Head Coverings: The Pain and the Privilege
[Guest Author: This article was written by Carlton McLeod. If you’re interested in guest writing for the Head Covering Movement please contact us.]
Carlton McLeod is a native of Columbia, SC and grew up in Upper Marlboro, MD. In 1987, he enlisted in the United States Navy and reached the rank of O-3 before the Lord called him into full-time ministry. In 1997, Dr. McLeod and his wife Donna established Calvary Revival Church Chesapeake. Dr. McLeod is relentless in his pursuit to compassionately teach with a biblical worldview. After spending his early years in ministry attempting to pull young people out of the kingdom of darkness with all the world’s methods, the Lord led Dr. McLeod back to the Bible to see the critical need for constant, fervent, and Spirit led biblical family discipleship. The D6 Reformation was created out of this desire. Dr. McLeod earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science from Hampton University; a Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry from Andersonville Theological Seminary. He and his wife Donna have been married since 1992 and they have two beautiful daughters, Dori and Aryanna and a son, Jonathan.
In January 2013, the Lord prompted me to teach through the Epistle of First Corinthians, line by line. Knowing what was in this Pauline letter to the church at Corinth, I was excited, but nervous. Why? Because of the implications of actually being obedient to what was written therein. In fact, I “double-checked” with the Lord in prayer in an attempt to discern if this was in fact His will for our congregation. I asked the other elders. We talked about it and prayed. Why all this consternation? Because First Corinthians is a scary book; other parts of Scripture would have been much easier! In May of 2013, we prayerfully began, finishing in December 2014.
Well, I can say my fears were founded. The Epistle shook our church. Why? Because we refused to simply ignore or explain away tough passages and actually worked our way through them in context as best we could. And as a result, we upset people. We lost some people. I was and have continued to be subject to increased criticism. Again…why? Because this section of Holy Scripture contains many things people in the modern era do not like, particularly in the areas of church discipline, gifts, church order, and women’s issues. That is the bottom line.
In particular, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 was exceptionally challenging. I did the best I could to explain the Text, in the historical context, and even took the time to demonstrate how the church throughout its history responded to this ordinance. Nevertheless, it was difficult for many women in our congregation to hear. Some left our church. No one ever said it was over the head coverings sermon, but I knew. On the bright side, a small number began to cover. Others have covered, and stopped, and started, and stopped, and started… Our men continue uniformly NOT covering.
I must confess that I didn’t really understand how the head covering verses would affect our wonderful ladies. As a man, I just didn’t get it. Wrestling with shame? Dealing with embarrassment? Different fashion choices? Modesty issues? Having to process one’s self-image? Having to fight against feminist indoctrination? The whole “hair” subject in general? Submission to male authority? All these things and more were rolled into a piece of cloth on the head during times of prayer and prophecy. I thought I “got it.” Turns out, I didn’t.
Nevertheless, we worked hard to make sure no one felt judged. Some did anyway, which is heartbreaking. I suppose the visible nature of the symbol kind of causes that. With as much love and grace as we could muster, all the ladies were given a choice to cover or not based on their family’s decision, but it has been hard to move on. Literally it has taken us a full year to recover.
On a much happier note, our church is also stronger. We gained people too. We deepened our faith. We took these apostolic directives seriously, and God has “blessed us in the doing!” (Jam 1:25) Yes, it looks and feels a little odd…a church that is attempting to apply biblical directives without compromise in 2015. We make tons of mistakes Lord knows, but we are trying. Thank you Jesus for grace!
This Epistle does indeed challenge the all-too-often man-centered modern church, and that in my opinion is a good thing. The American church is suffering now in part, because we refuse to take God at His Word. In fact, I believe the church has lost her prophetic voice…her willingness to declare what thus says the Lord, and the entire world is hurting as a result. (I wrote extensively about this in my book, The Playbook: Five Strategic Plays to Restore the Prophetic Voice of the Church in America.)
Without a doubt, 1 Corinthians brought some pain. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t declare that it was indeed a privilege to hear what thus says the Lord in this Epistle, and do our very best to obey Him, regardless of the cost.
Soli Deo Gloria!
You can watch Bishop McLeod’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 below: