Posted in Christianity

Head Covering: Thoughts Through The Years

R C Sproul: “Though the many authors differ on various issues associated with headcoverings, one important issue upon which they are all agreed is that Paul was not commanding the women in Corinth either to let their hair grow long so as to use their long hair as a headcovering in worship, or to neatly place their hair upon their heads as a headcovering in worship, but rather to place upon their heads a fabric headcovering when they worship before the Lord. This conclusion is reached by scholars from various denominational backgrounds, from different geographical locations, and from many periods of church history. The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ which is “the pillar and ground of the truth.””

 Watchman Nee: “The matter of head covering belongs to God’s government. For those who do not know God’s government, it is impossible to exhort them to have their heads covered. They will not be able to understand how much is involved in this matter. But those who have seen God’s government in God’s revealed Word are able to appreciate the tremendous connection between head covering and God’s government.”
Watchman Nee: “God has shown us that there are three different heads: God is head, Christ is head, and man is head. This is not a matter of being brothers and sisters; it is basically a governmental arrangement. Grace is concerned with brothers and sisters, but government is different. God has sovereignly willed that the head of Christ is God Himself, so Christ must obey; the head of man is Christ, so man must obey; and the head of woman is man, and so woman should have the sign of obedience on her head.”
Bob Deffinbaugh: “The solution to legalism is to continue to obey the rules, to keep God’s commands, but to always do so in the light of the principles which underlie them. Women should cover their heads because Paul commands them to, and because of the principles of headship and of God’s sovereign distinctions. Legalism is keeping the rules for the rules’ sake. Christian liberty is keeping the rules for God’s sake, and with a heart and mind which seeks most of all to be pleasing to Him by obeying His commandments.”

Charles Spurgeom: “Do you think you and I have sufficiently considered that we are always looked upon by angels, and that they desire to learn by us the wisdom of God? The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is ‘because of the angels’. The apostle says that a woman is to have a covering upon her head, because of the angels, since the angels are present in the assembly and they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits.”

Robert L. Dabney: “Thus he who stands up in public as the herald and representative of heaven’s King must stand with uncovered head; the honour of the Sovereign for whom he speaks demands this. But no woman can present herself in public with uncovered head without sinning against nature and her sex. Hence no woman can be a public herald of Christ.”

John Angel James: “If the veil were thrown aside, they might as well cut off their flowing hair, one of the woman’s distinctions from the man, the ornament, as well as the peculiarity of the sex. Constantly and completely Christianity is the parent of order, and the enemy of indecorum of every kind. Why were not the women to lay aside their veils? Because it would be forgetting their subordination and dependence, and assuming an equal rank with man. This is the gist of the apostle’s reason. It was not merely indecorous, and contrary to modesty, but it was ambitious, and violating the order of heaven.”

John Bunyan: “For this cause ought the woman to have power”, that is a covering, “on her head, because of the angels” 1 Cor. 11:10… Methinks, holy and beloved sisters, you should be content to wear this power or badge…”


13 thoughts on “Head Covering: Thoughts Through The Years

  1. A friend of mine has started to do this and loving her passion, I’ve decided to look into it. This was excellent to see the various opinion from men of today and men of old! Thank you for posting this!

  2. A worthy collection of quotations, Anna. Thank you.

    This is a very touchy subject today for the simple reason that those who could teach about it do not, leaving those who must decide on it uninformed. Worse still, heads of households are not even well instructed on how to wait upon the Lord and seek His face through reading His Word and prayer, but that’s a topic for another post.

    The concern here is that expressed in Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” The church needs instruction in the matter of women’s head covering, the husbands and fathers need to be equipped to instruct their household, the women and girls need to be taught regarding godly submission, and all of us need to fulfill our roles with gladness, lest we cause defilement in the church.

    If there is doubt or defiance in the matter of the woman’s covering her head, it must be discussed in the home and, if necessary, with the elders. Clear instruction is required in order that this not become simply a dictated law that has to be kept. Reduced to its simplest expression, the key is to understand that the Lord’s commandments to the redeemed are not grievous, but joyful. Legalism is what we are forced to do in bondage, but Jesus has set us free from bondage to sin, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Therefore, rather than grumbling about what we’ve GOT TO do, we may freely rejoice in what we GET TO do!

    This practice is not merely for our benefit as individuals, households, or even the local assembly. It is for the glory and honor of our Lord. Therefore this, as obedience to any God-given commandment, should be regarded as pure privilege and honor to obey, not grudgingly, but as a blessing. As Paul instructs concerning another matter, “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Let the man be convinced by the Holy Spirit-taught Word of God, and let the woman do the same under his leadership and example, that God may be pleased.

  3. I have come to the point of agreeing with a head covering. As a child we always wore a hat to church, but nobody could explain to me why. Now it is different. but what I don’t understand is why wont a scarf do or any other hat. Why are there these “particular looking headcoverings?”

    1. The tradition of women wearing a hat to church grew out of the command to cover the head. Over time, the covering got smaller and smaller and the significance was no longer understood. A hat does not carry with it the same significance as a head covering does. A head covering is to cover the hair, thus flowing down the back of the head. A hat doesn’t do that. The point of head coverings is to show that a woman isn’t her own head (or leader) but that she is in submission to her husband (as her head or leader) as the church is to Christ. There are many, many lovely headcoverings available. I have a post on here that includes many of the best links to headcovering shops on the net. God bless you as you seek to follow His leading.

  4. Hi. Do you have a source reference for the quotation from R.C. Sproul? I have seen this quote copy-and-pasted a lot. Thanks much!

      1. Hi. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

        After I read your note, I listened through Sproul’s message titled “To Cover or Not to Cover?” I didn’t hear him say this quote, so I listened through it again, and still didn’t hear it.

        I also don’t see it in the Robert Spinney’s document that you linked to.

        1. I’m sorry you couldn’t find it. As far as Robert Spinney’s document, the quote is on page 9 (the numbers go sideways 1-2, 3-4 and so forth; the page is numbered on the bottom), at the very top of the page under this heading:
          Do any prominent Christians teach that Christian women should wear
          head coverings today

          Thank you and may God bless and keep you~ Anna

  5. Super — Yes, thank you! I did read that section of Robert Spinney’s document. While it does contain some quotes from Sproul, it doesn’t contain your Sproul quotation (the one at the top of this page). I’m in search of a reference/source for that quotation. If you have any idea where it came from, I’d love to find out. I’ve been working on

    Thanks again ~

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