Posted by: clevsea | August 19, 2009

when husbands forbid head covering

I am asked about this rather frequently. Women will write to me and say that their husbands do not allow them to cover for prayer. The secondary question is whether to obey the Bible and submit to the husband or obey the Bible and cover for prayer.


First Answer:


That is a tough situation. The passage teaches us that we dishonor our head if we pray uncovered. Some think that means the head on top of our neck and some people think that means our husbands. We really cannot tell because the word Kephale just means head and we can only guess which way Paul meant for us to take that but we can’t know for sure.

If I were ever in that situation I would still cover for prayer/prophesy because the Lord God outranks my husband but I would be so discreet my husband would not even have to know that I covered. I would cover alone in the morning during my quiet time/prayer time. When I was at church I just would not pray. That’s because I won’t pray uncovered….so I guess if my husband asked me to stop he would be essentially asking me to stop praying.

I’m not preaching to you…or telling you what to do…not at all. You are you and I am me. You need to do exactly as you are led by the Lord God Almighty and by your husband. It’s a tough spot to be in.

I have a daily prayer time for ladies in your situation. I pray everyday that ladies like you will be able to follow the Bible and that the husbands, parents, pastors, and friends that try to hinder that will graciously stop hindering.

Follow up answer:

Remember, I’m only telling you what I would do, not what you “should” do.

There are a lot of things that the Lord tells us to through His Word. May He help me to think of a few good examples off the top of my head.

Be kind to one another

Share each other’s burdens


Give money

Practice hospitality

Meet together

Wait for the Lord

Treat our superiors as if they were Jesus

Don’t complain

Don’t offend others with our bad behavior

Don’t Lie

Don’t lust

Don’t walk in the Flesh

Don’t commit adultery

There are so many others. One summer I took a notebook and a New Testament and every time it said to do something, anything, I wrote it down in the notebook. I had to write a lot of the New Testament that summer. My point is that we have what we call “instructions” that we either do or don’t.

Submitting to our husbands is one of those and it’s probably one of the hardest ones too. How does it stack up as compared to giving money to the poor? Worshiping the Lord? Meeting with other believers? Any husband could forbid any of those. Some of those affect a husband far more than a lady sneaking a scarf on her head during her morning prayers at home in privacy.

It’s a little funny that any husband would look at all of the Christian “instructions” and he would only make the selection of “submission to her husband.” Yours probably didn’t do that. He probably wants you to do a lot of the instructions. He probably likes you to be obedient to the Bible by not gossiping, stealing, lying, being puffed up and conceited. He probably likes you choosing to voluntarily submit to him, with the Lord’s help. But why is he against covering? Cultural reasons? Why then did Paul write out 3 reasons for covering? (The three are provided right there in the passage. The Headship order, God, Jesus, Man, Woman. The order of creation, first man, then woman, and the angels.)

Culture was not mentioned. “Because that’s how it’s done” was not mentioned. “Because that’s what our people have always done” was not mentioned. Paul was writing to a bare headed culture. He was rattling their world with this.

The Corinthians were a lot like the USA—really into beauty and beautiful hair and the beautiful body. The artwork proves this. Paul was “un-doing” what the Jews had been doing with the men covering. The men were to uncover and pray…….that was new!!

For 2000 years all different cultures did obey I Cor 11. That is all over the globe, even the USA practiced headcovering for women and bare headed prayer for men for hundreds of years. It only *just* stopped in the 1960’s. Just recently. They still cover in South America, in the Eastern continents such as Russian and Korea. Some Catholics never did stop covering. Same for the Amish, the Mennonites, the Plymouth Brethren, the Hutterites, the German Baptists, the Greek Orthodox and many, many more.

Let’s really look at why your husband doesn’t want you to cover. He doesn’t like how it looks. He is not the type of man who likes to stand out. No one else does in your church. It’s new to him. He thinks only cults do that. He likes your hair because you’re pretty and so is your hair. It might change your whole wardrobe. He has not studied the passage. He has not read it in the Greek. He consulted 1 or 2 commentaries which advised against it. He once knew somebody who did and they were kooky.

I don’t know his reasons and I don’t want to cast doubt on what is probably a lovely and wonderful man. He probably prays and serves the Lord with great vigor and love. He probably helps out at church and loves you and the family and gives of himself all day long, every single day. I don’t know why he chose this for you. If it has anything to do with vanity then perhaps he is picturing you wearing something ugly on your head and looking like a cancer victim. I have pretty hair and I wear it down. I don’t cover my hair. I don’t wear a bun. I don’t even wear a pony tail. My hair flatters my face. I cover my head with a beanie and then my hair is hanging down and showing and I still look like me. I only cover when I pray/prophesy or think that I might have to do either without any warning. The grocery store is an example. I kept going to the store uncovered and strange people kept showing up at the same time as me. (I live in a city.) I would want to pray but my beanie would be in my purse. This happened so often that I got in the habit of wearing a beret or little snood to the store. I wear it to restaurants too and sometimes I remove it as I get to eating and enjoying the conversation and if I’m clearly not praying or prophesying. To me praying is speaking to God and prophesying is (perhaps) speaking for God. To or For…..I don’t have a supernatural gift of prophesy.

I will let you think all of that over. I will include you and your husband in my daily prayers. I’m certain that the Lord knows what He is doing in regards to your life and the development of this and how it could possible affect you and all the people you know.

One last thing………some Christians think that covering is only for Christian group meetings like Sunday mornings and not for private prayer times at home or other places. I don’t think that way but many respectable and wonderful and intelligent Christians do. What would your husband think of you only wearing a little cute hat to church services? Nothing flashy or calling attention to you.

I will be praying.


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