Posted by: clevsea | September 17, 2007


Question from a e-loop:

“Just wondering about head covering. I have never thought about
covering my head, I know it is in the Bible. Does anyone know when
and why it changed in the church? ”


About 17 years ago I read I Cor 11 with a group of women in a Bible study. The other ladies looked at me and said, “Hmmm. Why don’t we cover our heads when we pray? That seemed rather clear didn’t it?”

I calmly told them not to worry, knowing Greek fairly well I assured them that I would be able to explain to them why the Christian women do not cover their heads in our day.

(We live in an area that does not have any head coverers in it so we don’t see Amish, etc in our daily lives.)

I dove into the Greek like my life depended on it. I was sure there was an answer in the original language that would clear this up. I thought there had to be a reason that Christians didn’t cover anymore (where I live) and because I could not see it in the English I would see the “loop hole” in the Greek.

Several weeks and much study later I still had not found the reason to not cover. I was back at Bible study but now I had a hat on my head. I explained to the other ladies that I could not find a way out, much to my surprise, so now I cover my head when I pray. They understood and started covering too.

I could write so much about this head covering experience because now it has been 17 years of covering. I still read the Greek version of the 1 Cor 11 passage frequently. And if I had to boil it down I would say this.

Read the passage for yourself and pray about it. Note this as well. In English the word “covering” is used many times and also uncovered too. All through there in Greek a word is used and it is “katakaluptos” Strong’s number 2619. That word is used many times with various word endings but same root word. It is the covering for the head. THEN at the end of the passage when the hair is finally mentioned it says in Greek that the hair is the “peribolaion” Strongs #4018. It never says that the hair is the katakaluptos.

Peribolaion is only used twice in the Bible the other time can be found in Heb 1:12.

Peribolaion’s definition is “something to throw around one, ie mantle, veil, covering, vesture.” I think of the word as a shawl or a vest and that is what my long hair is. It’s so long that it acts like a vest. I could cover myself in the chest area even without a shirt on—–not that I would use my hair for a shirt—don’t get me wrong. My hair, according to the Bible, is a “vest like” covering, but earlier in the I Cor 11 it is made clear that I need to wear a Katakaluptos on my head to cover my head, not a peribolaion.

If the Bible were trying to say that my hair covering was my prayer covering then we have many verses in the New Testament talking about whether to wear your hair when you pray, whether it is right or wrong to wear it when you pray or prophesy, whether a man ought to wear his hair when he prays or whether he ought to remove it when he does. In other words if you exchange the word “hair” as you read the passage you’ll soon see that it will not make much sense. If it does make sense then men need to shave their heads bald.

I have a lot more to say about the Greek and verb tenses used but I’ll stop short of all that. If you want to know more I have more information from my own research. There are many other people who have written on this topic and I also have about 9 on-line articles too that I could refer you to. There is the famous “Let her be Veiled” by the Mennonites and the “Baptist Women Exalted” an odd title but it is the Baptist’s written work about the PRO-head covering position. Both of those started as paper booklets before the internet but now are on-line too.

I don’t try to convert people to head covering—that is between you and the Lord God. But I have done it for 17 years and I have had a LONG time to think through each issue and be questioned on each issue. One example would be that most people call it “legalism” but the teaching is found in the New Testament not the old. A lot of people say that was for Corinth not for us…what about the 2nd half of the same chapter? Is that part for Corinth and not for us? (It’s about the LORD’s supper, if you’re wondering.)

The question you had involved when/where/how did the Church come to stop wearing the covering.

With Art work, paintings and photography it is easy to trace the ceasing of the covering to about 1965 give or take a few years.

Any and all photos of Churches up until that time will show a room full of women covered with hats and of men bare headed.

Then it all stopped in North America and Europe. It stopped quickly too.

Was it Women’s liberation? Was it the S*xual Revolution? Was it fashion?

Maybe it was all three. Not quite sure. Fashion can play a large part in all of this. I am all for the “hat” as a head covering because it covers the head….but….the hat may have been the downfall of the covering. At first ladies probably wore something far more like we see in the Middle East and as the covering proceeded for some 2000 years it morphed into a hat, (in some cultures). As the hat was dictated by French fashion and New York and all things chic they may have been “in charge” of what kinds of hats were to be worn with certain outfits. And then, when the hat “left” the fashion stage so did the Biblical teaching of covering.

Again, not exactly sure.

What I do know is that women wore a hat in the 40s, 50s and even the 1960s and now they don’t. Men removed their hats in movies for prayer time at a gravesite (think cowboy movie), at meals and when they entered the church. Now, where I live, men wear “Ball caps” into church services and they do not remove them during prayer, not even in the church.

Long answer to a short question and I think I will go ahead and cut and paste it over to my blog for others to read as well. So if you ever see this post there know that I wrote it today for you as an answer for your question.

With much love and the GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ,


Update due to an emailed question. I will not use the email that I received, you will have to guess somewhat as to the nature of the questions I was asked. I have decided to share my answer here in case it helps anyone else.

Here is an email I wrote to further help the above entry:

I’m really glad you wrote and that you kept it from the whole group. We don’t want to confuse them, that’s for sure.
I do know Greek fairly well and as I read your email it seems to me that we do agree a lot. Maybe any confusion is because my answer had to be brief to that other lady. She wasn’t asking for a book lenght essay on the covering. I tried to dive into her question with a quick insight to how I felt when I first truly saw the passage in the Bible. I did not want to cover my head. I really, really did not want to and nobody around me did and that’s what I meant by trying to find a loop hole. I went to the Greek and studied so hard. I was sure that somewhere there in the verb tenses or somewhere it would come clear to me that I did not need to cover my head when I prayed/prophesied.
Also to be brief when I answered her I did not launch into a big thing concerning “why” we stopped covering, I only suggested a few ideas and I was trying to be light, not scientific.
I agree that the current covering, including the bun cover are a FAR cry from the Mother Mary type of covering. I could have written a book this morning but I barely touched on the topic with her. I also agree with you that the question and the answers are interesting BUT that has nothing to do with whether you and I (and the lady asking) should cover or should obey any Biblical passage. That is a different matter all together. One thought I have on that is that I like to obey the things that the Bible tells me to d
o. I would rather over-obey than under-obey, if you know what I mean. Plus, there is a “Lost” letter to the Corinthians, if the Lord did not want me, Clevsea, to have to read about head coverings and then have to determine whether or not to comply and wear one then the Lord could have easily put those verses into the “Lost” letter and I would never have known anything about them.
When you talk of the hair…that was a point that I tried to be clear about with the post. So many times the passages speaks of the head covering as the katakaluptos, calling that a covering. It’s written in a verb tense that is an continual action because the writer knows we women will have to put it on and take it off, in other words it is an action.
In v 4 the Greek says that “every man praying or prophesying [with anything] on [his] head having, puts to shame his head.” v 5 goes on to say “But every woman praying or prophesying uncovered ( the word is katakaluptos there with a “a” in front of it to indicate non-katakaluptos) with the head, put to shame her head; for one and the same with having been shaven.” V6 “For if not be covered (same word ‘akatakluptos’ non-covered) a woman, also let her be shorn. But if [it be] (the first class condition of “if” followed by the indicative mood means “if and it is”) shameful to a woman to be shorn or to be shaven let her be covered (katakaluptos). ” v7 “For man indeed not ought to have covered (that’s katakaluptos again) the head……”
the passage stops here to give 3 reasons why all this is so and to explain about the man/woman relationship and then it picks up again in V13 “in yourselves judge: becoming is it for a woman uncovered (akatakluptos, non-covering again) to God to pray?”
In V14 the teaching about the hair comes up and in V 15 when it says the hair is the covering it does not say that it is the katakaluptos and that is the whole point. Now, at this point it says the hair is the peribolaion. In English it says the hair is the covering. But in Greek the use of word covering or non-covering has been the katakaloopto and that has been chosen 5 times, to cover wholly, as you said. The word peribolaion is only used once and that is regarding the hair. Five uses of the kata word to talk about covering the head and one use of covering that is defined as a vest. My point this morning is that long, long hair is vest like, and does cover some of the body, but it is not the katakalupto.
I agree with you again when you write that we are to have long hair.
So all along this email we agree and that’s why I don’t understand your question about the shower and bedtime prayer. I hope you don’t think that I believe we are to cut off our hair and then wear a head covering. That’s not what I think at all.
I don’t think men should pray with anything on their heads. I don’t think women should pray with a naked head. I think the passage is rather clear on those two things. If a women forgot her head covering she ought to find a paper towel or anything at all. I have pulled a sweater over my head before when caught off guard. Men ought to remove their hats in the field or at work before addressing the Lord in prayer. Under no circumstances should anyone pray naked. If you read the careful instructions about the great care the Lord wanted the Priests to take even when climbing the steps to the temple, He did not want any nakedness peeking out even as they approached via the staircase. The priestly garments included underwear to ensure the nakedness would be covered even though they had robes to wear over the top.
To be as specific as I can my attempt to obey the passage is to have my long hair down, and covering my chest, back, and waist as a vest. Then I cover my head. That’s as literal as I can get. The passage did not say to cover the hair. It said the hair is a glory but it did not say it was to be covered. It clearly says in Greek to cover the head if a woman and to uncover it if a man when praying and prophesying.
I don’t take your email as argumentative at all. I hope I don’t come across that way and I sincerely hope that I don’t sound like a know-it-all that is here to be right and set everybody straight.
I am an over-obeyer. If I tell my child to go outside and bring in his bike because it is going to rain and he does that then he has obeyed me. If he goes out and brings in his bike and his sister’s bike then he has over-obeyed me. I would not be angry with a little boy who brought in 2 bikes instead of one because he was trying to please me. In his mind he thought that his sister’s bike might get ruined by the rain. If God the Father sees us as sometimes ignorant children then it wouldn’t surprise me for a second. I opt to over – obey as I have fear of the Lord. He gave me a brain, He gave me a Bible, He gave me the I Cor 11 passages instead of tucking it into the lost letter, He even gave me some ability to read the Greek language, so yes, I believe I have to cover my head for prayer and prophesying. But I am not telling you to do that. This whole issue is yours to understand and to decide what to do.
I’m not clear on your stance but if I am to gather that you do not cover your head because your hair is your covering then please go on doing as your Lord, your beliefs, your Bible, your husband tell you to do. That way if I am the one who is wrong I will not have put a burden on you that would be cumbersome to you. I would not want that responsibility.
Thanks for writing me,

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