Andrée Seu has written a column in this week’s World magazine on why she is now wearing a head-covering to church. I second every attitudinal instinct she expresses in her piece, and I pray her tribe will increase!
That said, though I agree with her submission to Scripture and embrace the clear roles it gives to men and women, I don’t think a woman needs to cover her head when she goes to church.
For the same reason that I don’t think we all need to greet each other with a holy kiss. Does that mean that I have rejected what the kiss and the head covering signify?
Not on your life.
I think that the kiss points to our need to express our enthusiastic affection for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Where I live, we do that with loud greetings (always a bit surprising to the more genteel), firm handshakes that nearly yank the shoulder out of socket for the guys, respectful side-hugs for the gals, and big smiles all the way around. The enthusiasm and affection all this communicates is, I think, what Paul wants from the holy kiss.
Similarly, at our church women don’t teach men or exercise authority over them (1 Tim 2:12), and we’re trying to cultivate men and women who obey everything Paul says about marriage in a text like Ephesians 5:22-33. The women get to submit; the men get to lay down their lives. And we’re trying to leaven this all through our lives. The godly male authority and the feminine embrace of and submission thereto is, I think, what Paul wants communicated by the head covering.
It would be possible for us to kiss each other coldly, and it would be possible for the women to cover their heads but “wear the pants,” or try to. In both cases, we would be keeping the commands in the way the Pharisees kept the law. So I hope that we’re keeping the spirit of the law without its letter. That is, I hope that we have contextualized the head covering and the holy kiss so that we keep them even though the ladies don’t have anything on their heads and we don’t peck each other on the cheek.
If you convince me that we haven’t, I’d rather start giving kisses and seeing head coverings on the ladies than relegate what they signify–enthusiasm for each other and male headship–to the first century. Christ rules the church through his Word, and as Andrée Seu rightly writes, the King has spoken.