Ask Sanityville: Would retaining head coverings have prevented feminism?

My wife has corrected my memory on her wearing of a headcovering. It came up when we were reading through 1 Cor. 11 in our family devotion, and I wondered out loud whether that still applied, but I never suggested to my wife that she should do so. While I was researching the question and consulting with my fellow elders on Session, my wife started trying out wearing a head covering and doing her own research. After several months had gone by, I decided that wearing a head covering was no longer applicable for the reasons I give above, and I told my wife that, and she immediately decided to no longer wear a head covering.

So she’s firmly in the category I describe. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Resurrecting an old thread. We’re a 4 as well, maybe 5.

We’ve gone perma-covering Like the Puritan women of old. This way the wife is covered whenever praying, along with the all of the other “niceties” of honoring the creation order. It just so happens to give feminism the bird and that’s nice too.

She gets asked about it a lot. She wears the Israeli tichel style, as seen in this link. to make it obvious that this is not just a fashion item, but a religious statement.

Are you Muslim? No, but she made a Muslim friend at the park and has now shared the gospel with her.

Are you Israeli? No. But the lady who asked it engaged in a long conversation about 1 Cor 11.

Perhaps the biggest issue that has come up has been the issue of authority in the family. Many women in our church view submission to their husbands as “he has to do his part or I’m not budging, and then only maybe”. To see a wife lovingly don the headgear when asked and to wear it with pride (in the good sense) has caused a bit of a stir.

Not just “is this biblical” - hello bonnet-wearing puritans; but perhaps the biggest question of them all in our day — if the wife is convinced 1 Cor 11 is cultural but the husband not — what happens when the husband asks to don the funny hat, so to speak, and all the time. A real test of the health of the man-woman dynamic in your church. Can help to root out some underlying problems. Highly recommended - 100%.

How could anyone tell you didn’t need your wife’s permission to instruct her to wear a head covering? I assume it was the wife’s idea, when I see one…

Assume no longer!

You’d have to get to know the couple obviously, but it should become apparent then.

This has come up in our church. The Session believes that 1 Cor 11 is cultural, but if a husband thinks otherwise, the wife should submit to her husband and wear a headcovering.

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Would retaining head coverings have prevented feminism?

In a word, no. I know from my associations with fundamentalists of various hues that it is too easy to insist on ‘outward conformity to the law’ as a substitute for true obedience. My guess is that if the ‘dam’ had not given way at this point, it would still have given way at many other points, and indeed did so.

On an unrelated note, I really don’t like seeing men in church who are wearing hats, but I imagine I’m showing my age.


Agree. I like to think of it as an indicator, but not a guarantee. You can certainly have the one-off Mennonite church that covers and agrees to women pastors. But if large numbers of churches go from not covering, either in church or permanently, to covering, there’s most likely something else going on, something good.

Age? Perhaps - I don’t know you well enough to assess how your age affects your preferennces here and there. But, Paul’s exposition in those 16 verses of a single epistle says just as much about the men being uncovered as it does about women being covered. The whole point of the section is that God’s glory should be unveiled during worship while the man’s glory (i.e. the woman) and the woman’s glory (i.e. her hair) should be covered.

One Sunday a few years ago, the curate and I walked over to the chapel after we’d vested ourselves, and in the narthex we were met by the parish deacon. I could tell by his face that something had alarmed him.

“Father Bill, you’d better be prepared for trouble this morning.” He gestured toward the interior of the chapel on the other side of a pair of swinging doors. “They’re on the epistle side. The gay couple’s on the right.”

I pressed one of the doors slightly so I could peer in. On the right side, about halfway down the aisle, in one pew sat three persons. The one next to the aisle wore a ski cap. Next to him sat another fellow with a newsboy style cap on his head. His arm was draped around the shoulders of the person next to him - no head covering, but the hair was a stylish masculine cut that sported a two-toned dye job of neon fuchsia and commode-water blue. “That must be the gay guys,” I thought.

Pondering what, if anything, to do at that point, I saw the agitated deacon slip through the doors and move quickly down the aisle. Peering again through the doors, I saw him in conversation with the three. The two with caps took them off. The deacon returned.

“I’ll sit where I can keep an eye on them,” he said. The service continued without interruption from any quarter.

It turned out that the two-toned neon colored hair person was a woman, and the man whose arm had been draped across her shoulders was her husband. Very millennial in their habits of fashion and deportment in church, I suppose.


It turned out that the two-toned neon colored hair person was a woman, and the man whose arm had been draped across her shoulders was her husband. Very millennial in their habits of fashion and deportment in church, I suppose.

Droll. But as John Wimber used to say, “catch the fish, then clean them”.

On a sorta-related note, does anyone make an issue of women wearing trousers, especially in church? I know some fundamentalists still do, and while I understand how Scripture enjoins women to dress modestly, I was (seriously) wondering if women wearing trousers would be included in this.

…I like to think of it as an indicator, but not a guarantee.

So, a necessary indicator, if not a sufficient one?

I never had to deal with this as a pastor. On the other hand, as a parishioner in the pew I sometimes had a point of view (literally, that is) which no pastor would ever get, viz. the hinder parts of the woman in front of me, particularly as we were all kneeling.

In that posture, I was necessarily presented with a panoramic view of the person’s back, including his or her hinder parts. This viewpoint quickly showed me that whether or not the person is wearing trousers is beside the point. Rather, it is the nature of the trousers and how they are worn which made all the difference.

I have, for example, been presented with a generous butt crack when we were all in that position. The sex of that butt was pretty much irrelevant to its impact on us in the pew behind the behind. A couple of times, it was a woman in yoga pants, which are virtually a thin coat of fabric sprayed onto the skin, almost a way to be naked without exposing any actual skin.

How one wears one’s pants makes a difference too. In one horrid Sunday service, during the offertory the daughter of a family in the parish stood at the nead of the center aisle, signing the lyrics of a well-known hymn. The idea is that we onlookers would know the lyrics by heart and that they would be in our mind as the lassie communicated them via sign language.

But, no one was watching her signing. She wore a clingy sort of top that ended just below her mid torso.And, she wore tight trousers which rose no higher than needed to avoid a violation of the statutory definition of indecent exposure. Between these two boundaries of fabric was a slightly rounded tummy with a large and deep navel at its center. The navel would “wink” at us as the girl moved her arms about in her signing activities.

I sat at the back and could see a lot of the congregation. Some turned their heads. Others looked at their laps the entire time. One could hear quiet sounds of suppressed stangling noises, which I guessed were coming from those wishing not to guffaw out loud.

To this day, it remains Number One on my list of most horrific times during a worship service.


Well, since I’m convinced that it’s a mandate from scripture, then yes I’d say it’s a necessary indicator. But not a guarantee.

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