What is that thing on your head?
If you were reading this - something that would disgrace a man or woman - would you not want to know what that "thing" was?
(NOTE: this post does not intend to exegete the passage, only to present questions that I asked myself, and give food for thought)
What if I'm wrong?
What if I'm wrong about head coverings? Unless I'm trying to bind the conscience of others, the worst that could happen is that I wore a thing on my head that I didn't have to.
What if I'm right?
What if I'm right and I don't cover? The worst thing would be to disgrace my head, my husband and by extension...Christ.
What did the earliest Christian writers believe that Paul meant?
Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp (who had been taught by the Apostle John and most likely knew Paul) wrote: A woman ought to have a veil upon her head, because of the angels. Irenaeus (A.D. 180), Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg.327. Obviously, Irenaeas knew that Paul was talking about a fabric, removable cover.
What about later?
What did the majority of Christian writers for the next 1850 years (AD100 - 1950 or so) - I'll give one sample.
- Spurgeon~~“Do you think you and I have sufficiently considered that we are always looked upon by angels, and that they desire to learn by us the wisdom of God? The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is ‘because of the angels’. The apostle says that a woman is to have a covering upon her head, because of the angels, since the angels are present in the assembly and they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits.”~~3 -
Why did women in American (US and Canada) stop covering their heads in worship?
One word: feminism. In 1968 in Annual Meeting of the National Organization of Women (the minutes are still online if you want the link) NOW states
In 1969, NOW organized the “Easter Bonnet Rebellion” at St. John de Nepomuc Catholic Church in Milwaukee.
In 1976, “His Holiness Pope Paul VI, during the audience granted to the undersigned Prefect of the Sacred Congregation on 15 October 1976, approved this Declaration, confirmed it and ordered its publication.”
“But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value”
It is clear that the driving force behind American (US and Canada) women "throwing the cover into the fire" was feminism.
What about writers today?
Michael Barrett in "The Beauty of Holiness" (appendix #3) asks: whose glory should be display in worship? (Obvious answer: God's)
Man has a duty to cover his head because he is the image and glory of God. While woman is also the image of God, she is the glory of man and therefore (since man's glory ought to be covered) the woman should be symbolically covered.
Paul C. Edgerton in “Because of the Angels” writes:
No one ought to stand in the worship of the Lord on their own terms or for their own glory. When a man stands before God he is God’s image and glory. To cover his head would be to dim and glory of Christ, who reveals the glory and fatherhood of God.
When a woman stands before God she is to, as well, bring glory to God; thus she must cover that which pertains to her own glory and the glory of man, her hair. No one is being demoted by the practice of uncovering or covering the head. Rather, all is done to honor God. No personal preference or right or glory ought to usurp the Lordship of Christ in the sacred assembly. All must be done to the glory of God alone. (Edgerton, 2107)
R.C. Sproul~~If Paul merely told women in Corinth to cover their heads and gave no rationale for such instruction, we would be strongly inclined to supply it via our cultural knowledge. In this case, however, Paul provides a rationale that is based on an appeal to creation, not to the custom of Corinthian harlots. We must be careful not to let our zeal for knowledge of the culture obscure what is actually said. To subordinate Paul’s stated reason to our speculatively conceived reason is to slander the apostle and turn exegesis into eisegesis.
Now let me ask a few questions:
Has there been a time when you have dug deep into Scripture and have had to make an “about face” – especially when you started with no intention of going that way?
what emotions do you think might pop up if you end up convinced from Scripture that the head coverings instruction is for today?
Bruce Shelly wrote, “But any introduction to Christian history tends to separate the transient from the permanent, fads from basics.” Is it possible for great men of God to have gotten this wrong for over 1,900 years?
Which of us believes our glory can compare to the glory of God?
Dare we allow our own glory to compete with the glory of God in worship?
If the symbol of veiling the glory of woman (a head cover) is based in creation and not culture, can we change the symbol without changing the meaning of the symbol?
Does learning that the feminist movement directly attacked the Christian practice of head covering affect your perspective?
In closing: R.C.Sproul:
"If Paul merely told women in Corinth to cover their heads and gave no rationale for such instruction, we would be strongly inclined to supply it via our cultural knowledge. In this case, however, Paul provides a rationale that is based on an appeal to creation, not to the custom of Corinthian harlots. We must be careful not to let our zeal for knowledge of the culture obscure what is actually said. To subordinate Paul’s stated reason to our speculatively conceived reason is to slander the apostle and turn exegesis into eisegesis."
My main sources:
"The Beauty of Holiness" by Micheal Barrett https://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Holiness-Guide-Biblical-Worship/dp/1932307621/ref=sr_1_1?crid=70HJXB9GT69N&keywords=the+beauty+of+holiness+michael+barrett&qid=1705253986&sprefix=the+beauty+of+holiness+michael+barret%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-1
"Because of the Angels" by Paul C. Edgerton https://www.amazon.com/Because-Angels-Corinthians-Coverings-Worship/dp/1974315835
"Head Covering: A Forgotten Christian Practice for Modern Times" by Jeremy Gardiner https://www.amazon.com/Head-Covering-Forgotten-Christian-Practice-ebook/dp/B01MTNCVYS/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2ORJV268I8V75&keywords=jeremy+gardiner&qid=1705333319&s=books&sprefix=jeremy+gardiner%2Cstripbooks%2C147&sr=1-1