Should Women Cover Their Heads In Church?

Q. I periodically re-read sections of the bible. Each time I find more that I did not see before. This time I am in 1 Corinthians 11. I am concerned that I need to cover my head when I worship or pray. This chapter speaks about honoring your head (authority over you). It says men should be uncovered and women covered. I know that women used to wear hats etc. to church on Sunday  but that’s no longer the case anymore (at least in my church). Can you expand on what this chapter is referring to?

A. I believe that Paul was using a local custom to illustrate a timeless truth, and that is that our God is a God of order. He has established a hierarchy in His creation that begins with Him, then goes to Jesus, man and woman in that order. In the society of the day, a woman going out in public with her hair uncovered was a demonstrating her rebellion against that hierarchy. It was a sign that she was available, and therefore an insult to her husband. Paul was reminding them that our worship services are regularly attended by angels and out of respect for them we should be careful to adhere to the established order while in worship.

Today the head covering for women is not customary, but we should still be careful to act in a manner that pleases the Lord and is acceptable in His sight, especially in worship. For instance how many people routinely show up late for worship, or fail to demonstrate the proper reverence while there, or in other ways by action or appearance distract other worshipers? Would they look or act this way if they could see their angelic visitors, or even the Lord Himself in their midst? Worship is not a time for musicians to show how talented they are or for worshipers to call attention to themselves by the way they act or look. It’s a time to pay homage to the Lord, to focus on Him, and to express our gratitude to Him. It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus.

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