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What Age Should Children Start Head Covering?

As the parents of five daughters (from 9 months through 12 years), my husband and I have had to consider whether or not we want them to wear a head covering to church — and if so, at what age they should start. I think this question is very common in families where the mother has started to cover. In this article I’d like to consider this question of age from three angles:

  1. What does the Bible say?
  2. What does this look like practically?
  3. What have we done as a family?

What Does The Bible Say?

When considering any sort of life change, it’s always important to observe what God Himself has said about the subject. So, does the Bible offer any guidance that would help us decide at what age females should start head covering? I believe that it does.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5 says:

“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

So, every woman must pray or prophesy with her head covered, or else dishonor her head. But, since the New Testament was originally written in Greek, what does the word woman specifically mean in the original language? Could it mean all females, both children and adults?

An excellent Greek lexicon often utilized in New Testament scholarship is “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature”¹ (often referred to as “BDAG”). It notes these three meanings of the word “woman” (or gune in Greek):

  1. an adult female person, woman
  2. a married woman
  3. a newly married woman

So, gune refers to either married or unmarried women, but it apparently does not include female children. In 1 Corinthians 11, this same word is used in verses 3, 5 (quoted above), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15. In other words, gune is used throughout the whole passage to indicate an adult woman.

According to Bible Study Tools (an online Bible study aid), this same word is used 221 times in the New Testament. In 129 occurrences it refers to “women,” and 92 times it refers to a “wife.” Never is it used in the Bible to describe female children.

Rather than gune, Scripture uses the Greek terms thugatrion (translated as “little daughter”) and korasion (“girl” or “little girl”) when referring to female children. For example, Mark 5:42 uses korasion to describe a 12-year-old girl that Jesus raised from the dead. Along similar lines, Matthew 14:21 lists “women” separately from “children,” indicating that the Greek word for “women” refers to adults. Read more

Why Single Men Shouldn’t Look for a Head Covering Wife

Why Single Men Shouldn't Look for a Head Covering Wife

A Head Covering Standard?

Head covering is a beautiful symbol because of the divine truths that it communicates. Godly men are often attracted to this as it appears modest, humble, and shows a seriousness for one’s faith. So, it makes sense that if a man who believes in the practice of head covering was seeking a bride that he would desire her to be one who covers.

However, I would counsel against making this a standard in finding a wife. My premise is simple: head covering women are rare and even among them, some do not reflect the lifestyle and character of biblical womanhood. Instead, a wise man will focus on the woman’s heart & her relationship with the Lord (see Prov. 4:23, 31:30; 1 Pet. 3:4).

Character First

For many women, head covering is a relatively easy thing to do. In fact, that is usually the case for all outward symbols. Putting on a wedding ring is effortless, but it takes significantly more work to have a godly marriage. Being baptized is fairly straightforward, but walking out the Christian life day-by-day is much more involved. Likewise, it can be easy to put on a head covering, but much harder to embody the character and lifestyle of biblical womanhood.

Young men, you don’t want a wife who is willing to wear the symbol without it being a reflection of her life. In other words, it is simple for a lady to “fix” her lack of head covering — she literally just needs to put one on. But it is much harder for someone to correct issues of the heart, such as long-standing patterns of selfishness, unsubmissiveness, contentiousness, or a lack of quietness (1 Pet. 3:4).

Also, since head covering is an outward practice and also a minority view, it can sometimes appeal to women who are immature in their faith. Legalistic people love rules and outward displays of religion (Matt. 23:5), especially religious practices that only a few people hold to. It is important for men to understand this as some of the most unsanctified women are willing to wear a head covering. To be clear, this dynamic is not unique to head covering; it can be at play in any practice that is both outward and unpopular. Read more

Is Your Husband Your Spiritual Covering?

Is Your Husband Your Spiritual Covering?

Objection: Cloth head coverings are not biblically required. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul spoke only of a “spiritual covering.” Specifically, he taught that a woman’s husband is her “covering.” The woman’s responsibility is not to put a piece of cloth on her physical head; rather, she simply is to live under the spiritual covering provided by her husband (her spiritual head).

SYMBOLISM & LITERALISM

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul provides instructions for two important symbolic practices within Christianity. The most well-known is the Lord’s Supper, also called “Communion” or “the Eucharist.

The Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.1) 1 Cor. 11:23b-26, NASB.

The death of Jesus — the powerful event behind our salvation — is symbolically portrayed here in the Lord’s Supper. And just as Jesus commanded, this personal and meaningful tradition has been regularly practiced by the Church for the last 2000 years.

Unfortunately, though, some Christians have mistakenly understood this passage to mean that during the Lord’s Supper, the bread literally becomes Jesus’ body, and the drink literally becomes Jesus’ blood. This belief is called “transubstantiation” and is often associated with the Catholic Church. In effect, transubstantiation substitutes the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 10:10) with a recurring sacrifice of His “real” body & blood during the Eucharist portion of each Catholic Mass.2) “The Eucharist performs at once two functions: that of a sacrament and that of a sacrifice… the sacrament is intended privately for the sanctification of the soul, whereas the sacrifice serves primarily to glorify God by adoration, thanksgiving, prayer, and expiation [atonement for sin]. The recipient of the one is God, who receives the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son; of the other, man, who receives the sacrament for his own good. Furthermore, the unbloody Sacrifice of the Eucharistic Christ is in its nature a transient action, while the Sacrament of the Altar continues as something permanent after the sacrifice.” Pohle, Joseph. “Sacrifice of the Mass.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 24 Mar. 2019 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10006a.htm>.

In addition to the statement, “This is my body,” Jesus made a variety of other comments that were also intended figuratively. For example, He said, “I am the door” (John 10:7), “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35), and “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). These words were obviously not meant to be understood literally, but rather as figures of speech. However, an opposite type of confusion can also occur: Christians sometimes disregard the plain (and literal) statements in Scripture, as they seek to discover “deeper” figurative or symbolic meanings behind those statements. Read more

References

1.
 1 Cor. 11:23b-26, NASB.
2.
 “The Eucharist performs at once two functions: that of a sacrament and that of a sacrifice… the sacrament is intended privately for the sanctification of the soul, whereas the sacrifice serves primarily to glorify God by adoration, thanksgiving, prayer, and expiation [atonement for sin]. The recipient of the one is God, who receives the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son; of the other, man, who receives the sacrament for his own good. Furthermore, the unbloody Sacrifice of the Eucharistic Christ is in its nature a transient action, while the Sacrament of the Altar continues as something permanent after the sacrifice.” Pohle, Joseph. “Sacrifice of the Mass.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 24 Mar. 2019 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10006a.htm>.

How Do I Talk to Others About Head Covering?

I clearly remember how I felt as someone confronted me during a conversation on the phone. At first, I was a little hot in the face, but by the time our conversation was over, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I could barely even say, “Goodbye.” Actually, I didn’t have a chance to, because the other person hung up on me. My hands were trembling uncontrollably. I wanted to cry. Thankfully, that discussion was completely unrelated to head covering. But, it could have been.

The thought of having to explain why we cover to fellow church-goers, family, or friends can make us nervous. In my experience, very few people have approached me about head covering. However, the question still lingers: What if more did? What would I say? Many head covering women have probably had that same feeling. In this article, I’d like to suggest a few ways we can prepare ourselves for those conversations — while honoring God and maintaining our peace.

Realistically, talking about head covering & biblical roles for men and women isn’t much different than talking about any other aspect of the Christian faith. We will always encounter people whose beliefs are not exactly the same as ours, whether non-believers or believers. No matter what the topic of discussion is, we can apply the same principles.

The late Francis A. Schaeffer, a famous evangelical philosopher of the twentieth century, wrote this about communicating with those who have different beliefs than we do: Read more

What Charles Spurgeon Can Teach Us About Lost Doctrines

What Charles Spurgeon Can Teach Us About Lost Doctrines

Christian head covering is not a new belief. It is a practice with a long history that has been largely forgotten in the 21st century. Similar to the Reformers of years past, the goal of each generation of reformers is not to invent new doctrines, but to re-discover the old ones.
The 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon helped do this for the Doctrines of Grace, also known as Reformed theology. Although this system of Protestant beliefs was the dominant view during the Puritan age in England, during Spurgeon’s time it was a minority (and largely-forgotten) position. Steven Lawson explains the situation:

When Charles Spurgeon burst onto the scene in the mid-19th century, he appeared heralding the doctrines of sovereign grace. At that time, Calvinism was no longer the dominant theology in England, as it had been in Puritan times. Instead, the doctrines of grace were becoming obscured from public view, cast aside as dusty and archaic relics of primitive 16th-century Europe. Victorian England had come of age, it was supposed, and its philosophers championed the autonomy of man, not the sovereignty of God. The teaching of the Reformation had all but faded from the evangelical scene. But rather than becoming infatuated with the current theological fads, Spurgeon chose to stay true to the old paths, those laid out in Scripture long ago, including the teachings of sovereign grace. He said: “It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus.” (Lawson 37-38) 1) Lawson, Steven J. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012.

Spurgeon is affectionately honored as the “Prince of Preachers,” not because he was a clever man who devised new theological fads, but because of his bold proclamation of doctrinal truths that had been forgotten in his generation. It is easy for the people of God to forget. We take the Lord’s supper regularly “in remembrance of [Jesus]” (1 Cor. 11:24 ESV) because we are prone to forget. Every generation must take up the task of teaching Christian beliefs afresh, so that they will not be lost to the pages of history.

In Spurgeon’s day, the practice of head covering was not an abandoned doctrine but something that was commonplace. Referring to his own church, he wrote:

The reason why our sisters appear in the House of God with their heads covered is ‘because of the angels.’ The apostle says that a woman is to have a covering upon her head because of the angels, since the angels are present in the assembly and they mark every act of indecorum, and therefore everything is to be conducted with decency and order in the presence of the angelic spirits. (Spurgeon 98) 2) Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon’s Sermons on Angels. Kregel Academic, 1996.

Spurgeon understood that the reason for head covering was not related to first-century culture, but rather to the angelic spirits (who transcend time, place, and culture).

Charles Spurgeon had a profound impact in both Christian theology and practice. Partly due to his influence, Reformed theology is more widely accepted nowadays.  While the same cannot be said for the practice of head covering (yet!), the same principle applies. We must follow Spurgeon’s example by “[staying] true to the old paths, those laid out in Scripture long ago” (Lawson 38). 3) Lawson, Steven J. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012.

References

1.
 Lawson, Steven J. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012.
2.
 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon’s Sermons on Angels. Kregel Academic, 1996.
3.
 Lawson, Steven J. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2012.

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