Ask Anything: Women and Head Coverings?

A great guest post from Jake Brown, our Student Ministries Director who is currently enrolled at Moody Bible Institute.  Jake rightly shows that portions of the Bible were specifically cultural to the immediate context and not timeless for us today.  

Q: So….what about head coverings?

A: But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her 

head – it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her 

head, she might as well have her hair cut off; bit if it is a disgrace for a woman to have 

her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. 

This is one of many rules that Paul lists that we don’t follow in a great deal of the 

world today. Why does the current church take some of Paul’s teachings (many that 

aren’t listed in Jesus’ teachings) very seriously and still obey today, while others like 

this are not?

When we take a look at some of the laws and rules in the bible we have to look at them in context and culture. There are some laws that are completely out of place unless you consider the context. If you were to take every law completely without context you would find some laws in the Bible that don’t seem to line up with the main stream teachings in the Bible.

An example of this is found in Exodus 21:23.  When you read this passage it teaches an “eye for an eye” type of justice and could easily be used to justify many different kinds of viewpoints.  When we look at it in context we realize that this is a nomadic people group in potentially hostile areas.   If there is a person among them who is violent or dangerous that person must be taken care of.  As the Jewish people began to establish themselves some of these laws stayed in place and others were pushed away because their context had changed.

The example of head coverings is taught to the Corinthian church and it is a teaching on wives being submissive to husbands. We have to ask ourselves if this is a moral law that God is teaching that does not change or is it important for the people there in Corinth. We know from reading through the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians that the people of Corinth had a lot of issues.  We can also take away that one of their issues was that of the family household and each member’s responsibility as it came to the spiritual well being of the family. Paul teaches here that as Christ is the head of man, so is man the head of woman and as a symbol of that the woman should wear a head covering.  This would have been an outward sign that the wife could submit to her husband’s authority in the same way that her husband submitted to Christ. Paul expands on what this means in Ephesians 5.  He commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  He commands men to love women as much as they love themselves.

Today we choose not to use head coverings, not because we disagree with the teaching by Paul, but because it was relevant for its culture and context and can be expressed differently today. If I love and sacrifice for my wife and my wife loves and sacrifices for me we can express what the head covering was supposed to express without the need for it.

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