Are My Head Covering Priorities in Line with the Bible?
When I first started head covering, I temporarily experienced a bit of tunnel vision. I was still trying to clarify and solidify my beliefs, which necessitated quite a bit of time spent in focused study. I was also trying to understand (and deal with) the different reactions I got. Traversing this unfamiliar ground required extra attention, for a while. Though I was very careful to not allow this new experience to turn into a focal point of obsession, other people may have been concerned that it would.
Nine years later, I’m happy to say that it hasn’t.
Head covering has never been an issue I’ve exalted over more important matters, such as confessing sin, trusting in Christ, and loving and forgiving others, to name a few examples. I’ve always had a clear understanding of its place in my life, and of what level of priority it deserved.
Head Covering Mistakes to Avoid
Sometimes I hear it suggested that those who practice head covering are obsessive, legalistic, ignorant, or unbalanced. I know I don’t fit that caricature and I’m disappointed to be so misrepresented. And yet, I try to be patient. It doesn’t do any good to let false assumptions get under your skin. Being super-sensitive to criticism leads to problems such as bitterness and resentment, and I don’t want to give those things a foothold in my heart. So, I’ve always tried to avoid taking myself too seriously.
I take God seriously, and I take His Word seriously, but I don’t take myself too seriously. This isn’t about me.
I’d like to reiterate that very important point because we’ll be stuck in our head covering journey if we don’t get this right. If we want to keep on obeying God’s command in 1 Cor. 11:2-16 with stamina and joy, the first thing we need to learn is how to not take offenses personally. That may sound simple, and I bet you’re thinking that it’s easier said than done. You’re right — it is. But this is no different than anything else in the Christian walk. Maturity is not easy, but it’s worth the effort it takes to cooperate with God to develop it in our lives.
Here’s another hard thing that I suggest we consider: Is it possible that there may be some valid concerns underlying criticism that we receive? I want to be a person who is able to receive instruction & correction in order to wisely avoid pitfalls. And I believe there may be some head covering mistakes we would all be wise to try and avoid, if we could be aware of them beforehand.
The second thing we need to learn how to do, then, is to glean whatever positive takeaways we can from criticism, whatever the motive may be of the person dishing it out. We should also allow for the possibility that the other person may actually have our well-being at heart.
Not long ago, I read an article in a popular, conservative Christian magazine that touched on the topic of “fake Christians.” My overall impression of the article was that it was true to reality and addressed something worth analyzing carefully.
There was just one thing that troubled me. In the second half of the article, the author supplied a list of what he considers to be “symptoms” of fake Christians, including the symptom of “exalting single issues.” The author described the “extreme” of those who flaunt their personal convictions about “head coverings” (among other things), and whose zeal doesn’t represent genuine worship and love for God.
As I read his warning, I knew for sure I wasn’t one of those fake Christians. I also hoped the author was balanced enough to know that not all women who cover their heads are exalting it. I chose to view his article as an opportunity for readers to examine themselves, to see if they’re truly in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). At this point, I’d like to take a little time to address the helpful elements of his warning.
Some Personal Examination
First of all, by covering my head, am I flaunting my personal convictions? Sure, I do share them online. Does that count? I think the key word is “flaunt.” I don’t think I’m flaunting my convictions, though I am attempting to gently and kindly nudge fellow believers to study the topic of head covering in order to make sure they are following the Bible.
I’m pretty unobtrusive and quiet about my convictions while at church. During one-on-one conversations with others, I try to say only what I feel needs to be said and to say it in as sweet and loving a way as possible. If, while talking about head covering, I see that the other person is unreceptive, I don’t mention it again.
Is the practice of head covering just my personal conviction? Well, yes, it is personal. But then again, it isn’t only personal — it’s based on the Bible. I want to follow God in every area of my life, in everything He has commanded all believers (not just me) to do. I’m hoping to encourage others to re-examine a neglected area of the Christian life that needs some dusting off.
Throughout history, head covering has generally been a standard part of Christian worship until the relatively recent upheavals in our modern society. I want us to consider why things changed — and if they haven’t changed for the better, I hope for us to do something about it together by actively returning to God’s ways. That’s personal, for sure, but it’s actually for all of us who are serious about following Christ.
And finally, am I being extreme? Could it be that I do not genuinely love God but want to gain attention for myself? That’s a good question, and one I believe I can honestly answer in the negative. I want to love God with all my heart because of the amazing grace He’s shown me through Christ.
Head covering is not a salvation issue. My zeal for God encompasses a lot of things, and head covering is just one of them. As important as I consider it to be, it gets a low shelf on my list of Christian priorities. What head covering stands for, however, gets a much higher shelf. Submission is the principle behind the symbol, and as such, deserves the greater amount of attention.
Prioritizing Head Covering Correctly
Nowadays, the practice of head covering is often neglected, but forsaking the biblical practice of submission is even more significant. Since the two are connected, it was probably submission that took the hit first, and then the outer symbols of it (including head covering) followed. If we want to resurrect the principle, I believe we must do so from the bottom up, tackling the importance of our biblical roles.
Actually, going even farther than that, we need to reassess how well we are living out our professed belief in the total authority of Scripture. We need to return to obeying the Bible in a completely consistent manner. And in that process, is it possible that head covering could be an aid to recovering the proper role of Scripture in our lives?
I believe that it can!
We don’t need to exalt this single issue in an unbalanced way, and we shouldn’t. We can see it as a gift to those who would use it in order to take advantage of its many benefits. We can see it as a God-given, biblical tool to help us in our construction of healthy marriages and churches. Alongside good teaching on biblical gender roles (and in obedience to the essential teachings of the faith), head covering can indeed be a beautiful and visual testimony of our love for the Savior.
Are there any personal head covering obstacles you’ve had to overcome — things such as pride, super-sensitivity to criticism, having prolonged (not temporary) tunnel vision, or other obstacles? What made you finally realize you had a problem that needed to be dealt with? How did you choose to resolve it? What did you learn about yourself, others, and God throughout the process? We look forward to reading your response!