For those who have known me for awhile, this may be a surprise…
I have recently started covering my head during prayer at church.
This decision came after looking closely at Scripture, a lot of prayer, and many discussions with my husband. I feel like writing about this because I am interested in what other women have to say – women who are already covering their heads, women who would never even consider covering their heads, and women who are just interested in engaging in the conversation with me.
I should preface by saying that I grew up in a family with a very strong “female” presence and I learned feminism from my mother. She grew up in the 1950s, got married and had children early, and looked on as women across the country burned their bras, marched for the Equal Rights Amendment, and fought for reproductive choice. I know that she has always wondered what her life would have been like if she would have grown up in a big city, gone to college, and been part of the feminist movement. But in her own small way she instilled feminist ideals in me. I remained a feminist activist well into adulthood, taking classes in Women’s Studies in college, marching for choice, working for Planned Parenthood, etc. But things have slowly been changing since my relationship with Christ was reconciled about 8 years ago.
I believe that there is the world’s definition of feminism, and there is God’s definition of feminism. I believe that if we claim that God’s word contains everything we need to know about living in this world according to God’s will and God’s design, then He has everything to say about who women are, our nature, our role and place in the world, and how He plans to bless us as His unique creatures. But that’s the subject of another post…
What does I Corinthians 11 have to say about women covering their heads? It says this:
(3) But 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.
(4) Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, (5) but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.
(6) For 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.
(7) For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
(8) For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
(9) Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
(10) That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
(11) Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; (12) for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
(13) Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? (14) Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, (15) but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
The Greek word for “head” used in all of these verses is kephale, literally meaning a person or animal’s head and metaphorically meaning anything supreme, chief, or prominent (a husband in relation to his wife; Christ as Lord of the husband and the church). (Thayer’s) God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and the husband is the head of the wife. The Greek word for “cover” is katakalupto, meaning to cover up or to veil or cover oneself wholly. (Thayer’s)
Men should not cover their heads, since they are the image and glory of God and covering their heads would dishonor the One who is supreme over them (God). Women are called upon to cover their heads because they are under the authority of man, and to have their heads uncovered would dishonor the one who is supreme over them (husband). The head covering is the symbol of this authority.
So why am I choosing to cover my head during prayer? I believe that no part of God’s Word is void of meaning or significance. I don’t believe that this part of the Word is simply “cultural” or has been over-ruled by the modern feminist movement. I believe that there is blessing in this practice.
Will I forever continue to cover my head during prayer? Not sure yet. But I am confident of this: God is aware of what we do and the intention of our hearts. My only goal is to learn more about Him and thereby learn more about myself as a woman created in his image. I hope that by choosing to walk with God in a certain manner, even for a season, I will receive His blessing and experience His majesty.