Posted by: clevsea | August 19, 2009

Some cover for church and some cover all the time

 
Various applications of Covering
 
Once a Christian comes to understand that covering is expected for women, even in our day, then some further decisions are made.
 
Some common questions include what kind of covering and where to cover and with what frequency to cover. A quick glance around at other covering groups reveals that there are many variations of how to obey First Corinthians chapter eleven.
 
One way that some Christian individuals and some Christian groups interpret covering is to have the women cover only for worship service. I can respect people who think that the covering is only for worship because I can see exactly where and why they came to that conclusion.
 
To be honest there have been many times that I could understand the ease of only covering at worship services. There would be much less persecution from friends and family members. To take it further, very few people would even know that I believed in covering unless they attended a church service with me.
 
As you can probably guess that is not the only occasion that I cover my head. However, I want to be clear that I have one hundred percent respect for those Christians who do apply the teaching in that way.
 
Let’s consider how a group or individual would have come to the decision to cover only at meetings. One frequently cited reason is that the second half of the chapter deals with believers coming together in a meeting situation and partaking of the Lord’s Supper in some “wrong” ways.
 
While considering this, remember, there are no chapter breaks in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It is always a good thing to recall this when reading the epistles. There were no section titles, no chapter breaks, no numbering of any kind when Paul wrote his letter.
 
This is common knowledge that we all know however in our culture we have grown accustomed to always seeing the Bible written in this format and we get very conditioned to seeing the letter to Corinth in sections. Because the covering teaching is in the eleventh chapter with the Lord’s Supper teaching then it is easy to understand why some people have concluded that the covering is only for meeting time.
 
The second reason Christians arrive at this interpretation is the section title itself. In one Bible the covering section has the title “Propriety in Worship” and in another Bible it simply says “Christian Order.” In the Ryrie Bible it is titled “Discussion concerning Public Worship.” As a side note I will add that Dr. Ryrie believes that women ought to obey this portion of Scripture. Others I have seen in the past read this way. “Rules for Public Worship” or other words that convey the same meaning. Section titles can be very powerful for some readers whether they concentrated on the title or if it simply entered their mind in a more subliminal sense.
 
Again, I concede that those who titled the section in this manner had a valid reason. It cannot be denied that the next portion does address a group gathering.
 
Also, I have known wonderful, lovely Christian women who have adopted this method of covering. I liked these women a lot, respect them fully and all covering women ought to treat them in a kind manner as they are covering according to their understanding. More importantly, they may be correct. As I cover for prayer outside of the church meeting I may be the one who is taking the teaching too far or it could be said that I am over obeying.
 
To answer the over obeying issue I will admit that I often lean in that direction. I want to quickly add this: May it never be done as a Pharisee may have in the sense of adding rules onto the Scriptures.
 
Allow me to explain why I think that the Lord will not be angry at those who inadvertently over obey.
 
Years ago I created an easy analogy to help explain this. I call it “The Bicycle.” Imagine that you ask your son to go outside and bring in his bike. As he does so he sees that his sister’s bicycle in also laying in the grass. Your son decides to bring in his sister’s bike too. How do you react when you find out? Are you angry at him? Do you scold him? In your parent’s heart you perceive his intent. He meant to be helpful. He went a little further than you instructed because he thought it would be pleasing to you, his mother.
 
That is how I view my relationship to the Lord. I am the child and He is the Father. If at any time I over obey then I hope and pray that He will see that I was trying to please Him and was obedient. I also hope and pray that He will not be angry at my application of the covering teaching.
 
I certainly do not intend to be a Pharisee in attitude or practice.
 
To further explain my application of I Corinthians eleven is that I always cover if I am praying silently or audibly and if I am prophesying. I do not have a gift of prophesying in a supernatural sense. When I considered myself to be prophesying is when I am speaking for or about God. That can be Bible teaching, or Bible quoting, or sharing the gospel, or teaching my children something about the Christian walk.

That means I either have a covering on my head during most of the day or one in my lap, pocket, glove box, purse, coffee table, arm chair, in other words I’m never more than ten seconds away from a covering.

For me that also means that I have a covering on in public and about seventy-five percent of my waking day in my home if not a little bit more.

 
Yet another issue to consider is this. Many people apply the “pray without ceasing” verse to the I Corinthians eleven verses and when these two teachings are coupled together they arrive at the doctrine that they ought to always be covered. I’m not judging that, I am simply pointing it out.
Personally, I do not think that the “pray without ceasing” verse means to never, ever cease from the act of prayer. I cease from the act of prayer when I need to perform several human functions. To further explain, personally, whether I am correct or incorrect, I think that Paul meant to keep on praying, to take a prayer request and bring to the Lord daily or three times a day or regularly throughout the week, for example. To me the concept could mean to pray constantly, in one sense of the word, but not in a non-stop sense of the word.

To pray non-stop always reminds me of chanting. There are several religions that practice a non-stop chant. There are mystics, Christians and non-Christians as well as some Buddhist monks who chant non-stop.

Others say there is an “attitude” of prayer even when we are not praying. I understand that. But sometimes I am clearly not praying so I remove my covering for a time.

 
Men have also been instructed in the passage to uncover for prayer and for prophesying. To be consistent to the “pray without ceasing” practice that some adopt that would indicate that men would never put a hat on ever (unless for the briefest moment) much like an “always covered” women goes bare-headed in order to wash her head.

When it comes to the men’s side of the teaching my understanding is very clear that they shame their heads or disgrace their heads (whether that is the head on top of their neck or their head Jesus Christ) if they pray in any other way other than pure bare-headedness.

If a farmer needs sun protection then he ought to remove his hat and then pray. If a man wears a hard-hat at a construction site he ought to take it off before he prays. If a man constantly wears a ball cap then he needs to remove it before he speaks to the Lord or for the Lord (prayer/prophesy).

Many Christians agree with me on this but not all. One example of agreement is when men remove their hats to pray at the dinner table or when you see the hats coming off for any prayer occasion.

If you do happen to see a man praying with his hat on it is often due to ignorance of the Biblical passage that causes this disobedience. I used the words “often due to” not always as there are groups that believe men ought to pray with a covered head.
 
This is my attempt to be helpful but not insistent. My interpretations and understandings are only that and not intended to be anyone’s sole basis of applying Paul’s letter.
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