Sidestep and Snatch them Baldheaded

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

If a woman walks onto a stage and says that God told her something, isn’t that prophesy? If, in a Bible study, she says the Holy Spirit whispered to her some direction on how to spend less money, isn’t that prophesy? If she blogs that Jesus spoke to her heart about envy, or her personal growth, isn’t that prophesy?

Where are the coverings? And if there are no coverings, why haven’t they been snatched baldheaded?

Last year I meant to write this post. It was to be long and sophisticated and insightful and so I put it off until those traits descended upon me at some future point. The trouble for me was that the topic is, despite my schemes, very clear and concise. I felt the need for specific insight and a “strength-in-numerous-arguments” because I was fighting through the utter mess of female vanity that my culture and my churches have heaped in front of Paul’s teaching; which is itself simple, flawless, and immensely valuable. Precious stones are better appreciated by sight rather than description.

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17 thoughts on “Sidestep and Snatch them Baldheaded

  1. Before we wed, I made it clear to my wife that this verse would be followed. So far, every week, every church, she has been the only woman covered–but many women have come up to her to ask why she covers, giving many chances to share God’s instructions on family structure.

  2. Of course, if women aren’t allowed to speak in church, then she wouldn’t pray or prophesy with her head uncovered, so this whole thing is moot.

  3. Snatch her bald headed indeed! And no, they can do these things away from Church as I mention in the thread at Darlock’s. Don’t make the reading so narrow.

    My Mom the minute I hit puberty started covering her head when she prayed when I was in the house and she wasn’t, in my mind at least, particularly religious.

  4. As a guy who just wants to argue: What do you say to the claim that this is merely a call to modesty for women and that our cultural standards do not dictate head coverings as necessary for modesty?

  5. Kidd, Paul mentions modesty elsewhere in his Epistles numerous times. In none of those instances are there reference to headcovering like that found in 1 Cor 11. In fact, the general context of that particular chapter makes it clear the subject is not modesty but rather the relationship between man and woman, and God and Man, and the dignity of each party.

  6. @Kidd,

    I’d say that that is ignorant of the Fathers. The Fathers repeated the command over a an area of territory that reached from Spain to the Near East. If it was cultural it was pretty damn pan-cultural. It also makes it odd that it was written into Roman Canon law until…the 80’s??? Zippy you around when was the date that it was dropped?

  7. @KC

    What do you say to the claim that this is merely a call to modesty for women and that our cultural standards do not dictate head coverings as necessary for modesty?

    I’d say that a cultural standard can inform decisions about whether a woman’s head covering is a hat or a scarf, but that passage can’t be honestly read as a mere cultural artifact. The proof of this is that women in church today aren’t modest otherwise.

    I think a fair reading of Paul’s teaching is that a woman’s long hair is an acceptable covering of itself, but perhaps I am just a big lib. But it must be long, and–as one under authority–the owner of the hair is not the one to decide how long is long enough to be a covering.

    It’s also worth noting that modesty and submission are not independent facets of a woman’s behavior. An insubordinate woman simply is immodest.

    GKC

    If it was cultural it was pretty damn pan-cultural.

    Fo’ real. Even Protestant denominations had their women in head coverings until the last century.

    @MNM

    So far, every week, every church, she has been the only woman covered–but many women have come up to her to ask why she covers, giving many chances to share God’s instructions on family structure.

    But, but, but…head coverings aren’t relevant in this day and age! What’s important are creating opportunities for women to minister to one another…

  8. The 1983 canon law. And, as I understand it, it was omitted, not explicitly rescinded. That means it is still in effect.
    Catholic women wear head coverings for multiple reasons. As a symbol of submission to authority but also because she is a symbol of the Church, the bride of Christ and the bride is spotless & holy. Holy things are veiled. Uncovering and exposing things is an act of shame.
    The only Churches I’ve ever been to where head coverings are the overwhelming norm are Latin mass Catholic Churches. I have been to Continuuing Anglican churches where a minority of the women (the old ones) wear them. I have been to a Reformed church where a few of the women wear them.

  9. @donalgraeme
    > Kidd, Paul mentions modesty elsewhere in his Epistles numerous times. In none of those instances are there reference to headcovering like that found in 1 Cor 11

    irrelevant potentially true facts.

    > In fact, the general context of that particular chapter makes it clear the subject is not modesty but rather the relationship between man and woman, and God and Man, and the dignity of each party

    If this is true, then the more literal interpretation has firmer ground, but if it is false, then the cultural interpretation can still stand. Unfortunately, you’ve merely asserted what you believe to be true, and have not actually made an argument.


    @GK Chesterton

    > If it was cultural it was pretty damn pan-cultural.

    While a convincing argument to one such as myself, it still doesn’t actually nullify the cultural modesty interpretation. You can easily point out that none of the cultures of the time had anywhere near the same cultural standards of modesty and female rights as modern America.


    @Cane Caldo
    > The proof of this is that women in church today aren’t modest otherwise.

    That’s just, like, your opinion of what is and is not modest, man. Also I’m not certain how modern women being immodest necessarily implies that this passage should be taken literally. There could be like some third variable here where we don’t need headcoverings and this passage can be interpreted culturally and women will still be modest.

    > It’s also worth noting that modesty and submission are not independent facets of a woman’s behavior. An insubordinate woman simply is immodest.

    I’ve noticed this as well.

    In all, you’ve convinced me, but I was already convinced. And none of you made the argument which convinced me–the aesthetic one. Head coverings look pretty and remind us of the sacred, thus they are good.

    I have a hard time believing that anything except maybe the historical incongruity of the interpretation of this passage would be convincing to an average Joe who doesn’t care about headcoverings. To quote my roommate, “I’d rather not have to think about the theology of headcoverings.”

  10. @Kidd,

    “While a convincing argument to one such as myself, it still doesn’t actually nullify the cultural modesty interpretation. You can easily point out that none of the cultures of the time had anywhere near the same cultural standards of modesty and female rights as modern America.”

    That also doesn’t mean they had the standards that modern America projects back _onto_ them. Not every culture in the Mediterranean region was the same. Roman’s liked head covering while the Greeks weren’t as tied to them.

    It again also doesn’t explain why Christianity maintained this as mandatory across those regions. Not all of the ante-Nicene Fathers cite Paul but various Fathers make it clear that head coverings are required. And this is a pattern that is followed all the way up until now. Even _now_ in the traditionalist communities in Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and various forms of Methodism head coverings are required. Women are generally not even _allowed_ in a monastery without one (in the West things have declined more rapidly…we pray for them).

  11. @Kidd,

    I missed, ” “I’d rather not have to think about the theology of headcoverings.””

    Your roomate sounds sexless and, even in a “redpill” sense deeply unromantic. Men should be caught up in thinking about things. We are the chief eccentrics. And not thinking about some of the mysticism that separates the sexes is especially dull.

    One of the OTHER things I forgot too is this:

    Be aware…that one is dripping in estrogen. But there is a continuing Jewish practice that predates the Christian one about headcoverings too. Modern Orthodox Jewish women have sometimes included wigs in headcovering (something I think Cane would mind and I mind much less…too me its the equivalent of the Batman conversations from a few years back).

  12. I’ve always read 13th to 16th verse as meaning that it’s culturally dependent. (e.g. 14-15: if nature teaches it, why some African tribes ignore it altogether?). And the argument in 16th, that no church has such custom seems pretty weak…

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure, that head coverings are the least problem of today’s church…

  13. I require the missus to cover herself whenever she’s in a service, or in her quiet time, or reading Scripture to the children, or sitting in teaching, etc. Essentially any “spiritual” activities. She has a visible position of responsibility in a statewide volunteer organization, and I require her also to cover herself whenever she’s sitting in that capacity.

    It’s not merely symbolic, and it’s not even a sign to the world so much as to herself. Putting on a covering is a positive (as opposed to passive) reminder that she is under authority, and not just any authority–mine.

  14. Pingback: God’s way works – Moose Norseman

  15. It’s true, a woman who covers her head in public increases her value. It means that she is holding something back for her husband and that sort of self-discipline is a real asset.

    A.J.P.

  16. Pingback: Head coverings | Christianity and masculinity

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