Some of you are thinking, "I've never seen her wear a covering. What is she talking about?" Well, then you must not attend church with me or seen me out in public ministry. Others of you who have seen me cover in church and such have wondered why I don't cover all the time. Well, I am finally going to put an end to the great mystery of "why does Vicki live a double life?"
First, let me put to rest a few myths.
1. Only the Mennonites and the Amish cover. How do I know this is a myth? Because I am not Mennonite nor am I Amish. I drive a car. My husband uses tractors. I believe in salvation by God's blood & grace alone. Many women I know who cover are also Born Again Bible Believing (Baptist - gasp!) Christians.
2. I cover because of the church I attend. This is an obvious myth because of the 300+ people who attend our church, about 6 of us wear head-coverings. However, it is true that I never saw a born-again Christian wear a headcover before I began attending my church 11 years ago.
3. A head-cover is a paper bag to cover the heads of ugly people. Once thought a clever idea by a teenage boy, this is most definitely a myth.
4. A head-cover is just an excuse for women not to do their hair. Hmm...though I may not have to put as much time into it on Sunday mornings, this also is eligible for myth classification.
OK. So, the question: Why do I wear a headcover?
As I mentioned earlier, I had never given much thought to headcoverings until we began to attend our current church 11 years ago. It was then that I saw born-again Christian women wearing veils. Although, just as it is today, only a handful of women wore the veils, it seemed to be the first thing that visitors noticed, therefore beginning the myth that all women at OPBBC wore headcoverings. Though it was an obvious minority, it raised questions in the minds of Eric and I.
For a few years before this, Eric and I had begun to realize that the way we grew up wasn't necessarily the ONLY way to be a Christian. There were biblical standards that we took another look at, prayed about, and adopted that we hadn't learned before or had been interpreted differently. Because of these experiences, we had learned not to see something different and automatically declare it un-biblical just because it rubbed us the wrong way. We learned to study the issue for ourselves and really see what God had to say.
Thus it was for the head-covering. After a year of attending our church, I began to question the covering issue. The only time I ever remember hearing the passage of 1 Corinthians 11 ever discussed while growing up was in my 11th grade Bible class which covered the book of 1 Corinthians. Obviously, the teacher couldn't just ignore that passage, which seemed to be the practice of most of the preachers as it never had been touched in any message I heard. Therefore, he spent a little bit of time discussing how the covering was "obviously" the hair and went from there. Now, this passage was the very one used to defend the veil and we wanted to see if the Bible would back our "belief" (if you can call something we were so un-educated about such) or if it would challenge us to really conform to a different mind-set.
I studied the word "covering". Eric and I talked about it with people who didn't cover and people who did. We wanted to know their biblical reasons for their actions. We listened to tapes. Most of all, we prayed.
I must mention right here that it is obvious that the covering is mentioned simultaneously with the concept of a wife's submision to her husband. Therefore, though I was the one interested in studying the concept of covering as it is an action of the woman, I was not going to do anything without the permission of my husband. This is why he investigated with me. Though Eric was sort of on the fence at the beginning of this journey, he, at times, has been a stronger advocate than I in the years since.
Many people will say that the "covering" discussed in 1 Corinthians 11 is the hair. I challenge you to read the chapter and replace the word "covering" with hair. Does the chapter make any sense? This would pose a definite problem for any man blessed with hair on his head as the passage clearly states that it is dishonoring for a man to pray with his head covered. So, either there is a seperate covering being discussed, or, each man who prays needs to shave his head. Also, in verse 5 it is said that the woman who prayes uncovered is AS IF she were shaven. If the covering is her hair it would read like this: "the woman who prays with no hair is as if she were shaven." Isn't that a bit redundant? If she has no hair she IS shaved. Fits right in with "kind of pregnant" - you are or you aren't.
A lot of people will use verse 15 to defend the "hair is the covering" theory: "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." First, I find it interesting that those who use this verse are also people who will defend a woman's right to have extremely short hair thereby cutting off the very covering they say is given to them by God. However, notice the verse says her hair is given to her for A covering, which leads me to believe there is more than one covering for a woman.
Verse 5 mentions that if I pray and prophesy without covering my head, I am dishonoring my head. Here we have a perfect example how the same English word in one passage can mean two different things - just as the word 'covering.' When a man covers his physical head he dishonors his spiritual Head - Jesus Christ. A woman who prays or prophesies with her physical head uncovered dishonors her spiritual head - her husband. Again, I cover in church to divert attention from myself to put onto the earthly one I am to reverence. It is a physical declaration of my submission to my husband.
I find it interesting that society as a whole still adheres to the first part of this passage - the part concerning the man. Even today a man will take his hat off during prayer or while in the house of God. Up through the 1950s, women still wore hats to church. This was a result of covering. You will notice that many Eastern European women still wear a veil - especially while in a worship service. Culture? No. It comes straight from the Bible.
Why don't women cover anymore? Verse 15 states that the woman's hair is a glory to the woman. This is one of the main reasons I wear a seperate covering to church and it's also one of the main reasons women are afraid to really delved into the topic of covering. If my hair is my glory should I not cover my glory in order to divert that glory to Christ as we come together and worship? How often do we go to church and notice other women's hair and how pretty it is? What is it that takes women and girls so long to prepare in the morning? It only takes a few minutes to put on an outfit, but I've heard of some girls spending up to an hour just adding curls to their hair on Sunday morning. Why? Most would say they just want to look pretty and feminine. But, the hair is their GLORY. They are inadvertantly taking away some of the focus we are to have on Christ and putting it on themselves. By covering, I am able to escape that temptation. I will say, it is often difficult for me to put a covering on my head. Quite frankly, I'm not very pretty with one. I wear a longer covering that covers most of my hair. People who see me without my covering for the first time are often taken aback and mention how 'pretty" my hair is (I secretly wonder if they are shocked that I even HAVE hair!). It IS very hard for a woman to cover her glory. However, many of the things God asks us to do are not easy. This does not give liberty to go against His word.
I studied this topic for months. I came to a conclusion a few months before I took action mainly because I didn't want to be someone who started something just to quit a year or two later. This is not something to jump into. I knew there would be days I wouldn't want to cover and it took some time for me to make the commitment. I've noticed women who begin coming to our church have this illusion of "headcovers produce godliness" and don one within weeks of their first visit. These covers come off within 2 years because it was 1) done without much prayer and council from the Lord or 2) done without the permission of their husbands.
I will add here that, though our pastors do not have their wives cover, they are in support of those of us who do cover. Some wish that our pastors would take a stand for it from the pulpit, however, I am not one of those. Though I believe strongly that I ought to cover, I also believe verses 13 & 16: "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." These verses seem to say that we need to look into this for ourselves and not have dispute or contention regarding this issue.
Some proponents rightly divide that this is one of the ordinances of God - just as baptism and the Lord's Supper. I Corinthians 11:2: "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye rmember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as i delivered them to you." The first ordinance Paul mentions in this chapter is the covering. From there he discusses the Lord's Supper. Baptism as an ordinance was established during the gospels. So, some state that we preach on the other 2 ordinances and practice them as a church body, but we ignore the other. Why? Well, as my husband wisely pointed out, Who established the oridnances of baptism and communion? It was Jesus Christ. The ordinance of the covering comes from Paul. That does not negate the entire Pauline epistles and make everything he says choice. But, the fact that Christ never practiced or spoke on the covering makes it a difficult issue to "command" from the pulpit. Not to mention that, just as there are times not to be baptized and times not to take the Lord's Supper due to the condition of the spirit, there are times not to cover. Therefore, a pastor cannot mandate that everyone covers at all times as that would be causing a woman to live in hypocrisy if her spirit is not right. Isaiah 30:1: "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin..."
When do I cover? I cover in church and during public ministry (street meetings, singing in the malls at Christmas, home Bible studies/prayer meetings, and when I give a devotional). There are two reasons I do not cover all the time (and I do know there are people who would take issue with this). First, my husband doesn't want me to cover at all times, mainly because he'd never see my hair. Basic. But, that is what he stated from the beginning. The other reason is because 1 Corinthians 11 talks about ordinances commonly practiced in the church - when a group of people come together for the purpose of worship. I realize that people practice the Lord's Supper in their homes, but it is commonly practiced as a church body and that is how this passage discusses it. So, when I cover, it is in the church setting and when I "pray & prophesy" publically.
I will confess here that I have been disobedient to my husband in one aspect. He prefers me to wear a covering while I am out in public without him as it provides a large measure of protection while my spiritual head in not present. This can be confirmed in verse 10 of 1 Corinthians 11: "For this cause ought the woman to have pioer on her head because of the angels." I will admit that because I go most places without my husband I would have to cover almost all the time which means that I have that uncomfortable position of having to cover my glory. We have discussed this and he has seen the fact that if I am out with others I do have more protection, but I know he'd really like me to wear it if I am alone. Something I will remedy very soon.
Will we have our daughter's cover? Only if we see them fussing with their hair too much for worship. If they are taking the glory from God to put on themselves, they will cover. For now, we make sure their hair is neat, but not too fancy when they attend church services. It will be up to them and their husbands if they cover later on.
I know this was long, but I have had questions through the years - either voiced or seen in people's eyes. I hope this cleared some of those questions up for you.