I’m known at my church for my collection of hats. One lady in her 80s looks forward to seeing how I match my hat to my outfit each Sunday. My signature look of wearing hats shifts the attention from my disability, giving me the identity as “the Hat Lady.”
Only a few friends know that I wear hats out of a personal conviction derived from 1 Corinthians 11:
2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (NASB)
During my engagement to John, I spoke out against the idea of having a woman serve as an assistant pastor in the church he attended (and that I would presumably attend once I moved to Massachusetts). One night I chatted online with a woman from his church who disagreed with my stand on the matter. She said I was inconsistent to stand so firmly on 1 Timothy 2:11-14 when I didn’t obey 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.
For years, I had struggled with 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. wondering why that passage could be considered merely a cultural mandate while 1 Timothy 2:11-14 was considered universal. I’ll work through that question in a separate article, but at the time of that online conversation I decided that integrity demanded me to cover my head.
I did not, however, want to make other women uncomfortable by covering in an obvious way. Years earlier, a friend of mine went through a time of wearing head coverings in a way that broadcast what she was doing. I judged her as a legalist when she did so, which I shouldn’t have done. Learning from that experience, I resolved to follow my convictions in a manner that wouldn’t cause people to stumble into the sin of judging me (see Romans 14).
So I decided to wear hats. After a few weeks of wearing them, I noticed that they hid a stubborn cowlick. I said to some friends, “I guess the Bible teaches head coverings to protect women from bad hair days!” After that, one guy at church teased me about having so many bad hair days on Sundays.
Over the years, I’ve continued studying 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, and I’ve become less certain that it carries the same universal weight as 1 Timothy 2:11-14 does. I’ve read a few articles by respected people in the Reformed camp as well as discussing it with my own pastor. The general consensus is that First Century head coverings served the same purpose as present-day wedding rings.
Again, it will require another blog post to explain how people have arrived at that conclusion. I’ll be happy to write that post once I’ve studied the matter a little more. At present, I’m leaning toward that point of view.
Throughout the 19 years that I’ve worn hats to church, I’ve always thought of my practice as a personal conviction. Therefore, I have resisted periodic temptations to impose my convictions on my sisters in Christ. Head covering should never bring a woman under the yoke of legalism! Nor should it allow me to cultivate an attitude of pride, thinking that I’m more obedient because I cover.
Interestingly, my disability has progressed in the past year to the point that I’m having greater difficulty holding my head up. As a result, sometimes my hats fall of during the sermons, distracting me and probably distracting those around me. I have trouble with the idea that God would want anyone to do something that would draw attention away from Him.
Ladies, each of you is accountable for your own personal convictions. Each of you is also accountable to carry out your convictions in ways that (as far as it lies with you) don’t cause your sisters and brothers to stumble. If you cover, do so discreetly, not judging your sisters who see no need to cover. If you don’t cover, respect your sisters who believe God wants them to cover.Follow my blog with Bloglovin