As I was stumbling around on Google, I came across an article from 2006 in USA Today on the resurgence of headcovering, Traditional living takes modern spin. Ironically, in 2006 I would have dismissed this article and the people interviewed as some weirdo kooks! I liked this comment...
Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest University Divinity School, says, "It's possible that we could see a renewal of this distinctive dress in Christian families because it becomes its own kind of witness in a highly plural and increasingly secularized culture."
It is a two-part thing in some ways, first and foremost head covering is an issue of obedience, modesty and submission and also a counter-cultural statement. It leads to odd looks from people in modern, institutionalized Christian churches. It raises questions. What is unfortunate is the way many look at a woman covering her head as some sort of threat and many husbands reject head covering as well.
Like almost all women who cover, Catherine Levison of Tacoma, Wash., came to her decision through Bible study. She wears a scarf or hat anytime she prays.
Her husband "was pretty Switzerland about it," supporting her conviction. Others haven't been so accepting. She says she was attending a home prayer group, and when the pastor leading it realized that she hadn't just forgotten to take off her hat, he preached for weeks afterward on how women aren't required to cover.
Of all the things to preach about, preaching in opposition to women honestly seeking to follow Scriptural commandments? There are plenty of things to preach against, but women following the plain commands of Scripture and seeking to exhibit Biblical submission isn't one. Maybe this guy should have preached about the women in his church who dress like they are going to a nightclub or the beach instead of the woman dressing modestly and covering her head?
What I found especially interesting was the sidebar quotes in the article from scholars to get their spin on headcovering. Neither scholar quoted supported headcovering, and neither gave a terribly good answer. One of the scholars quoted was Wayne Grudem, someone I respect a lot. His work on the ESV and his ministry on the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood are wonderful and have done a lot to stem the tide of feminism and egalitarianism that pervades and weakens much of the church. But I disagree vehemently with his assessment of why head covering is not valid today.
Biblical scholars say the New Testament does not require women to cover their hair while praying.
"I think it's mistaken but I appreciate (hair-covering women's) desire to do what they think the Bible is telling them to," says Wayne Grudem, research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary and a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He says covering the hair was a sign of being married among women in the Roman empire.
Grudem, who was on the translation committee for the recent English Standard Version of the Bible, says, "In light of that evidence, when we came to 1 Corinthians 11, in every verse that had to do with head covering, we translated it as wife and not as woman."
So the verse became "but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head." Today, a wedding band identifies a married woman, Grudem notes.
Rebecca Denova, professor of religious studies at the University of Pittsburgh, says Paul is telling the women of Corinth that "if you're going to stand up in church, look like nice, decent, matronly women," and in that time and place, that meant covering your head.
But they were wearing veils "because the culture said to, not because they were Christians," Denova says.
In the USA Today article, Grudem repeats the oft asserted contention that the headcovering was merely a cultural sign in Corinth and that the sign is replicated in the West today by the wearing of a wedding band. A wedding band in no way symbolizes the same thing as a headcovering and few people in any church would view the ring as a symbol of a wife's submission to her husband. A head covering should be indicative of a wife in submission to first her Lord and His commands in His Word and second to her husband as her covenant head. There are lots of married Christian women in churches who have wedding bands on their left hand who are anything but submissive in their recognition of the headship of their husband. Joyce Meyer wears a wedding band on her left hand (I went to her website and looked, I need to repent) and then gets up on stage and "preaches" while her husband dutifully sits in the audience under the teaching, and false teaching at that, of his wife. Even if you question, with some justification, whether Joyce Meyer is a Christian or not, you have to admit that there are plenty of homes where at least the husband has not stepped into leadership in the home and the wife has moved into the vacuum, as well as homes where the husband is cowed by his wife and exhibits no sort of headship at all.
I went to the CBMW webpage regarding headcovering to see if their position had changed. It hasn't. This is a long quote, but I wanted to post in its entirety so I am not accused of selectively quoting them:
Question 32: But doesn't Paul argue for a head covering for women in worship by appealing to the created order in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15? Why is the head covering not binding today while the teaching concerning submission and headship is?
The key question here is whether Paul is saying that creation dictates a head covering or that creation dictates that we use culturally appropriate expressions of masculinity and femininity, which just happened to be a head covering for women in that setting. We think the latter is the case. The key verses are: "Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering" (1 Corinthians 11:13-15).
How did nature teach that long hair dishonored a man and gave women a covering? Nature has not endowed women with more hair than men. In fact, if nature takes its course, men will have more hair than women because it will cover their face as well as their head. There must be another way that nature teaches on this subject! We believe custom and nature conspire in this pedagogy. On the one hand, custom dictates what hair arrangements are generally masculine or feminine. On the other hand, nature dictates that men feel ashamed when they wear symbols of femininity. We could feel the force of this by asking the men of our churches, "Does not nature teach you not to wear a dress to church?" The teaching of nature is the natural inclination of men and women to feel shame when they abandon the culturally established symbols of masculinity or femininity. Nature does not teach what the symbols should be.
When Paul says that a woman's hair "is given to her for a covering" (v. 15), he means that nature has given woman the hair and the inclination to follow prevailing customs of displaying her femininity, which in this case included letting her hair grow long and drawing it up into a covering for her head. So Paul's point in this passage is that the relationships of manhood and womanhood, which are rooted in the created order (1 Corinthians 11:7-9), should find appropriate cultural expression in the worship service. Nature teaches this by giving men and women deep and differing inclinations about the use of masculine and feminine symbols.
Set aside the issue that Paul's intro to 1 Corinthians explicitly states that while he is writing to the church in Corinth, his message applies to everyone, everywhere who calls on the name of Christ (see 1 Cor 1: 1-2). The key verses in this section are NOT 13-15, 1 Cor 11: 13-15 build upon the actual key verses of 1 Corinthians 11: 3-10. 13-15 come after and build upon the main point, that the man is the head of the woman, it is disgraceful for a man to cover his head when he prays and for a woman to uncover her head when she prays. Would we apply this and say it is OK for men to wear baseball hats in church while praying? I think not but it is apparently permissible to cavalierly dismiss Paul's admonition as a cultural construct replaced by a wedding ring. A covered head is a sign of submission and modesty, a recognition of the headship of a husband over his wife. That is not a cultural issue, it is a covenant and obedience issue.
The best part of this article is that it points out that the internet, that most modern of inventions, is allowing Christians to find others who are like-minded and support one another in the realization that there are other people out there who have read God's Word, read Paul's admonition and are seeking to live that out. Ironic and a great blessing at the same time!