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To cover or not to cover, that is the question

Discussion in 'Semper Reformanda' started by abacabb3, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Guest

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    I could concede your point if head covering was restricted to a particular form or fashion say, a starched, white Amish bonnet. However, the text does not specify any specific mode or fashion any more than it states the precise length of a man's haircut.

    Today most Christian men do have short hair and the argument against short hair for men is as dead as the Cavaliers in the time of Oliver Cromwell. The roundhead argument has prevailed not merely in Western culture but in virtually all cultures of the world. Likewise, women in virtually all cultures have long hair. One can say, as did Paul, that nature has instructed us to do so, even though one could just as easily argue that cutting (or not cutting) the hair of the head is cultural only and can just as easily be done for one gender as the other.

    I see the issue of women wearing headcoverings as a cultural blip centered on the late twentieth century United States.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2014
  2. AndOne

    AndOne Deliver me oh Lord, from evil men

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    Interesting topic of discussion here - the question I must ask is this. What do we tell our wives and daughters who were raised in a church that does not practice the head-covering and have no conviction to start? Quite frankly the head covering is a symbol of a woman's submission to her husband and my wife's submission is evident by her action. She could wear the covering and be totally non-submissive and it would mean nothing. I just think that the principal set forth in Romans 4 regarding circumcision might be an applicable point here. It's not the act of the woman wearing the kapp that saves and therefore it shouldn't be necessary for her to wear it in order to be saved.

    I personally don't see this as a salvation issue - my wife or my daughter will not lose their salvation if they don't start wearing the covering so in my mind I can't see the point in pushing for it. If they were convicted to wear one - I would support it with gladness - but if not I'm not going to pronounce hellfire and damnation upon them... As far as I'm concerned its on the woman and what her conviction is regarding the covering...

    To be honest - I don't see a specific command in the 1 Cor 11 passage for woman to don the covering. Paul just says that not wearing the covering is dishonoring to HER. I don't see the claim that it dishonors God and in verse 13 he tells us to judge for ourselves if its proper or not. So you may think its proper and someone else doesn't see it that way. I don't see how either violates this passage...
     
  3. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Guest

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    Nor can you see a specific command in the passage for men not to cover their heads, but they do, don't they? Or for men to cut their hair, but they do, for the most part. Or for women to have long hair, but they do, even in entirely non-Christian cultures. Makes me wonder.

    I had a good friend, Al, who served God as a campus pastor. He had four daughters. Although he confided to me that he himself agreed with the passage in question, there would be no way his wife or daughters would ever put anything on their heads and thereby place themselves in humiliating submission.

    A few months earlier a young man who had recently become a Christian became active in Al's campus group. This young man, Matt, had a very thick head of luxuriant hair below his shoulders. Al was offended by Matt's hair length and confronted him gently about it, citing the passage in question. Matt asked him about women covering their heads and was told by Al that it was merely a cultural practice and only relevant to first century Corinthian culture, so Matt said if that was the case then hair length was in the same category.

    Matt was introduced to me by Al and began attending a Bible study with a campus group I was active with. I told Matt what we believed and he noticed that the young ladies covered their heads, even though most had not done so prior to coming to college. He then shaved his head (it is still shaved ten years later). A year or so later he began dating Al's oldest daughter who began meeting with us. Shortly after that she began covering her head in church and continues to do so even though they now attend a church where the practice is discouraged.
     
  4. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    Good question. Of primary importance is that we understand the passage and seek to be obedient, and not merely pay lip service to it.

    Just like anything in marriage and family, a man is not a dictator and change things on a whim, "Tomorrow, my dear women, there is no more make-up or television in this household!"

    Much like elders or a pastor that comes to see something in the Scripture that the Church is out of step with, he or they must be patient, teach about it, and gradually bring it into effect.

    So, I would suggest home bible studies and listen to sermons together, and gradually and gently leading them into a biblical understanding of the topic.

    True, though it is not coincidental that those who oppose a traditional rendering of the passage also oppose traditional gender roles explicitly endorsed by the Scripture.

    Then, why bother with an outward baptism? Or an outward Lord's Supper? Or with outward modesty in clothing?

    What we do on the outside accurately reflects an inward spiritual condition. One who outwardly baptizes, outwardly does the Lord's Supper, outwardly dresses modest, and outwardly follows the head covering admonitions may not have the inward condition. But, one who does none of these things and so does not see the Scripture as authoritative on how he lives likewise does not have the proper inward spiritual condition.

    So, it behooves us, not to feel we are saved because we are obedient to the Scripture, but because we are saved we desire obedience to what the Scripture teaches.
     
  5. cubanito

    cubanito Well-Known Member

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    In all the PCA Churches I have attended. including my present membership, very few women cover their head, usually none. I require that my wife and daughters put something on their head, even if it is only sunglasses or a bobby pin, and that they know WHY it is there: to show the angels that they willingly submit to the hierachy instituted by God since Creation, and reaffirmed by Paul. While this idea is found in the non-Biblical book of Enoch, can you not see why angels, who are far more intelligent, powerful and yet are ministering spirits whom we will judge might be irritated at seeing women explicitly reject a sign of submission that dates from the time of Abram and is specifically commanded through Paul? The holy angels would keep their place, of course, but to see sinners against God reject the very hierarchical structure that keeps them below us? As the Psalm ACTUALLY says, we are created only a little lower than GOD, the translatoer having deliberately altered it to a little lower than the angels from the difficulty of believing such! The demons are by the uncovered women given even more reason to accuse, as women CLEARLY gave up head coverings BECAUSE of the cultural influence of the 1960's sexual revolution AND after Vatican 2! Of COURSE this is cultural, and by not covering their heads as done since the time Rebekah first saw Isaac at a distance, and as women saw their mothers, grandmothers, ect all the modern women are aligning themselves with modern western culture and against their Christian upbringing.

    Sure, this is not about salvation. No question most women, or men, do not even think or give this any importance. As a physician I would say this is NOT a disease; but it IS a SYMPTOM of a disease. A very bad disease that first displayed itself as Eve took the lead and gave Adam the forbidden fruit; just as Paul alludes this, in context, along with women to keep silent and not excerzise authority. This is a symptom of a very ugly disease. It is far, far more important to clean the INSIDE than worry about the outside. Most if not all the women attending a PCA Church are aware they are forbidden from authority positions, and they willingly submit; many do so joyfully. THAT is the important matter, and not headcovering. The PCA treats the disease by rightfully forbidding women preachers, and the OPC is not far off as the deaconate is a SERVICE and not authority driven position. The PCUSA, centrally speaking, is not a Christian Church, so let them continue to die. I have no interest in them, I'd rather be in a Roman mass, thank you very much.

    However, while headcovering is merely a SYMPTOM, and we are not to focus on the externals, why not remove the ugly CULTURAL reference to the rejection of the clear Biblical hierarchy? Really, why NOT put something on your head ladies?
    1- Is it because it does remind you that you are under male leadership, then shame on you! Repent and submit.
    2- Is it because you don't want to be counter-cultural, to just fit in and not call attention to yourself as a modest woman? Well, OK, but can you put something unobtrusive on so that at least YOU acknowledge submission to the angels that ARE looking intently at what we do, both good and evil angels. And by the way, why NOT be counter-cultural and make a stand on occasion?
    3- Is it because you've not thought about it? Fine, it really is no big deal until someone points it out. Where there is Law, sin increase, the more you know the more you are responsible for and ooops.... you just got told.

    I have been tempted at times to go to Church with a huge hat on to make the point that to this day men still know it is respectful to remove your hat. Yet 2 wrongs do not make a right, and I did promise to be peacefulm, and this is a minor matter, only a symtom.

    Now, if you're talking about a culture where nobody has headcoverings, well then, ignorance is bliss, sayeth the Bible in paraphrase. Where there is no law, there is no sin. Every person violates their own conscience, for every person has SOME form of conscience. But where there is no knowledge, there is no sin. So yes, there is culture, but there is also the FACT that our culture has been informed by the Bible and we knew perfectly well until the 1960's that women put on something on their heads as a sign of submission. It is NO shame for a micronesian Church to be full of bare-breasted, head uncovered women because that is normal. It IS a shame that we capitulated so rapidly, without even discussion, to the 1960s which has been so destructive to the family. One pill, the birth control pill, and we flush all our Biblical informed CULTURAL norms down the drain, and get 23 types of STD's (last time I checked, and oh, there's a new kind of mycoplasma out we have no available test outside a research lab for and no reliable treatment so make that 24), abortion on demand and all the other wonderful stuff so well promoted by the disgusting PCUSA hierarchy. One little pill and we no longer see the beauty of Sunday morning feminine hats. Thank you very much.

    And as to men with long hair, y'all miss the point of why "even nature" is against it: it is not functional. Remember Absalom and why he died? Because of the pride of his luxurios hair in some tree branches, accursed dying on a tree because of long hair. So freaking poetic aint it? Men are supposed to concentrate on functionality, not beauty. Long hair is a hazzle, and that is precisely why in almost every culture men keep it short. It interferes with getting things done. Women are the finer examples. They are not the "weaker vessel" as most translate Peter, but the more "FRAGILE vessel" Women are more complicated down to the genetic level (trust me or look up Barr bodies). They were not made from dust like Adam but FASHIONED from his side. They are SUPPOSED to be about the finer things, the beautiful things, the things men ought aspire to, yes they are the glory of men. It is right, up to a point, for women to fuzz about their totally useless hair (sure, there is a balance here as Scripture admonishes agains overdoing it).

    When a man focuses on his looks too much, it is a shameful thing. Again, these are cultural issues, and there must be a balance. But men who keep long hair when it interferes with their function are showing a symptom of a problem.

    My son kept long hair, and I never said anything until he came home closely shorn and when asked, he had just donated his hair for a charity that makes wigs for women that undergo chemotheray. Now THAT is functional long hair, and that he never said anything until I asked filled my heart with joy: functional, charitable and quietly humble when many in our family criticized him (not me, thank God for restraining my mouth for once). My son did RIGHT as a man by keeping his hair long, and he did so in meekness despite pressure. Forgive an old man proud of his son. I would have much more to write on this but time grows short, but as John McArthur quips, saying you have much more but no time is the best thing to say when you run out of material.

    Well, JM will probably tell me I'm too emotional again. Too bad emotional and rational are not mutually exclusive categories.

    JR
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  6. drjean

    drjean Senior Veteran Supporter

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    [ Too bad emotional and rational are not mutually exclusive categories. ]

    But one does dominate, yes? :wave:
     
  7. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    It doesn’t make sense to get into a debate about how often women covered and didn’t cover their hair. That’s not the issue. Obviously there were differences, or Paul wouldn’t have had to tell women to cover their hair. There’s no reason to think that Paul’s congregation was made up of prostitutes. The claim isn’t the Paul was trying to deal with a few women who violated cultural norms, but that Paul saw covered hair as a symbol, but that the symbol was based on a cultural practice. It doesn’t have to be a universal cultural practice, just one that would be recognized and respected.

    Paul doesn’t present this as a revelation to him, something he heard from the Lord, or something from the OT. The only justification is “nature.” That’s not specific to Christians. So if you're implying that Christians adopted a symbol independent of the culture, I have to say that this would make Paul's statement about nature very unexpected.

    I'm also not in a position to tell you whether head covering was or was not universal among Christians around the world. Paul's reference to other Christians needn't mean Christians in Egypt, any more than his statements that Christ died for all needs to imply universalism. It presumably refers to churches that those in Corinth would know and respect.

    The reason Calvin cites the Spartans is because he’s concerned with whether “nature” indicates something inherent to people. The fact that other cultures had a different practice said to him that Paul’s “nature” was practice in his culture.

    The reason I cited Calvin was to show that the idea that Paul’s sign was cultural is not a modern liberal understanding. I should also note that this is a Reformed group, in which Calvin's understanding has some weight.

    Your paraphrase inverts the meaning of the final quotation from Calvin. Calvin is not saying that we should take Paul literally, but that we should not dispute Christians who have different understandings of it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  8. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    True, because anyone who invokes the cultural argument makes an argument from history, which is demonstrably inaccurate..

    Again, present a non-secondhand source on this and then you have some sort of argument. Problem is, you don't you are just reiterating a baseless presumption.

    Furthermore, Paul does not invoke culture or propriety. He invokes creation itself and then nature as a way of showing how headcoverings are reflected in the creative order.

    I think your hermentuic is way off on this and one must do violence to the Scripture and put words in Paul's mouth that he did not say invoking a rationale when he invoked a clearly different rationale himself.

    Paul said there should be "no other practice."

    It presumably does not, simply because without doing violence to the Greek we can properly interpret passages about Christ dying for the sins of the world and etc. However, there isn't another appropriate way to interpret that none of the churches of God have another practice and we can see in Tertullian's time, this remains to be the case.

    I am inclined to disagree, I believe you are reading Calvin out of context. He is very careful to maintain the continuance of the practice to the point of saying he must take his cap off before preaching and that if women stop, the next thing is them showing off their breasts in church:

    Let us, however, bear in mind, that in this matter the error is merely in so far as decorum is violated, and the distinction of rank which God has established, is broken in upon. For we must not be so scrupulous as to look upon it as a criminal thing for a teacher to have a cap on his head, when addressing the people from the pulpit. Paul means nothing more than this — that it should appear that the man has authority, and that the woman is under subjection, and this is secured when the man uncovers his head in the view of the Church, though he should afterwards put on his cap again from fear of catching cold. In fine, the one rule to be observed here is το πρέπον — decorum If that is secured, Paul requires nothing farther (Calvin, Commentary of 1 Corinthians, verse 4).

    So, when it is permissible for the women to uncover their heads, one will say, “Well, what harm in uncovering the stomach also?” And then after that one will plead [for] something else: “Now if the women go bareheaded, why not also [bare] this and [bare] that?” Then the men, for their part, will break loose too. …So if women are thus
    permitted to have their heads uncovered and to show their hair, they will eventually be allowed to expose their entire breasts, and they will come to make their exhibitions as if it were a tavern show… In short, there will be no decency left, unless people contain
    themselves and respect what is proper and fitting, so as not to go headlong overboard
    (Calvin, Sermon on 1 Cor 11:2-3 in Men, Women and Order in the Church, trans Seth Skolnitsky, Presbyterian Heritage Publications, pp. 12-13).

    St Paul now continues with the subject which he had begun: namely, that women must have the decency not to come to the public assembly with their heads uncovered; and that men must also be decently attired so that there be no beastly confusion. To confirm it, however, he adds a further reason. ‘Does not nature itself teach that if a woman have no head-covering, it is a shame to her?’ he says. One would surely say that a woman was mad, if she came without hair. When he says ‘her hair is for a covering,’ he does not mean that as long as a woman has hair, that should be enough for her. He rather teaches that our Lord is giving a directive that he desires to have observed and maintained. If a woman has long hair, this is equivalent to saying to her, ‘Use your head-covering, use your hat, use your hood; do not expose yourself in that way! Why? Even if you have no head-covering, nor hood, yet you also have something to conceal yourself. You see that it would not be fitting to go bare-headed; that is something against nature.’ This is how this passage of St. Paul’s must be understood (Calvin, Sermon on 1 Cor 11:11-16, op. cit. pp. 52-53).
     
  9. gordRedeemed

    gordRedeemed Well-Known Member

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    Threads like these make me question the validity of Biblical literalism sometimes. It's so obvious that Paul is speaking about something quite foreign to most of us. That woman should cover their heads, to me who has never seen woman do such a thing, is silly. I don't think the Bible is supposed to be so nonsensical. My wife has never worn a hat or covered her head (except when it's cold). I don't know any woman that wears a hat or covers their head). That whole verse makes no sense to my current situation.

    Obviously in the time of Paul's letter, the people of Corinth did think covering the head was a big deal. They would have 'got it'.
     
  10. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    Never met anyone who rose from the dead either.
     
  11. gordRedeemed

    gordRedeemed Well-Known Member

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    You're comparing covering your head to the resurrection of Jesus? Interesting position.
     
  12. bbbbbbb

    bbbbbbb Guest

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    Or who did not have a physical father.
     
  13. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    THe interesting position is if Paul says something rather plainly, instead of allegorically or something, that it seems fine to you that it can just be ignored.

    The text often reveals to us if something should be literal or not. A parable is not literal, for example. Christ often uses similies, such as "the kingdom of heaven is like...", so we know whatever it is like, there is a similarity but not a literal equivalency.

    But, if someone says "don't where a head covering, because you're made in the image of God, and the Church as no other practice" or "examine yourself before you take the Lord's Supper, many have fallen asleep due to partaking in the ordinance in an unfaithful way," to not take plain passages plainly seems to me to give us no basis in which to evaluate the Scriptures on any point.
     
  14. gordRedeemed

    gordRedeemed Well-Known Member

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    I have no doubt Paul meant it plainly. My question is Paul's opinion on head coverings worth considering today? Seems rather ritualistic and legalistic.

    You will say that it's the Word of God so of course it's worth considering.

    My point was not the question of literalism vs allegory, but why sometimes when looked at so literally, some of Paul's letters seem so 'man made'.
     
  15. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    gord, do you think Paul is writing himself or that God writes through him by the Spirit?
     
  16. gordRedeemed

    gordRedeemed Well-Known Member

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    sometimes I am not so sure. The allure of common sense overcomes me sometimes.

    i should add i don't have a problem with the miraculous. that's a part of the faith. what I struggle with is the incredibly mundane stuff that seems to be in Paul's writings that I question would come from God. Long hair and hats. My word.
     
  17. faroukfarouk

    faroukfarouk Fading curmudgeon

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    Hi drjean! did you see that so far you are the only lady to have posted on this thread, on this issue...? :)

    Blessings.
     
  18. abacabb3

    abacabb3 Newbie

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    Well, most of us believe the Bible is God breathed, from first to last. If you don't believe that we can't have a meaningful conversation.
     
  19. gordRedeemed

    gordRedeemed Well-Known Member

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    fair enough.
     
  20. gordRedeemed

    gordRedeemed Well-Known Member

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    i apologize abacabb3 for my negative comments. it is a reminder how i cannot trust the flesh and i must rely on our Lord Jesus who did everything for us to attain salvation.

    I apologize to anyone else who found my comments on God's Word offensive. Sometimes my own selfish ideas run amok and I forget the blessings and truth the Lord has revealed to me.
     
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