Headcovering & Complementarianism

She Thought Rules Were Constricting

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I flipped through a book at the Christian bookstore the other day about a woman who did something daring and unexpected. She camped out on the roof during her periods, grew her hair out, and wore a headcovering. She wanted to understand how other people felt who did those things. Even though her husband thought it was all a little weird, he understood that this was just another one of her investigative projects, and went along with it.

So, at the end of her project, what was her conclusion? Did she change her mind about anything? No. She went to the beauty salon, had her hair cut short, and decided that God’s grace exempted her from having to do any of those things. She had dedicated a portion of her life to studying “outdated” customs, interviewing some ultra conservative women, and at the end of it her only take away was that even though she understood those women better now, she still didn’t agree with them; so, back to her own, “free” life.

I wonder–was this a quest for truth, or simply entertainment?

Had she wanted to discover God’s will for her life, or had she merely wanted to get a taste of something exotic?

Okay, so I don’t think it’s necessary to go out on the roof or live in a tent during menstruation. But, let’s consider this for a moment: that is based on an Old Testament command. However, the Bible talks about the shamefulness of short hair on a woman and the need for a headcovering during prayer and prophesying in the NEW TESTAMENT (1 Corinthians 11:1-16). The reasons given have nothing to do with Corinthian culture, but with 1)God’s creation of gender roles, 2)nature, 3)the angels, 4)the male/female relationship being a reflection of God the Father and God the Son’s relationship, and 5)the need to cover up man and woman’s “glory” while worshipping God. Nothing is said about prostitutes. Nothing is said about the need to maintain proper decorum in society. Nothing is said about not offending people with our Christian freedom. No; a woman having long hair and using a headcovering are biblical COMMANDS that God meant for us to obey.

This lady thought that cutting off all her hair at the end of her project made her “free,” and symbolized her claim to grace.

I felt a little sorry for her. I saw her as being MORE in bondage than before. Rules are not always constricting, not when we follow GOD’S rules, not when those rules are for our good.

I wished she had taken her project a step further, and been sincerely willing to radically change her life, for the REST of her life, based on an intense and honest study of God’s word. But, she had stopped just short of that—sure, it was educational and exciting, but it wasn’t enough.

What about us? Do we stop just short of complete surrender to God? Are we artificially committed to Him? Are we just pretending that we’re willing to change, when we know all along that what we’re doing is just a game to prove to ourselves how “daring” we are capable of being?

God’s grace is not an occasion to sin, and we sin when we disobey His commands. It’s time to stop playing like we’re on Reality TV. Let’s be true to God’s word and His radical calling; let’s dare to be drastically different, not just for a little while, but for the long haul. There’s a word for that: it’s called perseverance. First, comes the change that truth creates in us, then comes the perseverance that makes that change lasting. That’s what I wish for all of us, and especially, that’s what I want for myself.

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12 thoughts on “She Thought Rules Were Constricting

  1. I know many christian ladies thinks that they have freedom to cut their hair.I know for some ladies,short hair is a symbol of independent women.

    We already have freedom to obey,and not to obey God. How we are happy,if we use our freedom to obey Him willingly.

    I also felt sorry to read the story of the woman like you.
    Feeling that she might lose great opportunity to go back to obey His command.I want to pray for her.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Dear Sanae,
      I think, as you do, that we all have the freedom to choose our own path, and I agree with what you said, that “we are happy, if we use our freedom to obey Him willingly.” That was such a good point! I don’t see my life so much as “I HAVE to do this, and I HAVE to do that,” which seems restricting; I see my life more like, “I GET to do this, and I GET to do that”; I have the wonderful opportunity to choose obedience, and am able to experience the beauties and mysteries associated with following THAT path. It’s so great to have friends along the way, too!
      Jessica

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    2. Many women feel that wearing a head cover and growing out hair is getting rid of freedom but that is only because American culture today tells them so constantly. Many books, movies, magazines, churches even tell them is is abusive to women to do these things. Women also have been told that cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting, (anything that women used to do in the home) is abusive to women. I’m an old woman and I remember when at school we girls had to wear dresses and skirts and they had to be modest. This was in public school. I was in sixth grade when the rule was changed and then they forced us on Fridays to wear pants. Then by the time I went to high school, they forbid teaching home economics. The feminist said because it was degrading to women to learn cooking, sewing, knitting, weaving, etc.I read that book. I wanted to find something about Christian women and modesty etc. That was the only book they had. She wanted so hard to prove that being a Godly woman who had respect for the husband in a head ship manner was wrong and stupid even. Well that is too bad. And women like her attack me where I live and that is too bad too. What I care about is what Jesus wants. I want to do all I can that Jesus wants because I love Him and want to do what He wants with all my heart. And when I die I pray that He will be okay with me.

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      1. Thank you for sharing your remembrances, Modest Christian!
        I am really saddened, like you are, by how far we’ve fallen from where we used to be (I don’t know this from experience like you do, because I’m younger; but, I know it from those of you who do know and have experienced it). Homemaking is now optional for those who “feel like it’s their calling.” It’s a concept that has become so disrespected in the eyes of even Christians!
        We can’t be perfect, but we can at least do our best to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. And that is something we can’t do without ALSO obeying Him.
        Thank you for your words of wisdom.
        Jessica

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  2. I have read about this book, but I haven’t wanted to suffer through reading it. Frankly, things like this make me frustrated and sad. How is obeying God’s word “bondage,” and how is disobedience “freedom”? How about, “If you love me, keep my commandments”? As Christians, we should not be seeking any excuse to get out of clear biblical teaching, and it’s really disappointing when I see Christian teachers and role-models going in that direction. I actually see a lot of this in study Bibles. “Here is what the text says, but what is means is actually the direct opposite of what it says. [Insert excuse for disobeying a biblical command.]”

    Thanks for tackling this tough topic. I do question the motives of the author mentioned above. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t seem like she was movivated by a heart oriented toward seeking sincere obedience.

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    1. P.S. We attended for a short time a church where there were serious sins going on, and the ongoing cry was, “We are a grace-based church!” Abusing grace can lead to really, really bad situations and even worse theology.

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      1. I agree. I don’t know enough people from my church to be familiar with what’s going on in their lives. There could be serious sins going on there too, and I just don’t know it! But, I do think that there is a place for church discipline, as much as that word is painful to type. I’ve been in a place (years past) where I deserved to be disciplined, but wasn’t, and then I wondered how I had somehow managed to escape it. So, I am thankful for grace. However, at the same time, there WAS someone who did have a serious talk with me which reinforced that what I had been doing was wrong. I accepted that, and truly wanted to change. I think that a lot of people don’t want to change. If somebody told them they were wrong, even in a loving way, they would overreact with anger and hurt. Then they would leave that church and look for another with more “accepting” folks. That’s not how it should be. We should be capable of admitting our wrongs, and be willing to change course. But, that takes humbleness. Isn’t a sign of the times that people will be lovers of themselves and full of pride? Anyways…
        Jessica

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    2. I don’t remember the name of the book or its author. I only skimmed through it while I was at the bookstore, snatching segments of it here and there. However, I saw enough to know that it was NOT the sort of book that I would want to suffer through, either! In addition to hair length, headcovering, and periods, she also talked about how sorry she felt for some families who had “suffered” through having many children while not having very much money to support them. I felt so angry, yes, angry, when she mentioned that. Maybe partly because I personally know other people who think that way (“why have more children than you can support?”). Wait, so we only do the right thing when it’s convenient for us? We shouldn’t expect a hard time? But when missionaries go out into the field, and endure trials, do we say, “Well, I guess you better not be a missionary, since you’re obviously facing obstacles”? No, we know that PART OF the missionary’s work INVOLVES hardship, and we EXPECT that as part of his life’s calling. Well, God has called ALL married couples, to whom He in His providence has gifted with fertility, to bear children (“be fruitful and multiply”), and we can expect to have hardship and face obstacles as part of THAT CALLING, as well. But, people like to give disobedience other names, like “being responsible,” or “caring for the children you already have,” or “only doing as much as you can handle.” It just gets to me, when other Christians adopt these worldly attitudes, when don’t they have the truth of the word right in front of them? So, yes, these types of things make me feel frustrated and sad, too. Sorry for such a long, complaining comment, but I know you understand.
      Jessica

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  3. I wish I could row my hair long. Five years ago I lost half of my hair. Now I have to cut my hair otherwise there will be bald spots showing up. I would have it longer if I could. Hopefully someday I will regrow my hair.
    It’s too ad that many refer to head covering as obsolete practice.

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    1. Oh, please don’t think that I judge anybody who can’t grow their hair long for physical reasons! Certainly not! I totally understand why you can’t have long hair, so don’t worry. I think most women cut their hair short, though, not because they have some legitimate reason, but simply because it feels more freeing to them. And yes, they think that hair length is a non-issue, as well as headcovering. I agree that it’s too bad.
      Jessica

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  4. If we cover but have our long hair flowing out, does that negate the purpose? I’m just not sure on this issue, if I should put my hair up as well when I use a covering, as men can still stare at my long hair. Thanks! 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your question, Stephanie!
      Actually, that’s something I’ve had to consider, too. Here’s what I think:
      1) The main purpose for the cloth covering is to cover the woman’s PHYSICAL head to show that the woman is not the AUTHORITATIVE head. Even if some hair is showing, if the main area of the cranium is covered, the purpose is accomplished.
      2) I think that some hair SHOULD be showing. Not in a show-offish way, but simply to testify to the fact that the woman actually HAS long hair in accordance with the fact that God provided her hair as her NATURAL covering. She shows that she recognizes the gift and femininity of long hair. Otherwise, if she covers ALL her hair, all the time, nobody would know that she has long, feminine hair–she could be bald for all they know! However, having the cloth covering on top of it does diminish the “glory” of it, which helps to refrain her from feeling arrogant (hopefully).
      3) She should preferably use a fabric covering that drapes downward toward her neck. If she only uses a wide headband (though I do own a couple, and I know other women like to use it) it isn’t covering the main area of the head very well.
      These are my opinions, and they could change! But, I have done a lot of thinking about it, too.
      Thanks for asking!
      Jessica
      Hope that helps!

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