Headcovering in Christianity

Posted on November 22, 2011

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As I’m sure you’re all aware, the majority of Christian women today do not cover their head during service, and even less cover their hair in their daily lives. In this post, I’m going to be focusing on why some Christians believe it is mandatory for women to cover their head either just during services/when praying, or all the time (or at least when in public).

The main reason, that is cited everywhere that deals with this, comes from Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 11 verse 2-16 (Revised Standard Version):
2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head–it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) 10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. 11 (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.) 13 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God. [Emphasis mine]

The argument goes as this, this is not directed only to the Corinthians as: 1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (emphasis mine), but is for all Christians then and now. It is not the hair that should be used as covering (v 15) as it states in v6 that if a woman does not cover her hair, her hair should be shaven. (Is The Headcovering For Today?) The author continues to write that though some Christians consider this Paul’s command, this is not correct as Christians see Paul as merely the “secretary” for God, so whatever is in the Bible is, according to Christians, God’s word. (Headcovering Myths)

Some Christians believe the head should only be covered during service, other that it should be worn all day, as you should constantly be praying to God. Most agree that the scarf/veil only has to cover the head/most of the head, it’s okay for some hair to be visible (in some opinions, even preferable as the hair is the woman’s glory).

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Catholic Korean women in service

The pagan women of Arabia will be your judges. For they cover not only the head, but the face also. . . . But how severe a chastisement will they likewise deserve, who remain uncovered even during the recital of the Psalms and at any mention of the name of God? For even when they are about to spend time in prayer itself, they only place a fringe, tuft [of cloth], or any thread whatever on the crown of their heads. And they think that they are covered!
This was written by Tertullian around the year 200 (so before Muhammed’s time (pbuh). Tertullian is considered to be one of the ancient church’ most important theologists.

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Many of the women who do choose to cover, also subscribe to the belief that women should not wear what a man wears, and men should not wear what a woman wears. I.e., long dresses and skirts, no pants. The emphasis is on femininity and modesty.

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Deut 22:5)

(Catholic Planet)

I have to admit that I struggled as I was researching this. I’ve only linked to a small part of all the sites I read, as the majority were just rehashing the same argument.

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