’t he just say “do it because Holy Spirit told me so”?

  41. Maea says:

    You fail to see though, that the primary way a wife shows submission to God IS BY her submission to her husband, so it actually is about us “guys”……a wife that is truly submitted to God expresses that submission by being an obedient, compliant and submissive wife

    That argument doesn’t stand when women don’t have husbands, and when girls come from fatherless families. It’s not about husbands, or wifely submission.

    I also find it interesting Elspeth made a point earlier about a husband’s preference to not cover and no one addressed it. The argument that covering is symbolic of a wife’s submission to her husband, because people can see that, then what does it symbolize when a wife doesn’t cover because her husband told her not to? If it’s important to see an outward sign of submission through headcovering, then it places a problem onto women who do not cover and yet are submitting to their husbands.

    And really, this whole thing about headcovering being about men entirely misses the point. God has made it clear He is more concerned about submission of the heart, regardless of headcovering.

  42. Cassie says:

    What Maea said. My father died several years ago, and I don’t have a husband, meaning there’s no living male that’s rightfully in authority over me at the moment. But I still wear my veil because I’m showing reverence to God, and showing my submission to God.

    Yes, one of the ways a woman submits to God is by submitting to her father and husband. But she doesn’t wear a veil in order to show submission to her husband. That’s not what it’s about.

  43. Since this is going nowhere fast, let me just post the words of John Chrystostom on the particular passage:


    In regard to authority: V3 God > Christ > man > woman

    3. But the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Here the heretics rush upon us with a certain declaration of inferiority, which out of these words they contrive against the Son. But they stumble against themselves. For if the man be the head of the woman, and the head be of the same substance with the body, and the head of Christ is God, the Son is of the same substance with the Father. Nay, say they, it is not His being of another substance which we intend to show from hence, but that He is under subjection. What then are we to say to this? In the first place, when any thing lowly is said of him conjoined as He is with the Flesh, there is no disparagement of the Godhead in what is said, the Economy admitting the expression. However, tell me how you intend to prove this from the passage? Why, as the man governs the wife, says he, so also the Father, Christ. Therefore also as Christ governs the man, so likewise the Father, the Son. For the head of every man, we read, is Christ. And who could ever admit this? For if the superiority of the Son compared with us, be the measure of the Father’s compared with the Son, consider to what meanness you will bring Him. So that we must not try all things by like measure in respect of ourselves and of God, though the language used concerning them be similar; but we must assign to God a certain appropriate excellency, and so great as belongs to God. For should they not grant this, many absurdities will follow. As thus; the head of Christ is God: and, Christ is the head of the man, and he of the woman. Therefore if we choose to take the term, head, in the like sense in all the clauses, the Son will be as far removed from the Father as we are from Him. Nay, and the woman will be as far removed from us as we are from the Word of God. And what the Son is to the Father, this both we are to the Son and the woman again to the man. And who will endure this?

    But do you understand the term head differently in the case of the man and the woman, from what thou dost in the case of Christ? Therefore in the case of the Father and the Son, must we understand it differently also. How understand it differently? says the objector. According to the occasion. For had Paul meant to speak of rule and subjection, as you say, he would not have brought forward the instance of a wife, but rather of a slave and a master. For what if the wife be under subjection to us? It is as a wife, as free, as equal in honor. And the Son also, though He did become obedient to the Father, it was as the Son of God, it was as God. For as the obedience of the Son to the Father is greater than we find in men towards the authors of their being, so also His liberty is greater. Since it will not of course be said that the circumstances of the Son’s relation to the Father are greater and more intimate than among men, and of the Father’s to the Son, less. For if we admire the Son that He was obedient so as to come even unto death, and the death of the cross, and reckon this the great wonder concerning Him; we ought to admire the Father also, that He begot such a son, not as a slave under command, but as free, yielding obedience and giving counsel. For the counsellor is no slave. But again, when you hear of a counsellor, do not understand it as though the Father were in need, but that the Son has the same honor with Him that begot Him. Do not therefore strain the example of the man and the woman to all particulars.

    For with us indeed the woman is reasonably subjected to the man: since equality of honor causes contention. And not for this cause only, but by reason also of the deceit 1 Timothy 2:14 which happened in the beginning. Wherefore you see, she was not subjected as soon as she was made; nor, when He brought her to the man, did either she hear any such thing from God, nor did the man say any such word to her: he said indeed that she was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh: Genesis 2:23 but of rule or subjection he no where made mention unto her. But when she made an ill use of her privilege and she who had been made a helper was found to be an ensnarer and ruined all, then she is justly told for the future, your turning shall be to your husband. Genesis 3:16

    To account for which; it was likely that this sin would have thrown our race into a state of warfare; (for her having been made out of him would not have contributed any thing to peace, when this had happened, nay, rather this very thing would have made the man even the harsher, that she made as she was out of him should not have spared even him who was a member of herself:) wherefore God, considering the malice of the Devil, raised up the bulwark of this word and what enmity was likely to arise from his evil device, He took away by means of this sentence and by the desire implanted in us: thus pulling down the partition-wall, i.e., the resentment caused by that sin of hers. But in God and in that undefiled Essence, one must not suppose any such thing.

    Do not therefore apply the examples to all, since elsewhere also from this source many grievous errors will occur. For so in the beginning of this very Epistle, he said, 1 Corinthians 3:22-23 All are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. What then? Are all in like manner ours, as we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s? In no wise, but even to the very simple the difference is evident, although the same expression is used of God, and Christ, and us. And elsewhere also having called the husband head of the wife, he added, Ephesians 5:23 Even as Christ is Head and Saviour and Defender of the Church, so also ought the man to be of his own wife. Are we then to understand in like manner the saying in the text, both this, and all that after this is written to the Ephesians concerning this subject? Far from it. It is impossible. For although the same words are spoken of God and of men, they do not have the same force in respect to God and to men, but in one way those must be understood, and in another these. Not however on the other hand all things diversely: since contrariwise they will seem to have been introduced at random and in vain, we reaping no benefit from them. But as we must not receive all things alike, so neither must we absolutely reject all.


    4. Thus much in answer to the heretics: but we must also orderly go over the whole passage. For perhaps some one might here have doubt also, questioning with himself, what sort of a crime it was for the woman to be uncovered, or the man covered? What sort of crime it is, learn now from hence.

    Symbols many and diverse have been given both to man and woman; to him of rule, to her of subjection: and among them this also, that she should be covered, while he has his head bare. If now these be symbols you see that both err when they disturb the proper order, and transgress the disposition of God, and their own proper limits, both the man falling into the woman’s inferiority, and the woman rising up against the man by her outward habiliments.

    For if exchange of garments be not lawful, so that neither she should be clad with a cloak, nor he with a mantle or a veil: (for the woman, says He, shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garments:) much more is it unseemly for these Deuteronomy 22:5 things to be interchanged. For the former indeed were ordained by men, even although God afterwards ratified them: but this by nature, I mean the being covered or uncovered. But when I say Nature, I mean God. For He it is Who created Nature. When therefore you overturn these boundaries, see how great injuries ensue.

    And tell me not this, that the error is but small. For first, it is great even of itself: being as it is disobedience. Next, though it were small, it became great because of the greatness of the things whereof it is a sign. However, that it is a great matter, is evident from its ministering so effectually to good order among mankind, the governor and the governed being regularly kept in their several places by it.

    So that he who transgresses disturbs all things, and betrays the gifts of God, and casts to the ground the honor bestowed on him from above; not however the man only, but also the woman. For to her also it is the greatest of honors to preserve her own rank; as indeed of disgraces, the behavior of a rebel. Wherefore he laid it down concerning both, thus saying,

    Yes, the veil is worn as a symbol of subjection to God, and also of other authority, of which husbands are one.

    Re: V15 in regard to hair as a covering

    His constant practice of stating commonly received reasons he adopts also in this place, betaking himself to the common custom, and greatly abashing those who waited to be taught these things from him, which even from men’s ordinary practice they might have learned. For such things are not unknown even to Barbarians: and see how he every where deals in piercing expressions: every man praying having his head covered dishonors his head; and again, but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled: and here again, 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.

    And if it be given her for a covering, say you, wherefore need she add another covering? That not nature only, but also her own will may have part in her acknowledgment of subjection. For that you ought to be covered nature herself by anticipation enacted a law. Add now, I pray, your own part also, that you may not seem to subvert the very laws of nature; a proof of most insolent rashness , to buffet not only with us, but with nature also. This is why God accusing the Jews said, Ezekiel 16:21-22 You have slain your sons and your daughters: this is beyond all your abominations.

    And again, Paul rebuking the unclean among the Romans thus aggravates the accusation, saying, that their usage was not only against the law of God, but even against nature. For they changed the natural use into that which is against nature. Romans 1:26 For this cause then here also he employs this argument signifying this very thing, both that he is not enacting any strange law and that among Gentiles their inventions would all be reckoned as a kind of novelty against nature. So also Christ, implying the same, said, Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also so them; showing that He is not introducing any thing new.

    Yes, short hair is ‘universally’ a disgrace because of natural order.

    Re: V16 on customs

    But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Churches of God.

    It is then contentiousness to oppose these things, and not any exercise of reason. Notwithstanding, even thus it is a measured sort of rebuke which he adopts, to fill them the more with self-reproach; which in truth rendered his saying the more severe. For we, says he, have no such custom, so as to contend and to strive and to oppose ourselves. And he stopped not even here, but also added, neither the Churches of God; signifying that they resist and oppose themselves to the whole world by not yielding. However, even if the Corinthians were then contentious, yet now the whole world has both received and kept this law. So great is the power of the Crucified.

    6. But I fear lest having assumed the dress, yet in their deeds some of our women should be found immodest and in other ways uncovered. For therefore also writing to Timothy Paul was not content with these things, but added others, saying, that they adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold. 1 Timothy 2:9 For if one ought not to have the head bare, but everywhere to carry about the token of authority, much more is it becoming to exhibit the same in our deeds. Thus at any rate the former women also used both to call their husbands lords, 1 Peter 3:6 and to yield the precedence to them. Because they for their part, you say, used to love their own wives. I know that as well as you: I am not ignorant of it. But when we are exhorting you concerning your own duties, let not theirs take all your attention. For so, when we exhort children to be obedient to parents, saying, that it is written, honor your father and your mother, they reply to us, mention also what follows, ‘and you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,’ Ephesians 6:1-4 And servants when we tell them that it is written that they should obey their masters, and not serve with eye-service, they also again demand of us what follows, bidding us also give the same advice to masters. For Paul bade them also, they saw, to forbear threatening. But let us not do thus nor enquire into the things enjoined on others, when we are charged with regard to our own: for neither will your obtaining a partner in the charges free you from the blame: but look to one thing only, how you may rid yourself of those charges which lie against yourself. Since Adam also laid the blame on the woman, and she again on the serpent, but this did in no wise deliver them. Do not thou, therefore, for your part, say this to me now, but be careful with all consideration to render what you owe to your husband: since also when I am discoursing with your husband, advising him to love and cherish you, I suffer him not to bring forward the law that is appointed for the woman, but I require of him that which is written for himself. And do thou therefore busy yourself with those things only which belong to you, and show yourself tractable to your consort. And accordingly if it be really for God’s sake that you obey your husband, tell me not of the things which ought to be done by him, but for what things you have been made responsible by the lawgiver, those perform with exactness. For this is especially to obey God, not to transgress the law even when suffering things contrary to it. And by the same rule, he that being beloved loves, is not reckoned to do any great thing. But he that waits upon a person who hates him, this above all is the man to receive a crown. In the same manner then do thou also reckon that if your husband give you disgust, and thou endure it, you shall receive a glorious crown: but if he be gentle and mild, what will there be for God to reward in you? And these things I say, not bidding the husbands be harsh; but persuading the wives to bear even with harshness in their husbands. Since when each is careful to fulfil his own duty, his neighbor’s part also will quickly follow: as when the wife is prepared to bear even with rough behavior in the husband, and the husband refrains from abusing her in her angry mood; then all is a calm and a harbor free from waves. […]

    Yes, this custom is summed up by all of the point(s) above (some of which I have not listed) for important reasons, most notably subjection to authority.

    Read the rest if you want. I’m gonna move on from this.

  44. Cassie says:

    There’s a very big difference between saying that you’re supposed to be wearing a veil because you’re under authority (husband or father), and wearing a veil ***for the expressed purpose*** of demonstrating to people around you that you’re under that authority (husband or father). Very big difference. Nobody here is denying that a woman is under their authority.

  45. Two-Cent Woman says:

    Maea and Cassie,

    You are right. The veil is not a demonstration of each individual woman to show her particular relation of order under a particular man such as her husband or father. As Chrysostom points out, headcovering (it’s not required that it be a veil) for women was/is a sign/symbol as written in the Scriptures of the hierarchical order of the nature of the relationships of each to their principle/head. It is a sign of the general order of things. The headcovering is the sign of man being the head of woman, of which is lived out in the Sacrament of Marriage, rather than of all men over all women. A woman wearing a headcovering is showing her acceptance of honoring the order of things whether she is married or not. This acceptance is a submission to Christ.

    The question now before us is not what the veil symbolizes or is a sign of but what obligation do women have to what is written in Scripture. Because the three of us are Catholic women, we look to the Church, the interpreter of Scripture, as you know, to give us the answer. The Church has dropped the wearing of a headcovering for women from the Code of Canon Law. It does not require women to wear one but it also gives women the freedom to do so as a personal devotion if she so chooses. Wearing a headcovering or not, is not a moral issue nor is it liturgically significant in worship. The distinction of male and female is liturgically significant only in that the priest must be male to represent Christ as Head.

    Our Protestant brethren’s opinion on this issue doesn’t really matter. It only matters what the Church teaches. Catholic husbands cannot demand their wives wear a veil and expect obedience because they cannot demand what the Church herself doesn’t impose on the wife. Catholic husbands are submitted to Canon Law as are their wives. Christ promised that whatever the Church loosed and bound on earth, would be loosed and bound in heaven. He granted her this authority to make these kinds of judgments.

    A Catholic husband can tell his wife what he admires about the devotion or he thinks it would be nice if she would consider it and a wife can choose to do this to please him but if the devotion holds no personal meaning to her or she thinks there is a certain immodesty in wearing it because it draws attention and distraction for others due to it not being customary in her particular location, then she is under no obligation to do so or pain of sin in not doing so. Likewise, if a woman wants to take on this particular devotion, her husband cannot forbid it and override the Church in that it is not forbidden.

  46. @ Two-Cent Woman

    You are right. The veil is not a demonstration of each individual woman to show her particular relation of order under a particular man such as her husband or father. As Chrysostom points out, headcovering (it’s not required that it be a veil) for women was/is a sign/symbol as written in the Scriptures of the hierarchical order of the nature of the relationships of each to their principle/head. It is a sign of the general order of things. The headcovering is the sign of man being the head of woman, of which is lived out in the Sacrament of Marriage, rather than of all men over all women. A woman wearing a headcovering is showing her acceptance of honoring the order of things whether she is married or not. This acceptance is a submission to Christ.

    That’s funny because that’s not what they said, and that is what I said. They said it didn’t relate to marriage/husband at all.

    It’s about Order and Authority of which the Father and Christ are primary examples, and [on earth] marriage, by extension, is an example of headship.

  47. @ Cassie

    There’s a very big difference between saying that you’re supposed to be wearing a veil because you’re under authority (husband or father), and wearing a veil ***for the expressed purpose*** of demonstrating to people around you that you’re under that authority (husband or father). Very big difference.

    Of course.

    Ideally, you want free will to be involved insomuch as each person will make a decision to honor authority/order/headship/etc by their own volition.

  48. Two-Cent Woman says:

    DS, “That’s funny because that’s not what they said, and that is what I said. They said it didn’t relate to marriage/husband at all.”

    No, I think they are saying that it’s not related to each individual woman showing their submission toward a husband or men in general. They are arguing a point of orientation or towards whom the submission is directed when a woman covers. A woman wearing a headcovering is her orienting her worship or honor towards God and HIS ordering of things and her role in that. It is not done in orientation of submission towards her husband or men. IOW, veiling is how she honors God. If you are a husband, you should see your wife’s headcovering in Church not as her submission towards you but towards God. We are talking about what’s proper in worship and worship is directed towards God not man. This is why an unmarried woman can also cover in Church.

    Maea said “I think some of you are thinking about headcoverings incorrectly. Headcoverings aren’t about men or about husbands. Unmarried women, girls, and widows can attend church wearing a headcovering and they aren’t submissive to a husband. ”

    Cassie said “Wearing a veil has nothing to do with a woman’s husband or father having authority over her. Yes they do have authority over her, but wearing a veil isn’t about them. It’s about showing reference for God. Notice scripture says to have a covering when praying and prophesying, which are God things. It doesn’t say to wear one when talking to your husband or father. Only when talking to God. You guys need to understand that it’s not about you at all. It’s about her submitting to God.”

  49. Hi says:

    Not to this topic specifically, but overall, you’re delaying her sexual release until she’s the perfect woman. You’ve dated a really long time, and you keep throwing in a new requirement with the threat of “or I’m going to leave you”. You’re both starved. Decide if she’s good for you as she is now, and if not, end it.

    I also struggle with perfectionism, I get it.

  50. Hi says:

    I know you think this is a great ministry, but it’s actually demoralizing to read articles like this. Your articles on politics are great. Do what gives you peace.

  51. @ Hi

    Not to this topic specifically, but overall, you’re delaying her sexual release until she’s the perfect woman. You’ve dated a really long time, and you keep throwing in a new requirement with the threat of “or I’m going to leave you”. You’re both starved. Decide if she’s good for you as she is now, and if not, end it.
    I also struggle with perfectionism, I get it.

    Thanks for your concern!

    That’s actually not the case, though. I’ve already known I wanted to marry her for quite a while. However, due to some crazy logistical issues, I haven’t been able to talk to her dad in person, but it will be soon.

  52. @ Hi

    Also, perhaps you should pray about why you find a Biblical Church tradition demoralizing.

    It’s done to honor God. Why wouldn’t we want to honor God in everything we do?

  53. Hi says:

    What I find demoralizing is that you’re using her sex drive to turn her into the perfect woman.

    So, you might be doing it for the right reason, but it’s the wrong thing.

  54. Hi says:

    Our parent’s generation is weird. Her dad is weird. I think you should just go for it.

  55. Hi says:

    It’s really up to you, and I don’t want to make decisions for anyone else or have that responsibility, but if you think she’s the right person, things are never going to be perfect. Life moves fast, though. There’s so little time.

  56. @ Hi


    How are you doing?

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