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:
“We must emphasize first of all that we cannot apply mechanical rules… We can lay down some general principles, but there can be no automatic application. If we are truly personal, as created by God, then each individual will differ from everyone else. Therefore each person must be dealt with as an individual, not as a case or statistic or machine…
“Furthermore, we must remember that the person to whom we are talking, however far from the Christian faith he may be, is an image-bearer of God. He has great value, and our communication to him must be in genuine love. Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person’s place and see how his problems look to him. Love is a genuine concern for the individual… This kind of communication is not cheap. To understand and speak to sincere but utterly confused twentieth-century people is costly. It is tiring; it will open you to temptations and pressures. Genuine love, in the last analysis, means a willingness to be entirely exposed to the person to whom we are talking.” 1) Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who is There. The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books,1990. Print.
As Schaeffer wisely pointed out, we must see people as individuals whom God loves, not as arguments to be won or enemies to be conquered. Therefore, we must do our best to be gentle and compassionate in our approach.
“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25, NASB).
Let’s look at a few practical ways we can prepare ourselves for discussing the topic of head covering in a godly way.
Know Our Why
It’s important to be prepared ahead of time with your reasons for head covering. We have to know why we believe what we believe — and be able to articulate it. Sometimes it can be helpful to sit down and actually write it out. Start with what you consider to be your most important reasons, and continue from there. Having a clear idea in our own minds of why we cover is the first step toward being able to explain it to others.
Prepare Several Possible Responses
While I don’t recommend following a script, practicing a list of suitable responses ahead of time can be handy.
Have you ever had a conversation where the other person said something and you didn’t know how to reply? I know I have. In fact, the few instances when someone mentioned my head covering could be perfect examples. Afterward, I kept thinking of what I should have said but didn’t because I was unprepared. If that’s happened to you, it’s okay. Those experiences can be springboards leading to better preparation for the next conversation. And though it might feel a little weird at first, it’s okay to rehearse.
To help you get started, here are a few suggestions for ways we could reply to various remarks:
Remark: “Hi, I was just wondering… why do you always wear that thing on your head?” (said in a shy tone of voice)
Possible Reply: “Thanks for asking! The main reason I wear it is to show that I respect the different roles God has designed for men and women. The long answer would take a bit more time to explain, but if you’re interested, I would love to share more about it over coffee.”
Remark: “Are you trying to just do good works? That’s not what Christianity is about.” (said in an angry tone of voice)
Possible Reply: “Oh, I agree! But I think you’ve misunderstood me. Would you like to talk more about it? I’m open to any questions you want to ask.”
Remark: “My husband is a pastor, and he says that our hair is the ‘covering’ and that we don’t need to wear a separate head covering.” (said in an irritated tone of voice)
Possible Reply: “That’s neat that your husband is a pastor! Yes, I have heard that view, and I respect those who hold to it. If you would like to learn about why I decided to cover, I can suggest a few helpful resources that provide a lot more Scriptural information than I could share right now. Does that sound like something you would be interested in?”
As I mentioned, these examples aren’t meant to be a script. Feel free to say whatever is most prudent in light of the actual conversation, and of course, ask God for His guidance.
Be Ready to Listen
As much as we want other people to listen to us, it’s important to listen to them, too. We should be genuinely interested in the other person’s point of view, and ask polite questions about it. Even if we suspect they will disagree with us, we can be generous in letting them have their say.
We should also be careful to not make unfair assumptions about them, just as we wouldn’t want other people making unfair assumptions about us. Sometimes when people bring up our head covering, they’re just curious about our doctrinal stance and have no ill will toward us at all. Or maybe, they’re inspired by our example and want to find out more!
Whatever the case, being willing to listen will hopefully lead into a fruitful conversation about the Bible’s teaching on head covering. But even if not, God may open more opportunities in the future.
It’s helpful to remember that we don’t have to “finish” the conversation right then and there. We can offer resources and extend an invitation to talk further if the other person wants to continue the discussion. Ultimately, this is the Holy Spirit’s work; knowing that should give us encouragement, even when we feel frustrated. All things are possible with God, so we must pray for others consistently, with an untiring faith.
Smile & Have a Loving Attitude
This is not a contest to see who knows the most, or who is most right. When talking to other people about head covering, our goal should be to gently nudge them toward the truth of God’s timeless Word. In other words, we’re not trying to prove how smart we are; we’re trying to glorify God. We must always be respectful and courteous to others. Our conversations with them should always flow from a loving spirit.
Hopefully, these practical ideas will help us be more prepared to talk to other people about head covering — gently, peacefully, and without sacrificing our sense of calm.
What have you found helpful in conversing with others about head covering (or biblical male/female roles)? Please share in the comments section below!