Tuesday, March 8, 2016
From the title of this post you may get visions that I'm going to talk about going undercover, as in being a double agent, or my secret spy life. Not quite that fun or glamorous. I'm going to address a topic that will step on toes, make some outright angry, and probably open me up to the firing squad. What could cause so much trouble among the brotherhood as this? The idea of head covering. I can hear the gasps already.
The first time I came across the passages in 1 Corinthians 11, I was a young teen. The verses intrigued me. It seemed such a simple,straight forward command, that I began to ask questions. First, I inquired of my parents. They did their best to explain why we don't practice head covering today, but suggested I speak to the minister of our congregation. This minister very simply explained that this was written to the people of Corinth, and it was not meant for us. So I asked, why this principal didn't apply to other scriptures. For example, why are women not to have authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Did this mean I could be a song leader? Couldn't the same idea he used to explain head covering be used to explain away similar things? If this was true, why did we still obey the other commands and not this one. He was quick to point out that in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, it referred to the "creation order", a timeless principle that validated this command in his opinion.
It just didn't make sense to me. It seemed so simple when I read it. I was reminded that I was young and still learning, and to leave the explanations to the leaders. Defeated, and confused I took their word for it. Still, it poked at me from the corner of my mind.
Through the years I heard several explanations, ranging from your hair being a covering, to it was because the priestesses of Aphrodite in Corinth would shave their heads. I also got a lot of people that told me that in 1 Corinthians 11:16, Paul dismissed the practice of head covering if it caused contention. That was one of the hardest walls for me. Why would Paul spend so much time explaining all of this to just dismiss it. It didn't seem logical. I had so many questions. Why do men still uncover their head before a prayer? I felt like we were being luke warm and obeying half of a command.
I was also told on a few occasions that covering my head would make me look Islamic and that would be a sin, because I was to "abstain from the very appearance of evil". Really? Muslims also pray, does this mean I would be following Islam if I prayed?
No matter the explanation I got, when I tried to use their logic for not obeying head covering on any other topic (such as baptism, authority, etc.) they wouldn't stand for it. How interesting.
Finally, awhile back I decided I was going to study 1 Corinthians 11 along with my husband and we would have to come to a conclusion using only the word of God.
So we began.
First we looked at verses 2-3. Right here it referred to that " creation order" that I'd been told wasn't there. So, if the lack of creation order was an argument, it was now void. Then we came to verses 4-6 and noticed some versions used the words 'wife' and 'husband' and some used 'woman' and 'man'. So we looked up what these Greek words meant and it turns out that it can mean woman or wife, and the other can mean man or husband. Verse 9 seemed pretty straight forward. Verse 10 we found interesting. We never really came to a solid conclusion after days of research on what this verse means, other than I don't need to know WHY I need to have a symbol of authority because of the angels, but I do. Verses 11+12 were a comfort to me. Men and women can't exist without each other. I have a role. Verses 13-14 seemed pretty straight forward as well. They seemed to be rhetorical in nature. Then we got to verse 15. Does this mean my hair is a covering? It didn't quite make sense when we looked at the verses together. So we looked back at verse 6 and replaced "cover" with "hair". It did not work. So we investigated the original text and discovered that they were 2 different things. Then we got to verse 16. It really did seem like Paul was dismissing everything he had just said. We read it over and over. We studied it inside out and upside down. Then we decided to read it as though we had no preconceived ideas on what it meant. Suddenly, it made more sense than ever. "If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God." Wait.... What if Paul is saying we don't participate in acting contentious? What if, in fact, we have been taking this verse out of context this whole time? Whoa.
This study had taken us several weeks, picking things apart, and questioning everything.
We had arrived at the conclusion that I should, in fact, be covering my head. Now that I had reached this conclusion, I didn't know if I liked it. I didn't WANT to cover my head. I wanted to do cool things with my hair and get complimented. I had to face the harsh reality that my hair was a big source of pride and vanity for me. Ouch. Pride is such a bitter pill. I loved my sassy hair. I liked looking like I was punky and full of sass. Realizing that I was now facing this reality, I was a little hesitant. What?! I tried to go through and prove all the things I'd been told before about these verses as right. What strange creatures, we humans. Yet, I could not prove anything right other than the conclusion that I should obey the command and cover my head.
So I did.
Since I've started covering my head, I have had a few interesting discussions with fellow Christians. Most of them are vehemently against it. They tell me that it was cultural and doesn't apply today. Yet, I'd like to know, where do they draw the line? When is it OK to say something was cultural and when is it not? We need to be consistent in how we interpret scriptures. I've had some well meaning friends ask if I was trying to get ready for my work with the Muslims by covering my head. Never mind the fact that I had been doing it long before we decided to enter this ministry. I have also been asked if I know what those verses "really mean". Let me assure all who stumble upon this lowly blog, that I am fully aware of what I'm doing. I've tested all the possibilities. I don't cover my head to make others feel bad, or to make myself better than others. I only do it because I believe that it is what God has commanded me to do. It is terribly unpopular in our culture.
As I conclude this, know that I realize many will disagree with me. My intent is not to argue. I quite simply wanted to give my reasoning. My heart has never been as free as when I realized I was obeying God. This is not oppression. This is freedom. Freedom in Christ and his commands. It hasn't been easy, and I don't like doing what's unpopular, but I do love doing what is commanded of me. We are never once called to be happy (not to be mistaken for joy), comfortable, or to understand God's ways. His ways are higher than ours and his thoughts higher than ours, are they not? More than anything, I hope you'll be curious and explore for yourself.