Sunday, April 03, 2005

Uninformed musings on hair

Despite the seemingly comical title, I'm going to disappoint you again with a serious post.

A friend of mine asked the question/made the comment: "The other day I opened my Bible for personal devotions at 1 Corinthians 11. Verses 2-16 really confused me. In these verses it seems to imply that women should wear hats and if they are to pray without their head covered they dishonor their head, Christ."

I've been pretty much in the dark on this one myself for a long time. But as I thought about it, I decided to draft a hypothesis just to get my thoughts down. The more I wrote and thought, the more it seemed consistant with other apostolic teachings. I'm not claiming I've hit on the truth--that's just not something I would do without giving it serious study and seeking counsel.


For what it's worth, here's the guts of what I wrote. Please comment if you think I am wrong.

Questions I have:

What are head coverings meant to signify?
What are head coverings?
Have the significance of them changed over time?
Would it matter if it did (or does that detract from what Paul says in Corinthians)?

Here are my thoughts after reading through the passage again and doing a (limited) word study:

It seems like the case could easily be made that a "hat" or what-have-you is not the main issue, nor should we be too much distracted by this so that we lose sight of Paul’s true point. I think Paul is emphasizing the need for each of us to accept our proper roles especially when we come before God in prayer (before His very throne as it were). Man has no covering, which testifies before God that he accepts the leadership role God gives to him. By a woman's covered head, she signifies her contented submission to God's beautiful will and pattern for her life.

So do I think a literal covering is needed? Yes and no. Let me explain if I can.

Paul talks about the hair on one's head as a covering. Why should this not be the covering he is talking about to signify this submission? In our day, the hair isn't the only thing that signifies submission or a “gender role.” I think ultimately, this speaks to the idea at the root of the more broad issue of cross-dressing which is simply rebellion against God-given roles!

Some girls may ask, "so am I rebelling if I cut my hair too short?" I don't know because, I don't know the intent of your heart. I do know this: there ARE many shorter hairstyles that do not look in any way rebellious against natural femininity. It would probably end up being a matter of conscience for most—although not that we have license to rationalize carelessness. We ought to exercise care in our appearances. A little self-consciousness isn’t a bad thing in this case.

How about an example: What if a Christian woman is trying to look as imposing as possible to help her in a business related job? Good question. I don’t have the answer.

Yeah, I don’t know if you see any of that in the text. If anyone is considering replying, please do me one favor: read everything I said so I don’t get taken out of context.
<< Home 6 Comments:
Blogger Crystal said...

I have thought about this issue before because I friend of mine was on a kick for a while about how all woman should wear things on their heads. So we studied into at that time and pretty much came to the same conclusion that you drew. The principle is there but today the application has changed a little.

You did make one statement in particular that I really liked: By a woman's covered head, she signifies her contented submission to God's beautiful will and pattern for her life.
In today's society with it's messed up gender roles and marriage views it is easy to forget the real purpose of marriage and the beauty that God has placed in each role. Thanks for the reminder!

Also when I was looking into this issue I found that in Paul's day it was the woman who were temple maidens in the heathen temples and those that made their living on the streets who were did not cover their heads. So in that day there was a principle and a practical meaning to this counsel.

I have always thought this was sort of the same as the woman shouldn't wear pants issus. It depends on the attitude and reason which is behind them and how you wear them. I mean there are some being sold today that should not be worn by christan girls and woman in my opion. What do you think?

2:48 PM, April 03, 2005  
Anonymous Kat said...

I think you're right, Mark. Pretty much the issue lies behind what the woman's attitude and purpose is. Social context these days has pretty much dictated that "anything goes" so a lady's witness is less affected by it, but not altogether untouched. Whereas, like Crystal said, there were other meanings to having an uncovered head in the days that 1 Corinthians was written. Rather like having a tattoo nowadays. Which an issue for another post:)
I've had something of an experience with the hair thing. Freshman year up here I cut my hair short in a pixie cut (read: like yours but a little longer in the front.) My father was nearly livid when he saw it, since he grew up in a household and era when short hair was considered unfeminine, and therefore rebellious. He brought up 1 Corinthians 11 a good number of times, and while I myself rebelled at first, I came to realize that my hair was a stumbling block to my father, and if I wanted to maintain peaceful relations within the household, I was going to have to yeild to his will. So I grew it out for two years and donated it this past January.
What did I learn from this long and rambling tale? Simply this: Context has a lot to do with interpreting Scripture. I saw my short hair as practical, since it didn't take 20 minutes to wash every morning. But my father saw it as a direct violation of God's command for women to be "covered". I've since come to the conclusion that in order for my father to be happy, I will keep my hair short, but still "feminine" by his standards. My attitude remains the same towards short hair: that it is comfortable and practical, but if it is a stumbling block to other Believers, it isn't worth it.
In q Corinthians 11, vs. 13 and 15 in particular are important to note, in that we are to judge for ourselves. Long hair is a glory, we can choose for ourselves as women if we want that glory.
But also, we are not to debate over things like this if they are a source of contention. We are to be gracious to one another, and if that means you deal with a few more tangle in the hairbrush, so be it.
I support that with 1 Cor. 10: 23,24, 31-33.

12:31 AM, April 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't believe it when I saw that you blogged my "theological" question.It was the last place I would have expected to find your answer.
Thanks for clearing things up a little for me! It is starting to make more sense, now.

10:54 AM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger Crystal said...

Well said Kat...thanks for the practical example of the principle in action.

7:25 PM, April 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I was kind of curious how a young man would approach this issue, but you obviously handled it wisely----using Scripture in context. I personally wrestled with this issue for some time because a guy told me that he thought since I did not wear a hat to worship services then I was in rebellion. I didn't really care what the guy thought, but really struggled with those verses and read every commentary I could find...and basically came to the same conclusion you did. ><> --SB

8:03 PM, April 12, 2005  
Blogger Mark R said...

Sorry to let this one lapse...

Thanks to the ladies who have added their thoughts to the discussion. I'm glad I don't seem to be in any trouble with anyone :)

A post script will soon follow in case anyone is interested.

11:02 PM, April 12, 2005  

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