I cover my hair when I am in a worship service. I haven’t always. I was raised in a church where older women still covered their hair, usually with a hat, but the younger women didn’t. Except for one, and she still sticks out in my memory. My mother never covered her hair, explaining to me that it’s something women used to do, did in biblical times, and that some women still believed that they ought to but that it wasn’t a commandment for Christians today.
For most of church history, it was expected that women would cover their hair in a worship service. Men didn’t, because the Bible was very explicit that they shouldn’t. Women did, also because the Bible was very explicit that they should. Or so the faithful were told in those long ago days. Then things changed, women became liberated, and the church moved away from such old-fashioned teachings. And we all know how that’s worked. Or hasn’t. We moved away from teaching women that they ought to cover their heads in worship and moved towards a more balanced view of men and women in the church. Or so I’m told. What I know is this: When women cared about such things as head coverings, they also cared about other things such as being a godly submissive wife, a gentle nurturing present-in-their-children’s-lives-mother, growing in Christ-likeness and going about doing good. One just naturally flowed into another. But we told women that they didn’t need to cover their heads and so they don’t, and they don’t do a lot of these other things, either.
1 Corinthians 11: 12-16, For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
Those few verses are part of the verses from 1 Corinthians 11 that addresses women and head coverings. For nearly 2,000 years, the church understood these verses to still be relevant to them, then, abruptly, they didn’t. Our modern views simply wouldn’t allow us to hold such old-fashioned ones. Yet, throughout church history, we’d held just such views. I can, and I will, go further into these teachings in coming days, and as part of that, I will be posting quotes from godly men throughout church history who believed, and who still believe, that God’s command for women to wear head coverings wasn’t just applicable to the Corinthians but is applicable to all Christian women no matter when they live. For now, though, I want to say this: I do not believe that head coverings are a salvation issue. I do believe it is important and that God meant it to be for all women. I do believe that it is an act of obedience to cover your hair in a worship service. I don’t think you will go to hell if you don’t.
Why cover your head in worship then? Because it honors God. Because all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine. Because that which God has commanded, we who love Him ought to do our best to obey, and this includes women covering their heads in worship.