On Double Standards and Idols

One of the most familiar chapters in the Bible to a conservative Anabaptist is 1Corinthians 11.  We particularly know these two verses well:

“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.””But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head.”(1 Cor. 11:4-5a KJV)

These familiar verses seem pretty simple. When a woman is praying or prophesying, she needs to have her head covered. When a man is praying or prophesying, he needs to have his head uncovered.

We men have it pretty easy. No one has ever accused us of being legalistic when we take off our hats to pray (or at least not in my personal experience). We don’t have any rules given to us about how often or long we need to keep our heads uncovered. We are trusted to follow this simple directive as a follower of Christ in a conservative Anabaptist church. No one in the brotherhood checks up on us or confronts us if they see us wearing a hat.

This is a good thing.

mennomen

photo credit-Mary Rieck

 

We are free to wear a warm hat on cold winter days, we can wear a hat to keep the sun out of our eyes, it’s even okay to wear a hat just because it’s faster than combing our hair (or to cover the lack of it). We often wear hats that advertise a specific company that we like or support; or we just wear one just because we like how we look in a specific hat. We could even walk into our church house wearing a hat, as long as we removed it before going into the service.

So why do we regulate and impose so many applications for the verse to the women? Are they not as trustworthy as a man? Do we view them as being incapable of thought or do we doubt their desire or ability to obey God?

I read an interesting quote written in the late 1920’s, by a Mennonite man named Oscar Burkholder, addressing head coverings and dress. The following was printed in the Gospel Herald and the Christian Review, “It would seem that the woman is still bent on dragging man down; she was the one who first tempted man, and she is still at the same old game.”1

This quote was during an era of when Mennonites were beginning to impose increasingly more mandates for head gear for the women. If this mind set toward women played into the motivation for the extra rules we enforce for our women, then my question is, “Is this still what we believe about women?”

Is this a Biblical mind set? Somehow I just can’t see words like this ever coming from the mouth of Jesus, Who set an example for us on how we should view and treat women.

If we deny having an attitude like this toward women, then why do we persist in having a double standard regarding these two commands?

We expect the women to wear a head covering at all times, because we all know, of course, that she is to “pray without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17). But yet we interpret that same verse differently for ourselves. Why do we apply this verse differently to a man than we do for the woman?

Some of us wear a hat most of the day and only remove it for a brief prayer at meals. But wait– shouldn’t we be “praying without ceasing”?

What if we would view the verses directed at women the same way we do the men? What if a woman only covered her head when she prayed? What if there were times we would see her putting it on in public as she went into prayer? What if we allowed her to make the choice about when she was covered– just as we allow the man to choose when he is uncovered?

This goes against everything we have been taught and believe about the head covering. Why?

It is because we have added so much to this simple directive. We have assigned values, ideals, and reasons for wearing the head covering that are not in given in Scripture– so for us we can not allow it be worn in this kind of way.

We want the woman’s head covering to give a statement of representation of which Anabaptist church she belongs to. Her specific covering can tell us a lot about her beliefs. We want her to wear the covering because of modesty and humility. We believe the covering will empower her to live a more righteous life. We have faith that her covering will grant her extra protection from angels. It will keep her from free of molestation from men with evil intentions.

We believe it is a sign that she is separated from the world– and even separated from non-Anabaptist believers. We want our women’s head coverings to save our culture, our community, and our identity from being taken over by the rest of the world.

In some churches, the color of the covering may represent her marital status. For some, the head covering may announce that she has been baptized and is a member of the church. For others it is a sign of salvation.

We even take it so far as to question a woman who would wear another type of hat over– or instead of– her “prayer covering”. A woman who wears a winter hat for warmth in public often has her motives questioned by others. “Are you ashamed of your covering? Are you trying to hide who you are?”

The wearing of a specific prayer covering is held so highly that to be ashamed–in any way- to wear it at all times is considered to be equal with being ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

Have we elevated a God-given directive to the status of an idol?

How can this be something that God approves of? God will not share His glory, His might, His grace, or His righteousness with a mere piece of cloth that we have decreed to hold a position of power that only He could ever hold.

Only the grace of God can empower any woman or man to live a righteous life. Only the omnipotence of God is the deciding factor for what is allowed–good or bad– into our lives. If the only thing that sets a woman apart from the unbelieving world is a piece of cloth on her head, her religion is in vain.

What did Jesus say is evidence of being a follower of Him? He said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” But we attempt to make Him a liar by instead replacing that with, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if your women wear the church-prescribed head covering.”

A head covering was never meant to be the evidence of salvation.

We have elevated it so much that we have lost the simplicity of the command. We’ve focused on the application of it to such an extent that we turn people off from wearing it altogether.

We then take our applications and teach “commandments of man” for “doctrine” –just as the Pharisees did with their pet commands that Jesus reprimanded in Mark 7. We have turned a simple command into a recondite doctrine and caused the covering to be more of a burden than a blessing.

But even than, many of our women wear their banner of “humility and modesty” quite proudly. “We are not ashamed to wear this,” they boast with pride.

The Bible gives reasons for wearing it, but it is not because of the extra reasons we have assigned to it. Isn’t it about time we let the Bible speak for itself? Aren’t the reasons God gave for wearing it enough?

It is time to put this commandment back into perspective, let God be God, and let His Word stand alone.

 

Author’s note: My purpose in this post is to point out where we have erred. Read 1 Cor. 11 if you want the right reasons for praying with a covered head (women) or praying with an uncovered head (men)


 

1. Oscar Burkholder, “The Devotional Covering,” Gospel Herald 23 (17 April 1930): 67-68; “As it was in the days of Sodom, Attention women!” Christian Review 2 (October 1928): 14

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72 thoughts on “On Double Standards and Idols

  1. I so appreciate your honesty. These are exactly my issues with the Anabaptist views on the head covering. To my horror, I once heard it called “the keystone of our faith.” In a respected publication.

    Once something becomes So Much, it’s hard to demote it to what it should be.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It has been healing for my wife to wear a scarf rather than some variation on the traditional Mennonite cap. She has experienced a personal desire to wear it on a new level now that it symbolizes what it was intended to mean.

    Thanks for writing

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I understand it correctly, the traditional Mennonite cap was originally developed to distinguish early Mennonites from the Catholic nuns. Down through the centuries, additional styles have been developed as a distinguishing factor as one group splintered from another. This hardly seems like a good reason to develop a certain practice.

      I wonder what the veilings in the early church looked like, and whether there was a lot of variation from one city to another. Given the varied backgrounds of the early church congregations, it seems like there probably would have been a lot of variety in their practice. Like Paul told the Corinthians though, “We have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” The concepts of 1 Corinthians 11 were universally practiced in all the churches of God. Indeed, they were almost universally practiced in all of Christendom, Anabaptist and otherwise, until the women’s liberation movement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The history of the Mennonite cap-style covering is difficult to trace. You might be right about the desire to avoid a Catholic appearance, thought I note that Melvin Gingerich doesn’t seem to mention that in his book (Mennonite Attire through Four Centuries). I get the sense from him that the cap-style covering was something worn widely by most women in the regions where Anabaptists began, not a specifically Mennonite fashion. (Perhaps it would be more correct to say that Catholic nuns developed their hanging veil as a way of distinguishing themselves from all other Christian women. Or, perhaps even more likely, that they retained an ancient classical-era hanging veil while the women around them who were not part of holy orders wore more varied coverings according to regional traditions.)

        Gingerich suggests that in the time of Paul it was common for a woman to cover her head with a hanging veil, so that is probably what Christian women did, too. In that sense, I suppose if you want to be like the early church you should look more like a nun than a Mennonite. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  3. This is an amazing article. Thanks so much for writing it. So many times when I see anabaptists, I get the impression that their demeanor is “look at me, see how holy I am?” I see the same when I see Muslims. Maybe that’s not what they feel, but that’s what I see.

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    • That’s an unfortunate impression of our people. Please join me in praying for revival, reform, and a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit among the Anabaptists. May we see all our fellow believers in the Body as brothers and sisters; and may we see the unsaved as Jesus sees them– with love and not condemnation or arrogance.

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  4. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.”
    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:1-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    “For long hair is giver to her as a covering”
    It doesn’t make sense why women wear man made coverings when God gave women their hair for a covering. Why is this passage never brought up when disgusing a topic about head coverings?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As quoted above. ” For if a woman does not cover her head, She might as well have her hair cut off.” If her hair is the covering spoken of, Why would she need to cut it off? She is already covered. Is he talking about women who have their head shaved? The second part of the sentence states, “But if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.”
      A woman who doesn’t cover her head (with hair?) should cut it off. But this would be a disgrace to have her hair cut off or shaved. So she needs to cover her head. Confusing? only if you believe the hair to be the covering spoken of in this verse. The hair is a covering that God has given to women. But men also have hair. Men are not to cover their heads. Are men then supposed to shave their heads. If you believe the hair to be the covering spoken of, then you, as a man, need to shave your head. These verses are obviously speaking of something else other than the hair. Many have come to believe this covering, a piece of cloth, to be a symbol of the headship order. When in fact it is the act of covering the head that symbolizes a woman’s submission to Gods order. Not what is used to cover. Man symbolizes his submission by not covering his head.

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      • God gave women their long hair as a covering. It doesn’t say that he gave men hair for a covering. Are you trying to make up stuff not in the bible?

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      • Think this through, Anonymous. The scripture you shared states, ” But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – It is the same as having her head shaved”
        If the hair is what is spoken of here, then that would mean that the woman already has her head shaved. Because only then would her head be uncovered. But the writer states that having her head uncovered is the “same” as having her head shaved. The scripture further states,” For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair cut off”
        Again if the hair is what covers the head – then she is covered. But apparently she has hair because she is being instructed to cut it off if she does not cover her head. Thoughts?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous, here is you some food for thought, in case you are open to study what the Scripture says:
      A) Did you realize that when it says a woman should “cover” her head, that is a command to do an action? An action.

      B) You focus on verse 15. I understand your view, being I grew up with it. It makes sense when you look at it that way. But, did you realize that this is just a part of one of Paul’s several arguments for his subject which is “covering”(action) the head? Yes, in verses 13-15 Paul is presenting yet another argument, that of “nature itself”, the part of this argument that you should focus on if you want to understand what he is saying is verse 13 “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?”
      His answer is obviously “of couse not!” and he makes that clear by going on to say verse 14 “Doth not even nature itself teach you…..” Now you can ignore the main thrust of the passage and the context for verses 13-15 and focus on that last part “for her hair is given her for a covering”, but if you look at it in context, Paul is actually using several arguments in this passage to support an action, one argument being “nature itself”.

      C)The “hair is the covering”(thing, no action needed) view we have no record of it ever even being known of or taught for or against, until recently. For most of Christian history, every person who addressed that subject believed in “covering”(action, do something) the head with a cloth of some sort, from the early church fathers 2nd century, to the Reformation, people such as Wesley, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Catherine Booth, every old denomination taught and practiced it prior to the 1900’s. If I am wrong, I would like to know who taught this “hair is the covering” view in opposition to everyone else, say in 200ad or 1600ad..?

      If your view is correct, why did everyone else.. in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th etc century, 1,500’s 1,700’s etc, did they all get it wrong all the way up until the 1900’s?

      Liked by 2 people

    • You may judge me for not wearing a head covering, but is that what really should determine your faith. The bible verse even says ‘judge for yourself…’. That doesn’t mean judging those who don’t wear one. I go to my family reunions and the Mennonites there give me stares and treat me different because I look ‘different’ than they do. It shouldn’t matter what I wear. Even though we have different beliefs, we are still Chtistiams and children of God.

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      • Quite the contrary, Anonymous, it is not my place to judge. I was only debating with you the verses you shared, as, I believe, were the other replies. There was nothing personal toward you or anyone who may have read my opinions. I am trying to point out that scripture should not be made to say something it isn’t saying. Even if you don’t believe what it says. My advice to anyone who seeks to know God’s will in any matter or to understand the meaning of His words is to ask him for understanding and wisdom. Then be open to correction from His word. They are, after all, His words. God is faithful. He will give understanding if asked with a pure heart.

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    • A “covering” in Vs. 15 is often confused or mistaken to have the same meaning as the word “covered” in earlier verses of this passage. If you look it up in a Strong’s Concordance, in the original Greek writing covering in vs. 15 was a totally different word from the other verses. vs. 15 – peribolaion : something thrown around vs. 6 & 7 – katakalupto : to cover wholly, hide. I hope this may give you some clarification. VG

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  5. While I understand that passage slightly different than you do, I appreciate your courage in addressing this issue. I know first hand how brutal people can be when defending their idols.

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  6. if we step on us men first and then the women we will come about this different. to anonymous talking about the hair given to her for a covering, let me regress for a moment. a man told me I should wear a beard because of and he quoted scripture for it and said that God placed it on our face and it is spoke about it in the bible and it identifies me as a man. I replied saying that if he wants to go there lets go to the hair is given to a women for a covering. why does he think it is ok for a women to shave her legs? he was repulsed and grossed out just by the idea of a women not shaving her legs. I told him that if it repulsed him than did not that women having her legs not shaved keep him from lusting? he said yes but was not impressed with the idea. not saying a women is not to do this but an example of how we apply to one and not the other. never did get the hat on men unless in church or praying, I mean just going to town to buy anything or to go to church and then take it off as they walk thru the doors. maybe that is why some are so strong on the women wearing it all the time. my grand mother wore one to bed because she said she would wake up at night and pray for souls and she wanted to follow Christ teaching. that was her choice and not taught by the church she went to. it should be consistent and persistent on both sides. thinking outside the box, above dirt and happy. roy yoder

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  7. Comparing themselves among themselves… I think you entire premise in this article is misguided. You are using the same approach that many people use to push Christians to accept homosexuality. They say “Christians accept divorce and remarriage which is against the Bible, but reject Homosexual marriage.” They say it is inconsistent and they are right. It is inconsistent. But they are not calling Christians to a higher standard of rejecting divorce and remarriage, they are saying we should lower the standard and accept more homosexuality.

    You say that Bible says men should uncover because they represent Christ and are under Him. But our men cover however they wish and whenever they wish. But you do not call men to a higher standard, you are asking that we lower our overall standard to meet that of the men who are disregarding a Biblical teaching!

    I believe we have it much closer to a biblical model (maybe not perfect) with the ladies than we do with the men. When men cover, and especially when they cover with an advertisement etc, they are becoming the glory of something besides Christ and his Kingdom. We allow men to get away with representing another Kingdom, but expect the women to represent Christ. How sad that you are calling us to LOWER the standard so both of us don’t have to represent another Kingdom!

    Just because men are being disobedient to the word, does not mean we should make the same exception for the women! It should be the other way around. We men need to stand and live as though we are truly submitted to Christ and show that by NOT wearing a covering!

    Maybe a bit of rambling…

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    • While I understand the point you are making regarding divorce and remarriage being used as an argument for homosexuality, I disagree that the comparison is the same regarding this article. Both divorce and homosexuality are wrong in God’s eyes.

      The Bible never says it is wrong for a man to wear a hat. It is not a sin. It only says a man should pray or prophesy with his head uncovered. So while he is not in the act of praying or prophesying, he commits no wrong in wearing a hat.

      Does the same not apply to a woman as well? She is to have her head covered while praying or prophesying. The Bible does not say it is wrong for her to have her head uncovered, only that she is to cover her head when in the act of praying or prophesying. So while she is not in the act of praying or prophesying, she commits no wrong for being bareheaded.

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      • Simon, I find your view on this subject very enlightening. I love to here from people who wear the veiling that were not taught the principle growing up. I am sure you have heard of the headcoveringmovement.com. Their stance seems to follow your interpretation of this passage. With one possible difference. They have determined that the covering is to be practiced during corporate worship(praying or prophesying). If you haven’t heard of the website, I would encourage a visit!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tim, I always find it intriguing to hear head covering testimonies from those outside our Anabaptist circles as well. It’s been interesting to follow the head covering movement. Jeremy Gardiner does an excellent job explaining his viewpoints. I often end up posting links to his articles when questions come up regarding 1Cor. 11. It saves me time because I’m in agreement with a large percentage of his articles and he does better at debating than I do. 🙂

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      • I have been wondering what would happen if, or when, persecution comes to our land, would we as Anabaptists still require the veiling on a full time basis, thereby making our wives, daughters, etc… an easy prey to those who would do us harm. While we as men could continue to go about our lives unless captured where we meet in secret for church! That would be like those persecuted in the past trying to build a church in the middle of town. We may rethink the whole application if the time comes to our generation.
        A friend of mine, who recently took off the covering altogether(his wife), said Paul states in one of his letters that it should not be our clothes, jewelry, etc… that portray a new life in Christ, but the inward person. He asked me if I go to town and see 2 women, one a Mennonite and one a Baptist, which one is following that verse correctly. Although I agree with his statement, I also believe there is a time and a place for the veiling to be practiced.

        Secondly, If the women’s veiled head is an ordinance shouldn’t the men’s uncovered head be an ordinance as well?

        My last question, after Christ ascended and Paul began his ministry, he spent a lot of his time tossing out Jewish custom’s(laws and applications) preaching that it is faith in Christ and that alone that has the power to save. How does adding an action (putting on the veiling) fit into his letters? It just seems a bit confusing to me that circumcision is tossed and then he adds a rule later. Any help clarifying this would be welcomed!

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      • Those are some interesting thoughts. If the only thing that sets our women apart and declares their Christianity is a piece of cloth on their head, then yes, I could see that it could be a temptation to drop it if persecution came. But hopefully dropping it, (or wearing something that looks more like the rest of society) would not be enough to end persecution. That said, I understand the point you are making that the women stand out and are noticed more than the men.

        Your second question resonates with me. “If the women’s veiled head is an ordinance, shouldn’t the men’s uncovered head be an ordinance as well?” That is a good point. And you could also add a whole list of other things to that as well. Why should only seven biblical commands be elevated as being more important than other commands? 🙂 Dwight Gingrich has an essay about the seven ordinances that you might find of interest. http://dwightgingrich.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/125-Years-of-Seven-Ordinances-DGO-Preview-2015.pdf

        Your last question I don’t know that I really have a satisfactory answer for. One thing I can affirm is that it is faith in Christ alone that saves us. The other directives that were added are not for salvation nor are they proof of salvation.

        One thing I would note is that the putting on of the veiling was not the only action commanded. For example, in Acts 15:29, we are also told not to eat meat offered to idols, not to eat blood, and not to eat meat from an animal that was strangled. And yet, not doing these things will not save us either– just as a woman following the command to wear a head covering while praying can not base her salvation on that. I have been known to eat my steaks a bit rare at times and yet it has not caused me or anyone else to question my salvation. Paul also says in 1Tim. 2:8 that men should “pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” It’s a rare thing to see any Anabaptist men obeying this action, but it never causes us to question their salvation. And for the few that do it, I doubt they view it as having saving power. So why do it? They are all just acts of obedience and one should not be held in higher regard than another.

        Farther back on the comments someone had posted a link to a sermon that might even answer some of your questions. I’ll post that here again.
        http://ellerslie.com/sermons/eric-ludy/2-15-15/a-pastors-dilemma

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  8. As a woman who has wrestled with the wearing or not wearing of a covering I think you have no idea of the pressure a woman feels to NOT wear one! We want to hide in a crowd, we do not want to stick out like a sore thumb, I do not want a covering to draw attention to myself – I want to fix my hair pretty like most females do. This struggle is very real – been there, done that. But the LORD taught me something about the application of the wearing of the veiling .

    I was a volunteer counselor at a crises pregnancy center. We females were told to never counsel a male. If one were to come in we were to call a male who was always supposed to be ready to come on a moments notice.

    The day came when I was working alone and a fellow said he wanted to come in and talk with us. I told him to come on and went to the phone to find a male to take care of him. I could not find anybody! No one! I panicked – what was I going to do?? In His loving kindness the Holy Spirit came through. He said, “would you refuse to give a male a drink of water just because it is a male?”

    “No”, I said.

    Then He asked me “what do you have on your head?”

    “A covering.”

    “What for?”

    “For power, authority…”

    “Ok, then, use it!”

    “Yes, Lord!”

    And I did. With joy and delight.

    Don’t remember what the fellow’s need was but that day the LORD taught me a powerful lesson and I am so glad. I do not ever want to be ashamed of the symbol and if it means I stick out like a sore thumb, so be it. It has provided me with many opportunities to witness because I stick out like a sore thumb. I am a daughter of the KING! How can you beat that?!

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    • For Prayer and Prophesying. Prophesying means, to speak forth by divine inspiration; to predict. It also means to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise of the divine counsels or, under the like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others. When a woman makes known the will of God be it when she is teaching her children, serving others, teaching other women, singing praises, or as in your case coming to the aid of ones in need the covering compliments her ministry and show by who’s authority she proceeds. The covering magnifies the God she serves. It becomes an amplifier of his love. The problems come if it ever turns into a measuring stick.

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      • and yet men do those same things while wearing a hat but it’s not considered shameful…& that’s having a double standard.

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  9. I appreciate your article and view. I however found great freedom when I stopped feeling bound
    to wearing a head covering. Just my opinion.

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  10. “We want the woman’s head covering to give a statement of representation of which Anabaptist church she belongs to.” I do not know if you realize how much this is tied into our European heritage… I was in museum in Romania once that specifically pointed out the differences from one village to another in the covering and other points of dress… It drove this fact home to me… Thanks for a well written article..
    On the comments on the hair as a covering to me I think of it as ” the hair is given for a covering to cover” The greek words used would seem to indicate that as a valid meaning… And there should not be any problem with weather protection worn as well….

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  11. Seems like there is some confusion in the use of the word cover. In the greek we have two completely different words (use the Strong’s concordance) and makes it clear why the hair is not the veil
    As to the man covering his head, I cannot comprehend how we can make a veil out of a hat. The reason for the removal of the hat etc. is an act of reverence and not 1 Cor, 11, ( some remove their hat in the presence of a president, a coffin being carried by etc,)

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    • Scripture doesn’t tell us what the woman’s head covering should look like–only that she is to cover her head while praying or prophesying. Likewise it doesn’t say that a man can have certain kinds of head gear on his head but not others while praying or prophesying. It only says that he needs to have his head uncovered. I would think that would include a hat because it covers your head.

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    • I am glad males remove their hats in various social, religious affairs. It just seems to be the natural thing to do – and maybe this is nature teaching us? Having said that I am also aware of certain religious groups – Jews, Orthodox, Catholic leaders, Muslims – where males do wear a cap, or religious head gear. Seems to me this principle has more applications then what we see in our own Mennonite/Anabaptist communities.

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  12. The enemy of our souls doesn’t care if we fall into idolatry on one hand or disobedience on the other. He just wants to distract us from total submission and obedience to Christ, in any way possible.

    Those who are ready to submit to Christ and obey Him don’t need to understand the reasons why. They trust that He knows what’s best for them, so they don’t need to have it all figured out.

    If you’re struggling with this area, try something really simple. Pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, today I choose to submit my will completely to your will. I choose to obey You, even if I don’t understand. I know that disobedience and rebellion are sin against you. I repent of all disobedience and rebellion in my life, and ask you to forgive me for these sins and cleanse me from them. I don’t need to understand why You ask me to do something, but I do need to understand what to do. What are You asking me to do with 1 Corinthians 11?”

    And then be quiet and let Him speak to you. If you mean what you pray, He will be faithful to teach you and guide you.

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  13. This is a very strong post, and even if you were dead wrong on everything else, and I say IF, you hit the nail on two areas that should be very concerning to those who believe, practice, and teach head covering for women. In my experience, the head covering absolutely has become an idol with many fingers pointing at women who used to cover, how they covered, how they cover now as opposed to how they used to cover, etc. In many ways, it has become tied to feminine salvation and that is an issue worthy of exploration. Second, the strong emphasis on varying styles of headcoverings has come to symbolize little more than team colors and conference loyalty. The latter is also worthy of greater discussion. Thanks for a thought provoking article on all sides.

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    • I like how you put it, “the strong emphasis on varying styles of headcoverings has come to symbolize little more than team colors and conference loyalty”. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment–and for the kind words. 🙂

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  14. I don’t think equating a hat a man wears just because he wants to or for warmth with the Christian woman’s veiling is fair. If a man wears a hat as a religious symbol or as a practice of his “Christianity”, that – to me – is a violation of 1 Cor. 11. I’m not sure why a Christian lady would ever not want to wear what Scripture tells her to do …
    I remove any hat I’m wearing before public prayer because it is the respectful thing to do. There have been times when my wife and I have prayed together just before falling asleep or just after waking up and she didn’t have her head veiled. Christ wants consistency – not legalism.

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    • I agree, Christ wants consistency–not legalism. And I like the example you use for that of praying while in bed. I think the same could be true if a man left his hat on to pray when it was cold.

      You say that the only time that you would view a man to be in violation of 1Cor 11 is if he wears a hat as a “religious symbol”. However, 1Cor. 11 doesn’t say that the man is not to pray with a religious symbol on his head, only that he is to pray and prophesy with his head “uncovered”. And a woman is not commanded to pray with a “religious symbol” on her head. She is only commanded to cover her head while praying or prophesying.

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      • Another problem with your argument, Jason, is that we as humans seem to be making the distinction between what is a “religious symbol” and what isn’t. Why should a piece of cloth be any more religious than a hat? The passage simply says women should conscientiously cover their heads; it doesn’t specify with what they should cover their heads. Wearing any type of covering, a hat, a veil, a scarf, is a symbol focused on the heart behind it, not on the object itself. I don’t think we, as humans, should place bounds or specifics on what a covering is, because that is adding to the Scriptures. Paul did not specify and, in my opinion, neither should we.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. In all the passion and emotion surrounding the head covering and its status, I have never heard anyone address the question: “Is the material covering effective or symbolic?” In other words, does that piece of fabric accomplish something, or does it symbolize something? Anabaptists have always vigorously opposed any ceremony or object as being effective–except for this one item. Answering this question with integrity changes the nature of the discussion, in my view. And it helps us consider how this has become the central issue among many. In addition, some of the previous comments that put this in the same category as that of moral-immoral behaviour seem desperate to make people take it more seriously. Is the “command” that “men everywhere lift up holy hands in prayer” also on the level of a morality command?

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    • That’s an interesting question, Merle. In other words, using traditional though extra-biblical theological terms with their common definitions, is the covering a sacrament or an ordinance? (If it’s effective, it’s a sacrament; if it’s symbolic, it’s an ordinance.)

      I would first suggest that the issue isn’t the covering itself, but that act of covering the hair. I think it’s important to get away from venerating an object and focus instead on obeying a teaching. That reminds us that we are not merely putting a symbol on our head (which may or may not cover anything), but we are doing something (covering the head). But this still leaves your question valid: Is covering the head effective or symbolic?

      I would suggest that Paul points in some ways to both. Covering the head is clearly symbolic in that it reflects unchanging realities, headship order relationships which remain true whether or not anyone actually covers their head. On the other hand, we could say it is effective in that it is a way for a woman to honor her head (11:5). And obedience to any apostolic teaching is effective on multiple levels–effective for honoring God, effective for our own spiritual growth, effective for making our calling and election sure, and so on. (These varied forms of “effectiveness” are one reason why I am a little uncomfortable with the forms of sacramental theology that single out a handful of activities as being uniquely effective in some salvific sense.) I am also reluctant to divide NT teachings into “morality commands” and other teachings. While I fully agree that some commands are more central to Christian ethics (love God, love your neighbor), I think willful disobedience of any NT teaching can be a moral matter. That said, I do agree that it is reasonable to expect a fellow believer to understand and obey “love your neighbor” long before they might (in our current theologically diverse context) understand and practice 1 Corinthians 11.

      I’d be interested to hear more of what you’re thinking. Do you want to explain your thoughts further on this? Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. In a culture where the church assumes authority for elevating human tradition and matters of personal conviction to the level of a moral issue, (i.e., setting boundaries of fellowship, communion, and belonging on the basis of what women wear, or if a man owns a TV) it would follow that there would be understanding and support for the church that assumes the authority to demote a moral issue, like homosexual practice, to a matter of personal conviction. Why not?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Is this what happened in the Mennonite Church with the teachings of people like Daniel Kauffman who taught that the headcovering was an ordinance and therefore the church had the authority to mandate what it would be? I am wondering if anybody knows if churches that accepted Kauffman’s “Doctrines of the Bible” and his teaching on uniform dress and denominational structures are now the ones who are accepting gay marriages?

      Liked by 1 person

    • You bring out an interesting point, Merle. When people blindly follow traditions that are elevated by church authorities to the level of a Biblical command, it would make sense that these same people would also then be accepting of a Biblical command being demoted to a the level of just a tradition.

      It seems often that those who leave very strict congregations (such as Amish or other ultra conservative Anabaptists) often seem to be confused with “what is actually necessary to do?” I have seen them then throw everything out (including Biblical commands), because if this doesn’t really matter, why should that? If their foundation is on the teachings of man rather than the commands of God, it is not a strong foundation.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. LEGALISM:
    When we say “The Bible does not say a man cannon wear a hat so its not sin”, that sound like legalistic thinking to me. The Bible does NOT say we can’t smoke weed, so would we all agree that we can smoke weed because the Bible does not say its a sin? Or what about heroine? Or do we have a “legalistic tradition” that says we should not smoke weed or do drugs? If we follow the legalistic tradition not to smoke weed then it must follow that we will also accept homosexuality down the road? Am I following your (Daniel Kauffman) line of thinking?

    And by the way, the Bible does say we should greet one another with a Holy Kiss. So its ok to do drugs because the Bible doesn’t say it is sin, but we MUST greet each other with a holy kiss because the Bible says we should. So it must be a sin not to practice the holy kiss…

    The church (which is us) in a desire to OBEY JESUS asks us to wear a covering to be obedient to Jesus Christ and follow his teachings and we accuse them of being legalistic! Who cares on the style, lets not be so legalistic and pick on people who wear a certain style. If a group of people want to decide to wear a certain style of covering to obey Jesus’ teaching… PRAISE GOD!!

    Those who obey (Daniel Kauffman) if you will, will surely end up accepting homosexuality because they followed what the church said. I am confused… And by the way. It is the Mennonites who followed the reasoning of throwing away the covering in DISOBEDIENCE to Christ who ended up accepting homosexuality… Not those who held to wearing a covering ALL THE TIME in obedience to Christ!

    I thoroughly confused by this post…

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    • Sorry if I have confused you, Chris.

      When the Bible tells us to do something (command of God), we need to obey. When men then add to the command (application) and teach that it is equal to God’s command, that is when we run into legalism. For example, the Bible says women are to pray with their head covered. If a church then says it must be a specific material, shape, color, and size and says it must be followed exactly as prescribed or they can’t be baptized, take communion, or be a member; then they are equating their application as being equal with God’s Commands.

      If a church accepts applications as being as important as a Biblical command because that is what the church authorities said, then what if those church authorities start deviating from Scripture down the road? What if they lower a command as being only as important as an application? Will the congregation blindly follow because their foundation has not been on Biblical commands but rather man made applications? So if the church leaders add to Scripture and we follow, why not follow if church deducts from Scripture?

      You say “the Mennonites that followed the reasoning of throwing out the covering in disobedience” are the ones that are accepting homosexuality. I agree and I think that is what Brenda was getting at. But why did they throw it out? Was it because of the elevation of traditions/applications that were held as highly as a command of God? Did they blindly follow adding to Scripture and then blindly follow when Scripture was thrown out too?

      The same could be applied to the men. The Bible says men are to pray with their heads uncovered. If you then say “A man can never under any circumstances wear a hat”, that is your application. If you then teach that as a command of God, you are equating your application to God’s Word.

      I don’t know if this makes sense to you or if I’m only confusing you more. I am in the process of working on an article in which I hope to address some of this more thoroughly. Hoping to post next week, Lord willing.

      Dwight Gingrich has written several articles about this that you may wish to check out. Here is a link to one: http://dwightgingrich.com/tradition-in-nt-1-bad-examples/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Would you also say that if a church says someone cannot do drugs (even when the Bible does not specify this is wrong), then they are stepping outside of their bounds and their people will soon be accepting homosexuality.

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      • You also mention that when God commands something, we have to do it. That sound rather legalistic. You only focus on the legal ruling of God rather than focus on the heart! Again, if you only go by what God explicitly commands, there is wide open space for doing drugs and taking multiple wives (or does the Bible say this is wrong?) among many other things that I suppose you would find repulsive. And would you then say that the holy kiss (a Daniel Kauffman ordinance) must be obeyed?

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      • If you are referring to illegal drugs, that would fall under Romans 13, where we are commanded to obey the government. If you are referring to prescription drugs as medicine, then I don’t think the church needs to have any say in it. And if I came across as saying that anyone who teaches applications as commands will soon be accepting homosexuality, that was not my intent.

        Applications are not wrong. But if I stand back in judgment of others because their applications are not exactly as mine, that is wrong.

        I’m having a hard time following what you are arguing for or against. It sounds like you are saying that applications need to be taught as being equal with commands from God and enforced by the church, but commands from God need to be questioned because otherwise we “sound rather legalistic”.

        Not sure if your intent is just to just find anything in my words to argue about, (your tone sounds that way) but in light of 2 Tim. 2:23-24, I’m going to end this conversation.

        I would recommend again that you read that post by Dwight Gingrich. It might answer some of your questions.

        Liked by 1 person

    • About using drugs and the scriptures not mentioning it…. Scriptures tells us in 1Cor.3:17 “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

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  18. Chris,
    when God commands his children to do something such as greeting one another with a holy kiss. We do NOT have to obey. We have been given a free will. We may choose to do whatever we desire. The consequences of our choices, though, falls in our lap. When a child is commanded by his/her parents to do a chore – take out the trash or share time and toys with a sibling. That child has a free will to obey. If the child chooses to disobey, correction, many times looked on as punishment, follows. A selfish child, (a heart matter) disobeys more than a child who seeks the welfare of his siblings. (Also a heart matter)
    You seem to think that keeping God’s commandments are legalistic when, in fact, they are matters of the heart. In the book of John chapter 14 verses 12 – 17 (read) this is addressed. Verse 15 specifically states “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If you love me (a matter of the heart), keep my commandments ( what many call legalism.) A person cannot have a true heart for God if they do not keep His commandments. If the Spirit of God resides in you then obedience to His word is not burdensome. John 5:3,” For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow! Finally somebody is speaking my heart on the subject! I have often been frustrated and perturbed at how some have chosen to make the head covering central to their religious identity. Among many Anabaptist groups the head covering has been elavated to such an idolatrous level and so many commands of men have been added that just questioning their traditions surrounding it, and trying to get back to plain Biblical Truth on the subject creates panic and even hysteria.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “So many commands of men have been added that just questioning their traditions surrounding it, and trying to get back to plain Biblical Truth on the subject creates panic and even hysteria.”
      I have found this to be true as well.

      Questioning any traditional aspect of our head covering practices makes you an immediate suspect of “trying to get rid of the head covering practice altogether”. I have found the most dogmatic people will not even hear a word you say beyond the words “change” and “head covering” if used in the same sentence. 🙂

      But on the other hand, there are a lot of people (like yourself) who are recognizing that we have some discrepancies that need change. Pray for the Spirit of God to move among our people!

      Thanks for commenting.

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  20. Greetings,
    I have at least four objections to your methods of addressing the headship veiling in these posts. I don’t like to be argumentative, and don’t want to come across that way, although I know that online discussions can easily sound that way. I desire for the issues and applications of God’s Word to be looked at clearly and honestly.
    First, you combined two separate aspects of the headship veiling together in a way that is confusing and does not clearly show what is involved in the application of the principle of the headship veiling. The title, and presumably the main point of this post is to show the inconsistency of having a double standard, which you point out because and anabaptist application of this principle is for women to be veiled all of the time, but men cover their heads at times. That is a good question for consideration, but you used most of the post to criticize the specific applications and values that you see that some people put on the headship veiling. That has no use in finding a consistent application to the Bible principle for both men and women that you are supposedly addressing, but you carry this negative picture of obsessive regulation and the attributing of undue values to this practice over to your
    argument about how often the veiling should be worn and suggest that since all of this regulation and attributing of undue value on the practice is unbiblical, we should not believe that women need to wear a veiling all the time. The issue of specific application to the veiling for women needs to be separate from the issue of when women should be veiled, and when men should not be veiled. I would suggest taking out all of your criticism of specific applications and see how helpful in resolving this inconsistency the post is.
    Secondly, the picture of Anabaptists that you gave is not true, and I’m sure you know that. I don’t know if you could even find a single church that would ascribe to all of the thing’s that you said the anabaptists believe about the headcovering, and I know a great number who would not even be close to what you have portrayed. It could be okay to say that some of the anabaptist Christians hold to some of those things, but it is untruthful to paint them all with the same brush. You can come to my church if yours truly does endorse those beliefs about the headship veiling.
    Thirdly, you displayed a double standard in your own writing. You wrote how men are allowed to wear hats pretty much whenever they want to, even on the way to church, and it is accepted by the church so it must be okay for men to cover their heads. Why do you accept this acceptance by the church as right without questioning if it is Biblical like you question if women need to wear a covering all of the time? To be consistent, you need to consider both positions.
    Lastly, you tore down a lot of applications of scripture that others have made without showing what application would truly and consistently apply all of the teachings about the headship veiling. Only tearing down without offering a way forward will not lead people to a life that is more like Jesus’ would want them to be. Although, you haven’t laid out any position clearly, it seems like you think the way to reconcile these verses and to apply them consistently is to say that women don’t need to wear a veiling all of the time, so that you can say that men can wear hats whenever they want to, or the other way around. I might be wrong on your position, but that is all that I could see so you are welcome to say if that is not your position. I do not think that application is true to all that is said about the subject, and part of the reason that you may have come to that conclusion is because you have chosen a proof text without considering other things that are said. In your post about Application of the headship veiling, you said “The only thing that 1 Corinthians 11 says about the veiling is in verses 4 and 5.” That is completely false. The whole passage from Verse 2 through 16 is speaking about the issue of the headship order which is the basis for the women’s veiling. You should especially notice verse 7. It clearly says that a man should have his head uncovered without giving any time limitations, and the last part of the verse “but the woman is the glory of the man” means that in contrast to what was said about the man in the first part of the verse, the woman should be covered and it doesn’t give any time limitations. Another thing that you should consider is when the principle that the veiling symbolizes is in effect. That should be important to you since you say that the principle is the important part of the issue.
    One good commentary on this passage that you might like to consider is the Expositor’s Commentary of the Bible. (Available on esword software ).
    I could give the position that I believe is consistent, but I would like to know what you think is the right or best application first.
    I welcome anyone’s critique of my thoughts.
    Sincerely, Bradlyn Wadel

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    • Bradlyn,
      I will address each of your objections in the order you have given them.

      Your first objection seems to be the fact that I combined two separate subjects (the double standards in the Anabaptist church and the elevation of a command into an idol) into one document.

      When I first began working on the article, I deliberated putting it into two separate posts. But in praying about it, felt led to combine it in this manner because they seem to be so tied together. We can not change the double standard until we repent of the way we have elevated a simple command into the status of an idol. If it was too unclear and confusing for you, I apologize. I am not a scholar and do not claim to be one, so for any confusion within the article, I’m sure the fault is my own. My intention was to address the first (double standards) and then the second (idols) and then summarize. I’m not sure if that helps you in understanding it better or not.

      Your second objection seems to be simply that you feel that the things I wrote of regarding how the Anabaptists view the covering are untrue, and that you are “sure” that I know this as well. In other words you feel that I deliberately chose to write a lie, and then posted it online for all to read. Let me assure you, every word that I wrote– I believe. I believe it because I have seen it lived out in many of the churches in our area (including the one I grew up in). I have seen it in many Anabaptists churches in other states across the US. Does that mean every church has every single belief I spoke of? No, but Anabaptists in general hold to many of these beliefs in some form or another

      If you attend a church that does not believe the head covering is the evidence of salvation, that is great. That would then also mean that they allow women that don’t wear a covering to get baptized and partake in communion though, right? Because that is for ALL the body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:17).

      In your third opposition, you state that I display a double standard in my own writing because I “accept the church’s acceptance” of the men wearing hats whenever they want to. Just for clarification, I believe Scripture only says men need to pray with heads uncovered and women are to pray with their heads covered. I also believe whether a group of people decides together to add to or reject something that Scripture says does not make it truth. Let God’s Truth stand alone without adding or detracting from it.

      Your last objection states that I should not tear down an application without laying out another one to take it’s place. That would soundly defeat the purpose of my last article. God does not need me to add to or to replace His commands with my applications.

      I assume the church you attend has rules for what the covering must look like. What do you think would happen to your church if they made no rules for what it looked like?

      You make the assumption that I think women don’t need to wear the covering all the time. My view is simply this, a woman who believes she needs to cover her head when she prays will cover her head when she prays. She knows when she is praying– just as the man who takes off his hat knows when he is praying. Let the woman cover her head when she prays, whether that means she prays all day long, everywhere she goes, or if that means she prays off and on throughout the day.

      You then say this, “In your post about Application of the headship veiling, you said ‘The only thing that 1 Corinthians 11 says about the veiling is in verses 4 and 5.’ That is completely false.”

      Could I also say here that your “quote” is false? The only thing I could find in my Head Covering Application post to be even similar to what you claim I said is this: “The only thing 1Corinthians 11 says is that women are to pray with their heads covered and the men with their heads uncovered.” I believe that is consistent with the entire context in 1 Corinthians 11 that addresses the headship order. If you pull out verse 7 and attempt to have that stand alone, you are doing what you accused me of doing.

      Thank you for your honest and respectful critique. May you seek God’s approval more than man’s as you read the Word and continue growing.

      Liked by 2 people

  21. There is one part of I Corinthians 11 that always sticks out to me when I read it and that is the first part of verse 7, “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn.” In my experience the women who do not wear a head covering are almost always shorn. Isn’t this to be taken with just as literal an interpretation as the rest of the passage. Thoughts?

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    • Hi Chris,
      I think the verse you are referring to is actually verse 6. That word “shorn” in the Strong’s Concordance means to be shorn as a sheep is shorn. It carries the idea of cutting the hair very short. I think this verse really does well pointing out that the covering referred to in 1 Cor. 11 is not the hair. If the woman’s hair is her covering, this verse could not make sense.

      Paul is writing this at a time when prostitutes’ heads were shorn or shaved. Since this was a shameful thing, he is pointing out that for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered was just as shameful. Not sure if this answers your question..

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  22. I am a Mennonite woman. I have worn a head covering since I became a Christian as a young teen. At first I only wore it because “my church made me” and not for any conviction of my own. As I grew older I developed a conviction for it from the scripture, and wore the head veiling for personal reasons. Saying it’s the churches fault for us not having a conviction, in more than just the head covering, is like saying it’s ok for me to murder someone because I had a bad childhood. It is our decision what we do with our lives, we cannot put our lack of Christianity on anyone else. It’s ultimately our choice. I find much joy in sharing my faith, not the fact that I’m a Mennonite but the fact that I have a personal relationship with GOD. Often times these questions come from people wondering why I wear that thing on my head. It’s not an idol to me but it does present opportunities to talk of GOD and the Bible not my opinions or any other mans. The form of veiling I wear may not be exactly what God has in mind but I am doing it to the best of my ability and I know God accepts that.

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