Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Question of Headcoverings

Periodically our family receives questions regarding scriptural issues and last week we received one in regards to headcoverings. In speaking of a particular group of people it was shared . . .

"The women wear headcoverings. In your pictures you do not. Why?"

Below is my response to her, and it is shared here to provoke thought, and perhaps discussion regarding the issue: 


The question of why we do not wear headcoverings is a good one! This is a topic that we have devoted intensive scriptural study to, for if the Lord desired us to cover our heads with a cloth/fabric covering, we wanted to be obedient to Him! 

1 Corinthians 11 (the only chapter in the New Testament which suggests a woman covering her head) has been confusing to many and is surrounded with much controversy. The spiritual and physical roles of men and women is the primary focus of the chapter.

 It is clearly explained the order that God has placed men and women in . . . women in subjection to men, men in subjection to Christ, Christ in subjection to God. It is important to realize that this headship does not in the least lower the woman or make her a slave/servant—it is a beautiful role, just a different role than that of a man. Nor does this role lessen her in the eyes of God, make her less ‘spiritual’ or give her restricted access to the Lord. 

When examining this passage and striving to take it in context in its entirety and with the rest of Scripture, we came to the conclusion that wearing a physical cloth covering is not a practice commanded by the Lord. For us, this decision came through studying specifically verses 13-15 of chapter 11. In the original Greek these verses read: 

Among you [your]selves judge: fitting is it [for] a woman unveiled to God to pray? Not nature self teaches you that a man indeed if he wears his hair long, a dishonor to him it is, but a woman if she wears her hair long, a glory to her it is? Because the long hair instead of a veil has been given to her” (1 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The phrase “instead of a veil” is absent from English versions, but present in all the Greek texts (the Novum Testamentum Graece text [the foundation of many major Bible versions today], the Textus Receptus text [the foundation of the King James Version and the New King James Version] and the Majority Text.) 

The “instead of” is translated from the Greek word ‘anti’. This word has several different similar meanings including the word ‘for’ (which is what is used in the modern versions today), but as used in 1 Corinthians 11:15, it bears the stronger meaning of ‘instead of and/or in place of something’. 

Thus, the proper rendering of “the long hair instead of a veil has been given to her.” Basically the long hair is given instead of a veil; the long hair serves as the covering mentioned earlier in the chapter. 

The majority of English Bible versions today read something like: “her hair is given to her for a covering”. This translation greatly confuses the issue! But when looking at the different Greek texts, it was clear to us that long hair was the covering spoken of by God in 1 Corinthians 11; thus that is the reason why we ladies in the family wear our hair long. Not necessarily because we ‘like’ long hair (though, we do love it!), but because we desire to cover our heads in the manner that the Lord commands (1 Corinthians 14:37-38). (Though, in Scripture a specific length of hair is not mandated, it simply states that a woman is to have long hair that differs from the short hair of men.) 

Not only is the long hair the covering of the woman, it is also stated that it is “a glory to her.” Our long hair is a representative of the beautiful role that the Lord has placed us in . . . why would we cover with a veil what the Lord has given to us as our glory and covering? 

We do hope that this brief examination pertaining to headcoverings will be a blessing to you! If you have any questions or if we have not articulated something clear enough, please do not hesitate to ask!

*Edited to add: What is shared here is with the intent to stir thought and encourage one to examine this area of headcoverings. It is not intended to cause daughters or wives to go against the teaching and desire of their fathers or husbands. As women, we are commanded by the Lord to submit to our fathers or husbands . . . and this includes in this area of whether or not to cover our heads with a physical cloth covering. I hope that that clarifies this issue a bit! :) 

-Posted by Sarah

*Edited to add: A follow up post to this one has also been posted. It can be found here:
A Question of Headcoverings - Part 2


  1. I thought that head coverings were mentioned somewhere else in the NT... But I can't find where and am too tired too discover whether they are or whether I think wrong.

    Anyway, it was interesting to read your post. My sister covers full time, and I cover occasionally, partly because I like wearing bandannas and because (interestingly) I find that there often is a marked difference in my spirit when I cover than when I don't.

    It is quite funny that you posted this because only yesterday evening I was talking to my sister about it!


  2. Thank you for commenting on this post, Anna! I double checked, and unless I am missing something, 1 Corinthians 11 is the only passage in Scripture that speaks of headcoverings. :)

    We would like to encourage you to take a look at verses 13-14 of 1 Corinthians 11. And if you have any thoughts to share regarding it, please do! :)

  3. Hey I just wanted to say hi. I found your blog through Maiden in Waiting. I totally agree with you that our hair is given us for a covering. It's so sad and even frustrating how mixed up people get on this issue. I, of course, don't have ANYTHING against people that do wear one . . . I know someone who does. But I don't believe He requires us to wear one. If you would like, you guys can visit my blog May God bless and guide you as you continue to seek Him!

  4. Hello! I found your blog via Sydney's blog at While I Wait, and I thought I might as well go ahead and leave a comment while I'm here! :)

    My mother and I have done research on this topic as well, and have come to the conclusion that wearing a material veil is what 1 Corinthians is talking about.

    Since I have gotten many questions about this issue, I did my own study on it and posted it at my blog. You can read it if you want:
    The intention of that study is not to make the decision for others, but just to post my thoughts and views about the covering! ;)

    May the Lord bless you as you strive to serve Him!

    Looking unto Jesus,
    ~ Lacy

  5. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Felecia, and welcome to our blog! Thank you also for sharing your blog address . . . we will be taking a look at it! :)

  6. Welcome to our blog, Lacy, and thank you for your comment! We visited your blog and read what you shared regarding headcoverings. After receiving several comments and e-mails regarding this topic, we decided to write a follow-up post which will be coming shortly. It will, in part, address the concerns presented in your writing. :) Thank you again for commenting!

  7. Hello,

    I am Nastya, and your post has really interested me. I also believe that God has given us our hair for a covering - but after reading so many posts about people turning to headcoverings as truth and as a Biblically required standard, I began to feel a little discouraged and confused. I have never studied the subject to the extent that it seems you have, but my mother and I have never worn them. I went to her and asked her, and she was able to give me sound advice and point my thoughts in the right direction. I am considering posting on this subject as well - but I want to be very careful that I don't make this my religion, and become known as "Nastya - that girl who's against headcoverings." I don't want my life to show the salvation of no headcoverings but the salvation of Christ. I've realized how trivial these things really are - how the Bible actually speaks very little on modesty, and how he gave us the basic guidelines, knowing that if we submitted our whole will to him, modesty would come naturally. Thanks for the study!


  8. Oh, and I wanted also to add that my mother made a very clear point when she showed me that it said, after the headcovering verses, in verse 16, " But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

    Here is seems Paul was actually telling us not to make an issue out of that. I don't know, but that really shown clear to me. All confusion was cleared on the subject:-). I found it also confirming to see your study in the Greek. Thanks once more!:-)


  9. I recently found your blog and site. I have so much enjoyed it! I am also placing an order for my little girls birthday.

    I want you to know that I am so very impressed with your maturity and your desire to follow our Lord. I pray that as my own daughter continues to grow and mature, she will also retain a desire to serve Jesus.

    This head covering post is excellent. We personally don't cover but know several ladies who do. As you, we believe a woman's hair is her covering and glory.

    Mrs. B

  10. The ladies in our family have worn veils the past five years. When my Dad studied 1 Corinthians 11, he came to much the same conclusion as you shared in your post. However, our church practices the head covering and to honor the Lord by uniting ourselves with committed Christians, my Dad encouraged us to wear a covering. The bigger issue than what we put or don't put on our heads, is the attitude of our hearts. Are we willing to submit to our fathers/husbands and the Lord?

  11. Welcome to our blog, Nastya, and thank you for sharing your heart regarding this topic of headcoverings! It was a blessing to us! That is wonderful that you desire to and are able to discuss issues like this with your mother. The mother/daughter relationship is such a special one!

    You made an excellent point in that this is not an issue to be contentious about. Whether one wears a physical cloth covering or not, it is not a salvation issue, but is something that each one of us should examine scripturally while always remaining under the leadership and guidance of our fathers.

    Thank you again, Nastya!

  12. Welcome to our blog, Mrs. B, and thank you for your encouraging words!

    We are glad that this post was a blessing to you, and we appreciated what you had to share. We, too, know several ladies that wear a cloth covering . . . and as another commenter shared, it is certainly not something to be contentious about! :)

  13. Thank you for sharing a bit about your journey, Amy! It was a blessing and encouragement to read of your submission to your father in this area. And as you shared, the heart of this whole subject is submission to our fathers (or husbands). Thank you for bringing up that vital point!

  14. What a beautiful blog that shows your heart for God! It's so encouraging to see young ladies that love the Lord and take time to research things such as headcoverings. We have a few families in our church that wear headcoverings, and although we believe like you do, we believe it's one of those areas that if you feel God, your husband, or father wants you to wear one you better! Keep up the good blog work!!

  15. Welcome to our blog, Krahn family! Thank you so much for your encouraging words and for sharing your thoughts on head coverings. Both were a blessing to us! You brought up the most important aspect of this whole discussion . . . obedience and submission to first of all the Lord, and also to those whom He has placed in authority over us. Thank you for sharing!