What Did Saint Augustine Believe About Head Covering?
[Series introduction: This post is part of a series that examines what certain leaders in church history believed about head covering. Their arguments, choice of language and conclusions should not be misconstrued as an endorsement from us. The purpose of this series is to faithfully show what they believed about covering rather than only selectively quoting the parts we agree with.]
Augustine received a letter from his friend Possidius who was Bishop of Calama asking him numerous questions. One of those questions was should he (Calma) permit “ornaments of gold and costly dress?” Augustine told him that it shouldn’t be forbidden “except in the case of those who [are] neither [married] nor [intend] to marry.” He said this was because they “are bound to consider only how they may please God.” The rational he provided to allow those who are married to wear decorated dress was that they must “consider how they may in these things please their wives if they be husbands, their husbands if they be wives” (1 Cor 7:32-34.) So Augustine saw that looking good and attractive for your spouse was permitted. He did have one stipulation to this allowance though. He said, “with this limition, that it is not becoming even in married women to uncover their hair, since the apostle commands women to keep their heads covered.” So here we see that even though he permits married women to wear decorated dress, they are not allowed to uncover their heads. The fact that he said it was not becoming “even” in married women likely indicates that he believed single women were to cover their heads too. The fact he addressed a modern situation shows that Augustine believed that head covering was not cultural but was to be practiced in his day in Northern Africa. 1) All quotations from this paragraph are taken from “Letter 245” which can be read online here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102245.htm Read more
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