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Where are Head Coverings to be Practiced? In Church or Everywhere?

Where Is This To Be Practiced?

“…the head covering for women was understood to belong to the decorum of public worship.” -John Murray [1898-1975] (Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary) 1) Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #5

The Scriptures tell us that head coverings are required when praying or prophesying. However, an important question we should be asking ourselves is praying and prophesying where?

One side understands this command as pertaining to both public and private life. They would say since we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) women should be covered almost all the time.

The second understanding is that head coverings are only commanded for when the local church gathers together in worship. This view gets its understanding from the context the passage is found in.

Let’s jump in by examining how the passage regarding head coverings is laid out.

The Commending Link

When you look at the structure of 1 Corinthians 11, it’s divided up very neatly. Verse 2 states “Now I praise you” followed by teaching on a topic they were practicing (head covering). Then in verse 17 he contrasts his first statement by saying “I do not praise you” followed by teaching on two practices they were misusing (Lord’s supper & spiritual gifts).

What we need to ask ourselves is, what connects the three topics Paul deals with in this section?

John Murray explains the connection:

There is good reason for believing that the apostle is thinking of conduct in the public assemblies of the church of God and of worship exercises therein in verse 17, this is clearly the case, and verse 18 is confirmatory. But there is a distinct similarity between the terms of verse 17 and of verse 2. Verse 2 begins, “Now I praise you” and verse 17, “Now in this . . . I praise you not”. The virtually identical expressions, the one positive and the other negative, would suggest, if not require, that both have in view the behavior of the saints in their assemblies 2) Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #3

The reason why these three topics are linked together is because they’re all dealing with issues pertaining to corporate worship. Verses 2 and 17 connect the topics together and verse 18, “when you come together as a church”, clearly shows what Paul is addressing.

Murray continues:

If a radical difference, that between private and public, were contemplated, it would be difficult to maintain the appropriateness of the contrast between “I praise you” and “I praise you not”. 3) Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #3

New Testament Prophecy

Another clue that Paul has the local church in mind is that he says we’re to practice this when we prophesy. This is important because Paul’s understanding of prophecy in 1 Corinthians is a gift that edifies the church.

See sometimes we know where we’re talking about by what we’re talking about. If I mention taking the Lord’s supper, do you know where I’m talking about? Of course! The Lord’s supper is to be eaten when we meet together as a church. It’s not something you practice in private. The same is for prophecy which we’ll look at now.

Let’s spend some time in 1 Corinthians 14 looking at Paul’s view of prophecy.

But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. (1 Cor 14:3 NASB)

Prophecy according to Paul is not a private gift. It’s for the edification and exhortation of people.

One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. (1 Cor 14:4 NASB)

The people being edified by prophecy is the gathered church. So once again this is a gift to be used in community.

Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Cor 14:23-25 NASB)

Here we have a contrast of uninterpreted tongues and prophecy. Look at the context, prophecy is happening when “the whole church assembles together” (v.23).

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted (1 Cor 14:29-31 NASB)

Finally, Paul understands that prophetic words need to be judged by the men (1 Cor 14:33-35) in the local church.


So when Paul refers to prophecy, he expects it to be happening corporately. Though we do pray privately, it is also one of the primary things we’re called to do corporately (1 Tim 2:1-3). Because the context links this passage together with teaching that is explicitly for when the church is gathered together (1 Cor 11:17-18, 11:20,33), it’s best to understand Paul as having corporate practices in mind.


*Note: Though this is our official position, we respect those who understand that this should not be limited to the local church gathering. Women who cover outside of church will not be treated differently then those who don’t on this site. We extend charity to you and hope you will extend it back to us in this matter.

FOLLOW UP: Since writing this article we have answered numerous questions and objections regarding this view. Please consult the following articles:


 Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #5
 Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #3
 Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #3

Jeremy Gardiner

Jeremy is the founder of the Head Covering Movement and the author of Head Covering: A Forgotten Christian Practice for Modern Times. He is a member of Fellowship Baptist Church and a student at Moody Bible Institute. He lives in Alberta, Canada with his wife and five young children. Jeremy is also the founder and operator of Gospel eBooks, a popular website that provides alerts for free and discounted Christian e-books.
  • Rose Pyles

    Thanks! I’ve been looking forward to this explanation and it was very helpful.

  • Joelle

    Question: In 1 Cor. 14:34 & 35, it says women must keep silent in the churches. How do you reconcile these 2 verses with 1 Cor. 11 – stating when women pray or prophesy to cover their heads. ~ Thank you.

    • It’s a great question and a very difficult one to answer. I intentionally have not brought it up because I don’t find any particular reconciliation of those passages compelling. Admittedly, understanding 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 as not limited to the local church does remove the tension the easiest, but it opens up new problems for me that I find challenging as well (as listed in this article). If you’d like to study the various attempts at reconciling them you can read an article by D.A. Carson called “Silent in the Churches” here: https://bible.org/seriespage/silent-churches-role-women-1-corinthians-1433b-36

      • clarinetlaj

        thanks for posting both sides here 🙂

      • Joelle

        I am only seeing this now! Thank you for your response. I will check out those links.

    • Amanda Sadler

      In my opinion, I believe the women told to be silent was basically referring to women speaking about things they didn’t understand (to prevent disrupting service) or talking about things other than God. I feel that if a person -man or woman- feels called to speak the word of God, it should be allowed. I suppose this is the liberal still clinging to my subconscious ;).

      • Kay

        I have heard similar arguments about the women of Corinth, including regarding covering. “The women there were out of order, and being disruptive, so Paul gave these instructions to them. It is not for us.” Yet when I look at the average worship service in our country, I see the same thing happening. Not to mention Paul does not address women being disruptive in his reasons for these instructions. In the first Chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, *with *all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,” He is addressing all believers, at all times, in my understanding.

      • Here’s a thought to consider: When Paul appeals for women to be silent in church he says just like he does in 1 Cor 11:16 that it’s the practice of all churches. “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches” (1 Cor 14:33-34 ESV)

        Some translations do make “as in all the churches” the ending of the previous verse though.

        If you’d like to study the various attempts at reconciling these passages you can read an article by D.A. Carson called “Silent in the Churches” here: https://bible.org/seriespage/silent-churches-role-women-1-corinthians-1433b-36 (his conclusion: women can speak) or point #4 http://www.the-highway.com/headcovering_Murray.html (his conclusion: women cover, but cannot speak)

  • ginsuzake

    In this light, how would you apply the last section of chapter 14?

  • Melissa Bishop

    The head covering for a woman is part of her spiritual weaponry, part of her arsenal. Since warfare happens everywhere why not wear the covering everywhere? It does not hurt anything to wear it nor does it detract, so why not?

    • ginsuzake

      Hi, Melissa, While I am currently of the same opinion that a head covering is full-time, lets not be too hasty in discrediting this site. Head covering is not a salvation or Gospel doctrine. It is a powerful and appropriate tradition, as this site has supported, that is lost in our culture. The access to information and others through this site has taught me a lot! I began researching this topic on my own about a year ago and have been covering for about 6 months. The site is well designed and updated, and can service as a forum for a long awaited discussion. At first introduction to head coverings, I have not met a christian woman (including myself) who wasn’t wary of it. It goes against our culture and nature. The ease of introduction here can be powerful in showing the truth behind covering. Let’s share this wealth of information with a caveat. The Bible is vague on the style, manner and actual coverage along with when and where save very specifically “praying and prophesying.” I believe even this has a level of conviction that may vary. Unless one comes from a community that has already separated itself from the worldly culture, it is very hard to navigate modern Christian churches. The culture is intermingled and to our detriment. Why not *start* with the assembly. Lets encourage this movement, especially in our assemblies!

      • Melissa Bishop

        While you are right in saying head covering is not necessary for salvation, and that the bible is vague in HOW to cover I get nervous when any one person or organization tries to stifle or control how a thing is to be done especially when it is not detailed in the bible. If, Paul is not restricting or detailed but one can surmise that 24-7 covering is ok by virtue of the facts that my husband is my authority always and not just in church or that we are to pray without ceasing, then who is the author of the article to place restrictions on covering or for that matter, where and when to take communion?
        I see what you are saying with starting with assembly. I get it. But I also have seen the damage other, ‘MOVEMENTS’ in the church have caused and I am wary of any one person putting their opinion out there as biblical fact. What I am saying is that- how this article is worded could cause more harm than good and create more issues than it resolves. Perhaps it is just not written/researched well?

        • ginsuzake

          Good point. This post in particular does seem to be hastily written. Especially with the omission of the last verses of chapter 14, which throws a wrench into the logic.

          • Paula

            I hope and pray it was not left out to strengthen the opinion of the author.

          • Joelle asked the same question and I responded to her near the top of this page.

  • SurplusMama

    Interesting post. I had been looking forward to it for some time, but I have some observations and questions:

    It seems you infer that Paul’s instruction on head covering was restricted to corporate worship based solely on the poetic likenesses of “I praise you” and “I praise you not” – but, I feel uncomfortable hanging so much on an assumption when Paul had opportunity to make the distinction (of headcovering only being in corporate worship) and chose not to. In fact, as you point out, if you were to mention the Lord’s Supper, we would know you were speaking of a corporate worship setting – and, yet, when Paul goes on to speak of the Lord’s Supper, he makes a point of saying, “For when you come together as a church…” Even though we all would know that the Lord’s Supper took place when the church came together, he made a point of saying that…and it seems to me he would have been as likely to take that opportunity in the first part of 1 Corinthians 11. In tact, that takes me to my 2nd thought…

    It seems that Paul is making the distinction (between something practiced all the time, and something practiced when the congregation officially came together) when he says, “17 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, ****when you come together as a church****, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.”

    If the first part of the chapter had to do with corporate worship, why would Paul make this distinction about the Lord’s Supper: “for…when you come together as a church…”?

    Finally, as Ginsuzkake has alluded, the reasoning that prophecy happens only in corporate worship seems to be entirely contradicted in the latter part of 1 Corinthians 14 when Paul, *while discussing prophesy* says that women are to remain silent. Obviously, then, women did not prophesy in the corporate worship service but elsewhere.

    Anyway, those are just my thoughts…and I very much appreciate this series of blog posts!

    • Thanks @SurplusMama:disqus for the questions and comments.

      I absolutely see your point. I’m not sure if this does anything for you, but I think it’s interesting that Paul does the same thing in 1 Timothy 2:1-3:15. He starts (“first of all”) talking about topics that do not have to be limited to the local church (prayer/modesty). Then he moves on to topics that can’t be for outside of church (elders/deacons) and finally he let’s us know he was talking about church practice the whole time (1 Tim 2:3:15). For me, that helps show that Paul can speak about a general practice but only have a limited focus in mind. That’s why I don’t find “pray without ceasing” compelling for 1 Cor 11. Also, it shows that he can start talking about a topic that could be for everyday use but not explicitly state otherwise until later.

      Regarding your second question please see my response to Joelle near the top of this page.

      Thanks for the respectful comments and questions. Even if we see it differently. it’s good to understand how one another thinks.

      • SurplusMama

        Hi Jeremy,

        I definitely agree that Paul *can* move within subjects that seem to be intended for corporate worship and others that are not – and have that not be the case. However, that doesn’t mean that is what Paul is doing in 1 Corinthians 11. He *could* be doing that but we have no reason to believe that he is – and some reason to believe that he is not. Again, the distinction Paul makes in verse 18 seems to imply that the preceding passage was not limited to corporate worship – as he says, “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church…” That would seem to place more weight on the likelihood that the former was not relegated to only when Christians came together as a church.

        Of course, as others have pointed out, the fact that Paul says women are to cover when they pray and prophesy (setting aside, for the moment, what Paul has said in chapter 14 about women being silent in church). It seems that he would specify if he meant only in a corporate worship service.

        Of course, I am fine “agreeing to disagree” with anyone on this topic – my concern has more to do with the fact that many come to this site for information on whether or not to cover and how to. The argument for restricting head covering to corporate worship is not very strong (and by that I do not mean to insult you – I think you see that as well) and if you are interpreting incorrectly, you have the potential to mislead many. I do not understand the desire to go with a view that unnecessarily restricts the practice where Scripture does not.

        I do appreciate the site and your endeavor here. (I will place my other comment under your response to Joelle.)

        • Rennie

          “I do not understand the desire to go with a view that unnecessarily restricts the practice where Scripture does not.” – Well said, @SurplusMama:disqus !

    • molle

      I have been covering full time for a few years now, Just now my employer wants evidence to support need to wear something on my head. I did write a letter to her asking for accommodation and it was denied stating insufficient evidence. I;m not sure what she is looking for. It states it in the Bible but that is not good enough for her. Feeling very sad.

      • Leah Giselle

        Time for a new employer. Or, time for you to seek legal counsel. That’s religious discrimination, plain and simple.

        • molle

          I have spoke with human rights dept. They advised that perhaps a letter from pastor would help. I shouldn’t have to prove what my beliefs are but employer has denied request for accommodation and wants to know what religion is requiring me to wear something on my head all the time. Guess because I’m not Muslim,(though not all Muslim women cover) I don’t have the option to cover without being questioned. Its very frustrating.

  • Lois Ann Mast

    I appreciated what Melissa Bishop said in her first two sentences. I have experienced this spiritual arsenal myself upon numerous occasions. I would hate to be without my covering at all times. I have discovered that wearing it while sleeping will keep nightmarish demonic dreams at bay and give me a restful night. Truly we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    Recently I heard of a Christian girl who was raped. My first thoughts always are, Was her head covered? Secondly if she was, was she covering without a conviction, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof? I know of women who were protected from evil men because they were covered…. God held out His arm and guarded them through mighty angels sent to protect them. WHY, I ask, would any woman want to be without this protection?

    I have experienced God opening my mind to Scripture when I am covered as I read. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would not want to cover their head while having their personal worship at home. It’s not just corporate worship where I sit at the feet of Jesus and learn.

    I am so excited, about this site and to see people stepping out with a return to this godly mandate. God always tells us things for our GOOD. It’s not about drudgery, being “different”, looking odd. The blessings of being covered are so great and few women really know how great it is. I long to see a huge shift toward this Biblical application to Scripture. I pray for all who even take the baby step of covering in public worship. Perhaps in time they will come to understand the blessing of covering ALL the time.

    • ginsuzake

      Hi, Lois Ann, Your experience with head coverings sounds incredible, and Amen! to ” I pray for all who even take the baby step of covering in public worship.”
      Yet be careful of giving “power” to the head covering. God protects whom He protects, not because of a head covering (while He has shown us its properness) but because He has chosen to. It is a good work that pleases the Lord, yet not an indication or ticket to “good things.” We cover to please Him, no matter the circumstantial outcome, because He has instructed us to do so.

      • Joanna Nissley

        i grew up w/ an account from my great-aunt’s life which really encourages me to wear the head covering at all times. it does not save us, & it may not keep us from all harm, but this account would seem to indicate that it can protect us. the account goes like this:

        my aunt was a nurse working night shift in a large city, & one night, as she was walking from her car to the hospital, she felt as if someone was following her. she glanced back, & sure enough, a man was. she was concerned, of course, & the thought entered her mind, “take off your scarf.” i don’t remember if it was winter or raining, but she had a weather protective scarf over her head covering. she took the scarf off & continued walking. when she glanced back again, the man was no longer there. obviously, she never knew if the man meant to do harm to her or not, but it seemed more than coincidental that the man disappeared into the night when her head covering was visible.

        i too am very thankful for the work being done on this site to encourage & exhort Christian ladies to wear a head covering. God bless as we all continue to grow in our knowledge & understanding of God’s Word!

    • Rose Pyles

      I am thankful for the Lord’s work in your life and the blessings you’ve experienced while covering. At the same time, I’m really sad that your first two thoughts concerning a rape would be to look for fault in the victim.

      • David Pendleton

        Amen! Lois Ann Mast’s comments here are utterly outrageous! Yikes!

  • estigoy

    I am new to Head covering, in fact today marks one week since I started covering during worship. I have been researching it since this blog started. After studying this for weeks I had already come to the agreement that this article states, that it is referring to head covering during worship and so I do not feel the need to cover outside of the church/bible study time/VBS. But that being said I am still learning and waiting for God’s direction with me about it. As of right now though the other comments of these ladies do not encourage me in any way to think differently. The fact that you can relate whether or not someone is raped to having their head covered is turning this amazing thing in the bible to almost a “Genie in a bottle” concept. That is if I do “X, Y, Z” then nothing bad can happen in my life. Or if they still covered and then “bad” things happened then they must head covered in the wrong heart attitude. Dangerous mindset to be in ladies. We live in a sinful world that horrible things happen but God has called us to still live here despite all the pain and suffering and live it in such a way that people are drawn closer to him. Don’t make it even more difficult for christian women to live here by making them feel guilty that when trials happen that they in some way had anything to do with it. Extend love and grace while living out the example that Paul showed the church. The author asked that we extend charity to one another in our differences in this area. Not sure relating rape to this concept shows charity. I am very disturbed by the comments made, so this email may not be coming across as being charitable on my end. I apologize to you if you take offense and sorry that you can not hear my tone of voice. I extend this email with grace and love but felt compelled to write this in case their are any other women out there that would read the comments and begin to live in guilt and shame for something that has nothing to do with them and that there are things beyond our control. Please don’t turn God into a puppet that we can control Him or His angels to do what we wish. He is so much bigger then we could ever imagine.

    • Paula

      It is true we are all called to prophesy, however, that is strictly forbidden of women in a corporate church setting.
      So the argument that a woman must cover when praying of prophesying, but only in a corporate setting, does not hold true.

      • estigoy

        just to be sure that it was understood: I agree that it is outside scripture, I was replying to another comment made further down, should have hit reply to that comment rather than start a new thread

        • Paula

          I think I posted in the wrong spot too, lol!
          Context is everything. Studying on what it means to prophesy is very helpful. I prophesy to my child daily, and it is not outside of the Biblical command.

          • estigoy

            I will have to do a study on prophesy too. Do you have any sites, or commentary helps for this area?

          • Melissa Bishop

            James Goll has a book on prophecy: The Seer http://www.amazon.com/The-Seer-Expanded-Edition-Prophetic/dp/0768441102/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1375294284&sr=8-2&keywords=james+goll

            I was fortunate enough to attend a church (a house of prayer) that trained people o n how to awaken and use their prophetic gifts. Doug Addison is a prophet who trains prophets. I recommend, if you are interested, buying Goll’s expanded edition as it contains the study guide. Otherwise, you would have to buy them separate. I hope this helps.

          • Paula, I’d like to propose something for your consideration. Prophecy has a history under both covenants and is nuanced. The type of prophetic utterances that Isaiah and Elijah uttered seem to be different that the prophecy with instruments listed in 1 Chronicles 25:1 (just one example). That is also different than the prophecy mentioned in 1 Corinthians. When a term doesn’t have a unanimous meaning it’s important to not stray from the context in taking our definition. If Paul wants us to cover when we prophesy, we should allow Paul to give us the definition of prophecy since that’s what he has in mind. Prophecy in this context is done in community to build up the church. It also must be judged. Seeing that he has “church” prophecy in mind is why I see it a clue to the context.

          • Kay

            You do assume (to some degree) that the context is community worship. There are those that believe (and teach) that there is a break between the teaching on covering, and the admonition regarding the Lord’s Supper. In that context, it would not be limited to public assembly. If that were your understanding, then the prophecy mentioned is simply revealing the mind of God, through discussion, study with others, teaching your children, etc.

        • Cecelia Dowdy

          Esigoy, I blogged about the scripture about women being quiet. I didn’t get much response on my blog – BUT- I did get a lively discussion going on Facebook. On Facebook a few people told me that the “women being quiet in the church” scripture was referencing the culture of that time. They’d said that women would yell to their husbands to ask them something during church, disturbing the service. That’s why they should wait to ask their husbands when they got home? I’m not sure if that’s true – but, it’s what several people commented to me on Facebook. someone had commented on FB that men and women worshiped separately in church – which is why the women were yelling questions to their husbands. Here’s my blog post if interested: http://ceceliadowdy.com/blog/2013/12/should-women-be-silent-in-the-church.html

    • clarinetlaj

      thank you for responding in love. I too was upset and disturbed by a few of the comments on here. Dear sisters this is NOT a salvation issue, can we not have love and charity?

      • Melissa Bishop

        I do not think that pointing out whether or not something directly relates to salvation is a valid point to make. Even though covering is not a ‘salvation issue’ it is still an important issue and one that should not be taken lightly. I hope that some Christian have not decided that things in the bible that do not directly pertain to salvation are not important enough to study or uphold. If it were not important I do not think, Paul would have written about it to the church in Corinth, but he did. He made a specific point to write to them about head covering and the Lord’s supper. Two important issues on which many churches have turned their backs.
        I believe that when one area of scripture is compromised to the point of being laid aside as head covering has been, then a door is opened for other areas of scripture to be attacked and diminished. Either it is all important or none of it is important. Who decides the importance of an issue? Do we as children decide? Does the clay tell the master what it will do? No.
        Many things may look unrelated to salvation at first but we will not know entirely until the Father shows us, how what we do affects the faith path on which we are walking. Will a woman go to hell for not covering- no, but how much more authority and blessing might she enjoy covered vs. uncovered? And how will that additional authority and blessing impact her life and the lives around her?
        While I am not condemning anyone for not covering, or not covering full time, I wish to let as many women know about this wonderful gift who are interested in covering as they are lead by the Lord without putting constraints upon them as to where and when to cover beyond what is written in scripture. Feeling lead to only cover in church? Great. Want to expand where you cover? Great. How can I help?
        Have you seen this article on head covering? I love to share it as much as possible with those who are curious and interested in going deeper into head covering.

        Anyone woman interested may contact me for further discussion about this if you’d like. My website contains my email address. http://duchessofcoloradosprings.blogspot.com/

        • clarinetlaj

          dear @melissa_bishop:disqus i never said it was not important! Obviously we think it is important enough to study or we would not be on this site 🙂

        • Joyce

          Is this a salvation issue? Well – I think a better question may be ‘is Obedience a salvation issue?’ Let’s just be obedient to scripture and the Spirit’s leading and live in the peace that results. To God be the Glory!

          • Melissa Bishop

            Amen, sis. when did obedience become a dirty word in the body of Christ?

            ‘When the woman of Yahweh understands these marvelous truths, she will
            not view the head covering as an annoying inconvenience or legalistic bondage. She will wear it as a badge of her Yahweh-given authority, and it will truly become an effective “token of control” and a “means of exercising power” in the spiritual realm as she joyfully moves forward,
            praying and prophesying with power and authority.’

            True authority comes from heartfelt obedience. It is one of those things God uses to confound the, ‘wise’.

    • Melissa Bishop

      I do not think it was intended to sound like the girl was raped ‘because’ she did not have on a head covering. tragedy befalls women everywhere covered or not. I think the author of the comment has been misunderstood.

  • Charli Katsande

    Okay-currently I wear a veil on Sunday’s all day~ as Sunday is a time for worship, prayer, reflections etc. and also any time my husband and I will attend a gathering where he will be ministering, or prayer/worship will be occurring…or in the event of community stewardship in the name of the LORD. However, I have long struggled with these commentaries from early Christian writers who seem to suggest the veil should be worn when in public period. How do you explain that? If you pull up their entire sermon’s or writings they explain the chapter almost verse by verse… although I did not see it fit to post the entire length of one on here-instead including short snippets. I appreciate your pg. Thank you.
    Clement of Alexandria, an elder writing from Egypt around the year 190, counseled:

    “Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl; nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled.” [Clement, The Instructor 3.12]

    Chrysostom (ca. A.D. 347-407) Chrysostom wrote a Homily on First Corinthians. His exposition of the text shows that he believed Christian women were to veil their heads during all forms of worship.

    His comments on verse 4 read: “Well then: the man he compelleth not to be always uncovered, but only when he prays. “For every man,” saith he, “praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.” But the woman he commands to be at all times covered. Wherefore also having said, “Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head unveiled, dishonoreth her head,” he stayed not at this point only, but also proceeded to say, “for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.”

    Paul, on a very trifling point, sets before our eyes the law of nature; for, when he teaches that it is shameful and indecorous for women to appear in public without veils, he desires them to consider, whether it would be decent for them to present themselves publicly with their heads shorn; and finally adds, that nature itself does not permit it. (1 Corinthians 11:14.) Wherefore, I do not see, that, under the pretext of its being a political Law, the purity of nature is to be abolished, from whence arises the distinction between the statutes of God, and the abuses of the Gentiles.—Commentary on Leviticus 18:6.-John Calvin

    • While we’re grateful for the witness of church history, we don’t believe they got it right on everything. Often they would stray from Scriptural arguments and make arguments from culture, and about modesty. We definitely have to be discerning about what parts are Biblical and what parts are their opinion.

  • Lois Ann Mast

    Ginsuzake,I appreciate you pointing out that power does not come through the covering. You are so correct. Also that it is not a ticket to “good things”. And to Estigoy, you are also right, it is NOT a Genie in a bottle. So very true, both of you. I did not think about how that sounded that I could be making the head covering to be the puppet that turns God’s hand in my favor. Truly God has His righteous reasons to allow certain things to pass before us, i.e. Job’s losses were terrible. Even his friends told him to turn his back on God. He seemed to have lost everything even the support of his wife. Yet God was watching over him carefully and nothing, not one thing happened but that it passed by the hand of God first. I certainly do not want to imply that wearing of the covering keeps us from bad things. I do feel we have an added protection from wearing the covering, provided however that it is worn with the humble spirit that God wants us to have, that utter dependence upon Him for our very life. I grew up Mennonite and was taught as a small girl to wear it. My grandmother’s wore it and as a child we would play dress-up at my Grandma’s house, wearing her coverings upon our heads as we played with our dollies. All my relatives on both my father & mother’s sides wore head coverings. It wasn’t until many years later that I encountered the first person that wore it without have any previous teaching as I was privileged to have, but rather they wore it from reading the Bible. They were made fun of by their kin and had to endure mockings of the “diaper on their head”. This was indeed sobering to me as I never had to go through that in order to wear the head covering. I learned real fast that my experience did not equal theirs. They suffered for taking this stand. I had support. However, whether we were taught as a child, or we learned as a first generation Christian to wear the head covering, it still holds the same meaning, that of applying I Corinthians in a literal sense and walking in obedience. I admire my Christian sisters who are making this step without having the background of supporting aunts, mothers, grandmothers and sisters. What a blessing to see you striving to be true to God’s Word.

    • estigoy

      thank you for the response back. Email is often a hard way to understand the heart behind what a person is saying. This whole process has been a humbling and very scary step for me. I know of no one that wears a head covering so I am learning as I go and pray that God will give me the strength to follow Him and what He has said to me even if I remain the only one that ever covers around me. We are a military family so we move often as well so it will remain for me I believe, a constant struggle to stand alone in this.

    • Rose Pyles

      Thanks for adding this clarification!

  • estigoy

    I read this article in regards to the “women silent in church” and how it pertains to this verse and headcoverings. It is long but thought he had some good points of interpreting these hard to understand passages http://www.thingstocome.org/silence.htm

    • Rose Pyles


    • ginsuzake

      thanks for sharing the link! long, but very interesting 🙂

  • Lois Ann Mast

    I am not trying to diminish what anyone is doing as far as what type of covering they are using but only to point out one source of veils and that is Joyce Longs Coverings and Veils. You can type that in your search engine and her web site should come up. She has many different fabrics, styles and sizes. I actually make coverings myself, but only one style and I’m very limited so I would point you to her if you wanted to see a web site that I find attractive.

  • Paul Mast

    I’m happy to run across this site. I’m a bible believing Christian and go to a Mennonite Church. I grew up with head coverings and developed a conviction for them. I agree with most I read on here.. I haven’t read a lot though. But don’t take me wrong I believe y’all are doing a great work.. I believe and was told this since little, that the head covering should be wore all the time. The bible says that we should “pray without ceasing” I think what that means is we need to pray to God throughout our whole day. The bible says that the women are supposed to Be covered when praying. So then its only practical that she should be covered not only at church but in her day to day tasks… the head covering is more then just a prayer veiling. Its also a symbol of a submissive spirit to God and people God has placed over her. For example her husband. I mean this all in a good way. God bless

  • Stacy

    I think this is an excellent argument for covering only during public worship. Honestly, I’m a little torn. I can see it both ways: covering only during public worship, and covering full time. I have some questions about this, if it was custom to cover only during public worship then why is it that we look at old works of art and women are almost always wearing a covering. Also, what about the verse that says to pray without ceasing? Like I said, I’m not against either ways of covering because I think there are great arguments for both.

    • Thanks Stacy. There sure are great arguments for both.

      Here’s my response to your questions.

      1) Regarding art, it depends what you’re looking at. Non-Christian covering full time was practised by various cultures (same today) but there was a different practice for corporate worship that went against the culture norm (will be defended soon–it’s a fascinating study). I believe Paul took something that was in use already, altered it and gave it distinct Christian meaning.

      2) For “pray without ceasing”, I find 1 Timothy 2:1-3:15 a helpful study. He starts in 2:1 (“first of all”) talking about topics that do not have to be limited to the local church (prayer/modesty). Then he moves on to topics that can’t be for outside of church (elders/deacons) and finally he let’s us know that he was talking about church practice the whole time for all topics (1 Tim 2:3:15). For me, that helps show that Paul can speak about a general practice (prayer/modesy) but only have a limited focus in mind (corporate worship). He does that also for tongues in 1 Cor 14:27-28 as tongues aren’t limited to the local church, but Paul’s instructions are. That’s why I don’t find “pray without ceasing” compelling for 1 Cor 11 because the context determines the scope of application.

      • AJM

        One question regarding what you say about 1 Timothy 2:1-3:15 being a comprehensive discussion of church practice. In 1 Timothy 1:9 it gives commandment concerning modest hairstyles for woman. This would not be applicable in a church setting if her head was covered. How is this reconciled to your position?

        • Great observation. I’ve been dwelling on this passage for the last few days. When I answer the question “Does a head covering have to be a certain shape, size or style?” I was planning on appealing to this verse. For me, this verse shows that a head covering does not have to cover all of your hair. The womens hair would be long (1 Cor 11:15) and an easy harmonization that doesn’t seem stretched is that some of her hair is still exposed. That’s what I see today practiced for the most part as well.

          • AJM

            I agree that small coverings with much of the hair exposed is a cultural norm now, (in certain cultures and certain church groups where the headcovering is practiced) but historical paintings seem to strongly suggest just the opposite. Shawl-like coverings that draped to the waist or at the least, a large bonnet, is all that I have seen. With that cultural context in view, I find it hard to embrace that this is talking about a church setting. Another consideration is the near identical passage in 1 Peter 3:1-4 where submission and modesty are the main topics being addressed. Modest hairstyles is also brought up here.

            I’m not wanting to be contentious or disagreeable – these are things my husband and I have pondered over quite a bit in our own minds the past couple years as we have come to believe the covering is for public worship, teaching, and prayer vs. all the time. I would be interested in your further thoughts….

          • Thanks for the reply back AJM. No problem at all, it’s a good discussion topic.

            I have not done an extensive study on the paintings (yet) but these are questions that enter my mind when they’re appealed to. 1) Are the paintings post Acts 2? 2) Are they of Christian women? 3) Are they showing women at church meetings rather than in public life? 4) Are the women from various regions so we’re not just getting a regional snapshot?

            When we speak of head coverings I don’t think we can talk about a cultural practice without first defining “who’s culture?”. For example, you said “small coverings” are used predominately today but is that the case for the church in India? North Africa? Since covering was practiced in all churches and the type of covering was not dictated, I would expect there to be a variety of coverings used. I would also expect certain kinds of coverings to be more predominately used based on the culture of where the church is located. There very well could be certain regions where they covered all their hair, and there could be regions where not all of their hair was covered. Or even a mix within the same church. That’s the difficulty for me in appealing to archaeological findings for a practice that was done in “all churches”, in different countries, that was geographically spread out over thousands of miles.

          • Julie Mast

            this has been a most interesting site. I commend you for what I have read so far.Just a thought on wearing a veiling 24/7 versus only for worship:perhaps our backgrounds play a part in the direction Jehovah sends us? I cover for worship, I do not wish to get into a scripture argument with anyone. I observe,I read,I listen.

          • Kimberly Neely

            I agree that covering is for the things listed, and when I first started covering, I kept my veil (scarf) with my Bible and put it on when needed. On Sundays, it was distracting to have to put it on every time I felt the need to, so I soon started wearing a covering all day for that day. I later felt led to cover when praying at home, teaching/discussing scriptures with my children, friends, etc., so I started covering all the time (although this was a much harder decision to make, and opened my eyes to my own vanity). I don’t feel like I *can’t pray if not covered, or that I can’t dress up and wear my hair down and pretty when my husband requests or for an event, but I have peace knowing that it is in place where ever, and when ever I need to pray or discuss scriptures.

          • Sorry for the tardy reply. The place where I referenced that verse can be found here: http://www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/what-is-a-sufficient-head-covering-does-it-have-to-be-a-certain-size-or-style

            Art is not a topic that I’ve looked into with any depth at this point. However, I still have a thought on the topic. Since covering was the practice of all churches (1 Cor 11:16) there really is no overarching cultural context. These churches were spread out geographically over thousands of miles over such places as modern day Israel, Turkey & Greece. They spoke different languages and all had different local customs. While ancient art will give a taste of what they used to wear in a few different areas, it can’t paint a complete picture.

            Paul commands women to cover their heads (verb) rather wearing a specific covering (noun). Because of this it gives room for the use of anything artificial that covers the head.

    • Melissa Bishop

      If you are feeling lead to cover full time pray and ask the Lord to show you just when and where to cover. He will always guide you well.

  • Rachel

    Although I don’t actually cover my head at the moment (I don’t really have anything to cover it with other than knitted hats which are not summer wear) I think that women should cover their head all the time. However, I am probably going to easy myself into it, starting with just covering at church. I don’t think there is anything WRONG with covering all the time, and there is a possibility of it being wrong to only cover during corporate worship, and I would rather err on the side of caution.

    • Hey Rachel, just want to let you know we’re behind you sister. Keep working through the covering issue and if you decide at some point to take the next step we’ll be here to support you sis 🙂

    • Melissa Bishop

      I understand the need to take baby steps. There is a group on yahoo; Prayercoveings3 that is for ladies who cover and who have had opposition to it by friends and family.

      f.y.i., I don;t think you can cover too much! lol Try covering when you are at home praying and see how things go. I started covering last year because I was not sleeping well and covering at night has made a huge difference for me. In all things seek the Lord and He will let you know what to do, especially about covering.

  • When I saw this post in my inbox, I was excited. When I saw the number of comments, I was surprised. When I saw the nature of the comments, I was disappointed. And saddened.
    My position is that Christian women should cover their heads in corporate worship, and that covering all the time is a personal choice. I personally became increasingly aware while praying at home that my head was uncovered, and and found it difficult to pray. Now that I am covered, I can concentrate on the praying, not the covering 🙂
    But I’m eager to extend charis (grace) to all those who have commented.

  • Joyce

    some food for thought that addresses this subject…

  • Amy Pavlovik

    I am thankful to have found this site. I started covering over 7 years ago, but for the last few months I made the decision to cover only for worship. I do not take a strong position that my way is right, but that is how I’ve been led for now. I love meeting other dedicated Christian coverers. I do not have “in real life” fellow coverers except my sister, who lives in a different state. So it is a joy to meet others who are also seeking to live out this conviction. God bless you all.

  • Joshua Perkins

    Since the first half of 1 Corinthians 11 is giving a command not just to women but also to men, another way to answer this question is by looking at its converse:
    When should men be bareheaded—in church or everywhere?

    The answer seems clear: only in church. If women ought to wear headcoverings at all times, then men ought also to remain always hatless.

    • Melissa Bishop

      Interesting point, Joshua. Perhaps Christian men should be hatless at all times. In the book Rees Howells Intercessor, Rees was instructed by the Lord to not wear a hat. These days that may not seem like such a big deal, but when Rees was alive, late 1800’s to early 1900’s, men almost always wore hats. To not wear a hat was to bring upon oneself social criticism. Perhaps a man who prays without ceasing ought not to wear hats, or at least remove them when he prays? I’ve seen many a Christian cowboy remove his hat to pray and then promptly place it back on his head, even when in church. Have you aske dthe Lord about this?


    • Karen B.

      possibly….or this may just be another attempt to make things equal for the men and women? But maybe men should always remain hatless – why not? 🙂

      • David Pendleton

        Please tell me your question, “why not?” was not a serious one!

    • Danica Churchill

      My husband pointed out the same thing. Let’s use our heads here! 😀

  • PamelaMonahan

    I came to head covering through conviction by the Holy Spirit, and that conviction happens more often when I’m praying outside the church than in it. At the same time, I also feel called to be a prayer warrior, that is, to have a ministry of intercession, so I acknowledge this may have to do with God’s personal calling for my life, and others called to different ministries may not have the same calling to cover all the time. I acknowledge women who only cover the services to be also coming to God from a place of obedience. (I also am not legalistic about covering outside church, and often forget.)

  • Karen B.

    Why limit the blessings of the biblical covering to part time? I have had many blessings from covering and I need all the blessings I can get! Plus it is an outward sign of an inward faith and I have noticed a difference in those around me when I wear it. The blessings are not limited to spiritual! Let Her Be Veiled is a wonderful resource book on the subject. I understand that not all are covering or want to cover full time, but I would encourage sisters to at least try it with an open heart 🙂

  • Karen B.

    there are some differences between corporate worshi and prayer and personal worship and prayer, the most obvious one being that one is with other people who see what you are doing and the other is no large group seeing what you are doing. hmmmm….that is something to think about. THere is one thing that is the SAME for both corporate and private prayer/worship: God is as much in one place as the other as well as the angels. So, this begs the question: Why cover around others but not in private? To be honest it sounds more as if those who cover only when they are around a large group of people are doing it for the people. God and the angels are with me as much as in private praise and prayer (and prophesying – look the true meaning up as it is a much broader definition that you might think) so why are we trying to draw a line and say that the covering only needs to be in place some of the time? We must pray without ceasing and at the very least be ready to pray in an instant and not have to get the coreect covering to do so. Just my thoughts

  • Diane Johnson

    This was so helpful! Thank you so much!

  • Jessica

    As I have prayed and pondered over the issue of whether or not the covering is for all the time or for corporate worship, it occurred to me that if Paul had meant for the covering to be worn at all times why would he have bothered saying, “while praying or prophesying”? Wouldn’t he rather have simply said, “A woman ought to have her head covered.”? Does that make sense ladies? I hear many of you saying we shouldn’t be limiting Scripture, but we must likewise be careful not to add to it. Seeking to obey in humility, wisdom and discernment.

    • Kay

      I agree, Jessica. Paul is clear about what activities a woman should be covered for. The question of whether this is only for public assembly is not as easily answered however. Jeremy states (in this page discussion I think) that the context of the type of prophecy would only fit in a public or assembly use of the gift. I believe that a practical approach works for me. My understanding of prophecy (even in this passage) is that it reveals the mind of the Lord, whether past, present or future. The gift is to be used *for the Church *for edification. I believe this can happen (prophesying to edify the Church) at home while teaching your children, online when studying with other believers or discussing Scripture, or even talking with a friend over tea. Prayer also can and should happen throughout the day. For me, it is practical to wear a covering most of the time. However, I do not feel beholden to it, or that I can’t pray or talk about Christ or Scripture if I am not wearing it for some reason. Assembly worship and study would feel inappropriate to me without a covering, but saying a prayer in the shower or bed does not. I think the comparison with the instruction to men is valuable in understanding it as well. Most men will remove a hat when praying, whether in public or not. Most would not have devotional teaching with their children with a hat on. However, I’m certain a soldier would pray with a helmet, farmer with a hat, construction workers, policemen, firemen, etc., would not hesitate to pray while needing to have head protection.

      So, I am not as dogmatic about this “when/where” understanding. I started out wearing a veil strictly to worship, and it has evolved from there. And I don’t believe the teaching on covering is an admonition about modesty, although covering in worship does curtail any distraction that a woman with lovely hair might be. 🙂

  • Christian Filbrun

    It occurs to me as I read through that I never actually commented on this particular post, and perhaps I might do so, as one of the commentors here who has come to the conviction in my own studies that the Scripture calls for a headship veiling beyond just in corporate worship settings. I apologize where my thoughts overlap with others that have been already shared, but here it is for what its worth. It has been mentioned on here in a few different places how it seems to have been primarily during the 20th century that truly serious attempts arose with the intention of isolating andinterpreting verse fifteen at the expense of verse six, and that it was during this time that the Scriptural call for women to cover their heads and men to uncover theirs, especially when praying or prophesying, began to fall under attack from professing Christians. And yet, we also find those believers who accept that the headship veiling is
    applicable to all cultures, recognizing that the hair alone is not enough to fulfill the command for both a natural and a second, artificial covering, but who also feel that a symbolic veiling is only necessary for times of worship.

    As the question comes up of where this idea comes from, the Scriptural text specifically mentions praying and prophesying as times in which the headship order is to be symbolically
    manifested, but with closer and further study, you may discover that Paul’s instructions cannot be limited only to times of corporate worship, as we are instructed first of all that the Divine order of headship was a creation order, rather than something established in the 1st century A.D., and it has been in effect since the beginning of creation, a fact which establishes it as transcending specific times or cultures. And secondly, after sixteen verses dealing with this teaching, Paul
    proceeds to write in the following verses, “but when you come together.” At a straightforward reading, it seems that here he specifically establishes the verses prior to this statement as pertaining to life outside the gathered assembly, whereas from this point forward
    he proceeds to specifically address issues pertaining to church life when the believers met together.

    Further on in I Corinthians 14, Paul explicitly teaches that women are not to prophesy while in the gathered assembly, but what purpose could there be in commanding women to wear a symbolic veiling while prophesying in the gathered assembly, and then three chapters later forbid them to prophesy in the same gathered assembly? It seems that praying and prophesying have to do with much more than only those times when the church gathers together for corporate worship. And this fact, in addition to Paul’s ultimate intended audience, brings many of us to the conclusion that the practical applications of this passage must necessarily apply to other times and places in addition to regular gatherings of the Christian assembly.

    At the risk of belaboring this point, it seems important to reiterate that for a Christian woman to wear her headship veiling during public worship is an excellent choice, and such a practice is clearly in keeping with the teachings of God’s Word! However, we may begin to see how Paul goes beyond public worship here, it doesn’t seem that he had only church gatherings in mind when he wrote the first sixteen verses of I Corinthians 11; once again, this is evidenced by the subsequent phrase “when ye come together”, as he shifted away from a discussion of the headship veiling and into a consideration of the agape meal and communion in those times when the church did specifically come together. As such, it becomes clear how that Paul did not have only the gathered assembly in mind with his instructions upon the headship veiling, and if someone wishes to insist that the gathered assembly was his intended context throughout the whole passage, then I suppose they should be willing to apply the same relevance to
    the headship veiling that they do for partaking of the emblems of communion. Obviously some do and others do not, just a thought that comes to me.

    Regardless of all this, the primary thing that is symbolized by a Christian woman’s veiled head is to bear witness to God’s headship order and a sister’s faithful submission to her part in it. Although the veiling is in focus with praying and prophesying also, I am going to suggest that covering during prayer and prophecy is actually not its PRIMARY function; if it were, we could assume that its use could legitimately be limited to worship services alone. But when we consider those Scriptures to still be applicable which teach that Christian women may prophesy and teach younger women, but that they are also to remain silent in the gathered assembly,
    how could they ever fulfill these callings (even with headship veilings over their hair) if the gathered assembly was the only context in which the headship veiling was called for and they are taught not to speak in those gathered assemblies? It seems that this would imply an unsolvable contradiction in Paul’s teachings, which were from the Lord Himself.

    Just some of my thoughts on why I believe that the wearing of the headship veiling has a scope beyond the gathered assembly only, and how its implications are much more than just toward prayer and prophecy. The unavoidable question arises of whether a sister ought to wear her veiling at all times, or whether she would have liberty to lay aside her veiling at certain times. I can only speak as a man here, but our God is not an impractical God. The truth behind this teaching is that glory should be given to its rightful recipient through an observance of the order of authority which God has designated, and we see from Paul’s teaching that men (who are God’s glory) ought to remain unveiled before Him, thus it seems that whatever is God’s glory (man) need not be veiled in His presence. He has chosen to ask women to publicly conceal the
    glory of their long hair, and in keeping with this aspect, it seems that women would only be at liberty to unveil the glory they possess when they are alone with their head or spiritual authority. However, returning briefly to the thought of prayer and prophecy, I don’t think any of us would suggest that that the few hours we spend each week in an assembly are the only times any sister or brother will be found praying and speaking forth God’s Word!

    Just a couple of my thoughts on why the scope of veiling seems to transcend just corporate worship. I’d be glad to hear from those of you who veil only in worship or even at all times.
    Most of these discussions have been very encouraging thus far.

    • What you wrote really resonates with me. I only started wearing a covering last spring, but it had been on my mind for a few years before that. I started after my church worked through I Corinthians…I missed the week that head coverings was discussed, but I was there for chapter 14. I wanted to understand more about women being silent, so I began investigating on my own. A website I used, that also had recommended reading the section on head coverings, so I did. I was immediately convicted but it took a few weeks to work up the courage.
      Anyway, I am a part of a moms’ group at church, and I lead the prayer time, and I feel like that is one place and time that I think is a perfect fit for covering! I also think about missionaries and people who dedicate their days serving their community, and another wonderful opportunity to show reverence for God’s headship plan. At this point in time, I wear my covering whenever we are out of the house or have guests over. I have been feeling a nudge from God to retake up wearing it while homeschooling my children as well. My husband does like for me to not wear it at home, so I usually don’t put it on if we aren’t going anywhere, but I feel like I need to wear it more often.

    • Joyce

      I’m definitely on par w/ this thinking Christian – but not able to
      share my tho’ts w/ as much eloquence. I’m pretty much a ‘full timer’.
      There are some situations such as swimming that cause question. I
      remember my daughter being on the track team and she wasn’t allowed to
      wear hers for a race. These kinds of things cause one to do some soul
      searching. But I do agree – I cannot justify ‘for corporate worship
      only’ from this passage of scripture as it relates to others. That said
      – I’m SO thankful for this site and it’s encouragement and careful
      instruction. I disagree in this ‘when to cover’ area (I also do not
      happen to be of reformed theology) but delight in what God is doing

    • Ricky Bokovoy

      Amen Christian. Great thoughts!

  • Christine Glover

    Interesting perspective and one with which I disagree. Paul starts the second part of 1 Corinthians 11 with the words ‘now, when you come together as a church’. To me, that indicates that what has gone before is *not* only for when Christians come together as a church. Besides, one of the reasons for covering given is ‘because of the angels’ who are not only present during worship, but see us all the time; thirdly, it is representative of a woman’s submission to her husband – is she only to exercise such submission while in the gathered congregation?

    • Appreciate your thoughts Christine. As of yet we haven’t answered any of the big objections to this article. We do plan on it though to give another take on those points you raised. Thanks for commenting!

    • Kay

      I believe that in our day (culture) covering at all can be a very tough pill to swallow. I see a benefit in limiting the admonition to assembly gatherings because it’s certainly applicable for that context, and much easier to comply with. However, I also see a detrimental result in the limitation of any “religious” practice to “when you go to church” because in our society many see Christians as hypocritical for being one person at “church” and another in their day to day activities. If you are covering in faith according to your understanding, or dressing modestly, seeking the mind of the Lord for each day, it will take on a practical application. If you are following a code of accepted behavior or dress on Sunday, but it contrasts with the rest of the week, it will (in my understanding) amount to wood, hay and stubble, and possibly a confusing testimony. I was taught that covering was for corporate worship. I didn’t like it, I was stubborn, and continued to study it, even while practicing it. I still am. But just as I am of the understanding that women should wear feminine, modest clothing all the time and not just on Sunday (as many I know practice) I don’t limit my own application of covering. I also think the idea of Christian liberty is misunderstood. All things are lawful, but not all expedient. What is our purpose in practicing or foregoing any activity? Study, pray and seek to let the Spirit lead.

    • Cordelia

      Can you then answer for women who not married? What about men? Must they remain perptually hatless?

      • Christine Glover

        I cant answer for unmarried women, though I am studying that aspect.
        As for men and hats, there is a world of difference between a covering for the purposes of 1 Corinthians 11 and something worn on the head to protect against the weather. A woman might wear a hat against the rain, but underneath that, she would also wear the covering. It was only in the latter part of the 20th Century that men started to refuse to remove their headgear when entering a building or church building; prior to that, men did wear hats against the weather (but not a covering for prayer) and they would remove them if they entered a church in particular.

        • Corinne L.

          Let’s include in your question, Christine, a covering for those females younger than “women”…..what about teen girls, what about those younger than teens who are also believers? (I’m from a covering background though I haven’t covered since I was about 17.) Additionally, I’m not so sure men “refused” to remove their headgear when entering a building, and I don’t know that it means anything one way or the other. I’ve seen young men and old men, both, eating in restaurants with their hats/caps on. It looks kind of dorky, but I think that’s the only significance of it.

    • @disqus_pA5aZzn2YH:disqus we just posted our take on your first objection. It’s available here: http://www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/is-the-lords-supper-the-first-time-paul-dealt-with-church-issues

  • Sara June Thompson

    I do believe Paul’s instructions are only for corporate worship. After all, anywhere a woman is commanded to be covered a man is commanded to be uncovered. Are men not allowed to wear hats at all? I don’t think so, up until our generation men routinely wore hats when out of the house. In fact wearing one allowed him to “doff his cap”, “tip his hat” or remove it completely as a sign of respect. However I believe it can be a spiritual discipline a woman chooses to follow to cover more frequently, perhaps every time she prays, perhaps every time she leaves the house, perhaps all her waking hours. I have only started covering since January but have felt led sometimes to cover in other situations besides church. But let us not take a step that a woman could choose to do voluntarily (ie cover outside of church) and try to make it a rule that women MUST follow. Just as we are commanded to tithe 10% but may choose to give more to the Lord, let us leave it up to the individual to decide how God is leading her.

    • Kay

      Interesting you should use tithing as an example when it is not mentioned or appealed to in any instruction for the Church. I am not trying to be contentious, but any teaching for the assembly should be put through the litmus test of the Scripure, and not just assumed to truth because of traditional or new teaching.

      I agree that the teaching on covering is applicable for corporate worship or gathering, but don’t believe it is *limited to these. You have to fill in gaps with assumption to say this. Same as the teaching that women should *always be covered. Paul doesn’t seem to imply that either.

      Must we have a set rule? I don’t believe so. When ever praying, prophesying. Men and women both enjoined to outwardly express their submitted heart toward God’s order. Public testimony is certainly in mind, as Paul (rhetorically) asks if it’s proper. But it’s also for the angels, who are always observing.

      • Sara June Thompson

        Sorry, I used tithing as an example as I thought most Christians believed in it. Feel free to substitute anything where you believe a certain minimal level is required for obedience, but a Christian may go “above and beyond” as a spiritual discipline out of love for God, while it not be “required” of others who do not do so.

        • Kay

          I do agree with you, and only mentioned the example of the tithe because it is similarly used for a test (in some assemblies) of true submission to Christ.

          Where do we get the concept of minimal levels of obedience? Just something to ponder.

          All the instructions for the Church assume a sacrificed life. It is never about rules, and obedience is in response to a crucified flesh. Do we fully understand everything? I certainly don’t. I struggle with fleshly wants, pride, etc. However, placing a minimum on any practice implies a maximum. A basic rule, which has nothing to do with a Spirit – led life. God wanted the Hebrews to be a nation of priests. But they preferred rules. “Tell us what to do” they said, asking Moses to intercede for them. They were given the Law.

          They also gained a pious pride that has been disdained historically. Many denominations have done the same, by obtaining some minimal level of compliance to cherry – picked commandments of Christ.

          Sorry so long. I just believe we must be careful to look at God’s Word, being obedient with the purpose of letting Him conform us into His image. Not necessarily to please Him. Hope that makes some sense. It is late. 🙂

    • Cordelia

      Well articulated Sara!

    • LeonMoyer

      You make an understandable mistake when you compare men wearing a hat or cap on their head to the woman’s head being covered. See my post on the main link for details, but basically if we understand the woman to have her head totally covered by a thin veil such as the Muslim women wear, then we realize the man is not sinning by wearing a hat while praying, since his head is NOT covered by a scriptually commanded veil. This is also to help the viewer to distinguish between the sexes–confusion is not of God, He wants men to look like men, with a full beard ( or whatever God has given the individual to grow) and the women to look feminine without tempting men to lust, by growing their hair long and uncut, and covering their whole head and facial beauty with a veil.

  • Kay

    As I read this passage, quoted by Murray, he specifies “I praise you” and “I praise you not” as pulling the teachings together. I do agree. However, it’s feasible that he is praising them (or not) as an assembly in general, not *only as a gathered assembly for a corporate purpose. He doesn’t add this context until verses 17 and 18. These verses specify the coming together for The Lord’s supper.

    Just a thought. 🙂

  • Cocoa Boayue

    Sorry I’m a little confused. At the beginning it says to be covered at all times, but then the note at the end kinda goes against that. Should it be worn always or just in worship and prayer?

    • Just corporate worship (meaning worship that takes place when the church is gathered together).

  • Teresa Rincon

    What do you make of 2 Corinthians 3:18

  • Erin

    What about morning worship and Christian groups within schools? Is this still corporate worship?

    • Sometimes it’s difficult to determine what specifically is corporate worship. It’s not black-and-white so if you feel like you should cover in a particular situation, I’d encourage you to do that. Always follow your conscience.

      Here’s some questions I ask myself.

      1) Is this meeting under the authority of church elders?

      2) Would this be an appropriate setting for us to partake of the Lord’s supper together?

      3) Are we essentially doing what we would normally do on a Sunday morning worship service?

      If there’s a “yes” to any of these questions I’d probably remove my own hat.

      Hope that helps.

      • Kay

        “The people being edified by prophecy is the gathered church. So once again this is a gift to be used in community.”

        I would suggest, (and believe) that prophecy can edify believers whether they are gathering for coffee, or talking on the phone, or posting on (and reading) a discussion online.

        I believe the Spirit will lead you in application of any practice, when submitting to His will. So I don’t quite agree with limiting this teaching to assembly gatherings.

  • I’ve heard of some families that took communion together… So that doesn’t seem like a strictly public tradition… In which case, headcovering wouldn’t be strictly public, either… Thoughts?

    • Thanks for the question Carlie. Here are my thoughts:

      In 1 Cor 11:18 he says the context is “when you come together as a church”. He says further in verse 20 that the Lord’s supper was taken “you meet together”.

      In 1 Cor 11:33 it says “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another”

      First we see that he says when “you” come together. The “you” is the local church to whom the letter was written. It’s not a general letter, but he’s personally addressing this one church as the issue he’s correcting was specific to them.

      Then finally Paul twice contrasts this gathering of believers who are taking the Lord’s supper with their own homes. This shows the context is the local church gathered, not a family at home.

      He says in v22 “What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink?”
      and in v34 “If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home”

      So I’d say that the NT knows nothing of a private Lord’s supper administration. Neither prescriptive or descriptive.

  • Charlotte

    I don’t really understand: do you mean that head covering is only for when christians are gathered? Because you talk about prophecy in the assembly, but women don’t talk in the assembly (1st Corinthians 14:34). I hope you understand my question, I don’t speak english very well…

    • Hi Charlotte, your English is great 🙂

      Some take this passage as saying a woman has the right to pray and prophesy in the assembly. So 1 Cor 14:34 is interpreted in light of this passage. For a defense of that view see “Silent in the Churches” by D.A. Carson: https://bible.org/seriespage/silent-churches-role-women-1-corinthians-1433b-36

      Others see “praying and prophesying” as a metonymy for corporate worship. Kinda like how we say “white house” to refer to the government. “Praying and prophesying” would refer to the gathered time when believers are worshiping God together.

      • Charlotte

        Thank you for answering. I understand that a woman has to wear a head covering in the assembly. As for me, I know God doesn’t want me to speak in the assembly. I wander what prophesying means for a woman. We see several women prophesying in the Bible, but “out” of the assembly.

      • Amy Unruh

        Wow, that article seems like a Masters thesis.

  • essaias

    Solution: Men must be always ready to uncover because prayer may be needed at anytime. Therefore women ought also to be ready to pray at anytime. Therefore they should be ready to cover at anytime. So keep your covering with you wherever you go.

  • Kent

    Thank you for this web site and for being willing to address the matter of headcovering. It’s evident that what Paul writes is for all times. But the “how” and “when” questions can pose challenges for believers who want to sincerely honor the Lord in the outward expression of these truths.

    Your recent response to Charlotte was interesting: “Others see “praying and prophesying” as a metonymy for corporate worship”. It would be helpful if you spent more time on this. Can you further elaborate on how this could be a metonymy. Is there good Scriptural grounds for viewing it this way? This could be a clarifying point for those who believe the covering is for today but are unclear when it is to be practiced.

  • Amy Unruh

    Ok, another question. I’ve read the articles with your views on covering in public worship only and why you feel that way, given the context of what comes later, but my question is why? Why would Paul appeal to the headship order and nature only to say that it is only to be done in corporate worship. Doing so seems more cultural then, since why would a woman only cover when praying and prophesying in church. Why in church and not at other times that she does this? Was it for the benefit of the other people in the church? Was there contention from women (which some have argued for) who were not being submissive and this was being done so the angels could see the women obeying? I think the reason I have such an issue here is because I don’t see an answer as to why Paul would command this. What does the headship order and nature have to do with corporate worship that it does not equally affect outside of worship? I can never understand something unless the “why” is answered, just so you know I’m not trying to be contentious. It’s just the only way I can understand.

      • Amy Unruh

        I guess I still don’t feel that the article you referenced really addresses the deep-seeded issue of why. I’d already read that article. Why was this symbol needed in corporate worship but not elsewhere, especially when the early church fathers seem to indicate that the veil was not only worn in corporate worship: http://earlychristianfellowship.org/?page_id=3167 ? So if the early church fathers, as misguided as some of them were (ahem, Tertullian, Ambrosiaster), seem to indicate that tradition called for veiling in more than just corporate worship and even indicated veiling the face, should we be concerned with their writings? Were they overreaching, since they do speak of veiling the face, as well? Did the early church fathers misunderstand this, perhaps due to early Jewish customs?

        • Amy Unruh

          Also, reading these church fathers’ writings and knowing the historical view of women and the ill treatment of them throughout church history (obviously, they missed the part about Jesus and how He treated women), I can see why head coverings were thrown out in the first place and why the long hair as a covering is so embraced. Who wouldn’t want to embrace the one positive part of that scripture? Some of these church fathers viewed women as inferior and were quite negative. It seems more that the world’s view pervaded their views instead of Holy Spirit.

          • I also don’t agree with some of the language choices from many of the Church’s fathers.

            However, I would argue that head covering is a beautiful, freeing symbol. It’s about embracing God’s grand design for humanity. So while head covering can be spun in a negative way, I choose to view it positively, the way it’s supposed to be. God gave us beautiful symbols. Embracing biblical manhood and womanhood is where we’ll find freedom and joy as we align ourselves with the way God made us to be. I believe Egalitarianism produces a false sense of freedom as we will never be truly free if we’re not following God’s design.

        • While we appreciate the fathers, ultimately we don’t talk about a face-veil because Scripture doesn’t talk about a face veil. Paul also said we pray not like Moses who had to veil his face (2 Corinthians 3:13). So that would be far too ironic if all the women had their faces veiled. Some of the fathers also argue from modesty, but that cannot be found in the passage. While some may argue that “corporate worship” can’t be found in 1 Cor 11, that’s an argument made not from the text, but from the context. Whereas modesty and face-veiling cannot be found from the text or the broader context. They’re completely absent.

          To answer your question about why, it’s because corporate worship is a unique/God ordained/set apart time. It’s a time when God promises to be with us in a special way (Matthew 18:20) and when symbols (like the Lord’s supper and headcovering) take on Christian meaning apart from their common use (the meal doesn’t just feed you—the covering doesn’t just protect your head from the elements). It’s a God-ordained gathering that is different from other times.

          • Amy Unruh

            Yes, but this refers to any kind of gathering where even just two or three or gathered. This can be at a friend’s house for a Bible study or a fellowship gathering. This can be in the lunchroom at work with fellow believers. This can even be at Wal-Mart if you run into a friend from church and pray with them. Is this not so?

          • “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

            Those two passages above are in reference to the previous verses (Matthew 18:15-18) where church discipline is taking place. The “agree” about anything is about deciding to bind or loose a person under the discipline of the church. Jesus promises to be there in the midst of the church as they seek to render a decision.

          • Amy Unruh

            Ok, but it doesn’t just happen in church, because it refers to discipline done in private, right? This discipline is done away from the church unless the brother doesn’t listen on at least two occasions and to two or more brothers who go to deal with the matter in private, and it doesn’t seem to reference just church discipline. It seems wider in context beginning with chapter 18, verse 18. It seems so, at least. What if this happened to a sister in Christ and those who spoke to her wanted to enter into prayer?

  • Colin Saxton

    When “praying or prophesying” … my daughter places her head covering on when praising God in her private prayer time including when praying with others in or outside the fellowship meeting. It can be seen from scripture that it would be obvious to do this in the public gathering for fellowship and I would fall on freedom to what others do outside of that time. Also it is just a simple head covering…it isn’t a veil on the face…Again I believe the women has freedom on the type of head covering.

    Christian brothers and sisters should not frown on others who do not wear a head covering and neither should those who wear a head covering be told to remove it, which is just as bad as forcing someone to do something because you don’t like it! We wouldn’t force someone to be baptized and this is the same.

    How much do we love the Lord – the individual must ask that question and follow the word to his or her conscience. We must individually learn to submit and love others who disagree with us…we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. My daughters walk with the Lord is between her and the Lord…I can guide her, help her and love her but I can never (never) force her to do something…it is all through the leading of the Spirit through His Word. My daughter chooses to cover her head.

    Every blessing.

    • Loved this line Colin. Well said:

      “Men and women have no problem submitting to places of work/club dress codes. Is God not more important than our work bosses or club membership boards? “

    • Ruthie

      Thankyou for sharing how you’ve allowed your daughter to make her covering decision on her own with the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. It’s a lovely picture of your father/daughter relationship.

  • Angela Joy

    First, I’m a part timer presently. But I’ve been reviewing the scripture and I’m not sure of the church only setting conclusion. As I read the chapter, it seems to me, Paul is talking to the church as individual believers. He doesn’t mention ‘when you come together’ as in other instances and the previous chapter ended with activities outside a formal gathering of believers. Verses 4-5 talk of prayer and prophecy as times when a woman should be covered and a man uncovered. Both prayer and prophecy far exceed a corporate setting. We are to pray without ceasing however much of that is the quick thank you or plea ect. I get the impression that the covering, or no cover for the men, is for more purposeful or intentional prayer, wherever the believer is. Perhaps, where 2 or more are gathered in my name comes into play with this. It would generally be a simple matter to remove a hat (men) or pull a scarf over your head (women) when consciously doing either when; with friends and you stop and pray or give a prophecy (not as frequent an occurance), praying over a meal, praying with someone you’ve witnessed to ect. Also, Paul, in verse 17, now says ‘when you come together as a church’. Which suggests that he wasn’t speaking about prayer and prophecy only in a church gathering previously since he specifically addresses a problem when they come together. Now, if this outlook is accurate, it isn’t a necessary endorsement of FT covering. (Fulltime meaning to cover most of your waking hours.). Or in the case of men, to never wear a hat. But that covering applies to more than just for church. I totally get ft covering. Especially when you know you will be praying a lot or for other personal convictions. But, I think that corporate worship might be too narrow a view for what Paul means to cover/uncover during prayer in prophecy. ☺

  • Ken Griffith

    The only Biblical example of women prophesying in the NT was in a private home, not in a corporate worship service. See Phillip’s daughters. 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2, also strongly suggest that women would not have been allowed to prophesy in corporate meetings of the church. These two points substantially weaken your line of argument that the passage is only applied to worship services.

  • Angela

    I have a question. What do you believe the Bible teaches on women speaking/teaching/giving testimony in church? Based on what you have shared here, it would seem that the very fact that women are to wear their covering while praying or prophesying, would indicate that they are to speak/teach/give testimony in the church, if in fact, prophesying is only in a corporate setting. I have been taught that it is not right to teach (edify) men in the corporate setting (1 Cor. 14 and 1Tim 2), and based on that and the fact that prayer is not qualified as being only corporate in the 1 Cor. 11 passage, I have come to believe that I am to wear my covering any time I am praying (privately or corporately), and anytime I am talking about God or edifying anyone. Out of convenience, I choose to wear it all the time, though I don’t necessarily believe the Bible teaches that. It just seems to me that if you teach that the praying and prophesying in this passage is only referring to corporately, then you must also allow women to teach/speak/give testimony in the churches, and at least some of that is forbidden in other passages. I am not saying this to find fault or to pick at you or your doctrines. I really appreciate your ministry. I am just wanting to more fully understand where you’re coming from and where you draw the lines as far as women teaching/speaking/giving testimony, etc.

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