Why I Cover

I grew up Mennonite, but that is not why I cover my head.  In fact, I did not grow up wearing a head covering.  I was raised in the modern Mennonite church.  We had cars, video games, movies, fashionable clothes…all the “normal” aspects of modern life.  Yet, we also benefited from a rich heritage of community, a legacy of non-resistance and a history of scriptural obedience.  Most of us had grandfathers or great uncles who had built roads rather than fight in wars.  Most of us had cousins or second cousins in common, and most of our grandmothers covered their heads.  So, unlike most Christians today, I was aware from a very young age that 1 Corinthians 11 instructs Christian women to wear a head-covering or “symbol of authority” on their heads.  I also knew the reasons that my mother’s generation had largely left the practice behind.

At age 19 I began a new spiritual journey in the Church of Christ.  While studying in Quito, Ecuador, I met a group of missionaries who showed and taught me discipleship in a way that I had never seen before.  I was baptized into Christ (Galations 3:27) with a passionate resolve to follow Him without “picking and choosing” what I would accept and obey and what I would not.  My life radically changed from that day.  I left behind a life of half-truths, gossip, self-indulgence and impurity.  I embraced the mission of making disciples of Jesus with great zeal.

Shortly after my baptism, a childhood friend asked me in all sincerity, “If you are following the Bible literally, why don’t you wear a head covering?”  I was unsettled, but accepted the “it was cultural” reasoning of a sister in the church.  The question receded to the back of my mind for another three years.  I was now back home and finishing my degree at the University of Virginia.  A thoughtful campus ministry leader introduced me to the writings of David Bercot and his research on the earliest Christians (scrollpublishing.com).  I found kinship with these ancient Christians in the non-resistance of my Mennonite upbringing and in the teachings on baptism and salvation that I had discovered in the Church of Christ.  I was convicted to the core, though, about the worldliness of my life–especially the entertainment to which I exposed myself and the immodesty of my attire.  I also began to reconsider the question of head covering.  In fact, as a 22-year-old, single college student, I made what felt like a monumental decision to cover my head.  It lasted about two weeks.  The combination of criticism from sisters in the church and feeling like an absolute weirdo on campus crumbled my resolve.  Paul’s word “women” could be translated “wives,” I conveniently reasoned.  I’ll consider this again after I am married.

I am ashamed to say that I did not consider the question again until I had been married for about five years.  At that point God began to convict my husband and I about area after area in our lives that were too much “conformed to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2).  We stopped watching TV and most movies because of the violent and impure content.  Step-by-step I began to change the way that I dressed.  One Sunday about a year into this process, moved by an excellent communion message, I determined to hold nothing back in this area.  If I looked “frumpy,” that was a small thing compared to what Jesus had done for me.  I also did an extensive personal study on holiness that led me to the conclusion that the call to be “separate” and unlike the world in the New Testament far outweighs the questionable modern teaching of being “like the world in order to win the world.”  Having surrendered my vanity, I was finally ready to study the question of head covering in earnest.

I read all that I could get my hands on about early Christian practice.  I read articles “for” and “against.”  I read numerous “cultural” arguments, and found that none of them was substantiated by historical evidence.  They all seemed to be conjecture based on a pre-determined conclusion that covering is not for today.  I looked at pictures of head coverings throughout the centuries and considered the motives behind its very recent disappearance.  I prayed for discernment and talked with Christian sisters.  I discussed all of these things with my patient husband.  I read 1 Corinthians 11 over and over–considering its reasoning and message.  I thought about the spiritual power behind symbol-rich physical acts–baptism, communion, marriage…I finally concluded that, although I was not certain that there was no cultural component to the command, I was also not certain that there was.  I could see great benefit in wearing a “symbol of authority” on my head.  Bottom line, I determined, if I am going to err, I would rather err on the side of obedience than disobedience–of zeal than self-indulgence.

That was seven years ago.  I smile to myself thinking of the journey that has followed that decision–all the scarves and kerchiefs I have tried searching for something “not too weird” (Garlands of Grace has been very helpful in that department).  The times when I have felt ridiculous and alone.  The studies and re-studies making sure that I “really needed to do this.”  And then the peace.  The joy in realizing that when I separated myself from the expectations of fashion, I was freed from much of the insecurity that surrounds the desire to “fit in.”  Perhaps people still look at me funny when I go out, but, truthfully, I don’t really care!  I try not to be unnecessarily strange, but fitting in with current styles and measuring up to magazine photos have  left my radar screen thanks, in part, to head covering.  I love how there are always “fringe benefits” when I stop arguing with God and simply obey.

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Some resources:  www.headcovering.infowww.headcoveringmovement.com

19 thoughts on “Why I Cover

  1. Pingback: The Freedom of Simplicity | The Brown Brink

  2. I happened upon your blog with this particular post, and then I stuck around a while and read several more. 🙂 thank you- I’ve been very encouraged through what you have shared in several posts. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. The only thing I can get out of Corinthians 11 that is clear, and not ambiguous, is that women should wear a veil while praying or prophesying in a meeting.
    For me, it is impossible to draw from Paul’s inspired words that a woman is to wear a veiling 24/7. It’s just not there…the language is too vague.
    Albeit true that for the sake of modesty one might wear a veal in public.

    • The Bible also says to pray without ceasing. Our whole life ought to be a prayer and glory to God. That is the reason why so many choose to cover all day. They want to be free to pray whenever the thought occurs, without feeling that they are in disobedience while doing so. An added reason for some is the belief in modesty that only her husband should see a woman’s hair.

    • Thank you for posting this. I started covering when I read 1 Cor. 11, & was told I am being legalistic. Which I know I am following God’s command. I wear mine all the time except for bed. I do not know when I will pray. This way I can pray whenever the need arises, instead of the need to pray, I would have to get my covering on. Wearing it all the time avoids that. So glad to find another sister that covers. Your blogs are wonderful.

  4. Though male myself, we have a similar journey. I also stem from a Mainstream-Evangelical-Mennonite background and made a detour via the church of Christ and found guidance through the books of brother Bercot. Today I am in a very small committed Anabaptist fellowship in Vienna/Austria. I have always been convinced of this topic and was quite frustrated by the many ways it was explained away. Yet I think, we should also think about the men’s application of simlicity and modesty. We also need to be different, surrender our vanity, depart from modern fashion trends. Thus the issuse of modesty will no longer be viewed as a female issue, but as a church issue. Hence we encourage our brethren to wear long pants, shirts without silly prints on them and growing a manly beard (no need to become a lumbrjyck, though).

    God bless you for sharing your journey with us
    Alexander Basnar/Vienna Austria

    • Hi Alexander, interested to discover through this comment of yours the Anabaptist community in Austria. I do not understand enough German to figure out much, but I am travelling to Germany next week and we may be staying on in Europe if we can get work so would be interested in visiting your community if we are going to be anywhere nearby.
      Pauline Doyle, England

      • Dear Pauline, you may contact us via hausgemeinde [at] wordpress.com I’ll send you the details via E-Mail then. We’d be pleased to meet you, though not all of us do speak English. We are situated in Vienna/Austria

  5. I also come from an Anabaptist faith — Apostolic Christian Church of America — (originated in Switzerland 1800s) http://www.apostolicchristian.org/ I have worn a headcovering for 34 years. If I ever forget it on an extra busy morning, I take comfort in ! Corinthians 11:15 — But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 🙂

  6. it is good to hear that people in Europe are also searching for the truth. God always has a remnant of believers somewhere. Let the world see you and do not be ashamed to be different for the Lord.

  7. It’s good to see another former Mennonite (I was raised Old Order Mennonite) become a CHRIST-ian. While I may not fully agree with your stance on this particular issue as Paul wrote this to Corinthian women to separate themselves from the ‘goddess’ Diana’s prostitutes, I applaud your continued search into the Word of Yahweh the Creator for guidance. Putting Christ first in our lives, regardless of the cost or consequences, is the source of ‘peace beyond understanding’. Modesty, both male and female, has many benefits, and is rarely practiced by Christians.

  8. So if you consider head covering so important, how do you feel about Sunday worship? There is no place in scripture for it, and it was strongly commanded that the Sabbath was on the Seventh day of the week, Saturday.

  9. I was very blessed by your blog. I have studied this topic so much, and watched so many videos, and read so many testimonials, and really thought I had come to the conclusion, that I should always wear something on my head, as a covering. I went out and bought about 10 of those $1.00 square kerchiefs,in all colors. Then, I came across a really good article, about long hair being the covering, which is what I used to believe ,about 20 some years ago, while I was in a group of Christians ,who taught on modesty and also taught the long hair was the covering. So, now, I am not wearing it , again, bc I just can not be sure which is correct. But, the one thing I saw and made me take notuce, was what you said about erring on the side of obedience, instead of disobedience. So, now I am going to pray more about this.. So, thank you very much. I do want to obey the Lord , in every way. Love, Jill

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