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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Headcovering: A Salvation Issue?

Headcovering: A Salvation Issue?

I hear the comment often: “The headcovering is not a salvation issue.” Is it? Is it not? This comment is thrown around so carelessly, as if it's a real simple thing, however I believe it goes much deeper than the speaker realizes. In this article I hope to examine some of the many sides of this issue. Also, I will be adding some of these things to my article about “Common excuses for not wearing a covering.

First, what is salvation? The bible says Christ is the author of eternal salvation for all who OBEY. Christ spoke often of his disciples obeying him, and obedience is given as a condition that must be met before we receive a promise. Here are just a few examples from Christ himself:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”
“You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you.” [how many friends would you have if you used that statement as the condition of your friendship?]
“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loves me not keeps not my sayings.” [notice the condition]
“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.” [notice the conditions]
“If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed: and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [notice, you must continue in his word FIRST.]
“Whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” [notice, it's not just hearing, but hearing AND doing]
“He that endures to the end shall be saved.” [another condition]

Does Christ command us to cover?
An excuse I hear quite often on the streets and elsewhere is, “But Christ didn't command us to wear a covering!” He didn't? Or did he? The covering is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11. Shortly after that in chapter 14 Paul says, “The things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” So, while there may not be any 'red letter words' that specifically say, “Women are to cover their heads,” there is a command in the bible from the Lord for us to do so. If we cannot believe Paul when he says he speaks the commands of the Lord, then we might as well just throw the bible out and quit calling ourselves christians. Also, it is quite easy to look back through history and see that christian women covered their heads until very recently. How could we be doing it wrong for the first 1,900 years and then all of the sudden in the last 100 or less have things right?

But Jesus didn't rebuke the woman for showing her hair when she wiped his feet! She must not have had a covering on!
Is that what the bible said? I believe this is a thought for a few reasons, but mostly because it sounds like a good excuse to not cover. We are so stuck in a box and find it hard to see beyond it. Do you really think women 'back then' went through all the fuss of pinning their hair up 'just so' with all the right pins and hairnets so none of it ever showed? I seriously doubt it. Yet today that seems to be the only way most can visualize it, so when they read the passage of the woman wiping Christ's feet with her hair they think she must not have had a covering on.
But couldn't it be that the coverings 'back then' were quite elementary and not as refined or 'evolved' (or corrupted?!) as they are today? Where in the bible does it say the hair has to be in a nice bun and never show any part of it? I do believe they covered it as best as they could, but I also believe it must have slipped out once in a while because it just wasn't that big of a deal.
And too, couldn't it also be that this woman was new to the faith? How do we know whether she had or did not have a covering on? And if she didn't, how do we know but she didn't go and put one on after she repented?
We must erase the images in our mind of what we assume things look like and just read what is there in black [or red] and white.

But Paul tells women not to make their hair up all fancy! This proves women did not cover their heads because obviously Paul could see their hair. If they had a covering on he would not have been able to see their hair!
Here again is another narrow-minded thought. Just because the bible says in 1 Peter 3 and 1 Timothy 2 that women are not to adorn or fancy-up their hair does not mean they did not have some sort of covering on.
→ The key is, these verses [1 Peter 3:1-6, 1 Timothy 2:9-10, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, Titus 2, Proverbs 31, and other verses in the New Testament specifically for women] paint a picture of a godly woman: meek, quiet, shamefaced, submissive, chaste, covered, modest, trustworthy, honest, and so on. A woman who loves her husband and her children, who is in her God-given place and content to be there, doing all she knows how to please her husband and the Lord. A woman who does not see obedience as bondage but rather as freedom.
The opposite of course would be: loud, rebellious, stubborn, gossips/tattlers, uncovered, immodest, adorned in fancy or flashy things/jewelry, and so on. A woman who is not in submission to her husband, is caught up in legalism (looking for loopholes), and is not content in her God-given place. This woman sees submission and covering as bondage and oftentimes is of a critical spirit, though she does not see it and never will until she gives up her life in this world.

All the time or only in public worship?
Some women believe they only have to cover their heads during public worship and in fact are quite against doing it at any other time. They use the phrase “while praying or prophesying” in 1 Corinthians 11 and instructions on communion in the same chapter as their justification for this belief that it is only for public worship. However, a few chapters later Paul is very clear that women are to be quiet in the church, and in fact if they have anything to say they are to say it to their husbands at home. This is mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament as well – women are to be in submission, learn in silence, not teach the man, etc. 
Is this a contradiction in the scriptures? Is Paul confused? Did he command women in 1 Cor 11 to wear a covering during public worship so they could pray and prophesy and then a few chapters later change his mind and tell them they had to be quiet during public worship?

Someone is wrong here and I think it's safe of me to say it is not Paul.

Another excuse I've heard by professing christians on the streets and elsewhere is, “I don't wear a covering outside of church meetings [or don't wear a covering at all] because it draws unnecessary attention. The Pharisees did things to be seen of men and wearing a covering outside of church meetings [or wearing a covering at all] is the same thing.
Seriously? Come on now. Not obey the scriptures because you might be mistaken for a Pharisee? Is that what Christ wants? No. In fact, he tells us that unless our righteousness EXCEEDS the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees we will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Why would you rather be mistaken for a follower of the world/Satan instead of a follower of Christ? I do not want to be lumped with the rest of society! I am a stranger and a pilgrim here, dressed to please my Lord, not myself or men.

So, is it or is it not a 'salvation issue'?
I believe in some cases it is not, however in most cases it is. You see, there are two different kinds of hearts: one that desires to please the Lord in everything and one that cuts corners and is still holding on to self. We'll talk about the latter first.

Forgetting the subject at hand and all that preceded this paragraph, let's look at the heart of the statement itself - “It's not a salvation issue ...” It's the same as saying, “I am only going to do as little as I have to to scrape by.” Now, THAT'S a salvation issue! If you ever find yourself saying “it's not a salvation issue” to justify why you do not do something in the scriptures, then you'd better examine yourself.
Women who use this excuse to justify their lack of covering are usually holding on to the world in other areas too. Unsubmissive to their husbands, gossips, makeup, jewelry, pants or immodest dresses and skirts, and the other things I have already mentioned above.
I have known of several women who used to cover and dress modestly but then decided one day to take the covering off. No, it did not happen over night and yes, there were other things involved, however in every case that I have known of, when the covering comes off the wearing of makeup and jewelry are not far behind, and pants soon after. Many go further than that. Flesh and the world take center stage. What's even worse, they go around teaching other women that they do not have to cover and cause some to stumble!! 

If you think this is not a salvation issue you are sadly mistaken.

Having said all of that, I do believe some women really are doing all they know how to follow the Lord and once they read the passage on covering they will cover their heads. It will be a non-issue for them because their heart is 100% for the Lord. Instead of looking for loopholes or coming up with every excuse they can think of as to why they really do not have to cover, they will simply cover their heads. Even in obeying and putting on the covering some might not understand it all, and some may never understand it all, however their heart is to obey and please the Lord and their child-like faith trusts that the Lord knows best. They know what is of great value to the Lord and strive to be a woman that brings glory to him.

Some final thoughts on what is and what is not a covering.
Oh, so you are saying a man cannot ever wear a hat on his head?
Here is the boxed-in thinking again. The headcovering is not for protection from the weather (stocking caps, sun,etc.) or a job (hard hats). Don't you think God knows the difference?

But how do I know if my covering is right?
A pure heart will figure this one out sooner or later. Some use covering as a fashion statement. Obviously this is the spirit of the world and does not please the Lord. There is safety in keeping it simple. It's always good to examine yourself and be sure of your motives behind choosing what you wear and put on your head. If your goal is to please yourself/the flesh then you are wrong.

Sadly some are trying to look perfect to cover up an ugly heart, but the truth will always be revealed sooner or later. It is only when our hearts are not in the right place that we get all caught up in silly thinking and get led away from what is godly and pleasing to the Lord. For instance, some women have very specific beliefs on what a covering is and how the hair should be done. They even go so far as to look down on others because they do not do it exactly the same way. Some are adamant that a covering must be worn at all times, even to bed or with wet hair right out of the shower. In fact, I know of some who will not even pray in the shower because they do not have a covering on; they consider it a wicked thing. Do you really think that is what God had in mind when he commanded us to cover? Covering is not bondage! It is a blessing and a privilege!

It all really comes down to this one statement: covering is about a woman being in her God-given place. Be sure you know your husband's desires on this issue and follow him accordingly.


  1. Very good article and you made very good answers to common statements.. I published it to my fb. :)

  2. Praise the Lord; thank you both. j

  3. Hello Joanne,
    I recently found your blog and enjoyed reading a few of the posts. I read your "About" page, and I had a few questions.
    How is breaking your sacred marriage vows and repeating the initial sin of divorce a second time a thing of virtue?
    Please forgive me if I am asking controversial questions. If you prefer not to publish my comment, I understand; I just feel troubled by your approach.

  4. I was just reading an article by a Christian pastor about why Christian women should not wear headcoverings. He says that the actual commandment is that women are being told to have long hair (not short cut mannish hairstyles).

    And it made me want to ask, what about women who cannot grow long hair? If for genetic/texture reasons, illnesses or chronic conditions, hair loss with aging, etc. there really are many women living with serious hair loss.

    I just cannot think of any other commandments we are supposedly given that would be for things outside of our personal control. We are instructed to obedience. No Christians are commanded that they must get married, that they must have children, that they must do a particular kind of labor or work, or anything that could fall outside of their physical control even if they did want to obey.

    And thank God for it, that we are not commanded to things outside of our own power and obedience. Growing long hair or having hair at all is for many women outside of their control, but wearing the headcovering is a choice of obedience available to us.

  5. Dear Hannah - in answer to your question -- I believe Jesus when he said one man and one woman until death. Anything added to that is adulterous. It is not a sin to leave a sin, but it WOULD be a sin to stay in a sinful (adulterous) marriage. The New Testament is very clear: No adulterer will enter in to the kingdom of heaven.

  6. Joanne:
    I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. When you divorced your second husband, did you "leave the sin" or repeat it?
    Jesus clearly states in the Gospel of John how He views second marriage when He confronted the woman at the well.
    When she informed Him that she did not have a husband, He said, "You have had five husbands, and the man you now live with is not your husband."
    Clearly, He saw her five previous men as legitimate husbands; the sixth man was merely a live-in.
    Note also that He never told her that she must make her adultery right before drinking of the living water.
    I realize that you are much older than I am; I hope I do not appear arrogant to you. As a side note, I am very familiar with the plain people-particularly the Mennonites and the Anabaptists-as well as their interpretations of the Scriptures, so I am not ignorant of your beliefs. Divorce in itself is indeed a serious sin; repeating it is even worse.

  7. Hannah - there are many things we can assume about the woman at the well, but we must just read it for what it says. You mention John but you left out what Jesus said in the three other gospels, which actually IS clear and does not take any assuming:

    "Whoever marries a divorced woman is committing adultery."


    "The two are one flesh. What God has joined together let not man separate."

    And what Paul says in two of his letters:

    "No adulterer will enter in to the kingdom of heaven."

  8. I do not mean to upset you, however,you have it all wrong. The Bible says that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags. We are saved by grace through faith. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. The Bible says that we are dead in sin, we are blind. Salvation is of the Lord. We can never obey God's law perfectly. We are saved by Christ's death on the cross and resurrection AND because He obeyed the law perfectly in our place! This is why Christ is called the second Adam. If you study covenant theology, you will see that because of Christ and His obedience to the law or covenant of works, like Abraham, we are under a covenant of grace, not works. Any obedience or fruit that we now have is out of grateful obedience for what He has done. It is not the other way around. When Christ says to abide in Him, abiding is faith or being united to Christ! Abiding is not a work. The fruit is Christ! Any command (imperative) in the Bible is because of the Gospel(indicative). We can not earn our righteousness! Christ is our righteousness! I highly recommend that you listen to Michael Horton's sermon on the difference between the law and the Gospel. How we read the Bible is so important. It effects everything! Blessings to you.

  9. When Christ said in Matthew 5:20 that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven, His point was to restore the true nature of God's law as demanding total and radical holiness. This is why we need Christ. The law of God is a schoolmaster, driving us to Christ. The law shows us our sin. The only way we can be Holy is through Jesus Christ! If we are united to Christ, we are Holy. It is not the other way around. Please study reformed theology.

  10. Jamie, we will not have a theology test on judgment day. (but the NT does say what we WILL be judged by on that day) I suggest you ditch the theology, pray the Lord would help you to clear it out of your mind, and just read the bible for what it says. (Like, for instance, all of our righteousness is filthy rags ... one of the most misused passages that I know of. Instead of seeing it through theologians, just read it for what it says.)

  11. Joanne,
    What we believe is SO important. We ALL read our Bibles with a certain belief system whether we want to admit to it or not. The lens that we read Scripture through must be Christ. Theology is the study of God. I will not ditch my theology. How can we love God unless we know Him? We must study theology in order to know Him. You are coming to Scripture with a certain belief system. It is called hermeneutics. When the Father looks at me, He sees His Son. I am covered head to toe in Christ's perfect righteousness! I am sealed by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of Christ. The only difference is that if we are in Christ, like the vision of Joshua,the high priest in Zechariah 3:1-5, I am clothed head to toe in Christ's perfect righteousness. The only way any of us can stand before a Holy God is if Christ clothes us. Yu and I read the Bible in very different ways. The Bible is not a book of morals. Many unbelievers are very morally good people. I used to read the Bible in this way. It wasn't until the Lord showed me my sinfulness, that He opened my eyes to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now any good that I do is out of grateful obedience because of what He has done. He saved a filthy sinner like me! He chose me from before the foundation of the world. The closer and longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how horribly sinful I am. We are depraved. As Christians we are simultaneously justified and sinful. One of my favorite quotes is by John Owen, "Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing and realizing of the Gospel in our souls". The law does not make us more obedient or Holy. It's the Gospel that does that! It's not WWJD? It's What DID Jesus do(WDJD)?

  12. Jamie, you speak heresy. Sin will not enter heaven. Don't let anyone (not even your theologians) deceive you. Whoever does righteousness is righteous. Whoever commits sin is of the Devil.

  13. Joanne,
    If your statement to Jamie "Jamie, you speak heresy. Sin will not enter heaven. Don't let anyone (not even your theologians) deceive you. Whoever does righteousness is righteous. Whoever commits sin is of the Devil" is correct, the apostle Paul is in hell, as even at the end of his life, he called himself the chief of sinners.

  14. Oh Joanne, you are believing a lie. I will pray for you. You are not following the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are no different than the Pharisees. Until you realize how sinful you really are, you will never realize your need for a Savior (Luke 17:9-14). We are ALL wired for law. It's a Gospel that is a surprise. You can not work your way to heaven no matter how hard you try.

    In regards to sin not entering heaven, because of Christ's substitutionary atonement, we can stand before a Holy God. He took our place on the cross. He obeyed the law perfectly in our place because we never can. God demands perfect obedience. If we are resting in Christ, when God looks at us, He sees His beloved Son.

    1 John 1:8-10 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us".

  15. I meant Luke 18:9-14. :-)

    Have you read the book of Romans?


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