Head-Covering for Women
What does the Bible teach about head-covering for women in the church meetings?This has become a controversial subject in churches in Western countries and among Westernized Christians in India.
It would probably be true to say that 99% of sisters who cover their heads when praying and prophesying do not know why they do so; and 99% of brothers who keep their heads uncovered when praying and prophesying do not know why they do so.
We begin this study with the conviction that the entire message of the Bible is the Word of God without any error.
There are two fundamental truths that we must bear in mind as we seek to understand God's Word for us today.
1. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), God abolished the old covenant and began to deal with man thereafter under the terms of the new covenant (Heb.8).
2. There are historical and teaching sections in the New Testament. We must find the basis for new covenant doctrines only in the teaching sections. The historical sections merely tell us what the apostles and early Christians did. Many false teachings have developed from doctrines based only on the Acts of the Apostles - two examples being: (i) all believers must speak in tongues (based on Acts 2:4); and (ii) all believers must share a common purse (based on Acts 2:44).
Jesus told His disciples just before He went to the cross, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear (understand) them now. But when the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth" (Jn.16:12,13).Jesus wanted to teach His disciples many more truths than He did while He was on earth. But they would not have been able to understand them until the Holy Spirit came to dwell within them and renewed their minds and gave them revelation. Some of these truths are what we find written in the New Testament epistles. So the epistles also contain commands from the Lord Jesus . but given through His apostles.
If we reject any command in any of the New Testament epistles, saying it was only for the time and place when it was written and not for us today, then in order to be consistent, we must give equal freedom to other people to reject other commands in the epistles and in the teachings of Jesus as also being only for that time and not for us today. For example, we must, in that case, give freedom to people to teach that forbidding homosexual behavior and same-sex marriages and divorces and premarital sexual intercourse, etc., were only for the first century and not for us today. Otherwise we will be inconsistent.
It is inconsistent, therefore, to say that every command in the New Testament is relevant for us today, and then to reject just this one command to women to cover their heads when they pray or prophesy (1 Cor.11:1-16).
(Note: We must distinguish between commands given by God and mere greetings given by the apostles. For example, the apostles give greetings and good wishes such as these in their letters: "Greet one another with a holy kiss" (Rom16:16) and "I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2). These were obviously mere greetings and good wishes . and not commands or promises given by God . for there is no Divine principle taught in those verses, as is the case with head-covering, water-baptism and breaking of bread(Rom.6; 1Cor.11)).