WAMS 2018: Headship and Head Coverings (part 2)

(read part one here)

Covered glories

This glory then leads to what gets covered when a woman prays or prophesies. Because

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. So, what gets covered and what doesn’t?

  • God’s glory (man) does not get covered.
  • Man’s glory (woman) is already covered. Her hair is her convenient, always attached, covering.
  • Woman’s glory (her hair) gets covered. With a veil. A hat. A bandana. A headband. A net. Whatever does the job.

We cover our hair, our glory. So there is no competing focus for God’s glory.

God is dishonored when a man prays or prophesies with his head covered. Women is shamed and man is dishonored when she prays or prophesies uncovered.

Interesting. The dishonor bumps up from the glory. The issue is not defiance (to a man) for a woman when a woman doesn’t cover, it’s a shame (to herself). The woman’s head (man) is dishonored when a woman prays or prophesies with her head uncovered.

Far more than submission, the head covering illustrates headship, order, and interdependence.

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.


The stated purpose of the head covering is to cover the woman’s glory-her hair. Paul goes on to say

that is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

How about another one or two confusing terms?

Angel is the word messenger. It can be angelic beings, but the definition would also include people sent to observe and report. Might that include other believers and also unbelievers? When an unbeliever enters our building and sees hats or scarves on the woman and thinks to themselves…”wow, that’s kind of weird!” and then asks, “why do these women have scarves on?” we should be able to give a clear explanation of glory, and why all the glory but God’s is covered when we meet.

Symbol of authority

Contextually that symbol of authority is the head covering. But, what is meant by symbol of authority? (translated “power” in KJV. Not symbol of power, just power) And what does that have to do with all this stuff? Because a women isn’t listed as the head or authority of anything.

Honestly, I don’t know.

The wording reminds me of signet rings or of seals (i.e. the Great Seal of the USA). Ahasuerus gave Haman (and then Mordecai) his signet ring (Esther 3:10). Ahasuerus didn’t give up his position as king, nor was he sharing it with Haman. But, with the ring, Ahasureus’ authority backed up every action and decree of Haman.

A notary seal on a document makes it binding and official.

It’s a symbol of authority. Authority, not submission.

Could it tie in with 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2…the teachings of women being silent and not usurping authority? Does this symbol of authority show that women have authority from God, to pray and prophesy audibly, in the appropriate contexts? (i.e. within scriptural parameters)

Again, the symbol of authority is for the benefit of the angels. (even Lucifer? He desired God’s glory. “I will make myself like the Most High.”)

As they see the head covering, are angels reminded of God’s order? Are they reminded that in Christ there is neither male nor female-all are one in Christ Jesus? (Galatians 3:28) Are they reminded of the priesthood of all believers? Are they reminded of when the angels rebelled against God’s order? (Revelation 12)

I don’t know. But it is scintillating to contemplate!

Logic and Logistics

All this leads to the question, when then should women cover their heads? My conclusion from this study is that there are two times when women should cover their heads.

1. Official church meetings

1 Corinthians 11 is contained in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Chapters 10-14 all deal with church gathering practices. (gifts, Lord’s supper, prophesying, tongues)

What constitutes an official church meeting? (This is purely my opinion, and you are certainly welcome to yours.) An official church meeting is one where the entire local body is invited/expected to attend, and is under the auspices of the elders’ authority.

Also, based on the “angel” word, with its (previously explained) layered connotations, it behooves us to ask what outsiders would consider “church.” (not that it’s the final word on the subject, but it gives some perspective.) Generally this would include any “worship service”, Sunday school, evening service, or prayer meeting. They would refer to these things as church.

2. When audibly praying and prophesying
Additionally, I think it is clear from the passage that when women are gathering for the purpose of praying or prophesying as the women of a church, they should cover their heads. It’s the symbol of the God-given authority they have to pray and prophesy.

Men’s presence or absence in the gathering does not affect whether women cover or not. We’ve already established that head covering is about way more than men. Women are covering their heads as a symbol of the authority they have, and so the only glory visible is God’s.

Distinguishing between spheres

Variations in the practice of head coverings often comes in with differing opinions of spheres of life. There’s church life, and home life, and government life. Home life follows the structuring of church life, but does not necessarily carry the idea of 24/7 head covering; though some do interpret it that way.

And, obviously, women rule over men in the governmental sphere. Is this against creation? John Knox thought so. But, unless you are of a firm patriarchal viewpoint, you wouldn’t necessarily agree with him.

Seasoned with grace

As we consider these topics from scripture, we need to accurately exegete the passages, trust the Spirit to teach us, obey what He shows, and show grace to those who differ in their opinions. These articles enumerate what I’ve learned from this passage, and my convictions based on that. If your view is more or less strict, there is grace for both of us.

Head covering is an important topic, but salvation does not rest on it.

What conclusions have you reached about head coverings? What’s your favorite part of the picture?

Bernadette Veenstra


  1. Avatar

    Very thoughtful, thorough and well written.
    As a woman whom God found unworthy of a husband to “speak for” me, I left the assembly because I had no place there, no voice, no opportunity to express an opinion over the business of the church. Even when they were hiring a young man with whom I’d gone to school and knew was not a sincere Christian, I could not speak. A few years later when it became evident he had done nothing for which he’d been hired as a fulk time worker, he was overheard saying as he left “we really pulled the wool over their eyes, didn’t we?” It could have been avoided if only I had been “allowed” to express concerns and a warning. He went on to Willow Creek in Illinois, which of course is currently in turmoil.

    I miss the Lord’s Supper as observed in the assemblies, but I do not miss covering my head. I did so out of submission to my father, but as a grown woman alone, I am consideted worthless by the assembly tradition and therefore will continue to worship and serve elsewhere.


    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      I can hardly begin to articulate how sad this makes me. NOT that you “left the assemblies,” but the whole attitude you must have experienced there. I am so sorry. “Unworthy of a husband to speak for you.” Man! It makes me cringe. Because I don’t doubt you experienced this and I don’t think it is Biblical. Assemblies have to do better with our singles, and especially our single women. Make heart breaks for yourself and for the multitudes of other women in assemblies who have felt worthless because of assembly tradition, traditions of which some are neither Biblical nor do they reflect the heart of God.


  2. Avatar

    Bernadette, I see the pic on your bio. You are adorned with a beautiful necklace! You are also outwardly adorned with some pretty big hoop earrings. Your comments are on a church website of a fellowship to which I’d like to send some people in my area, including women.

    I don’t mean to be contentious. I am honestly asking; if this church has posted your article from 1 Corinthians, how do they feel about your picture, being that you are a wife that has “adorned her outward appearance with jewelry?”


    • Bernadette Veenstra

      Bernadette Veenstra

      I do not see any Biblical contradiction of the practices of being a wife and wearing jewelry. Neither does my husband. My focus is not adorning my body, but growing in Christlikeness.


  3. Avatar

    I grew up in an “assembly”, but have lived for years in areas where there are none. My dad & husband believe(d) long hair is the covering, as do I – though I do enjoy wearing dress hats to church. However, I am much concerned about covering other parts of our bodies. There was an article online by a pastor called “Christian Cleavage” which caused a lot of back-lash. I see many Christian women who are not careful about covering their chests, to the point that there is “near cleavage” showing. To me, this is a problem that needs to be addressed among Christian women. Catholics (Dressing With Dignity) & Jews (Jewish Dress Code) call for covering the breastbone. They also call for covering the arms to the elbow, and covering the knees. I am not too concerned about elbows, but see nothing wrong with this concept. However, I do believe Christian women should cover most of the chest area, and also the knees. The famous haute couture designer CoCo Chanel said: “The knees are the ugliest part of a woman’s body, and should always be covered.” I agree with her. The idea of “an inch of ease” is good also in regards to tightness (skinny pants). Modesty does not seem to be taught anymore in churches. The Bible says older women are to teach the younger women. But more and more, younger women are doing the teaching. So modesty is usually not emphasized. Having said this , I am aware that modesty comes from the heart attitude towards a Holy God. And our own righteousness is as filthy rags.


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