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Good Question: Head Coverings?

Women, Biblical Authority, Submission

June 26, 2019

By Jordan Burgen


My husband and I have been attending the Lafayette Campus since December 2017. We came from a really conservative Russian Baptist Church. We were discussing some differences and we are very confused on this passage. 1 Corinthians 11 where it talks about women covering their head when praying. In our other church it was a big deal. We don’t really understand why. Can you please explain? Thank you.

Thank you for reaching out about this issue. 

1 Corinthians speaks of headship and authority between men and women with regard to worship and roles in the Church. The symbolism of head coverings was culture-specific in this case. Paul was addressing an issue in the church that was causing some scandal. In that culture, someone without a head covering was someone who was in authority, and people under that authority symbolized that by wearing a head covering. That was the culture and tradition of the day, and breaking from that caused some questions both within the church and outside of it. It sent confusing messages to people as to who was in authority. Paul explains that authority in the church was given by God to men, and women were to submit to that authority. Head coverings were how they symbolized that. In western culture, we don’t necessarily have that symbolism, so it wouldn’t really mean much if we used that, and not doing it does not send messages that we don’t adhere to the God-ordained structure of male authority in the church. Now, I know that the word “authority” has many connotations. Paul, and therefore Flatirons, do not equate that term with equality. Men and women are equal, they just have different roles within the church, as they do in a family and as we believe they do in society as a whole. Separate, but equal, roles. This view of authority separate from equality is evident in the fact that Paul describes Jesus similarly in that He and God were the same, yet Jesus submitted to His authority (Philippians 2:6). The gospels agree on this point. Jesus was under God’s authority ((Joh 5:19; Joh 8:28), yet He is equally God (Joh 1:1; Joh 8:58; Joh 10:30).

So, in summary, we don’t adhere to the symbolism that the Corinthian church did because we are in a different culture with different traditions. We do, however, adhere to the headship structure that that symbolism represented.

I hope this answers your question! And thanks for reaching out!

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