Head coverings: It’s All About the Glory

Okay, I admit it. I’m somewhat like a terrier with a bone when I’ve got an idea. And the idea that I’ve been sussing out all summer is head coverings. I wrote on it. I’ve had multiple discussions on the subject. I know what I believe Scripture teaches about them. I know why I wear one. And I’m pretty settled in my mind as to when I should wear a head covering. 

So why am I not letting go of this idea? What is there still to cover? (pun not intended, but, hey, it works.)

The aspect that I’ve been praying over and digging into is the idea of glory. 

God’s glory. Jesus Christ’s glory. A woman’s glory. Veiled glory.

Glory defined 

High renown or honor won by notable achievements; magnificence or great beauty, a thing that is beautiful or distinctive; a special cause for pride, respect, or delight.

Woman’s glory

It’s a truth held to be pretty self-evident: a woman’s glory is her hair. This fact is reinforced by the amount of time and money spent maintaining and styling our hair. Those dollars and hours add up to roughly $80 and 11 hours per month. Astonishingly, the average woman will drop $55,000 in a lifetime on hair products and treatments. (source

I’m also reminded of when Anne of Green Gables meant to dye her hair black, but it turned green. “I never thought I was vain about my hair, of all things, but now I know I was, in spite of it being red, because it was so long and thick and curly.

Or like Amy in Little Women…”Jo, your one beauty!” when Jo cut off her hair to sell.

It may be a love-hate relationship, but most women are quite attached to their hair.

Lost glory

Four and a half years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. It’s an eye cancer. Over the course of her chemotherapy, almost all of her hair fell out. She was never bald as a cue ball, but, only wisps remained from her pre-chemo hair.

While losing her eye has farther reaching consequences than temporary hair loss, losing her hair is what broke me. (Seeing the old photos still makes me teary-eyed.) I knew her hair would grow back. But, in those moments, it was a very visible reminder of what we’d been through, and what she’d lost. 

She’d literally lost her glory-this thing of pride, beauty and delight. She was (thankfully) mostly oblivious.  

Meredith and I now volunteer for a charity that provides salon services, wigs and head coverings, for women and girls going through cancer treatments. As I interact with these women it is so obvious: when a woman loses her hair, she feels like she has lost a vital part of herself. She feels she has lost her dignity. Her beauty. Something feminine and distinctive to her.

She’s lost her glory. And it’s a devastating loss.

God’s glory

When I wrote the article this summer outlining four reasons a woman covers her head, the second reason I gave was, “covering.” We cover our hair because it’s our glory. 

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other…(Isaiah 42:8)

The only glory that should be focused on and visible in church is God’s. Nothing should distract or detract from that. 

God’s glory is more along the lines of the first definition. High renown or honor won by notable achievements. His glory is also positional. There is the glory of His presence. There is the glory of being the one and only God of the universe. He is the Creator, the Redeemer, the Judge. Without a doubt, God’s glory is also beautiful and distinctive.

Jesus’ glory

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. (Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)

And as He was praying, the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing became dazzling white…but when they became fully awake they saw His glory. (Luke 9:29, 32 ESV)

And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. (Matthew 17:2 ESV)

Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke of Him. (John 12:41 ESV)

…I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up….Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory. (Isaiah 6:1,3 ESV)

He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:2 ESV)

I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory I had with you before the world was. (John 17:4, 5 ESV)

Evident from these verses is the basic theology that Jesus is God and thus shares and reveals God’s glory. But, when Jesus Christ was walking and talking on earth, the fullest extent of His glory was not visible. It was only as He was transfigured, that a select few had a glimpse of His glory. Rather like Isaiah.

Jesus’ full glory was veiled in His incarnate body. It was not visible to the human eye.

Why?

I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do.

Jesus Christ was not here for His own glory. He was here to do God’s will.

Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.

Hebrews 10:7 ESV

But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.

John 12:27-28 ESV

Jesus Christ voluntarily covered His glory with a human body, while He was on earth, in order to do the will of God, and bring glory to God. The focus was always God, not Himself.

Now that’s an example to follow.

The crux

Are you tracking with me? Do you see why this covered glory in the local church is such a glorious picture? 

Jesus covered His glory.

Why are we so concerned about covering our hair? Why do we balk at this? 

It’s natural for us to want to cover our shame. Think Adam and Eve in the garden. It is counterintuitive to cover our glory. We’d much rather show it off. 

As women, we follow in Christ’s footsteps, when we cover our glory in the church meetings. No matter how glorious our hair, and maybe because of how glorious our hair, we conceal it. There really is no competition between our glory and God’s glory. Our glory is temporary hair. His glory is eternal. But, in the picture, in the practice, we are eliminating distractions. 

The only glory to be seen is God’s.

Whether a command or tradition, voluntary or compulsory practice, women still choose to mirror Christ’s example, when they cover their glory.

It’s a higher purpose and calling. It’s a powerful truth. It’s more than just covering. It’s walking in the steps of Christ. And we are always in good company when we choose to imitate Christ.

And that’s what’s important to grasp. And that’s why I’ve spent all summer pondering this subject.

Bernadette Veenstra

    10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    That is a brilliant summary of primary purpose of the head covering. It is all about God’s glory and the headship of Christ in the Church. I would love to pick your brain about your musings over the ‘when’ of head coverings as I’m not sure we have found the right balance in application within the assemblies and have blurred the lines, which has created some confusion.

    Reply

    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      I do agree that the “when” is quite blurred. I don’t feel it is super clear in scripture. My conviction is that I will cover my head when the church is meeting collectively. (this is because of the glory aspect, and to honor my head-my husband) I also feel the need to cover my head when I am teaching the word of God, or praying audibly, in a group that includes more than my family. I cover my head when I am teaching as a “sign of authority.” Meaning that I have the authority to teach the word of God within the confines of when/where Scripture allows. (teaching women and children) This is the conclusion I’ve come to as I’ve studied the purpose of the head covering. I completely respect others who draw the lines in different places.

      Reply

  2. Avatar

    I’ve always respected your covering your head in chapel & other times (at Awana Scholarship Camp) But yours is the first *very clear* explanation I’ve seen. Thanks Bernadette!

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    Well said Bernadette! There is only One glory worthy of displaying. And I agree with your when as well. Blessings, MM

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    Vernadette: I fully–100% agree with your remarks on God’s glory. However, I am also aware of the potential for distractions in a worship service where the participants only want to glorify the Lord. That is why when I attend an assembly where most of the women wear a head covering I do also. I don’t want to be a distraction. I was in an assembly a few years ago where most women wore a head covering. But there was one woman who wore a large and ostentatious hat. Everyone noticed it. What do you think I should do when I go to an assembly where no woman wears a head covering? I understand what you say about women “glorying” in their hair. I have lost a lot of hair and I wear a wig–not for my glory–rather because I want to blend-in and not be a distraction. How do men hide their glory? And what is their glory? I appreciate your tenacity with this issue and respect you for it. Before my dear husband died 4 years ago we had many discussions on this topic. I miss him so much and relied on his biblical and godly wisdom! So try to understand my thoughts on this.

    Reply

    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      Nisa,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I do understand where you are coming from. I will try to touch on each. (hopefully this comment will be shorter than an article.=))

      I think the distraction thing is a very real point. My thoughts on this are that, Paul didn’t say to only cover your hair when it’s not a distraction. So, I still cover my hair even when I am not at an assembly. But, I don’t always wear my lace mantilla. That would draw more notice in a non-covering church. Instead I will usually wear a hat (still deemed acceptable church wear for women in most denominations) or a scarf that I pull up during the meeting.

      About the woman with the ostentatious hat. I completely understand your point. I don’t think the purpose of a covering is to draw attention to itself. That kind of defeats the purpose. However, since exact “what’s” are not defined in Scripture, I would be leery to even approach this woman about her hat. I feel like that would smack of legalism. I would pray about it. If the Holy Spirit feels it’s an issue, he can certainly bring it to her attention.

      How do men hide their glory? That’s a good question. I’ve written a long article on this also (https://www.assemblyhub.com/wams-2018-headship-and-head-coverings-part-one/) but succinctly… 1 Corinthians 11 lists three glories. Man is the image and glory of God. Woman is the glory of man. Hair is the glory of the woman. God’s glory (man) is visible, and not covered. Man’s glory (woman) is covered by her hair. Woman’s glory (her hair) is covered by a veil. Does that make sense? The article link delves more into these ideas.

      I’m sorry to read of the loss of both your hair and your husband. They are certainly not equal losses. But, both are losses nonetheless. I’d really miss having my husband to discuss all these things with. He treats me as an intellectual equal. He listens to my many thoughts, and points me to scripture. He supports my writing, even when my writing takes hours and hours to get to the where I think an article needs to be. He is my biggest champion, and always says my articles are excellent. I love the guy.=)

      Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope this helps.

      Also, I knew your mom and aunt, from hanging out with Aunt Elsie and Bob.

      Reply

  5. Avatar

    Interesting conversation! My understanding of corporate church practice was to reflect the hierarchy established in I Corinthians 11: 3. God – Christ – Man – Woman. Just as Christ was submissive to the Father, by veiling His glory, so also in the establishment of glory in the church, the glory of man (in general) ought to be veiled. Uncomplicated, verse 7 states it. “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman (in general) is the glory of man.” If the statement had to do with marriage, why should us single women bother veiling? We do it to follow God’s structure AND “because of the angels”. They are watching! Don’t confuse the lovely creatures! Just do it! Angels loooong to look into these things. I Peter 1:12.

    Reply

    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      I do agree that it is a general, not specific, statement. It has nothing to do with marriage. Which is why I get a bit annoyed when a woman explains that she covers her head because she is submissive to her husband. What? There are plenty of women who cover their heads who are not submissive. =) And I agree, it leave single women out completely. But, women (single or otherwise) still have a glory…their hair. And that is why it is covered.

      The next thing I will be pondering is the “angel” aspect.

      Reply

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