My Husband and I are Fighting – Should I Stop Covering My Head?
I remember once hearing someone remarking to another person, “I guess it’s normal in marriage for a couple to argue. I don’t see how you can be married and not argue.” I looked over at the person who had been listening to watch for her reaction. She blinked. Then she said, “Well, my husband and I never argue.” And that was the end of that conversation.
Which of the following scenarios sounds most typical: a marriage where arguing is common, a marriage where arguing never happens, or something in between? I know where I find myself on that spectrum.
Naturally, as a woman who wears a head covering to church every Sunday as a symbol of submission to the leadership of my husband (see 1 Cor. 11:2-16), I feel especially vulnerable to scrutiny on this point. For example, if I were to wear a head covering but argue with my husband regularly, what would that make me? I shudder at the thought.
Whatever may be typical for us, the Bible clearly states what should be the norm for followers of Christ:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” (NIV, Phil. 2:14-15a)
It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. (Prov. 20:3)
It also says these strong words about argumentative wives:
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. (Prov. 21:19)
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. (Prov. 25:24)
Clearly, God’s goal for us is to be peaceful in our interactions with others and to avoid argumentative habits. Yes, that’s the goal — but unfortunately we don’t always live up to it. What then? Do we stop wearing a head covering because it makes us feel hypocritical?
That’s a good question, and I believe I have an equally good answer.
Here’s the way I, personally, view the head covering: It’s a practical life tool.
Head covering was not meant to function as a banner to the world announcing, “I’ve got this marriage thing all figured out and my life’s perfect.” I think it was meant to function as a healthy reminder of our God-given feminine role, and as a way to humble ourselves as women when in church. This tangible reminder is important because we have a tendency to 1) forget our role, and 2) succumb to vanity.
As women, we may not practice submission perfectly, but the covering aids us in remembering what our goal is. It helps keep us on track.
When we get off track, that would be the worst possible time to throw off our head covering! The covering is a persistent (and sometimes convicting) physical reminder of what God expects us to live up to and can be a useful prompt to help bring us back in alignment with God’s will.
I wouldn’t tell my kids when they fall off their bikes to just leave them there in the ditch; I would tell them to get right back up and keep trying. If I have a bad day homeschooling, I don’t throw up my arms in defeat and vow to never teach again; I take a deep breath and tell myself that tomorrow’s a new day. And if I don’t submit to my husband the way I know I should, I don’t get upset and toss all my head coverings in the donation box; I confess my sin and seek God’s help to do better next time.
Perfection is an unattainable goal, but progress is something everyone is capable of.
Like a baby taking its first steps, we don’t need to expect ourselves to be Olympic athletes right from the start. We just need to place one shaky foot in front of the other, while holding on to God’s steady hand for support.
So to answer the question this article poses, my response is: No, if we have been fighting with our husband, I do not think we should stop head covering, unless our husband requests it. I think we should admit we’ve been wrong, ask for forgiveness, pray for God’s help, and keep doing what His Word says for us to do in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.
Let me end with some wise words from Charles Ryrie:
Achieving the goal of the Christian life is a continuous and lifelong process. Simply stated the goal is Christlikeness, but the full realization of this awaits our ultimate glorification (Rom. 8:29-30). For anyone to assert that he has arrived in the Christian life, he must be able to say (and to back it up with constant proof) that he is Christlike. Even if one could live in this life without sin (which is not possible), he would also have to manifest the positive characteristic of our Lord, for Christlikeness is more than the absence of sin.
But we can be achieving the goal in this life even though we cannot arrive at it until we are translated to heaven, and there are many exhortations in the New Testament that urge us to keep on. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” urged Peter, and that word grow is in the present tense indicating a continual process of growth. There never comes a time for any Christian when he does not need to grow more in the Christian life. John reminded us that the blood of Christ “cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7) – another present tense indicating the continuousness of our need. Paul indicates that the new man is constantly being renewed (another present tense) throughout life (Col. 3:10). In the light of these verses, it is quite clear that no one has arrived in the Christian life. Someday we all will by the grace of God; in the meantime, we keep on pursuing the goal set before us. (Ryrie 185-6)
Ryrie, Charles C. Balancing the Christian Life. Moody Publishers, 1969.