Geles, Berets, scarfs, turbans……All these can give you that Sunday, church, killer-look if they are rocked right. But in most churches head coverings are not a fashion statement, but a compulsory part of the dressing for females. Some churches won’t even let you in if your hair isn’t covered.

So in this post, we would be discussing head covering. Is it really compulsory for ladies to cover their hair in church?

In my opinion, I feel those who insist on head covering based on 1 Corinthians 11 have left out some fundamental details I would like to point out in this article. So below, I explain a context of the instruction in 1 Corinthians 11, on hair covering, I would be explaining another context in a subsequent article:

Some churches won’t even let you in if your hair isn’t covered Click To Tweet
  • Cultural Context

Imagine your shock if I came into your church and insisted on kissing everyone, guys and ladies alike. I am definitely sure I would be sent out of the church for my weird behaviour. But what if I told you I was just trying to obey scriptures. The instruction to kiss one another comes up at least five times in the epistles (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14). Even if you refuse to believe any of these verses above, at least we know that our Lord Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. But I sure won’t be kissing anybody this Sunday, whether holy or unholy, I would keep my lips to myself.

But why do we not obey an instruction that is repeated so many times in the bible? I guess the answer is in our cultural differences. In most eastern and western cultures, it is not out of place to kiss someone casually, as a way of greeting. But that is not an African thing, we are okay with hugs, prostrating, handshakes, but kissing is taking things too far.

But most Africans would want none of that, we are okay with hugs, prostrating, handshakes, but kissing is taking things too far. Click To Tweet

We understand that the message behind the ‘kissing’ instruction is showing love and affection among Christians. So we take the message behind the instruction and appropriate it to suit our cultural context.

How does this relate to our subject of discussion? We must realize that the bible was written within a cultural context that most times differs from ours. It takes diligence in Bible study to know when an instruction is made within a cultural context and not as a general instruction. The question we should really ask is what is the message behind this instruction?

We must realize that the bible was written within a cultural context that most times differs from ours. The question we should really ask is what is the message behind this instruction? Click To Tweet

What is the message behind the head covering instruction?

Let us look at 1 Corinthians 11 to get the answers. Paul starts the instruction about head covering in 1 Corinthians 11:2, he states that it is one of the traditions he passed on to them.

Now I praise you because you always remember me and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. – 1 Corinthians 11:2 (HCSB) –

Paul the apostle before his conversion was a devout Jewish scholar, in fact, he was a Pharisee. So, the tradition of head covering during prayer had a Jewish origin. The act of head covering is an old Jewish custom with various symbolism, but most prevalent of them is that it represented modesty and submission of married women to their husbands.

A scenario in Numbers 5:12-18, tells us of a man who suspects his wife of infidelity and in verse 18 while the priest offers a sacrifice for her, he is instructed to uncover her head.

The act of head covering is an old Jewish custom with various symbolism, but most prevalent of them is that it represented modesty and submission of married women to their husbands. Click To Tweet

“Speak to the Israelites and tell them: If any man’s wife goes astray, is unfaithful to him, and sleeps with another, but it is concealed from her husband, and she is undetected, even though she has defiled herself, since there is no witness against her, and she wasn’t caught in the act;…He is also to bring an offering for her of two quarts of barley flour…“The priest is to bring her forward and have her stand before the Lord. Then the priest is to take holy water in a clay bowl, and take some of the dust from the tabernacle floor and put it in the water. After the priest has the woman stand before the Lord, he is to let down her hair and place in her hands the grain offering for remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. The priest is to hold the bitter water that brings a curse. – Numbers 5:12-18 (HCSB)

So, it is really more of a cultural thing, to further buttress this, in verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul states that if the woman fails to cover her hair, let it be shaved.

So if a woman’s head is not covered, her hair should be cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should be covered. – 1 Corinthians 11:6 (HCSB)

It was a shame then for women to cut their hair, we can’t say that about women who choose to cut their hair today. In fact, many schools insist that girls cut their hair and some ladies choose to cut their hair low and honestly it fits a lot of them just fine. And it is funny how some of these same churches (that insists head be covered) sees ladies cutting their hair as modesty.

The fact that we don’t see a girl in low cut and think of it as shameful, shows that there are differences in our perceptions and cultures. I would be discussing this topic of hair covering but as it relates to the marital context in a subsequent article.

The fact that we don’t see a girl in low cut and think of it as shameful, shows that there are differences in our perceptions and cultures. Click To Tweet

Thank you for reading, I would like to know your thoughts in the comments section.

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