Angela asked this question:
I am curious as to whether or not you believe there is a Scriptural mandate to wear a head covering at all times. I can easily see the mandate to wear a head covering while at prayer or in worship service. My husband and I discussed the topic at length over the weekend, esp. as to why no one in our very conservative church even wears a hat or scarf during the worship service. Thanks!
This is a major issue to those of us who have decided to cover….Where and When? [Ooops, I am delving into the questions regarding hijab down towards to end, but I want to do more in a separate post, cause its a hot topic.]
Strictly following the Scripture commentary, you could say its only for formal prayer (when in a group) or worship (again, in a group). The Church Hat Wearing Ladies fall under this category. [An Aside – I still like watching, though not listening, to majority Black congregations on tv, just for the artistic hats. I know, I know, I roasted ladies who spend a month’s rent on completely matching outfits vis-a-vis Church Ladies. Guilty for admiring from afar.] You can granulate this more finely to covering for semi-formal prayer at home with family and small group Bible studies, for instance. Any which way, somebody else has to be in the room for the intent of worship & prayer in order for you to affix fabric to your cranial region.
The next “step” in covering application is to combine other verses on prayer, such as “…pray uncessingly” (look it up, I am lazy) with 1 Cor. 11. So…the logic here is that even if it is just me praying alone, I should cover, because it is p-r-a-y-e-r. Or having a worshipful attitude? Or reciting Scripture from memory? Do these count? Sticky stuff. In practice, you could tie on a scarf when its just you around the house singing songs of praise while you sweep the floor. Going about your regular errands or shopping or participating in non-worshipful group activities does not requisite a covering in this level of understanding. The angels will not ignore you if you utter a sincere prayer outside without a covering.
Onward and upward…
Here we have reached what I would term, Always Keep Your Bun Covered, or the Anabaptist practice of wearing a covering during all waking hours where-ever and when-ever, except during hair washing and birthing a baby (?). You might breathe a prayer of thanksgiving whilst digging in the garden and that counts in the eternal scheme of things, so be covered. The style of covering, generally, is not geared for complete modesty (some hairline showing or transparent), but more functioning within the symbolism realm. Aha, a Christian woman! the angels might say.
To mess with the above neat categories, I will share with you how I approach headcovering. 🙂
- I wear a headcovering when in any worshipful setting, church building or no, group or no. If uncovered (see below) and I take up the Bible to read and to pray (generally I do both at the same sitting), I put one on. Or wrap up in a shawl.
- Uncovering: I take it off when I get home from work or from a major trip into the great wide world. I literally let my hair down and put on comfy clothes. Makes a nice transition to a private world all of our own.
- In the rare occasion when I am home all day, I generally dress in street clothes (read, dress or skirt) and put on a kerchief or bandanna. You could say its a Fly Lady thing.
Given the broad categories above, how did I reach this particular application?
I am going to disturb a few ladies here by saying I have been informed through church Tradition. The “t” word isn’t what you think it is [smooth those feathers!] and I do not know how to adequately explain it to you. Just roll with the idea that because the general breadth and depth of the Church has indeed exhorted modesty and coverings for women for millenia(s) is because God might have instructed all in every generation. Think of a pearl which is a layer upon layer of accretion, building upon each other until something beautiful is produced.
The beautiful thing I try to live out is modesty in dress and behavior. Headcovering has taken on an additional “accretion” of protection from the untoward gaze of men (or women, egad). The early church fathers were quite detailed, in fact, about the scope and practice of modesty and veiling. Try looking up (Alana did this before she closed her blog – heart!) Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria. They had some clear teachings on what was expected from Christian women. In general, the “veil” they described was rather akin to a hijab or more. Yeah, I hear ya, that was the dark ages of the Mediterranean, and this is now, so you don’t need a burqa. Here is where I pose a Socratic question to chew on, “Have we changed so much?”
My answer is no. The reasons for adopting a veil for modesty and symbolism are still there: sin. I want to do my utmost to guard my own heart and body in purity before God and his angels. And to love my brother enough to spare him obvious occassion to sin. The pearls of church tradition have been preserved for us to apply (and not wily-nily, yikes, must save for another post!). May God have mercy on me.
Clear enough? Need more? Questions?