Re: Christian Women and the Head Covering

Well folks, I’ve decided to move my personal rantings on Christianity and related issues to this blog. So I’ll start of by first answering a comment to my post about Christian women and the head covering which I made in my now solely “technical/technology” blog.

 

To keep things in perspective, I’ve met some very strong feminists, some of them “Christian” women. However, after my interaction with them they find that I do agree a to lot of things that they complain about on how the world in general and men in particular have treated women in history. In fact they find it hard to place me – on their side or against them. However, the day I read this – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:22) – was the day I fully understood that men have a very huge responsibility of love and sacrifice to their wives.

 

A lot of the actions of men in history – and especially “Christian” men – cannot be justified when compared to this text. But Peter says “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Pe 3:15-16). Paul also points out that “… On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Co 4:2b). So let this discussion and every other discussion be a discussion of truth based solely on respect for the whole counsel of God, not one of emotions or expedient advantage. Since I’ve been reminded of the cultural context of what Paul said in 1 Co 11:2-16, I’ll also like to remind us of the “creational” context of this same passage.

 

Paul starts v 2 by praising the Corinthians for remembering him and for “holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you. One thing that Christians of today do not realise (or refuse to accept) is that there was a very strong insistence on patterns and conformity in the New Testament (NT) times. Ac 2:42 says “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”. Of course our modern day liberalist Christianity quickly (mis)quote “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Co 3:17). I’ll be glad if that passage was also subjected to a contextual analysis because, from v 7 to 18, Paul was comparing the glory of the New Covenant to the Old one. Compare it with Gal 5:1-15, and especially with v 13. Back to the point, he says again “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 The 2:15), “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. The concern of the apostles was that their converts might be men and women who would in all ways be found worthy of the calling of Christ to the glory of inheriting his kingdom with him. They therefore stood strongly against non-conformity and did not tolerate such deviations. Paul say “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Co 11:2). However, that much cannot be said of us today.

 

In the next verses of 1 Co 11, Paul makes a statement of fact as the wording of v 3 goes – “Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”. This is the foundation of the whole argument I’m putting across. Though some may say that 1 Co 11 was all about a cultural slight, I think without reservation that Paul’s statements here should be judged in the light of this verse. He further buttresses it with v 7-9 “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the 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.” If our discussion is based on a search for truth, then we would find that Paul has only recounted the order of creation. And as Christians, we are to do and respect the will of the Father. It was the will of the Father that man be created before woman, and that woman be created out of man. God didn’t create people according to my will, neither did he do it according to Paul’s. And so Paul bases this whole “pattern” or teaching of head covering for women on the premise of respecting God’s order of creation.

 

Verse 10 say For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sing of authority on her head”. Now many people have tried to explain the “because of the angels” to no avail, and I’m not about to do that simply because I’ve not been led to understand fully the implications of that phrase. Also the KJV uses the phrase “the woman ought to have power” on her head. Refer to my previously “offending” post to find out what comments there are on that phrase. However my focus is on phrase before the comma: “for this reason”. Having laid down the premise, he states clearly a command that Christian women and men today cannot swerve. Also it is worth noting that this command is only given in respect of the worship in a congregation or during prayer (v 5). He does not make it a requirement for everyday life activities and neither should it be. It is only that when we are before our God we must show our reverence for his will and respect for him, including for his decisions in creation. For the men this command translates to not wearing caps, hats, scarves, long hair etc. during worship or prayer. To end his whole argument, Paul say this “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice – no do the churches of God” (v 16). What else can I say?

 

As for the fact that when women are children they did not cover their hair and so there is no real big deal why they should do that now they are old, I’ll again refer to what Paul says in 1 Co 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish ways behind me”. You’d agree that when you were a child, you had not and could not meaningfully say that you had received Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. You were therefore not bound to obey the guidelines laid out in the Bible, granting you liberty to do what you want. Now that you have willingly and knowingly accepted him first as your Saviour, then as your Lord (and a lord is to be served and obeyed), you have no excuse for continuing in the ignorance of childhood or of your old sinful life as an adult.

 

I think we keep forgetting what Peter, Paul and the other apostles’ commission was – “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith (Ro 1:5). Faith and obedience are inseparable. We cannot say we have faith when we won’t obey. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb 11:8).

 

Christian women should realise that the word of God is meant to be obeyed. The feminists of today will come and go with their religious zeal for equality, but the will of God will not change. Yes, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman” (v 11). But I’m not prepared to challenge God about the way he created me and the responsibilities he has placed on me as a man, and the guidelines he has put down for me on how to treat women (especially my wife), and neither will I encourage anyone else who wants to do otherwise.

 

Suffice it to say this, “As for the person who hears my word and does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” (Jn 12 47-48).

 

Quotes are from the NIV version of the bible. All mistakes are mine please, not the bible’s :-).

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