Headcovering & Complementarianism

Addressing Some Headcovering Objections

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).

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

 

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22 thoughts on “Addressing Some Headcovering Objections

  1. Dear Jessica,
    I forgot to thank you for your reply to my previous comment. Your son is so wiser, wiser than most guys of his age. I am glad that your children understand why the head covering important.
    I heard a lot the legalism comment. I also heard the cultural excuse. I found Paul mentioning of angels amazing–full of mystery; perhaps we cannot understand how it affects angels because we are in this sinful body. Angels are mentioned in exceptional circumstances. With that being said, I also believe the other reasons are true. I think it’s amazing how so many become adamant towards head covering.
    I was wondering, do you think that woman should cover most of her hair?
    Thanks and God bless,
    Irina

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    1. Thanks for your wonderful comment, Irina! I certainly hope my son will be wise.
      Regarding your question about the hair: I don’t think a woman needs to have ALL her hair covered. The command is to cover her HEAD, so having a cloth over the main area of the cranium seems sufficient to me, with some hair showing near the forehead and down the neck and back. Her GLORY should be covered, but I think that having a veil over the top of the head subdues it sufficiently.
      What do you think?
      Jessica

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      1. When I first started wearing head covers during church services, I would cover all of my hair. Sometimes I would wear a head covering outside the church.
        One time I was mistaken for a Muslim. After that, I decided to change my covering. So,now, I leave some hair in front uncovered.
        I think that the level of covering should be at the level where it’s visible that her head is covered. However, God can direct the level to which we should cover the hair.
        Irina

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      2. It was very interesting to hear how you cover, Irina! Yes, I would not want to be mistaken for someone of different beliefs, either. For that reason, and because I just think it looks better on me, I always leave some hair showing in the front, and let my hair hang down in the back, kind of like you do.
        Thank you for sharing!
        Jessica

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      3. I wear a mantilla in Church or for private prayer which does cover all accept the longest part of my hair, but either a wide hairband or scarf type covering the rest of the time.

        I guess the distinction is partly just to fit in. Its also a reflection of my husband’s wishes that I cover much more conservatively for Mass.

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  2. Very sincere and nice VTR,with your lovely son! Third objection you mentioned in this article may be most generous response from modern church to us. Some christian ladies who admit my headcovering said that they will never do this.

    I think that christian headcovering affects us,and let us change, not only in acts but in invisible spiritual field.And there is something in practicing headcovering which makes many people deny this immidiately.
    Have you ever felt like this?

    I am impressed that even you are so busy mother,always seeking what you can do at home for spreading godly value and sharing.

    Please say hello to your loving family,they must be so happy to have you!

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    1. Thank you, Sanae! Yes, I will say hello to everyone for you. 🙂
      Have I felt that there is something about head covering which makes people deny it immediately? Yes. It is the radicalness of it. The covering speaks a visual message of submission to God, of living a life of complete obedience. It challenges other people to live up to a higher standard, to get out of their comfort zone. It feels dangerous to them, and their souls resist its powerful conviction at first. So I think you are right that there is a spiritual aspect to it.
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, boy! You’re quoting things that make me tear my hair out on a daily basis (because they’re quoted so often with regard to a plethora of biblical commands in addition to headcovering).

    Silly/non-essential = This one drives me crazy! As you say: If it’s in the Bible, it’s God’s word, and we are disrespecting GOD when we dismiss it. There are no “silly” things or commands in the Bible. If it’s there, we take it seriously.

    Incidentally, I used to use this excuse when discussing creationism – a topic that I felt uncomfortable with. “It’s a non-essential, so we don’t need to think about it, or take it seriously, or do anything about it.” The “it’s non-essential” logic is always an excuse to dismiss Scripture with which we are uncomfortable.

    Legalistic = If I hear this one again, I may just lose it. When is simple obedience “legalism”? It’s not – it’s just obedience. Do we want our children to be disobedient and disrespectful so that they can “avoid the trap of legalism”? No, of course not! We want our children to obey us – just to understand that they are not earning their position in the family by doing so. Obedience is a sign of love and respect.

    Obey only when convicted to = Another hair-tearing one. Obedience to clear biblical commands is not for those who “feel convicted to obey” – it’s for everyone! And when we choose not to obey, it’s not freedom – it’s disobedience.

    Excellent post.

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  4. I can never really see what the expression ‘legalistic’ means. If you are commanded by God or your husband to do something then you should obey. Simple as that.

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    1. Ha, ha 🙂 Yes, people seriously overuse this term. I mention two definitions in this post, but another thing people mean by it is that they think we take the Bible’s commands too seriously. I wonder: might we not be experiencing an apostasy? Not just in regards to head covering, but many other things, as well.
      Jessica

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  5. Just jesterday at church IT came up again, that phrase “you should not try to ad anything to Gods salvation by DOING this or that. I agree! But this does never mean that i or anyone else has the right to purpsely sort out anything that God has called us to do. Its just not the same. It is Not legalistic to cover or not to divorce. It is not adding to our salvation it is simple obedience out of thankfullness for beeing saved. Out of love for our saviour JesusChrist.
    Love your sons opinion that covering makes you more focussed on God in his eyes.

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    1. I agree with your comment, Ruth. It’s hard for me to feel close to other Christians who don’t take the Bible as seriously as I do; it’s actually quite discouraging and depressing at times. I’m so thankful for all my online friends. 🙂
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It has always seemed to me that the point of different denominations within the Christian community is to reflect different interpretations of the Bible and different ways of expressing devotion.

    But I also believe that the Church, whatever Church should be absolute in demanding that we follow Biblical truth. Obviously we have to accept that we are all sinners and will fail to follow God’s will perfectly, but that is not a reason for the Church to compromise in what it teaches we should do.

    If it is legalistic to tell women that they should dress modestly, as women, that they should cover their hair, that they should submit to their husbands and that only God has the right to break marriage vows or determine the size of a family then why is legalism wrong in any way ?

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  7. The argument against is that by telling us to do something we are not exerting our free will to be individually virtuous.

    But my view is that many aspects of behaviour – especially those which are openly visible (like dressing immodestly) or which actively promote sin (like practicing contraception) cause others in the Christian community to sin and as such society as a whole is justified in being legalistic and saying to women that they are unacceptable.

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    1. Yes, Susanne, I agree. Sometimes we cannot trust people to exert their own free will to choose what is wise. I am speaking of society in general. Therefore, we put restrictions in place. We make lists of rules, which we call laws; these keep order in our society, and make the guidelines clear for everybody, so that we may make fair judgments for lawbreakers. We, in essence are “legalistic,” in the sense that we require people to obey laws for their own good and for the good of their neighbors. This takes into account human nature. People will not always do what’s best for themselves if there were not limitations set in place. And, in the event they act selfishly, they hurt others in the process; so, we must take steps to protect the innocent.

      To further develop the example you mention: Christians promote personal liberty in matters of dress. A Christian woman may come to church dressed however she pleases, and no one is supposed to say anything, since that would be obstructing her “free will to be individually virtuous,” as you say. Basically, they want the choice to be modest to come out of her own heart. However, by protecting her liberty, they at the same time trample upon the right of our Christian brothers to be able to come to church without being tempted by her sensuality. They allow her a license, but force others to have to endure her choices, perhaps even leading them into sin. How is that fair?

      I do think we need to delineate clear boundaries, and we shouldn’t be afraid to rebuke people for sinful behavior. Of course, keeping a balance of mercy and gentleness all at the same time.
      Jessica

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      1. I agree and I feel very strongly that the Church (or Churches in general) should set clear rules for their followers, expect them to be obeyed and in the case of women expect and encourage husband’s to enforce their teachings. All of which of course they used to do, but now shy away from.

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  8. And I would include in that absolute requirements on for example modesty and head covering as well as on other moral issues like birth control.

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