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Why Head Coverings? Reason #4: Church Practice

Biblical Case for Head Coverings

“Paul taught all the churches this custom and he expected them to follow it. In this final statement he cuts off all further argument by appealing to universal Christian usage.” – Mary A. Kassian (Professor of Womens Studies, SBTS) 1) Mary Kassian – Women, Creation and the Fall (Crossway Books, 1990) – Page 100.

When we hear the word “tradition” we usually think of it as the inventions of man which are not found in Scripture. The traditions may be beneficial (or at least not harmful) but because God doesn’t command them, neither should we. When it comes to understanding head coverings we need to ask, is this a tradition or a command? Let’s look at our first verse:

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (1 Cor 11:2 NASB)

Though the “traditions” are not defined, it is very likely that head covering was one of them. Why do I think this? The teaching on head coverings (1 Cor 11:3-16) is sandwiched in between two contrasting statements. In verse 2 Paul says “I praise you” followed by teaching on head coverings. Then in verse 17 he says “I do not praise you” followed by  teaching on the Lord’s supper and spiritual gifts (which they were misusing). The sentence structure of 1 Corinthians 11 uses verses 2 and 17 as topic headings. What immediately follows each of those verses is a teaching on the practices that fit the heading; the first to inform (praise) and the latter to correct (praise not). If head coverings were not being practiced by the Corinthians, it likely would have been addressed under “I do not praise you” (1 Cor 11:17). Read more

References

1.
 Mary Kassian – Women, Creation and the Fall (Crossway Books, 1990) – Page 100.

Why Head Coverings? Reason #3: Nature

Biblical Case for Head Coverings

…the long hair is an indication from ‘nature’ of the differentiation between men and women, and so the head covering required is in line with what ‘nature’ teaches.” – John Murray (Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1930-66) 1) From ‘Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship’ a letter from John Murray to Mr. V. Connors www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/head-coverings-and-decorum-in-worship-a-letter-by-john-murray

Paul’s third reason for head coverings is probably the most confusing and misunderstood of all his arguments. It’s an appeal to a persons sense of what’s right, based upon what nature teaches us. I’ll break that down more as we continue, but for now let’s look at our next verse.

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (1 Cor 11:13 NASB)

A rhetorical question according to the Random House dictionary is “asked solely to produce an effect or make an assertion.” This is what Paul is doing when he says “judge for yourselves”. We know this primarily because he just finished a lengthy defense for why we must practice head coverings. He wouldn’t then overturn that by allowing you to choose if you want to obey a doctrine rooted in creation. Rather Paul is declaring the debate closed. He’s saying “you all know this is the only right option”. No one would say that it’s proper for a woman to pray uncovered in church. That may not be so obvious to you right now, but stick with me.

This isn’t the first time believers are told to “judge for yourselves”. In fact we’ll turn to a few of those passages now to help us see this verse more clearly. Read more

References

1.
 From ‘Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship’ a letter from John Murray to Mr. V. Connors www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/head-coverings-and-decorum-in-worship-a-letter-by-john-murray

Why Head Coverings? Reason #2: Angels

Biblical Case for Head Coverings

“Paul’s admonition for women to wear a head covering ‘because of the angels’ removes any doubt that this teaching is universal and timeless.” – K.P. Yohannan (Founder, Gospel for Asia) 1) K.P. Yohannan – Head Coverings (2011, Believers Church Publications) Page 24

When it comes to verses that Christians admit they don’t understand, 1 Corinthians 11:10 tops most of our lists.

Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1 Cor 11:10 NASB)

The Apostle Paul just told us that we’re to practice head coverings because of the angels. So no matter what this verse means in its fullness, what we know we have is one of Paul’s reasons. This point can’t be stressed highly enough. We don’t seek to understand what this verse means and if we do “get it”, it will become a reason. Rather, because it is a reason we therefore seek to understand it. The difficulty to us is that Paul says this in passing without explaining what he meant. A likely reason for this is that the church in Corinth understood what Paul meant, therefore an explanation would be unnecessary. In his letter to the Thessalonians, he said that he had explained details about Christ’s Second Coming to them when he was with them (2 Thess 2:5). This too may be one of those doctrines that was articulated while in their presence. Read more

References

1.
 K.P. Yohannan – Head Coverings (2011, Believers Church Publications) Page 24

Why Head Coverings? Reason #1: Creation Order

Biblical Case for Head Coverings

“…the thing that is most astonishing here is that he appeals to creation, not to Corinth. If anything transcends local custom it is those things that are rooted and ordered in creation. That’s why I’m very frightened to be loose with this passage.” – R.C. Sproul 1) Quoted from R.C. Sproul’s sermon ‘To Cover or Not To Cover’ available at www.ligonier.org/learn/series/hard_sayings_of_the_apostles/to-cover-or-not-to-cover/


There are four reasons for head coverings that the Apostle Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 11. The very first of these is the foundation; the deeper reality that head coverings point to. When a new believer is baptized they’re symbolizing their death to their old life & new life in Christ (Rom 6:4). When a woman prays with her head covered and a man prays with his head uncovered they too are symbolizing something greater. Let’s take a look at this foundation. Read more

References

1.
 Quoted from R.C. Sproul’s sermon ‘To Cover or Not To Cover’ available at www.ligonier.org/learn/series/hard_sayings_of_the_apostles/to-cover-or-not-to-cover/

An Introduction To A Neglected Doctrine

An Introduction to a Neglected Doctrine

Head coverings are not a popular doctrine. In fact, that’s quite the understatement. So why would I start a movement based upon it? Do I enjoy controversy? Absolutely not. Looking to be divisive? The opposite. Then what would possess me to do such a thing? The short answer is, because it’s in the Bible. See, if “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16) then all Scripture deserves fair treatment. On top of that, this particular topic is not just mentioned in the Bible, but it’s defended. It’s not just one or two obscure verses but it occupies 15 consecutive verses. We can debate what Paul meant and we can debate how it applies in the 21st century, but the one thing we can’t do is ignore this topic. Read more

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