I grew up in Arabic churches where women wore lace head coverings, a tradition still practiced in some Eastern Orthodox, pre-Vatican II Catholic, and Middle Eastern churches. When I questioned my mom about it, she told me she covered her head out of respect to God. Years later, at a non–denominational megachurch, I was taught that "none of that stuff applies anymore."
In a culture where a vast majority of Christian women never consider a veil or hat for Sunday service, Bible verses addressing head coverings get quickly dismissed as irrelevant.
But there remain important questions for the church to consider about what has become a largely dated practice: If Paul, in inspired Scripture, asks the wives of the church to cover their heads to show that their submission to their husbands as a part of decorum for corporate worship, why don't we modern complementarians do so? And why, for example, is this small but well-advertised headcovering movement trying to bring it back? This is a tough issue, not least because it's difficult to detangle the historical aspects from the timeless ones.
Theologians such as Wayne Grudem say contemporary Christians no longer need to wear head coverings because veils, hats, and other types of hair coverings do not designate submission in our culture. But what does? He and others have likened the contemporary use of wedding bands to head coverings in Corinth. It's a valid position, but the wedding band, today's typical symbol for marriage, does not necessarily show the headship–submission model the passage refers to, since both men and women wear them.
Paul writes, "But I want you to understand that the head of every man (that is Christian men ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more