Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus

Photo by Paolo Monti, cc-by-sa-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Head Coverings?

One of my most frequented websites now carries advertisements that promote head coverings for women during prayer and worship. The "head covering movement" states that Scripture commands women in 1st Corinthians 11:5-16 to cover their heads during prayer in order to display a covering of authority over her, on account of the angels and in accordance with both nature and Church custom. So must a woman cover her head in Church? To the best of my understanding, that answer is "Maybe, but maybe not."


Perhaps most surprising to modern Christians is the fact that Scripture places the reason for head coverings as "on account of the angels." We tend to view Scripture with a focus God's wrath. We should also focus however, on the theme of authority in Scripture. Since many Christians have not viewed Scripture through the primary theme of authority, the following thoughts may take some time to process...

In the beginning, the greatest (in beauty and authority) among God's heavenly creatures rebelled against Him.1 Many of God's angels then joined him in rebellion against God. The great Rebel proceeded to enslave all of humanity into rebellion by enslaving Adam, God's appointed ruler of earth.2 Through the Last Adam however, a new race of humans were born of God's Spirit.3 Unlike the descendants of the first Adam however, these new human descendants from the Last Adam all rebel against the first Rebel, as they submit themselves to God's authority under the Last Adam's kingship.

Paul's reference to the "angels" in 1st Corinthians 11:10 clarifies that they are the primary beneficiaries of head coverings. According to 1st Corinthians 11:7, men are the "image and glory of God," born of the first Adam as genetic rulers of earth and reborn of the Last Adam as the rightful rulers of earth under King Jesus' authority. Woman was created to aid man and to co-rule with him (Gen 1:26-28).

King Jesus restored His human descendants' role and in a greater form than the first humans (1Cor 15:45-49). Now head coverings testify to the angels (including the rebellious ones) about the glory and authority of God through Anointed King Jesus. Our chief purpose in all things is to glorify God.

The purpose of head coverings is to remind the heavenly creatures of God's plan (fulfilled in King Jesus' citizens) for humanity to rule the earth in submission to divinely appointed authority. When a man uncovers his head in prayer, he affirms himself as "the image and glory of God" (1Cor 11:7). When rebellious angels began to move upon earth,4  their rightful role was to submit to humans (Gen 1:26-28). The great Rebel reversed that role in Eden, making humans his slaves in sin.


For better or for worse, I try to view every command in Scripture through Romans 2:29, Romans 7:6, and 2nd Corinthians 3:6. To paraphrase all three passages, Christians obey the "spirit" of God's laws, not simply the "letter" of His laws. God commanded His people to rest on the sabbath according to the letter, so we rest in Jesus every day according to the spirit of His command. We rest in Jesus on the sabbath and off. We are not subject to the heavy yoke of the sabbath law, yet we obey it from the heart in a greater way than the letter of the sabbath law.

Scripture commands Christian women to cover their heads, in order to display a covering of authority to the heavenly creatures, (including the rebellious ones) for the glory of God through King Jesus. The spirit of the covering-command is not necessarily synonymous with the letter. If a woman covers her head according to the letter, while assuming authority over man (in attitude or in action), then she does not obey the spirit of the command to cover her head. Can a woman uncover her head though, and simultaneously obey the spirit of the command? 

To answer this question, I commend the inquirer to Romans 14:4-6. It applies to food and to sabbath. As best as I can tell, it applies to every command in Scripture too:

4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. (NKJV)

Applying Romans 14 to 1st Corinthians 11, each woman must be fully convinced in her own mind about how to fulfill the spirit of Scripture's command to wear a head covering in prayer. She will stand or fall before her own Master, and He is able to make her stand. The spirit of head coverings is to bear testimony in the angelic realm to the fact that she prays under a covering of male authority to the glory of the Last Adam, King Jesus. In the early church, women accomplished this through a physical head covering. Starting predominantly with the 1960's feminist movement, few American women wear a physical covering. Every Christian should apply Romans 14:4-6 regarding head coverings though, for each of us will stand to account before the Master regarding how we respond to the spirit of this command.

Many Christian men also fail to apply this passage to prayer. Many of us remove our hats for prayer, but we fail to ponder the meaning. If a man follows the letter without the spirit, he does not fulfill the command. Christians are the body of the Anointed King of King. We are the renewed Adam and Eve, and we are greater than Adam and Eve (1Cor 15:45-49). As Adam and Eve reigned physically, so too will we reign spiritually if we live in accordance with the name of King Jesus (Col 3:17).

To some people (even to some Christians), 1st Corinthians 11:5-16 will seem outdated and demeaning to women. God does not need me to defend Scripture. We will all give account for our lives - a sobering thought. Whether male or female, we are to live our lives in the name and in the character and in the Spirit of the rightful Ruler of all the earth. We live to glorify Him, not ourselves. We desire humility for ourselves and glory for our humble Master who rode upon the foal of a donkey.

When Christian men and women pray in agreement with the spirit of 1st Corinthians 11, they assume authority in prayer to the shame of the first rebel. We must not demean ourselves by disregarding 1st Corinthians 11. Likewise, when praying under the authority of God, Jesus commanded us in Luke 10:20 not to revel in our authority over demons. We will all give an account. We must learn to truly live each word and deed in the name of King Jesus, praying as the humbly powerful ambassadors of the King of Kings to the glory of God the Father in the power of His Holy Spirit.

  1. Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28
  2. Gen 1:26-28, 2:15, 2:19
  3. 1Cor 15:45-49
  4. Job 1:7, 2:2


"Head Coverings?" by Matthew Bryan was first published at on January 21st, 2018. All rights are reserved.