Why do some women wear head-coverings? I had never given this any thought myself until about 1997 when I was given several magazines. These magazines, which I also referred to in my article on modesty, were discussing issues such as modesty, wearing a head-covering, gardening, among other things. I can’t even remember the name of the magazine or the name of the attractive blonde lady who wrote it, but that is beside the point. It was then that I began to study the Scripture to see what it said.
A lot of the references used for wearing a covering are taken from 1 Corinthians 11, which speaks about this issue, but there are people on both sides as to what exactly Paul is saying. As I was doing my research back then, a number of people brought up reasons why they do not practice this any longer. Some said that Paul was addressing a cultural issue that came from the church in Corinth, but since the Jews wore head-coverings for thousands of years, I don’t believe that would be the case.
Some have said that the covering is hair, so our family tested this theory by substituting the word hair every place in 1 Corinthians 11 where the word covering is mentioned. If you read this aloud it’s pretty funny to listen to. =) If hair is the covering, then men are not to have hair and women should have the ability to take it off and put it back on again.
There are also some who believe the covering has to be worn all the time. Paul would not need to tell a woman when to wear a covering if she was already wearing it all the time. If a woman chooses to wear a veil all the time, that is personal preference, not a command in Scripture.
Although it does not give the reason why, here are several references showing it was common for a woman to wear a covering in Scripture. These examples include both married and unmarried women.
Genesis 24:64-65 She covered herself when she saw her future husband coming. It was with her, but she was not wearing it at the moment she saw him in the distance.
Numbers 5:18 The priest uncovers her when performing a test for her purity. It is assumed she is wearing a veil.
Song of Solomon 4:1-3 The word for veil and the word for hair in these verses are two different words.
Song of Solomon 6:7
Isaiah 47:2 It seems she is told to remove her veil as an act of shame.
To me, the final answer is not based on 1 Corinthians 11. Paul is not the final authority on the matter, regardless of what he saying in this passage. (which I tend to think he is saying to wear it while praying or prophesying, but he is confusing in this passage as well as many others)
Here are some wonderful reasons that a woman might choose to wear a covering or veil.
- To be modest (modest as in humble, not showy)
- Another beautiful distinction of a woman who follows the Creator
- As a way to identify with Israel
- For me personally, it helps me to shut out the rest of the world when I am praying
Who should NOT wear a covering
- A woman who is domineering or loud and obnoxious
- A woman who is not living in complete submission to the Father or who deliberately disobeys Scripture
- A woman who thinks it will bring salvation or who does it out of obligation rather than devotion