The Dangers of Reactive Theology: A Word to those with a Bad Head Covering Experience
I listen to a lot of music and for me it’s one of those things that are most connected to specific events in my life. Certain songs or albums recall vivid moments from my past. One song reminds me of a high school dance, another reminds me of my wedding day while another recalls living in a certain place. I’m sure you’ve experienced this too where you hear a certain song and you’re instantly taking a trip down memory lane. This extends beyond music too as your mind can connect almost anything to past events that will open the floodgates of memories when you think of it. Your particular object then becomes symbolic of a past time or event. This is wonderful if it’s connected to a good memory, but not all are.
Growing in Grace
Though head covering is now a minority view, certain groups have continued this practice to this day. Unfortunately, many of these groups hold to heretical teachings and/or are legalistic. When one is a part of these bad churches, head covering often is seen as one of the things that separate them from other churches. It becomes a distinction of that particular church/movement and becomes closely associated with it in ones mind.
When one puts their faith in Christ, a process called sanctification begins. This process is where the Lord makes us more like Him as we grow in our knowledge of Him and repent of sin. As we grow, we often find out that many of the things we thought were true, were not Biblical. We also find our approach and attitude needs correcting as it’s not fuelled by grace and biblical love. Many will find themselves convicted by patters of harshness, judgmentalism and/or contentiousness. As the Lord grows us, those who are in these bad churches will find that they no longer agree with the teaching or approach of their church in many areas. Since the Lord is changing how you see things, your desire to remain in that church/movement wanes. When one comes to understand more of the love of Christ and the depths of Grace they often experience feeling FREE for the first time. The person having experienced this new found grace will often leave that bad church as well as the teaching and practices that were closely associated with it. It is at this point when many women will stop covering their heads in worship and may start to look upon this doctrine negatively. As this shift happens, the good often gets thrown out with the bad.
Just like a certain song reminds me of a past memory, a head covering may remind you of a past time. For many people, that memory is not good. The head covering in your mind may remind you of that time you felt trapped under bondage, legalism and guilt that it makes it hard for you to objectively consider what 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 teaches. You may now feel love, freedom, grace and closeness with Christ like never before and reconsidering head covering sounds a lot like reconsidering prison when you’ve been freed. I sympathize but must warn you that this is dangerous ground. When we allow our emotions and experiences to LEAD our study of Scripture we will likely neglect true teachings and practices. We must fight hard to try to understand what the Lord says apart from our past experiences. If the Scriptures teach it and it’s true, you can have confidence that it can practiced it in a way you may not have experienced before. You can practice it in the midst of your current relationship with the Lord without going backwards and re-taking on chains.
At HCM we hear from people regularly who have had these bad experiences with head covering. I’d like to share some of their comments anonymously so you can see the pattern for yourself.
“I do not cover because I don’t believe it will affect my salvation! I was raised with a mom who did and still does so its not anything to new to me.”
“My wife and I will not participate in a practice that is so prevalent among many churches, knowing they are so deeply connected to a lifestyle of the Pharisees.”
“This is why my wife does not wear the covering. She grew up in an Amish Mennonite community where the covering was practiced and taught with such aggressiveness that it became as important to daily life as salvation in Jesus.”
In each of these examples, the teaching of head covering was connected to something negative. The reason for their rejection was not based upon an in-depth study of 1 Corinthians 11, but a bad experience. A mom and a church taught it was a matter of salvation, another saw it as connected to legalism (Pharisees) and the way in which it was taught (aggressiveness) turned another off. If you can relate to these comments or have experienced what they’ve gone through please allow me to challenge you. If you wore a head covering before you discovered the gospel of Grace, fullness of joy in Christ and/or freedom from legalism, the thought of wearing a covering again may remind you of that dark time and you may be hesitant to do so because of it. However, this is where it’s important to try not to react. Try your BEST (and pray for help) to separate the covering from that bad point in your life. With an open mind, carefully study 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and if you agree that it should be practiced today, remind yourself of what God designed it to symbolize. It’s meant to teach us of the created differences of men and women, not to be a reminder of bondage. The Lord commands us to practice it and because of that it’s GOOD. If we don’t see it that way, it’s our thinking that must be corrected.