Several years ago, a plumber came to repair our sink pipes. You might not expect a plumber to have an opinion on headcovering, but he did. As we were discussing Christianity in general (he said he was a Christian), he remarked, “…but we shouldn’t waste time on non-essentials like headcovering and silly stuff like that…” (to paraphrase him). I made no comment, and chose to keep my thoughts to myself. His opinion did bring forth some questions to my mind, though. IS headcovering a non-essential? Even if it is, is it silly and a waste of time? Hmmm. Just as I rummaged through my brain to find answers to those objections, let’s do a little unpackaging right now, to see this from an objective, biblical point of view.
Here are several common objections, which I will analyze briefly: 1)Headcovering is silly and a waste of time, 2)Headcovering is legalistic, 3)You should only headcover if you feel convicted to, 4)Things are better the way they are (keep in step with the culture).
- Headcovering is silly and a waste of time. Where do we find the commandment to headcover? In the Bible, right? Is the Bible not God’s word? So if He tells us to do something, shall we then mock Him by saying it’s silly? Shall we object that to obey Him is a waste of time? Headcovering may be commanded in only one place (1 Cor. 11:1-16), but 16 whole verses are dedicated to it!–does that seem insignificant? And, though headcovering itself is only mentioned specifically in that particular passage of the New Testament, the principle behind it, that of male leadership and female submission, is repeated throughout the whole of Scripture. Also, as to the claim that it is a non-essential: it is NOT essential for salvation, but it IS important when it comes to helping us understand our roles in the family and in society. When we do not understand those roles and therefore don’t live within them, or when we intentionally rebel against them, things start to fall apart. So, though headcovering is a non-essential, it is still very important. Have the past 50 or so years not taught us anything?
- Headcovering is legalistic. People usually mean two things by this: either 1)you are trying to earn your salvation through good works, or 2)you are trying to obey the law of the Old Testament in order to be saved (it could even be a combination of both). The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2:4-10, Rom. 3:23-26, etc.): the only way to be saved from the death penalty for our sins is to believe that Jesus already took that penalty in our place, ask His forgiveness, and choose to follow Him. I personally don’t believe that headcovering will help to save me; I do it because He says to, and I want to please Him. I also do it because after reading what His Word says about it, it just makes sense to do so. I DO NOT think that it will earn my salvation. No way. Also, the command to headcover is not found anywhere in the Old Testament; though there are several examples of women who covered, there is no explicit command. This is purely a New Testament command, given to believers in Christ, during the age of grace. Nothing having to do with the law or works-salvation at all. Everything to do with following Jesus’ will for us.
- You should only cover if you feel convicted to. That’s rather subjective. We shouldn’t live our lives based on our feelings, but on the truth of Scripture. If the Bible is clear that we should do something, why wait until we feel like doing it? Why wait for a special “zing”? That’s called “delaying obedience,” and it’s not right. Another word for that is “rebellion.” Sometimes our emotions don’t line up with what we know we should do; in that case, we should ignore them.
- Things are better the way they are (keep in step with the culture). Some people think it’s preferable to make as few waves as possible. They are afraid of offending others. I don’t see how that fits with God’s teaching in the Bible. God tells us to let our light shine. If the light shines, and the darkness hates it, well…the darkness has a problem. Being different by obeying God will certainly set us apart; some will be offended, and some will be inspired. It’s their choice. Our duty is simply to obey. Of course we shouldn’t intentionally try to draw attention to ourselves. But, if by obeying God we end up doing so, than let’s hope that God will use some of that extra attention to draw others toward Him.
If I had the chance to repeat that conversation with the plumber again, I think I still would have kept quiet about my beliefs. Why? Because some people have their minds so made up about an issue that nothing you say helps, their attitude being apparent from the way they phrase things.
I feel blessed that God helped me see headcovering in the light of His Word. We must not argue with people who disagree with us, but we can pray for them, and we can model joyful obedience to the Bible. Who knows–they might later come to believe in headcovering, too!