To veil or not to veil?



1 Corinthians 11:Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. 

Paul’s letters found in the New Testament are often more practical than theological. This passage from his first letter to the church in Corinth is a good example. We can assume that if Paul is addressing the issue of women wearing head coverings, it’s because there has been some disagreement on this matter in the church. The people have asked for a ruling, so Paul offers one.

It’s hard to know if or how we should apply such a passage because it speaks so closely of a cultural convention (women wearing head coverings) that does not exist today. That said, until fairful recently, many women DID wear head coverings in church.

My family has a Roman Catholic background, as is true of many Hispanic families. My maternal grandmother wore a veil on her head EVERY TIME she went to mass. Period. Looking at photos of my mother and her sisters from the 1950s and 1960s, it’s clear my grandmother taught them to do the same. Females were expected to wear head coverings and they did. This began to change in the late 1960s and 1970s with the emergence of the feminist movement.

If we are to take scripture seriously, should we conform to this old cultural norm or not? Perhaps some of you female readers will chime in on the topic by commenting on this blog post. I’m interested to read what you have to say.

Lord Jesus, give us grace and wisdom to honor your word – whatever that looks like. Amen.

3 thoughts on “To veil or not to veil?

  1. Thank you for a thoughtful post. As this was written to the people in the church of Corinth and the whole letter deals with issues of reverence in worship, one can’t pull out pieces to apply to life in our context. To me the point is that as worshipper a we need to respect the culture in which we reside. I don’t think Jesus cares if our heads are covered or not, or if a man has long or short hair. He is more concerned with the heart of the worshipper.

  2. rob fischer

    I have heard it said many times that, “Faith without action is dead”. Three years ago yesterday, my mother died. She was a woman of faith in action. Her heart was set on the Lord and her actions showed. Also, I have heard it said. “Take the action and the heart will follow”. Somedays I feel like doing the actions and follow thru, but somedays I don’t feel like doing the action but do it anyways. I remember reading that Mother Teresa never felt the presence of the Lord for a many years, but carried thru the mission of the Lord her whole life. My point is that sometimes my heart is not into it, but I will continue to fake it until I make it. Gracious Father, give me strengh to carry your will even in times of doubt.

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