Headcovering & Complementarianism

Why the “Small” Matter of Headcovering is NOT a Small Matter

October 2014 008

Persecution of Christians.


Illegal drugs.

Alcohol abuse.

Domestic violence.

The Occult.

These are all very important matters, with widespread effects. They are damaging to the individual, to the family, and to the society. These matters require action, and they require prayer. Now. So, isn’t headcovering basically a non-issue when compared to all these problems? Isn’t it kind of like scratching at a pimple when the whole body is being ravaged by cancer?


Maybe not.

As I see it, headcovering isn’t just about a piece of cloth. It isn’t just about appearances. What it’s really about is how we interpret the word of God: Do we interpret the Bible at face value, or do we interpret it based on assumptions? Because how we understand the Bible in this one, “small” matter has the potential to influence how we understand the Bible in other, “bigger” issues.

In fact, we see this all around us.

Adultery and divorce are minimized, sometimes based on the argument that, “Well, in those times, there was such and such a problem, and Jesus was addressing that; but my problem is different…”

Birth control and abortion: “Well, in those days, people didn’t use birth control because they didn’t have the knowledge, or they wanted to have lots of children just in case some of them died while in infancy–and besides, the earth is already full– so God’s word was only addressing those people and not me and my life.” Really?

I could continue with a host of ways our faulty hermeneutic (erroneous way of interpreting the Bible) is causing disaster in many spheres of modern life, but I’ll leave you with that short list of examples for now.

When I read the headcovering passage (1 Corinthians 11:1-16), and I see that women are supposed to wear a headcovering to show submission to male leadership based on the Creation account, nature, angels, and the need to cover our own glory when coming before God in prayer or ministering to others while prophesying,  it makes sense for me to obey, because I understand that those things transcend culture, and extend all the way across the undulations of time, to me.

What right have I to re-interpret this passage based on assumptions of things that are not clearly presented in the text itself? (Examples: Paul was telling women to not look like prostitutes; Paul was telling married women to not shock society by appearing on the streets uncovered, which was supposedly unacceptable in those times; Paul was telling men to not style and decorate their hair like women [you’ve got to be kidding me]; etc.) Shouldn’t we be approaching the word of the Creator of the whole universe with a bit more respectful fear?

I mean, WHAT IF God REALLY DID intend for us to take Him AT HIS WORD? Here we are explaining away His word, and making up excuses for why we don’t need to obey it, because supposedly it doesn’t apply to us today (as if we’re SO modern and disassociated from all the rest of people in history). It’s almost like we think WE’RE God, that we can re-interpret the Bible based on our own puny understanding and convenience. No. I prefer to have a simple, childlike trust in God’s word, instead of trying to feel so smart by basing my beliefs on vain philosophy and sophisticated rationalizing.

Do you see how the topic of headcovering is NOT just about headcovering? It’s a debate (hopefully respectful) about how we should interpret THE WHOLE of God’s word. The conclusions we come to about THAT issue have the potential to affect MANY areas of our lives, and yes, to even impact how we deal with issues like persecution of Christians, abortion, illegal drugs, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, the Occult, etc.




9 thoughts on “Why the “Small” Matter of Headcovering is NOT a Small Matter

  1. Completely agree!! 🙂

    It’s not about a specific issue, per se. It’s about our foundational biblical or non-biblical worldview – do we take God at His word, or don’t we? That colors every issue that we consider.

    Love this post! 🙂


  2. In Japan,how we should interpret and accept bible words is matter only among christians.Most people do not know about gospel,nor seem to need it.Outside churches,it is so difficult to talk about faith and truth.
    Because here faith is regarded only as personal matter.Maybe the concept of ‘absolute truth’ is not so common.

    I am so blessed that I belong to truth-seeking church teaching creation order definitely.Biblical churches in Japan(evangelical/pentecostal) generally are so supportive to it,but headcovering is still forgotten.I guess that most of them think it’s cultural problem.

    Jessica,I am always impressed by your truth-seeking mind.Please pray for us,and churches in Japan.May we seek God’s truth always,not be disappointed by social pressure.Thank you for sharing.


    1. Dear Sanae,
      I think it’s probably not so different, in some ways, in Japan and in the US. Many people here also, believe that faith is a personal issue, and are uncomfortable talking about Jesus and the Bible. From talking to both you and Kinuko, I’ve come to realize that though there certainly are some distinct issues specific to your country and culture, there are also many issues that are not so different, and that we can all identify with easily. It makes me feel a connection to you, even though you’re so far away, physically.
      Thank you for sharing your observations!


  3. Dear Jessica, I wanted to share something that I learned this week which probably is nothing new to anyone else, but hit me like a ton of bricks. We were talking about Mary anointing the Lord’s feet with precious, costly ointment and then wiping his feet with her hair.This really struck me that Wow! She gave the Lord all she could give! The ointment costing a full year’s wages, and her hair was her God given glory. She laid it all down at his feet! This just totally humbled me. How often do I give my all to the Lord? She also picked up on the Lord foretelling of His death, burial and resurrection and thus prepared His body through the anointing. The disciples seemed not to understand what the Lord was saying even after 3 times, yet Mary picked up on it. What a wonderful example she was and is today. Love, Ruthie
    p.s. If you have any thoughts, maybe I’m misinterpreting, let me know.


    1. Yes, you’re right, Ruthie! It’s sometimes the simple things that we’ve read a hundred times before which have the potential to teach us great things when we view them with a fresh perspective. I’m not sure that I had ever really given that passage much thought, either! It’s like Mary was giving back to God the gift He had given to her–her beautiful hair, her glory. It was the best gift she had to offer, maybe, except the ointment, which not only could have been sold to “feed the poor,” but probably would have helped her out a lot, too! But she preferred to give it to Jesus.
      Also, the fact that she took Jesus’ word (regarding His death, burial and resurrection) at face value is huge, too. She heard what He said…and she responded with her all. Yes! That’s how I’d like to be! Nothing is too small to offer to the Lord, no matter of obedience too trifling to ignore.
      Thank you for your input!


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