Should a Christian woman cover her head?
It has taken me much time, thought, and prayer to write this post. Many brothers and sisters who share my deep Baptist roots may not agree with me, but I will boldly state here what we have learned from Scripture, as well as from history. Our "brand" of Baptist tries to follow the "old paths", but if they were to look a bit further back into our Baptist heritage, they will find that there are some "old paths" that Baptists left behind a long time ago.
One of those "old paths" is the woman's veil.
Waldenses (Anabaptists) 1500's ~ See "The Trail of Blood" by J.M. Carroll
I Corinthians 11:3-5 "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. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven."For years I all but ignored this passage of scripture. I never heard it preached much, and frankly didn't come across it much in my personal Bible reading. Then a few years ago, I started to wonder why the women in certain groups wore headcoverings, and when I encountered one, I asked her why. She pointed me to I Corinthians 11:1-16. (Please read that HERE.)
I read it over and over, and discussed it with my husband. We both had been totally convinced that a woman's long hair is her covering (vs 15), and that no other covering was needed. But I couldn't get the issue out of my mind! I knew that women in Bible times wore veils (remember all those flannelgraph lessons??), and I came across some Old Testament passages that supported that fact. (See Genesis 24:65; Numbers 5:18; Song of Solomon 5:7) And in more modern times, too, some women did not go out in public with their heads uncovered.
When did women in general stop covering their heads?
Well, there were several times in history when the woman's headcovering went "out of style", and I believe that was the case when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians. He reminds them of God's headship order (the head of man is Christ; the head of woman is the man; the head of Christ is God) and then declares the Christian woman ought therefore to cover her head.
"For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." (vs 6)
I know what many are thinking. Verse 15 says her hair is given her for a covering. Remember, I used to see it that way, too. But if the passage is studied within its context, the truth will be evident.
Look again at verse six:
"For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered."
We conclude from this verse that for a woman to be shorn (have short hair) or shaven (bald) is a shame. Paul says here that if that is so, then she should be covered, because to be uncovered is just as shameful.
...Stay with me here...
If I were to say that long hair is the covering, then the verse might be read thus:
For if the woman [have not long hair], let her also [have not long hair]...
That obviously does not make sense. However, if the word covered refers to a veil, then verse six makes much more sense:
For if the woman [does not wear a veil], let her also [cut her hair]: but if it be a shame for a woman to [cut her hair] or [shave her head], let her be covered [with a veil].
Verse 15 is often quoted out of context. But it stands within a clause in which Paul is giving an example in nature that women should wear a covering. He is saying that this truth about the head covering is taught in nature: It is seemly and right for a woman to have long hair. So it is seemly and right for a woman to wear the veil he previously referred to.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
When we have lived our whole lives with a worldview tainted with feminism, liberalism, and immodesty, it is very difficult to even try to see it another way. What helped me see the truth was to read the scriptures over and over again, praying for understanding, meditating on it, and comparing it with other passages.
We have thus concluded that it is modest and proper for a Christian woman to cover her head with a veil. Search the scriptures yourself, and see if these things be true!