Monday, 26 March 2012

Her Crowning Glory

Source for this image here.

"For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering
". (1 Corinthians, 12 - 15)

It often suprises people when I tell them that the reason I wear a headcovering is as a symbol of my submission to my husband, as my headship, rather than as a visible demonstration of my faith. In fact, Papa Bear and I believe that the teachings of Scripture instruct women not wear a headcovering purely to draw attention to one's faith, as this would be to do so out of vainity, not modesty -

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works
." (1 Timothy 2, 9 - 10).

To us, our faith should be demonstrated in our demeanour and behaviour, not our apparel. It doesn't mean however, that we believe that to wear a headcovering is not Biblical, but we do not share the interpretation of the teaching of First Corinthians, Chapter 11, to mean that women are instructed to have an additional covering, to the covering of their hair. Our understanding of this passage is that it simply means that a woman's hair should be long, not that she should wear an additional covering -

"Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering
". (1 Corinthians 11, 13 - 15)

Here it is easy to see that the Scriptural teaching is that a woman's long hair is her covering - a man is not to have long hair, but a woman should - it is shameful for her to have short hair, which would make her indistinguishable from her husband (who is described in this passage as her head - the distinction which Paul is focussing on here is between men and women, not between hair and headcoverings - "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body" - Ephesians 5, 23). Men and women must not be physically indistinguishable, and this means that men are not to have long hair - only women shall.

"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.
Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord
". (1 Corinthians, 3 - 11).

This is what our Church teaches, and it is what we believe also. For this reason, I do have long hair in order that I may be distinguishable from my headship, and this command is for all women, not just those that are married, so Little Bear has long hair also. But it may therefore seem odd that we should appear to disregard such teaching, so obviously, by my also wearing a headcovering. The reason for this perceived anomaly is that for us, my wearing a headcovering is part of a cultural tradition that we uphold, as married women, out of respect for our headships. Many centuries ago, a "bride price" was paid for a wife by her husband-to-be's family. I have written about this in a separate post, previously, which you can read here. I am so happy to belong to my precious Papa Bear! And of course, sinse every part of me belongs to him, so also does my hair. This means that in deference to him I cover my long hair, his possession, that it may be only visible to him, when he chooses, and so that other men may not enjoy what is rightfully only his. Our daughter will cover her head in this way also, when she marries, but until a woman marries she does not need to cover. However, I see this as my duty to my husband, as a Christian wife, not just a cultural tradition. My headcovering is a symbol of respect and obedience to Papa Bear, in my role as his help meet. By honouring him in this way, I am honouring God - "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord". (Ephesians 5, 22). Likewise, my body also is covered, as of course the rest of me belongs to Papa Bear too! I shall post in the future about how I dress, and hopefully (if Papa Bear is agreeable) some pictures of my clothes (he bought me TWO new dresses today, which is partly what inspired this post!).

We realise for people who do not belong to our culture, this aspect of the traditions that we uphold must seem very alien and perhaps restrictive also. But for us it is not restrictive at all, but something beautiful, part of what is most treasured and lovely about our marriage relationship. To us my covering myself and keeping my body and my hair hidden from public view means that there is a separate and uniquely exclusive part of our relationship that is private between us and only us, which would not exist if I did not cover myself as I do. It adds a precious element of intimacy that I do not believe we could share, if I was on show to anyone and everyone. I feel as if I am giving myself like a gift, to my husband, every time he sees me uncovered. As the analogy in the Book of the Song of Solomon describes, my body is like a secret garden, to which only Papa Bear has the key -

"A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." (Song of Solomon 4, 12).

Of course, many Christian women do cover their hair for Scriptural reasons only, and no doubt their husbands also get to enjoy this special privelige, when they uncover in private. But if they are doing this merely to tell the world of their attachment to a particular faith, then to us, this seems rather vain and hollow. It's certainly true that our faith means that we are saved by grace, not works - " ... by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2, 8), but faith alone is not enough - we need to live out that faith, every day, to serve our Father God.

"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
" (James 2, 14 - 17).

We should never be complacent in our faith - and if that means questioning our motives in how we conduct ourselves and behave then this can only be pleasing to our Saviour. Let us be certain that when we are guided by the commands of the Word, not the world, and that when we cover our heads, we are doing so not just out of mere vanity, but out of love and commitment to our husbands, and through them, our Saviour.