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Jeremy’s Journey: How the Head Covering Movement came to be

The Head Covering Movement: A History

I’ve received some requests asking me to share my own personal journey of coming to believe in head covering and how this movement came to be. I’d love to share that story with you today.

A Change of Mind

I always thought the wearing of an actual head covering was applicable today, but clung to what I thought at the time was Paul’s great escape clause, “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” (1 Cor 11:16 ESV). I didn’t think the teaching was culture bound, but rather, optional. If you’re going to get all worked-up about it, just don’t practice it is how I understood Paul. 1) See reason number 4 – ‘Church practice‘ on the main page of this site for how I understand this verse now. In 2009 my family moved to Manitoba, Canada and my wife and I were befriended by a family who wore head coverings. The thing about head coverings is they’re a visual reminder that you must have a position on what 1 Corinthians 11 is about. You are forced to deal with it if it’s in front of you all the time. Amanda (my wife) started researching the topic and then asked me to join her in wrestling through the various views. That lead to many weeks of studying to arrive at our own conviction, followed by many more months of studying to be able to properly defend this doctrine. Amanda started covering very early into our study and for about a year she covered full time (not just during worship). At the time we were attending a small Egalitarian church (though we weren’t ourselves) and Amanda was the only one who covered there. To this day we’ve never been a part of a church where covering was the majority and up until last year, she’s always been the only woman in church who covered.

In my studies, I was really disappointed to find a lack of quality material available on head covering. Many of the materials had an anti-intellectual bent or would promote various other practices that I didn’t believe were Scriptural. All of the teachers I greatly respected didn’t believe in head covering and I couldn’t find anyone seriously engaging their arguments. There wasn’t any one resource that I could point to and whole-heartily recommend. I wanted to change that.

The Book

The 5 Reasons For Head Covering (Unpublished book by Jeremy Gardiner)

My family left Manitoba after six short months and moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland. During that time, I began writing a defense of head covering with the purpose of having a booklet I could release for free. I figured if there wasn’t a resource available, I’d just write it myself. The booklet grew into a book and by the end of 2010 it was complete totaling just over a 100 pages. During the process I had my two pastors read it over as well as a handful of other Godly men for the purpose of critiquing it to make it better. I spent a lot of time in prayer but felt no peace about releasing it. I didn’t write the book to make a name for myself or to further my own purposes, but to teach on a neglected doctrine that I saw many ridiculing and dismissing too quickly. Since I wrote the book for God’s glory, if He didn’t want me to release it, I wouldn’t. I was comfortable keeping the book to myself. My family and I were getting ready to move again, (yes, we do have itchy feet) this time to Toronto, Ontario. I started a website a few months before we left called Gospel eBooks. Gospel eBooks is a site that alerts people to free & discount Christian e-books for the Amazon Kindle. I directed my focus to that site and put head covering on the back burner.

Lessons Learned

While we were living in Toronto (2011) I read a book by Jeff Goins entitled “You Are a Writer (so start acting like one)“. In it, he talked about a different way to publish that wasn’t about writing in seclusion for a few months and then emerging with a book (as I did). Rather he spoke about building a platform, branding and blogging–then publishing. This book resonated with me and I realized I had gone about my head covering book the wrong way. If I had my time back I would have started a blog first before writing the book.

As Gospel eBooks grew in popularity I learned another valuable lesson. The larger the site got, the more requests I received from self-published authors to have their book listed on my site. My job is to provide high-quality deals every day on books that people want to read. Many of the submissions I received were from authors I never heard of, with no experience, no education and no endorsements. I leaned heavily on these because I needed some outward indicators of inward content. If I can’t read your book, how do I know it’s going to good? How do I know you’re not a false teacher? As someone who wrote a book on a topic that’s highly debated with no endorsements, no platform, no publisher and no seminary training, why should anyone trust me? I know I’m not a false teacher, but you wouldn’t know that if you stumbled across my book. I then realized that I had written a book that I wouldn’t list on my own website, nor would I buy (if I wasn’t me). I had gone about it the wrong way.

Green Light

At the end of 2012 we left Toronto and moved back to St. John’s, Newfoundland (this must be comical to you by now). Providentially my life circumstances changed to where I was no longer working a standard 9-5 job and had a lot of time to read, think, write and work on my e-business. I had learned some valuable lessons over the years and now had the time to properly publish my writings on a blog, if the Lord permitted. At the beginning of 2013 I had been praying again, asking God if the time was now. I wanted to move forward and for the first time I felt a sense of peace about it. This was huge as I had been sitting on a book that I wrote about three years earlier which almost no one had seen (or even knew I wrote). I could now share my passion with the world and shine the spotlight on a passage of Scripture that I didn’t believe was getting a fair shake. So I made plans to de-construct my book and start a website.

The Head Covering Movement

As I was thinking of names for the site, I knew I wanted to have “head covering” in the name. But head covering what? I crafted a mission/purpose statement of what I wanted the site to accomplish. The last goal was this: “To spark a viral movement of Christians who embrace & practice head coverings today.” “That’s it”, I thought, a head covering movement. I thought it was perfect because I didn’t want this to be about me. I didn’t want this to be Jeremy’s site, where Jeremy writes and does everything. I wanted to involve others and and shed light on what other people are doing to promote this teaching, even outside of this site. A movement isn’t about a person, it’s about an idea. A movement has a purpose of affecting change, and that’s what we want to do. I believe we can accomplish this and do so without having an “us vs. them” mentality. Are you with us?

Thanks for taking the time to hear my story.

References

1.
 See reason number 4 – ‘Church practice‘ on the main page of this site for how I understand this verse now.

Jeremy Gardiner

Jeremy is the founder of the Head Covering Movement and the author of Head Covering: A Forgotten Christian Practice for Modern Times. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is a member of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is a husband to Amanda and father to four young children. Jeremy is also the founder and operator of Gospel eBooks, a popular website that provides alerts for free and discounted Christian e-books.
  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Cool!
    When you say no teachers you respect, I assume you hadn’t then heard of RC Sproul’s position, or William Einwechter?
    and do you have a link to ‘Gospel eBooks’? I didn’t seem to see it in the post above.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for sharing. I was one who requested your testimony…I just felt like I was getting this wonderful teaching, but I knew nothing of the person it was coming from. It’s a way to build trust (and offer credibility). I appreciate you taking the time to share! :)

  • Joyce

    we should prob. hear your wife’s perspective on this journey sometime :) (if it is appropriate to do so and she is willing.) Thanks for sharing… wow – that’s a lot of moving. Bless your hearts!

  • Joyce

    Oh – and I’m curious about your connection w/ Garlands of Grace – as you use their beautiful photos…

    • I’ve never met them before and have only exchanged a handful of emails with them through the years. You see me use their photos often because they take great quality pictures, exhibit beauty and were gracious enough to allow me to use their photos. :)

      • Joyce

        indeed they do! Love the way they stage their product. :)

      • Amy Unruh

        I love their coverings but most of them only cover part of the hair and leave the “glory” free. I like Sowers of Hope on Etsy, but they are taking a break.

  • Henry Wall

    Have you ever heard of Denny Kenaston’s view? You can find a sermon he preached here: http://charitychristianfellowship.org/sermons/title/biblical-principles-on-the-headship-veiling

  • Great to read your story! Are you still thinking of publishing your book?

    • Yes, but not in its current edition. It will be expanded and heavily revised. No timetable for that happening.

  • Julie

    Thanks for sharing your story! And thank you so much for this website. It is a huge encouragement to me! I started wearing a headcovering 3 years ago and I’ve never met any woman in person who wears a headcovering. I am the only one in my church who wears one, so it has been VERY encouraging to read testimonies from other women and hear their stories! I also really enjoy all the quotes and all the information on this great website! I pray God blesses you and your wife for being such an encouragement!

  • Diana Johnston

    Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Rhiannon Mueller

    Thanks for this. I see a gaping hole in the site and in commentary in general about rules for prayer or (it’s late) proper form. Adam and Eve first were given coverings by God; and they continued to wear clothing during their lives and in their worship. Noah obviously knew somehow a proper service. Melchizadek and Abraham had forms for service; Abraham’s was dictated by God. And Moses and Aaron were given forms and proper clothing. But that only addresses the earthly forms and coverings for worship. Isaiah, in the throne room, saw the Seraphim covered–faces and bodies–praying in a form, Holy, Holy, Holy.
    The fact that woman’s attire wouldn’t be addressed is much stranger than the fact that woman’s attire is addressed. It is distressing that women would be taught that their exclusion from dictates is acceptable. By distilling the teaching of covering down to only applicable to woman has alienated women and put them on the defensive–only exacerbated by feminism. I think this teaching must be taught about men first as an example and then brought to women second–instead of from the point of view of singling woman out for the practice.

    • Kay

      I actually found the general conformity of men remaining uncovered for worship and prayer (regardless of whether it was public or not) as a very compelling reason to see covering as a valid command for all believers at all times. I have seen comments that give evidence that this also is being set aside in our day, though I haven’t witnessed it. A great point and suggestion. There are many (teachers and blogs) that reach out to women in this way. I know there are many for men as well, but I haven’t seen this topic in any.

    • edmund316

      The reason men are seldom addressed in this regard is because the practice of men cutting their hair short and taking off their hats during prayer has generally continued. However, with the Calvary Chapel movement refusing to have the hippies cut their hair in obedience to the Father of Eternity, it is now common to see a man with long hair and a beanie standing next to woman with short hair and no covering. How the flesh delights in doing the opposite of what God commands! But, as a man, I see the passage completely evenhanded–just as the woman is to cover, I am not. Just as the woman is to have long hair, so mine is to be short. Its for both. But, let’s face it. American Christian women are bamboozled by the 150-year assault on the role of men and women in the Church and in the Family. Disobeying ALL the commandments God has given distinctly to women is the order of the day, is it not? Headcovering is almost universally disobeyed by women in the West. I am confident that the Holy Spirit is speaking to the Church about this, and that is why the Headcovering Movement–and other manifestations of God speaking to his people about their disobedience–are what they are.

  • Jennifer Bogart

    Hi Jeremy, we have some headcovering family friends who moved from Alberta to Manitoba actually :). We’re in Nova Scotia ourselves (previously in Alberta) and I started covering shortly after I was saved (7 years ago this fall). The way I do it has changed over the years – from veils to tichels, to hats. To be honest, it’s exciting to see a man in charge of a headcovering site! It so often seems to be an issue brought up by women to women.

  • Mary Evans

    This is nonsense. Why would you make this a stumbling block to young women who may be seeking the Lord, but would be caused to stumble by asserting that a Christian woman must wear a head covering. There is no need for female Christians to stand out like a sore thumb in our culture for no reason. Please re-think this issue.

    • Sara June Thompson

      But what if that reason is to obey the Word of God?

    • edmund316

      Mary, Jesus is “a rock of offence and a stone of stumbling”. Obedience to him marks us out, regardless. To change God’s word in order to bring people in is exactly what is producing the carnal, lukewarm American church. We are saying, “Oh, come join us!–you don’t have to obey Jesus, it won’t cost you anything.” I think you see how ridiculous it is to say such a thing–but that’s exactly what we are doing when we take away from God’s Word in order to “be seeker friendly”. In fact, the use of “seeker” is wrong. I invite you to re-think…what does GOD say about who seeks whom? Does man seek after God?–the answer: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Rom 3:11 KJV). The answer is, no. Who seeks, then?– “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luk 19:10 KJV). Though there are indeed verses about man seekking the Lord, in Roman 3:11, God tells us the general condition of mankind. We do not seek, God does. This is so practical. When it comes to people entering the Kingdom of God, do we trust the power of the Holy Spirit to save people, or do we trust our ability to make sinners feel warm and fuzzy about Christianity? Your reasoning of the headcovering being a stumblingblock is showing the prevailing attitude of compromise in order to get people in the doors. And no wonder that so many who are “in the doors” betray a lack of repentance! Twisting the Scripture in order to make Christianity attractive to sinners is a slippery slope…who would have thought that anyone who seriously professes to follow Jesus would have said that homosexuality is not sinful? Yet, look all around, we now have whole denominations that have decided that they can re-define sin at their own pleasure, and not only let sodomites be in fellowship, but be church leaders!

      No, we must be people who set our eyes on the Lord. Who obey his Word. And trust that the power of the Holy Spirit, working through “the preaching of the cross which is to them that perish foolishness” will operating as God has said it will. Let us cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord in order to make more people attracted to us!

      It would be funny if our land was conquered by Islamic armies, all women were forced to wear headcoverings–and then all the disobedient Christian women suddenly stood out like “sore thumbs”. Suddenly the theology would change, I am sure. No–let us not bend the eternal Word of God to suit our liking and convenience. Let us count the cost, and follow the Lamb.

      In a way, I wish I were a woman. To be able to honor my Lord by doing something so simple would be such a delight. To think that “power on my head because of the angels” is happening. Wow. And He commands (NOT asks) such a simple thing. It is like Naaman the Syrian and Elisha. If he asked us to to something like climb Mt Everest and eat a cup of snow from the top, would we not do it for Him? How much more when he says, “every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, dishonoreth his head; and every woman that prayeth and prophesyeth with her head uncovered, dishonoreth her head”.

      And BTW, it is not about the meeting of the Church. The passage does not say that. It is general.

      • Amy Unruh

        Amen, Edmund. You are right on, there. Women who didn’t cover used to stick out like sore thumbs. Do we obey the Bible or worry about looking different? I thought we were supposed to be “set apart.” Jesus didn’t worry about looking just like the people he was ministering to. He didn’t dress like a Samaritan when he preached to the Samaritans. He didn’t tell everyone to blend in and not stand out. He dressed like a Jew and the Jews stood out.
        I read a wonderful testimony the other day from a woman who decided to dress “plain.” She even decided to wear a head covering that looked decidedly Amish. Suddenly, people were nicer to her, asking for her help, even just talking to her about their concerns and problems, and they’d never done that before. Little kids would just come up and hug her. She’s ministered and witnessed to more people looking different than she ever did trying to blend in.

      • Julie L.

        I said AMEN about a dozen times as I read this.

    • Cyndi Ehrnstrom Maher

      Dear Sister, Have you read 1 Corinithians 11? Please do so and re-think the issue.

    • Diane W

      A simple hat or wide headband makes it possible to obey the scripture without making it a stumbling block. Also, not making it an issue with women who choose not to. ~Diane W.

  • Kurt & Kendall Anderson

    The Free Presbyterian denomination wears head coverings during public worship.
    http://www.fpcna.org/fpcna_about_sep.asp?chapter=sep_headcover
    I had never heard anyone talk about wearing them and never thought much of the elderly women wearing hats in churches I attended when I was growing up.
    But the first time I attended a Free Presbyterian service, I noticed that all the women wore hats or doilies, and dressed modestly (and very prettily!) in skirts. In my ignorance I figured someone in the church made hats for fun and they had all joined in wearing them. The second time we attended the church I figured they were actually wearing the head coverings that the Bible talked about. I read the denomination’s stance on head coverings and read my Bible and prayed, and I was convinced that it is not just personal preference or cultural, it is God’s desire for women.
    I asked my mom and aunt and mother in law if they had ever worn head coverings, and to my great astonishment they said, “Yes, all the women wore doilies in church (pentecostal church) and your Grandma did too.) But they said after the 60’s less and less women wore them. My mother in law also informed me that she even wore white gloves to church as a girl, and that her mother always wore a hat and gloves until it became unpopular.
    Aside from the gloves, I always wear a head covering if I am visiting a different church. It does provoke questions. I am happy to answer them. Having been a very rebellious girl before I knew Christ, it is a comfort to me that I am wearing the symbol of God’s and my husband’s authority over me. I know I am loved and I wear it to honor God. My husband never asked me to wear it, but it is a delight to me to do the will of God.
    The last thing I will add is that Christian women in America (as far as i can tell) wore head coverings until the feminist “liberation” came. That gives me all the more desire to show that a woman’s humility before God and man is one of the most beautiful expressions of womanhood.

  • miranda

    I’m considering starting wearing a head covering, but I would be the only woman in my church..(I’m a southern baptist) what do u think…should I?

  • Amy Unruh

    I’m so happy to hear that you joined your wife in her journey to learn more about head coverings. This is something all husbands should do if he isn’t the one initiating it.

  • Ewduar R Parra

    Jeremy, where in Edmonton do you fellowship?

  • Katja

    Do you believe it is wrong for a woman to have a pixie cut?

    • Hi @disqus_MxGjMmAh5y:disqus, if you’re referring to something like this: http://www.prettydesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Ginnifer-Goodwin-Sweet-Pixie-Cut-for-Short-Hair.jpg

      Then yes, I believe women should not get that style/length as per 1 Cor 11:15. That length is only appropriate for men.

      • Katja

        you don’t think it is being used as just a cultural example? I understand the reasoning behind head covering, but it doesn’t seem that the focus is on length of hair. To me, the length seems to be cultural since the only thing it says is that it is “a woman’s pride and joy” to have long hair and “shameful” to have no hair whereas with the covering Paul talks about creation and the angels and dishonoring Christ (depending on translation). Also, where do you draw the line between hair that is unbiblical and hair that is ok? I am really interested in starting to cover, but I want to understand this fully. Thank you so much!

  • Eden

    Hi Jeremy, please could you let me know how I can get hold of your book? I’m very interested to read it. Thank you

    • Hi Eden, it hasn’t been released yet. It’s in the editing stage :)

  • Elaine Mingus

    I love that I finally know the story! I love how Amanda was the spark that ignited your fire! She’s truly a helpmeet!

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