Follow-up thoughts on head coverings…

I feel blessed to have a pastor who occasionally visits my blog! Mike recently read my post on head coverings and I Corinthians 11. I thought he had really good feedback and caused me to think about some new aspects of the issue. For example, I now feel more comfortable viewing my long hair as a covering and may choose to wrap my hair up on my head if I don’t feel like wearing my scarf (although I love my scarf – lovely light blue embroidered silk from Vietnam). I definitely agree that the focus is on a woman developing a submissive spirit and the demeanor of servanthood.

Here is some of what he had to say:

I am so grateful that it is your heart’s desire to submit yourself to all that the Lord has in His Word…. that being said the idea of the head covering has been read in a few different ways (you may know the discussion).  The covering of the head and the length of the hair seems to me to have been invariably tied together as referenced by the “cutting off of the hair” comments for a woman who prays or prophesies without a covering.  V. 15 goes so far as to say that the long hair is given the woman “as a covering.”

Therefore, my best reading of the text is that the “covering of the head” was a reference to the way in which the hair would be wrapped back over the top of the head as a certain kind of covering.  A couple of examples of this kind of impropriety that was perceived to accompany a “nonsubmissive woman” might be the woman in Numbers 5:18 who has her hair “loosened” as part of the test of her fidelity to her husband as well as what was culturally perceived to be the scandalous activity of the “woman with a sinful past” in Luke 7 who “let down her hair” and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears.

I think the point for me is that there is a universal principle of a submissive spirit that is a beautiful thing for women in light of God’s economy of servanthood, being highly cherished in a community where sin is truly put off and greatness reserved for those who love and cherish servanthood and submission.  That being said, in our world these days, … there are very few, if any, cultural markers that actually work to indicate this sort of beauty.  In our day, the broader culture just doesn’t understand the value of submission from a Kingdom perspective.  In  a word, wearing the hair in a certain way does nothing more than communicate “hairstyle,” unlike the 1st century world.  It seems to me the very closest equivalent to a “submissive spirit” for our day must be primarily demeanor-driven.  I wish it were more concrete than that; however, I find the pluralistic world in which we live and the confluence of the multiple symbols and icons that convey multiple meanings to us in our day make it very difficult for us to ask women of Christ to: 1) wear their hair in a certain way or 2) if one concludes this to be some sort of covering (which I don’t), to wear a covering as a mark of obedience to the text of 1Cor. 11.