Thursday, September 06, 2007

Head coverings - biblical or cultural?

Passages like this one in 1 Corinthians 11 really have to make me wonder.
2Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
Are they really cultural practices, are are they really things that God himself wants us to do within the church today?

And I have to admit, I don't know. I don't always get the logic behind what is deemed cultural and what isn't. It does help give me understanding to those church who follow this practice - of women maintaining long hair and wearing some sort of head covering when in church. It doesn't help me understand the viewpoint of the different styles of head covering allowed that....that to me, is a man-made requirement. But the head covering itself is biblical.

I would find this hard to do.

I grew out my hair because it's what my hubbie likes. And it's a small way that I can make him smile, so why not.

But the head covering thing....that I would find hard. BUT should I do so anyways? Would it be like a small way to (in essence) make God smile? Doing something that is hard to do is not always such a bad thing. It would show that that I am cognizant of the fact that my husband is the glory of of God and that I am the glory of my husband. Has nothing to do with equality, and everything to do with God and his establishment of how things are to be.

Sometimes I wonder if this fighting over the cultural or the biblical/spiritual is just another way for women to fight against the order that God has put into place, and yet another way for Satan to call Christians into disrepute. And it is, in essence within the church, a little thing. It's hair and clothing, and how can hair and clothing be such a big deal? But somehow it's gotten tied up as a status thing, and I don't think, within the church that it should be a status thing.

What does status have to do with following the will of God?

I don't have the answers, perhaps you, my reader, have one that can help?

4 comments:

Kim from Hiraeth said...

I don't have an answer for you, Annette, but I have asked the same questions myself.

Three things stand out to me in the passage:

Whether head covering is a cultural tradition or not, it is being discussed in the context of "maintain(ing) the traditions even as I (Paul) delivered them to you."

After setting up the argument, (every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short.) Paul says: "Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?"

And then, in verse 16: If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

The trail of his thought and the development of his logic seems to be this way:

He starts by establishing the fact of the tradition along with his exhortation to maintain it.

He gives the positive and negative results of maintaining or rejecting the tradition and then challenges them, having heard the positive and negative, to judge for themselves--a seemingly rhetorical question.

He ends by calling non compliance "contentious" and says "we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God."

It's almost as if he's saying: Here's the standard in the church today. I want you to maintain it. This is why. You think you have a better way? Well, you're on your own because the rest of the church observes it. . ."

Every time I look at this passage I think I should be covering my head at church. I have talked to my pastor, and while he did not forbid me to do it, he basically said it was legalistic and unnecessary and would confuse other people. I'm not so sure.

Rileysowner said...

I also don't have an easy answer for you on this.

Kim, I think your pastor needs to consider what "legalistic" really means, because whether this is cultural or not, it is a command to the New Testament church. Keeping it, as long as you do not do it to try to earn favor from God or as a sign of your being better that other believers spiritually, would not be legalistic any more than keeping any of the commands of God would be legalistic. Legalism focuses on the necessity of something for a person to be saved or to make them a super saint, so to speak.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

I agree wholeheartedly. And for the same reasons.

I should clarify; he is no longer my pastor.

Annette said...

the more I think about all this Kim, the more I see links to a whole lot of stuff that isn't right with the church today. I'm still not sure about the head covering thing. I will need to think more about all of this. Thanks for your thoughts, they are helping me broaden my thinking a bit. :)