Proclamation, Invitation, & Warning

My Wife's Head Covering

By Michael B. White
Posted 8/9/06

 

Jim,
        It was good to see you also. Interesting that you noticed my wife's head covering. We do believe in a literal interpretation of that passage [1 Corinthians 11] as I feel that is the only way that the passage makes sense.

        Some folks like to compare it to foot washing [John 13:5-7] but the distinct difference I see is that Head coverings are commanded "I have no other command for the Churches of God anywhere" and Foot washings were an object lesson: "You do not understand what I do now but you will understand later." Also since Paul [in 1 Corinthians 11] argues from the beginning of creation, that should lay aside any cultural justification of the passage (verse 14), having to do with the condition of Corinth.

        The men are mentioned first [11:4 - Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.] There would have been many men coming out of Judaism needing to remove their covering that had been commanded in the Old Testament (yarmulke or kippah). Here the men’s head covering is commanded to be removed and so this would have been very difficult to do for the believers, much more so than the women taking a covering. And yet, we never hear of people in our culture complaining about that one. Another nail in the coffin for the cultural justification that I am sure you have heard before is that Paul wasn't commanding these women to wear a head covering all the time, but only in the context of "when you come together in one place (verse 18 KJV)" or in other words in the church. So when these same women went to the grocery store there was no covering command. This is specifically a sign for believers to practice because of the angels watching down in an assembly as I read it. So if it was due to the culture I think Paul would have commanded the head covering all the time not just at church and not just when one was praying or prophesying.

         I also take it that it is a sign to the angels not to the outward world. The text clearly says "because of the Angels" not "Because of the unbelievers walking by" (besides they have tongues for that (1Cor 14 "its a sign for believers not unbelievers") Also the comment "because of the angels" I take in conjunction with Ephesians 3:10 that says "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…"

        Basically, a culturalizing of the passage or some other explanation for the passage causes the scissors effect. What I mean by that is that if this is a cultural practice only for ancient Corinth then why do I have it in my Bible and I may as well cut it out with a pair of Scissors. :-). Or is it relevant to me today?  I know no one would consider that... But with that being said I think that everyone has to do this or not do it based on their own conviction. If the point of a head covering is to display the subjection to our head (Jesus Christ) by uncovering our  (Men’s) heads and the Women’s responsibility is to show it by covering her head then we should make the issue of the heart being subject of more importance than the physical sign of it without neglecting the latter. This can only be done voluntarily by the individual practicing it. And if we, (men) who bear Christ's blood as our covering, because of the "new and living way" Jesus made for us into heaven, no longer need to cover our sinful heads when approaching the presence of God, as the Old Testament priest once did when entering God’s presence in the temple, really get a grasp of it we should be rejoicing to do it. It’s a sign of freedom to approach God through his shed blood.  We uncover our head to show the blood covering that freed us from the bondage of sin to the "authorities in heavenly realms" recognizing our head Jesus Christ. The Women cover their heads when entering, picturing the submissive role that Jesus, Our Bridegroom, took for us with respect to God. They symbolize it with covered head towards their husbands "When they come together" which is a symbol for the Angels.  The Angels look down and see a perfect sign or picture in the church showing what Christ did for his bride.

        So what about the long hair you may ask... Isn't that a covering? If it wasn't for the word's "If" in that passage [11:14, 15] I might look into it more. But since the Spirit uses the long hair in that passage as an example arguing from creation we know it’s not a literal substitute for the head covering. If it was then we need to interpret the rest of the passage consistently along with that and allow men to cover their heads in a fellowship as long as they have short hair. :-)

        I hope this helps as far as showing you where I stand. My biggest beef with this is not that people practice or don't practice it. It's that a good passage of scripture gets thrown away every time I have heard it preached on because people are afraid to take this literal due to the culture we live in. I think we just need to believe what the Bible clearly says and not throw this passage away. If I ever preached on this I would preach it literally but allow plenty of grace for each person to make a personal decision of obedience to what the Holy Spirit convicts for them on this issue.  Then we would have the best of both worlds: personal responsibility mixed with truthful handling of the passage. :-) As in everything ...

Thank You,
Michael

Because of the Angels - 1 Corinthians 11

On Wearing a Head Covering


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