Thursday, July 29, 2010

Haircovering versus Headcovering

It has been a while since I've written a post, and I found Candy's latest post on the topic of "haircovering" to be interesting.  Candy writes:

It is said that a woman should cover her glory, and that it should be for her husband to see only. Some even say that if a woman shows her hair, she is being immodest.

I disagree with this. If a woman wants to cover all of her hair, then that is her prerogative, and I really don't care. I may, perhaps, think she looks like a gypsy, or chemo patient, but that is of no importance.

However, I do have a problem when a woman who covers all of her hair tells me I'm "doing it wrong," by letting my hair show. While haircoverers like to state that a woman should cover her hair, I use the same Scripture to state otherwise. 

Of course, there is the irony of Candy writing a post about how haircoverers are wrong because she doesn't like it when they tell her that she is wrong.  It is also typically Candy to so cluelessly use "chemo patient" as an insult. 

Candy goes on to discuss 1 Corinthians 11, which she has dissected time and time again, first to prove that a headcovering was not required, and now to prove that it IS required. 

3) Verse 15 says a woman's hair is her glory - should we cover it? This is where there is a disconnect. It says that a woman's hair is given her for A covering. The woman has two coverings - her hair, in which verse 15's word for "covering" is a different word from all other occurrences of "covering" in the chapter. In verse 15, covering comes from a Greek word, which means 'veil, to wrap around.'

If we are to cover our hair, then what happened to our first covering, which is supposed be like a veil, and wrap around? Hair that is pinned up is not a veiling - it neither hangs as a veil, nor wraps around - it is simply up. A woman can have a covering ON her hair - covering her glory, and covering her husband's glory, but still have hair showing. Remember, the context of 1 Cor. 11:2-16 is the HEAD covering, never the HAIR covering.

So then, is Candy saying that it would be wrong to ever wear your hair pinned up because it would then not be a veiling?

Again, if women are not allowed to show any hair, and are to cover it all, then why does 1 Corinthians 11 always talk of covering the HEAD, and not of the hair?

Are we restricted to 1 Corinthians 11 for this topic?  Orthodox Jewish women who are married always cover their hair, either with a wig, scarf or hat.  How did this practice come about?  From Numbers 5:18 "And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse."

As the priest is commanded to uncover the woman's head as a part of this judgement ritual, it is assumed that her head is normally covered.  Now how this has become the requirement of married Jewish women to cover all of their hair is a study of Judaism leans on tradition for the interpretation of Scripture.  There is a good article with quotes from the relevant Halakha here.

I especially liked this story.  "The Talmud tells of a woman named Kimhit who had seven sons, all of whom eventually served as High Priests. The sages asked her: "What have you done to merit thus?" She replied: "Throughout the days of my life the beams of my house have not seen the plaits of my hair." They responded to her in a somewhat unexpected and ambiguous way: "There were many who did likewise and did not succeed" (BT Yoma 47a)."

Candy often seems to feel that she is additionally blessed because of her actions.   She does not identify herself as merely a Christian, but a dresses-only headcovering KJV Christian. 

In Greek-speak, the woman has her veil covering - which is her long hair, and her head covering, which is a covering on top of the head.

Where do we find the definition that a head covering only covers the top of the woman's head?  I appreciate that for many headcovering women, the covering is merely symbolic.  But when I see someone with a small doily or headband type covering, then I would really never think that it is supposed to actually cover their head.  It would need to much larger than that to literally cover their head.

Going back to the article, Candy makes another point:

Another point to consider - If Christian women are to cover ALL of their hair, then why does the Bible speak on wearing modest hair styles? . . . Why even mention woman's hairstyles, if no one can see it, because it's all under a covering?

I can think of several options for this.  Many Christians interpret the 1 Corinthians verses to imply an obligation to cover during corporate worship.  That is why Catholic women used to cover their hair during Mass, but not at other time. 

Also, Muslim women cover their hair outside of the home or when they are around men, but if women are gathering without men present, then they usually remove their hair covering.  The verses could apply to that sort of situation. 

One point which Candy does not discuss is the sort of witness which having a head or hair covering gives.  This is usually a strong reason for her.  In her dresses only article she writes:

First off, Jesus tells us that Christians are not supposed to blend in with the world. Some people would say that that's just in the heart, but that can't be completely correct.

If I walked around dressed as everyone else is, then how would people know I'm different, unless they spoke to me? Why would they want to speak with me, if I look just like them? What would be different or interesting, to peak their curiosity?

In her headcovering article, she writes:

I lean toward the side that the women can choose which covering she wants, just as long as it's on top of the head, and it can be seen as a headcover, and not just as some cute hair accessory.

I think one could make the argument that completely covering the hair would make you a better witness, because there is no way it could be mistaken for a cute hair accessory.  Candy's bandana style coverings do not look like a distinctive covering to me.  Paired with the dress, yes, I would assume that she is a covering Christian, but I've seen many women wearing pants who wear bandanas on their head as well. 

I think that contrary to what she says, the real reason for Candy to "head" cover as opposed to "hair" cover is found at the beginning of the article.  She just doesn't want to look silly, or like a chemo patient.

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