Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why I Cover. . .

After learning and understand about what submission is and isn't, I started thinking about 1 Corinthians 11. Granted, the passage does have cultural references, but if that is the only thing seen in this passage, we do not allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Instead, it allows us to interpret Scripture and deem this passage unworthy of paying attention to, always a dangerous thing with regards to the Bible. It is neither right nor proper to ignore any passage in Scriptures, but instead, we must look at the passage through the filter of Christ Himself. To do so, we must look to other passages of Scripture and discover what is being said about head coverings.

It has already been discussed that wives are to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ. This same theme is what is being discussed in the Corinthians passage. This is about submission and remembering the gift of being a woman.

God is a God of order. He ordered that men should be the pastors and the head of the household and that the women should be the receivers of the gifts from God from the men acting as God's masks on earth. Note that surrounding the passages on head coverings are passages about propriety in worship: how to faithfully celebrate the Lord's Supper and in the chapter before where it talks about how to conduct yourself with unbelievers so that they may be brought to Christ. There is a reason that head coverings are sandwiched in this way.

Looking at the surrounding passages, it becomes clear that Paul is admonishing believers to behave in such a way as to not give the wrong impression on who the Christian is. The passages on how to behave when invited to a meal with an unbeliever shows that there is freedom from Christ not to follow the ceremonial laws with regards to what one may consume. It is no longer important to follow such laws because those ceremonies helped the Jews look forward to the coming of the Christ, Who has come and fulfilled the Law. Since the reason for the laws do not matter, it is no longer expected. Instead, it is more important to act in such away that people learn about Christ.

In the same way, it looks as though some people in the Early Church were abusing the Lord's Supper and treating it in such a way that it put focus on the works of men and not on the saving work of God in Christ Jesus. Some were getting drunk and hoarding it while those who were less fortunate were getting little to none. The focus then needed to be brought back to Christ and the fact that it is His supper to His glory and not to the glory of men. This is then what Paul does in the verses following his admonishment to those who would abuse the Lord's Supper.

So, how does this relate to women covering their heads? Well, it looks like the women of the time were also abusing their new found freedom by acting as if all of the laws were abolished. They were no longer respectful to their position as woman in the order of creation or respectful in church. The women were taking roles not given to them and they needed to be reminded that the head of the Church is Christ and the head of the woman is the man. This is the order of creation. This is also an admonishment to the women to behave as they should and remember who they are- who God created them to be.

So why do I cover my head? It is a statement of faith. I believe as I have been taught. My husband is the head of my household. Christ is the head of my husband. I will conduct myself in a way that does not draw doubt onto who I am as a Christian. I will not dress in such a way that would make me an object of lust or put the glory onto myself. Wearing a head scarf has made me rethink my wardrobe. It reminds me to wear things that will make the right statement about me- that I am a redeemed child of God. In the world of fashion, it's popular to show your body parts off and display them almost as billboards of sinful indulgence. I will not do so. I will honor my husband and my God and make sure that I conduct myself in a way that is decent and chaste.

Does this mean every woman has to cover? Certainly not! This is not a thing of the law but a gift and a reminder. I tried the fashion route- I paraded my body in a way that I shouldn't have with clothes that revealed too much and I don't want to go there again. If I have to think about what looks good with my scarf, and it doesn't pass the scarf test, it doesn't get put on my body. It also is a great reminder that Christ is present wherever I go just as my scarf is present and I should conduct myself accordingly. When I fail, it is also a reminder that Christ covers my sins by His atoning sacrifice on the cross just as my scarf covers my head. If other women don't need that reminder, it is even better for them for they are better than I am. I need that reminder and I believe it is a good reminder to have.