I have had people write me over the years and ask about head coverings. This weekend I got two such emails, one asking if I had written my testimony about it that she could read. I thought writing it out would be a good idea. Now I will have a place to point people to when they are questioning.
First, let me say, I have also had a teenager write and ask me about covering. I hold to what I told her, that honoring her parents and submitting to their wishes is more important than wearing a head covering. This is not a “most important” matter of Scripture and certainly falls below the Ten Commandments. Being unsubmissive to your parents, or husband, in order to cover, doesn’t work!
I started wearing a head covering full time in 2008. I started wearing one at some times maybe a year and a half before that. It felt like a big deal to start wearing one, but it really wasn’t! BTW, my husband and I did not grow up in a church where any woman covered her head, and no one else does in the church we attend now.
That’s the end of the story. Here’s the beginning of the story. From time to time I would read the verses in 1 Corinthians 11 and get to that end verse (vs. 16) about how they had no such custom and it didn’t make any sense, and I would think, “I don’t get it, ” and I would turn the page. (If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. ESV) Occasionally, my husband would say, “It kind of sounds like women are supposed to wear a head covering.” And I would look at that verse and think, “I don’t get it.”
A woman with a head covering appeared in church one week. Now, the Lord had prepared me that week specifically to invite someone home from church. I went with the intention of doing so. She stood out and I approached her after church and after a bit invited her to our home. Turns out she was a traveling evangelist and she ended up staying with us a couple of nights. We didn’t talk a lot about head coverings but she told me about churches in other countries where that was the norm. I wasn’t seeking about it particularly at that time, but it certainly brought it back to my attention.
I went back to the 1 Corinthians 11 verses and said to the Lord, “I’m not going to turn the page until I understand.” And I did. That last verse suddenly said something totally different. Maybe I had a different translation that time than I was used to. But the last verse (16) said, “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice.” And I realized that if I wasn’t covering, I was a contentious woman. (But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God. NASB 1995)
The translations that say, “we have no such practice,” instead of “we have no other practice,” don’t make any sense. I guess that’s why it’s so confusing! That would be saying, “If you don’t like this thing we do, then we don’t do it.” It doesn’t make any sense.
Suddenly, it made sense. Just like that. I had finally asked God to show me instead of just turning the page.
From there I’ve certainly seen other things in the Scripture. For instance, probably the most common argument against covering was that it was just for that time period. That argument makes no sense for two reasons. One, it says to cover because of the angels (vs. 10). Angels are not bound by time and custom. Two, why would they be contentious about it if it were the common thing for the day?
I have heard others say that the hair is for covering. That’s another problem with the translation. The words for the veil covering and the hair covering are two different words. They aren’t both “covering.” They are two completely different things in the Greek.
Women don’t like the head covering because they see it as a symbol of submission. 1 Corinthians 11:10 actually teaches that the head covering is a symbol of authority! It’s a symbol that you have authority. It shows that you honor your head, and so if you are speaking or praying or prophesying, you are under one who has given you the permission to do so. You haven’t stepped out of bounds or usurped authority that wasn’t given you. You have the authority to be before God’s people and speak His words. And think of that phrase “because of the angels.” I feel protected in spiritual battle because I show that I have authority to stand against it because I have submitted to the One with all authority.
At first I covered my head during my quiet time only. Then I covered my head just at home. Then one day I stepped out. No one ever said anything to me! It was years before someone even mentioned it. Part of the thought process behind when to wear it had to do with our changing view of church. We are the church, not the Sunday meeting. I could meet someone when I was outside and offer to pray for them. And thoughts about how we are to “pray at all times” and “always be ready to give a reason,” etc. My life in Christ is an always thing. I wanted to be His light, His voice, His hands and feet at all times.
If you want more thoughts on submission specifically, you could check out this lesson I wrote, “It’s Good to Be a Woman.”