Monday, November 16, 2015

Is The Head Covering Literal, Symbolic Or Just A Spiritual Lesson To Learn?







Can You Give Me Information For The Issue Of Headscarf And Wearing Of Trousers In Africa?

Question : Am from Africa we have the issue of headscarf and wearing of trousers, I want some information about this.

Answer : Greetings in Jesus wonderful name! Yes I understand that in what ever corner of the world we Christians live in, this issue of head scarf and acceptable dress code for women particularly comes up because I believe it has some deep Biblical connotation to it.

Here is what Apostle Paul has to say about head covering, " 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. 13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God." (1 Cor 11:2-16).

Let us derive from the context what principles Apostle Paul is trying to teach and make us understand particularly women about Head Covering :

1) Paul the apostle praises the Corinthian Church because previously in his visit to Corinthians he taught the women about head covering, they were following him in the tradition that he had delivered to them.

2) According to Paul man should not cover their head but he expected women to cover their head because he says, the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. What does this mean to us? Is it based on culture that apostle Paul is saying this or he is saying based on eternal principles of God? The answer to this is without doubt based on eternal principles that God has set even before all creation (Psa 119:89; 138:2; 1 Tim 2:12-15), so we should see this and consider a eternal dimension that God is revealing. In other words, God is saying to all the women in all the world that no matter where they live in all the earth, Christ is kept as the head of man to instruct him with what ever He receives from God, and as a replica of it, God wants men to instruct women with whatever they receive from Christ (1 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Cor 14:34-37; Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-6; 1 Tim 2:13-14; 2 Cor 11:3; Rom 5:12). This is the hierarchy that God has set to keep.

3) When a woman covered her head, it kept her life as something unique only to the husband she has married or else if unmarried the right to reveal her to someone is in the hands of her father (1 Cor 7:36, 38-39). Because God has set a hierarchy through which His authority flows from heaven, if a man covers his head either with a scarf or by having a long hair he symbolically says that he himself is under authority of some other person which actually denies that Christ is supernaturally covering over his head and it is a shame for him to say publicly like that because man is not made to live like that but rather as a head of the family. At the same time any woman within the Church who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered says indirectly dishonoring herself that she is not under the authority of any male head in hierarchy either a husband for a married woman or else the father in case of a virgin unmarried girl. So according to apostle Paul for a woman to act against God's authority is equal to her being shaved to reveal a bald head which is a shame for a woman. In fact Paul does go to the extent of saying, if a women doesn't cover her head by giving in to the authority structure of either the husband or her father in willing submission to him that God has placed over her life, let her externally also be shaved or her long hair be cut rather than have internal rebellion and externally act as though she is good virtuous women of repute among the people of God. So the bottom line is that Paul the apostle says that if a woman thinks that it is a shame for her long hair to be cut and taken by force in front of others, let her learn to spiritually submit to the authority of either the husband or the father whom God has kept over her life and thus cover her head in reality spiritually and show it out to others physically by covering her head with a head covering of a clothe too.

4) For Apostle Paul to say, "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man." (1 Cor 11:7), according to the context does mean that God first made man in the image and glory of God in the beginning, for him to directly have communion with Him and hear His command to obey it, and to serve Him for the rest of his lifetime (Gen 2:7, 15-17). Woman is the glory of man which means that when women shield their sexual function from lust and give it to their husband only, they take up a God-given spiritual authority to put men in their proper spiritual place. Woman was made by God to have deep communion with God through submitting and obeying to man by trusting in God's sovereign hand over their lives rather than to stand as a leader herself under God in rebellion (1 Peter 3:5).

5) Again Apostle Paul says, "8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man." (1 Cor 11:8-9). Here Paul the apostle is referring to the creation story where God created woman out of the rib of man indicating that woman should live in communion with man and always should be close to his rib or bosom of his heart life (Gen 2:18, 20-25). God did not make man from woman, but rather woman from man in the beginning to show to the whole humanity of what he expects woman to do in this life, that is to be a good helper comparable to her husband in everything so that both of them can complement each other and shall become one flesh under the blessing of God. Man was created not for woman but for him to have close communion with God and then show to woman what it means to be in touch with God directly receiving instruction, so that woman who is made for man could replicate the same in her life to be in close communion with man and thus unitedly live under the blessing of God as one flesh physically. In other words, man who lives as the head of the family will receive God's instruction and in the same way the woman also will receive instruction from her husband, and as a godly woman she will get convinced personally being in communion with God. Then together as two witness they will teach their children the will of God to walk in their lives who will become the third witness when they grow up to have communion with God themselves personally, thus in the home anything from God will be established by two or three witnesses (2 Cor 13:1). Because these above verse ends with physical union between a husband and wife, it also does mean that when Paul said that “woman was made for man,” logically he means that woman’s sexual function was made to receive the man’s sexual function. Neither function is superior or inferior, and so there is nothing sexist or demeaning about this fact.

6) By acknowledging the fact of physical, soulish and spiritual intimacy between a husband and wife to be the reason behind God creating man first and then making woman out of the rib of man (Gen 2:22), then Paul says this is the reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority over her head indicating to all men that she belong to a man and that all men cannot take her for a ride and then throw her away as useless and without purpose. To be under God's order of creation does not bring woman under any kind of stress and shame, but rather will be full of satisfaction and honor. The good angels of God are always present to keep all those who fear God and obey his commands to be kept away from evil in peace and safety under the sovereign hand of God's power (Psa 34:7), but the evil angels are looking for people in rebellion to God and for those who disobey God's commandments so that they can take over their lives deceitfully and torment them and their families which lose the supernatural covering of the safety of God (2 Cor 11:3). Woman being weaker vessels if they do not line up to the authority structure of God by submitting to either her father being unmarried or husband in case she was married, such person can easily be deceived and attacked by the evil angels to bring shame and dishonor to her life (1 Peter 3:7). A woman who resists this loving care by her husband is robbing herself of the joy of being the “weaker” vessel and put herself in danger of being attacked by demonic deception which brings dishonor and shame to her. Thus for this reason of the evil angels who are fighting against women to destroy their lives (2 Peter 2:14; 2 Tim 3:6; Matt 23:14; 1 Thess 4:6; 1 Tim 2:11; Eph 6:12), apostle Paul says that woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head which can be either be a father in case of a unmarried woman and husband in the case of a married woman.

7) Finally Paul comes to support the women to say, "11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God." (1 Cor 11:11-12). Thus the misunderstanding that usually comes to many that Paul's message is sexist is refuted by Paul himself who says that though man and woman are co-dependent with in the married life, and nobody is bigger than the other when it comes to personal relationship with God (Gal 3:28). In other words, as like a man submits himself to God so must a wife submit herself to her husband through which both the man and the woman express their trust in God to be their head and sovereign over them all. The horizontal relationship for a woman with man should not be mixed and confused with the vertical relationship that both of them are supposed to enjoy in their relationship with God equally. Paul says that God put a equality of a husband submitting to his wife when he knows that God is speaking through her (Eph 5:21; Gen 21:12), which can be likened to a man coming out of a woman in birth as opposed to the time of creation in which the woman came out of a man which is God's way for us all to keep. Both man and woman are from God, so both of them must see to it that they keep God's commandments which is human's everything (Eccl 12:13-14).

So What Is The Conclusion About Head Covering?

Here is what Paul the apostle says and concludes about this very important matter, " 13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God." (1 Cor 11:13-16).

Whether to wear a head covering or not is given in to the hands of every woman and culture to think and judge. In other words, Paul is saying that he does not compel all the woman to wear a head covering as a law to keep, but rather he wanted them to be convinced themselves because of their faith so that out of love for God they will be able to follow Jesus (Rom 14:22-23; John 14:15, 23). Paul wants the obedience of every woman to become a outworking of the faith that expresses itself through loving obedience inwardly by submission to her husband and outwardly through head covering towards God (Gal 5:6).

Then Paul the apostle continues saying, "Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?" In other words, the answer apostle Paul is expecting to his question out of all the exposition and explanation that he has already given, he expects an answer no logically and spiritually. Apostle Paul explains that an answer "No," is perfectly fitting for the above question because, "14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering."

In other words, when man grows a long hair according to the nature of his body and look, the long hair becomes a dishonor to him as he will lose the long hair due to lack of ability to maintain through his strenuous work nature which brings more sweat through the pores upon his head which will cause hair loss, greasiness, bad odor and finally baldness which is usually a embarrassment for a man (Gen 3:19; Eccl 9:8; Deut 14:1; Lev 21:5; Isa 3:17, 24; Amos 8:10; 2 Kings 2:23-24). Even the very sign of baldness has been given by God to check for the possibility of leprosy in Israel which was actually considered a curse for sin against God (Lev 13:40-44; 21:5; 2 Kings 5:27). But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her because nature itself expresses that her long hair is given to her by God for a covering to keep her informed that she belong to someone privately and not to everyone. Also women being made by God to do less taxing work at home for cooking, and rearing the children both physically and spiritually, and along with that to do business for home needs to be met (1 Tim 2:15; 5:4, 14; Prov 31:10-31), she has enough time to maintain her long hair and keep it in good condition to maintain her feminine beauty. In other words, Paul the apostle has convinced the need for covering of woman's head as much as possible, according to the traditions of the times, according to God's creation, according to nature and make up of man and woman's physical body, according to the spiritual dimension of evil angels who look for disobedience to God's commandment, etc...

Coming to the bottom line, still Paul the apostle comes to one main point of the New Testament, What is it? Everything we do for God should be done out of love and gratitude for what He has already done for us (Rom 12:1; Rom 8:32; John 14:15, 23) and not out of compulsion or coercion which only the devil will do deceitfully to make others do his will (2 Cor 9:7; Gen 3:1-7).

Because this topic of head covering has become a contentious issue where it was enforced by some as a law within the Church, apostle Paul in his own words has made it clear, "But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God." (1 Cor 11:16). So the crux of the matter is, there is no custom of law for woman to keep the head covering as a rule, whether outside or inside the churches of God in all the world to make it as contentious issue to divide the churches for this simple thing which was actually based on the strong cultural influence and symbolic meaning of the first century which has continued in many culture still to our present times. But rather Paul wants the women to submit to their husband in obedience to God out of love for Him, then cover her head to symbolically say to all the people in the society that she is married women of chastity and is a godly woman of character who keeps her beauty only for her husband and not to cause distraction to men outside in the world or the Church of God (1 Peter 3:3-6).

The attitudes and arguments of those who today are opposed to this practice, or of those who think it is unimportant, are the very same attitudes and arguments which gave rise to opposition to the practice in first century Corinth. The head covering was perhaps seen as either “sexist” or of no particular significance, old-fashioned, tradition that has come from Judaism or some other thing, etc. Symbols have a powerful effect on our lives, and it is not safe to treat them with contempt, especially when the symbol in question has been appointed in Scripture itself. Paul nevertheless insists upon it implicitly, so that we would be asking how we may best obey it both in spirit and in the letter out of love for God rather than by compulsion. So finally Paul expresses, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a commandment of the Lord.” (I Corinthians 14:37).


We also still have the writings of the disciples of the Apostles, who lived in Paul's time and on, that discuss the very subject of head coverings. They too were first hand witnesses to what the Apostles taught and practiced as Biblical truth. What did they say? From the disciples of the Apostles like Tertullian (145 A.D.) and others, we can get the clear idea that only pagan priestesses and queens, prostitutes and lesbians went without veils. They all knew that to cover a women's head with a veil was already a universal spiritual knowledge. They simply addressed the spiritual reasons for wearing them and never against it. 

So head covering is a thing that every Christian women must be convinced enough based on what Paul has said to cover her head and keep herself in obedience to God both inwardly by submission and outwardly through covering their head with scarves or a decent head scarf covering symbolically. The head covering will always signify what Paul has said it signifies and it has not changed not even one bit.

Therefore, I would suggest that the elderly women teach the younger women to understand the great significance of head covering and show them how God has blessed them personally through such internal and external sign of submission to God's hierarchy that he has set for their Christian lives (Titus 2:3-4). This would teach the younger women to love God and obey His commandments rather than impose head covering as a religious tradition to keep.


I understand that women's hair in Africa is short and not long, God has given you such short hair according to the climate and the culture, but the commands of Bible whether symbolic or as tradition when it is passed on to us by the foundational apostles who by God's inspiration wrote the Scriptures, they are timeless truths for all generation to follow beyond one's race, culture, tradition or nationality (Psa 100:5). So may be the size of the scarf can be handy for African women who follow Jesus. Praise the Lord! For example the Indian women who wear Saree mostly use that long end of it that hangs behind their back to be used as a head covering for the head in the culture itself and also within the Church setting. So mostly I see their head covered within the Church even in our 21st century times in India. As Paul the apostle says, "every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head," (1 Cor 11:5), so let all women learn at least to use a head covering while praying or prophesying within the Church setting even if they do not have it all the time within the Church. Praise the Lord!

Wearing of trousers depend on the culture of your locality, if that is acceptable then you can go ahead and wear it. I mean trouser are an outer garment covering the body from the waist to the ankles, with a separate part for each leg. Sometimes, trouser. Also called pants. Even the trousers are different for men and women, they are not the same as some people point to Deuteronomy 22:5 to accuse women of cross-dressing to condemn them that the Lord hates these thing, when in fact these dresses point to dresses specially made for women like a Saree in Indian culture, Midi, Maxi, skirts, gowns or for man tight T-Shirt or Pant or vests or suit which the other should not wear as in the olden days Biblical culture. I mean though the pants of both men and women might externally look the same, yet the very measurement shape and size are unique to both gender and mostly one cannot use the other until it is done intentionally for cross-dressing. But consider the Christian basic that Paul the apostle says before wearing according to the culture you have, "9 [Let]...the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works." (1 Tim 2:9-10). Thus Paul the apostle was advising modesty without flesh being revealed anywhere that may cause lust in men, well-arranged hair and seemly or decent decoration in their outlook is what is recommended by Paul for Christian women. Also we see apostle Peter also had some advice for Christian women, "3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror." (1 Peter 3:3-6). Thus Peter emphasizes that the women be more concerned with inner beauty rather than just eternal beauty of decorating themselves. So he advises all godly women to grow in submissiveness to husband which is the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. In the same way in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Sarah called Abraham as lord by respecting him as the Lord God expected her to submit to him in reverence for God, even though he was not perfect and many times had failed to protect Sarah his wife. But God seeing Sarah's inner beauty to do only good to Abraham and finding her as a fearless faith filled women of God, stood for her and protected her and glorified her. This is the secret for a Christian woman, as they should understand it is not a set of rules to follow, but rather a relationship of love for God that they should grow in day by day to be pleasing more and more for the Glory of God.

Much Blessings....



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