Monday, October 27, 2008

Susan's Musin's - Journey Into Obedience (Head Coverings)

I remember in my teen and young adult years attending special church or city Christian events, and many times there were a few women who really stuck out in the crowd. They always wore very modest dresses and these "things" on their heads. I now believe these were most likely Mennonite women who wore prayer bonnets. I remember thinking I was glad I didn't have to dress like that and feeling almost embarrassed on their behalf because they looked so different and "out of touch" with the times. I imagined what a drag it must have been to be brought up in their denomination. And on I went with my life giving VERY little thought of why these women dressed as they did.

Quantum leap 20 years ahead......I have gotten married, and God is teaching my husband and me so many truths in His word and is growing us by leaps and bounds (all thanks be to God). We have moved to Texas and are thriving living in community with like-minded Christian folks. God has begun teaching me about modesty as a Christian woman in dress and manner. Then the "H"-bomb was dropped.

The elders in our community were requested to study the subject of women and head coverings in the Bible, particularly 1 Cor. 11, and other historical documents. Dave read a bunch of materials and then requested that I read and study them myself. "No problem, Honey! I'll get right on it". Laaaaa, deee, daaa, dum, deee, dum (scccrrreeeeeeeeecchhh). That was the sound of my flesh screaming NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, NOT MY HAIR!!!!

When I saw vs. 15 "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.", I thought, "Yes! No sweat, I can grow my hair long as the covering". I was home free and my flesh relaxed. But after REALLY studying the chapter and reading other historical materials, it became very clear to me that God has provided an example in nature (long hair) to show that a woman's head is to be veiled, and the long hair is not the veil itself.

A few other verses that proved to me the case for the head covering were:

vs. 6: "For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered". It seems to me a woman's covering here cannot mean her hair because this verse says that if she's not covered she is being so disrespectful she may as well be shaven or shorn which was a sign of extreme shame back then. If the hair was meant to be the covering here the verse would make no sense, but if taken to mean an example of a covering over the hair it makes perfect sense.

vs. 7: "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man." This verse talks about a man not covering his head. Well, if people's assumption is that a woman's covering is her hair, then to be consistent they would be required to assume no covering on a man means he should shave his head. So you would think we would be seeing a lot more heads of professing Christian men shaved. It appears to me this passage means actual head covering and not just hair.

vs. 14-15: "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering". If a man grows his hair long it looks feminine and womanish which is not natural or proper according to this verse. But a covering in nature (long hair) on a woman does look appropriately feminine and womanish. It seems to me God is graciously putting up a neon sign in nature saying that women's heads should be covered and men's heads should not.

Lastly, I did consider the argument used by so many professing Christians today that this teaching from Paul only applied to Christians in Corinth at that time. When I thought of the principles behind the requirement to wear a head covering, it is clear to me that they are timeless principles and make just as much sense today as they did back in those times. In my opinion the only reason it is not subscribed to today is because it is WE who have changed, not God or His requirements or principles. And that is no excuse in God's eyes.

Dave never commanded me to wear a head covering. He only requested that I wear one during family prayer and public worship. I absolutely submitted to him in that, at a minimum, because I am required to (that blog post is forthcoming, Lord willing); but also because I agreed it was my responsibility as set forth in 1 Cor 11. As for anything further than that, he simply asked me to study and ask for God to reveal His will to me. Well, at first I did only wear a covering (a bandanna in my case) during the family prayer and public worship times. But as I studied it further and understood the principles of "why" God instructs women to do this, I realized I should have it on pretty much all the time I'm in public or in any kind of prayer before God. All throughout the day I find myself praying things as they come to mind, and it would be silly to constantly be taking the head covering on and off. Also, I realized, AGAIN, that it's not about me, it is part of putting and holding down my vain nature; and it contributes to the image of modesty I am instructed to put forth. Lastly, it is good for me to have a constant reminder of the role God has given me as a submitted, obedient Christian woman.

My prayer since God began to open my eyes to His truths has been for Him to grant me continued wisdom, understanding, repentance and obedience in all matters. Reluctantly, this was one of those times where it was too late to turn back once my eyes had been opened. There was no returning without my conscience convicting me. I believe that if one studies 1 Cor. 11 honestly, he or she can come to no other conclusion than that Christian women are to cover their heads. In a nutshell, I believe the head covering is a symbol to your husband, God and the heavenly realms that you are in obedience and submission to God and husband and their authority; it represents a covering or authority over you, and by not wearing one a woman is disrespecting God and her husband. (This applies to single women as well).

This was a rubber hitting the road point in my life. It is a subject that has obviously been cast aside and marginalized by 99% of professing Christianity, so I had a big question to ask myself: do I make current culture and society my compass, or God's eternal Word and the principles behind it? Well, my conscience answered that question right quick; but my carnal man roared like a lion because I couldn't show off my mane anymore!! Good grief, when it actually came down to putting on the head covering every day, I practically had to have a funeral to memorialize my hairstyle and all the cute ways to wear my hair. I had no idea how vain I was with my hair until I had to cover it. (That was another part of my journey into modesty).

I am not a Mennonite, nor do I subscribe to all of their theology; however, I now look back on those women and greatly appreciate that their desire to obey and honor God and their husbands in their lives superseded their desire to look cool for a fleeting time here on earth. It grieves me that I have spent so many years plainly dishonoring God in so many areas in my life, including this one, and thank God for dropping those scales from my eyes to show me how He wants me to live for Him. And I can't stress enough the importance of learning the principles and purposes behind all of these commands that appear to be legalistic in the world's eyes. What a blessing to live a life of increasing obedience to my God and husband. I have never desired to be called a "peculiar" person, but now I consider it an honor. (Deut 14:2; Deut 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9)

I could go on and on about the proof and reasons I believe for wearing a head covering, but I won't. Our teacher recently preached a couple of very good sermons on the case for head coverings if anyone is interested in them:

Headcoverings, Part 1:    Audio  :  Sermon Notes
Headcoverings, Part 2:    Audio  :  Sermon Notes


My prayer for those God has brought to this blog is for Him to draw them to Himself and lead them on a journey into all truth which will bring glory to Him, and that is what it is all about.

Susan

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I really appreciated this post. Thankfully both boys slept long enough for me to get a chance to read it :).
I have gone back and forth with the headcovering for a few months now. We listened to Michael's sermons on the topic several times and every time I was convicted, but like you said, my flesh screamed no.
Your post is a timely reminder for me to look to his word, not the world, for my direction. God's word is clear, but I have dismissed it over and over again. My story is similar to yours, in that my husband brought it to my attention. I do believe it is God's will that I be covered and so I need to stop dismissing that and be obedient.

Thank you and may God be glorified.

Shannon Stonger

Ante Family Agrarians said...

Susan,
Thanks for sharing this, and your own struggles with submission and obedience. Often times people assume that we've always worn headcoverings and don't see that it was battle for us as well to fight our flesh and obey the word. None of us just woke up one morning and thought "Hey, I think it'll be easy to cover my head everyday." Praise the Lord indeed for opening our eyes to His truth.

Giving it to god said...

That's one the best posts I've read on this topic "headcovering". I going to try harder to cover my head when I pray (my church covers their head when they pray the women do www.brunstad.org) ----- from all I can gather it's witnessing to the angels somehow????? when christian women cover their heads. Bible definately talks about women covering their heads, and I come from a mainstream christian family that is sure hair counts but I don't think hair counts.

PocketsoftheFuture said...

Dear Susan,

Two things:

Firstly the link to Part 1 of the sermon isn't working.

Secondly, what have you settled upon for your daily headcovering? Is it bandanas? How did you decide?

I have actually wanted to wear a headcovering for years but I can't seem to settle upon a particular one that feels right to me.

Thanks!
Leslie

David and Susan Sifford said...

Thank you all for taking the time to leave your valued comments. May God be praised for opening our eyes to the truth so we may come into further obedience to Him.

To "Giving it to God": Thank you for your post. To answer your question, verse 10 states, "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels". Yes, I believe (and you should study this for yourself) that it is a testimony to the angels and heavenly realms when you wear a head covering that you are openly submitted to God and godly authority, and that God brings glory to Himself through the manifestation of this act. (General Note: In publishing this comment, I am not endorsing the website listed in her post.)

Leslie: Thank you also for your post. I apologize for the problem with the Headcovering 1 link. My husband has corrected the problem and also added the sermon notes for both parts, if that is helpful. Yes, I mostly wear bandannas on a daily basis. It was the easiest and most accessible item at the time I started wearing them. I have since learned to crochet a few but tend to wear the bandannas. This may change someday, but that's where I'm at right now. However, I always want to be open to God's leading if He wants me to do something different or if my conscience convicts me. A head covering may never feel "right" to you, but something feeling right should not be the basis for our actions: God's word should be. I pray God will give you the guidance and strength to step out in faith and obedience to Him and give you the corresponding peace. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Susan,

This is a good post!I respect your conviction. Most of the women I know who hold to perpetual headcovering believe that all of the hair be covered, why do you differ on that?
Thanks
Joleen

April Bauer said...

Susan,
Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. For over a year now I keep "finding" articles & posts about headcoverings. I do not believe this is an accident, but God telling me that I need to do it. I told my girls about this & my oldest, (5 1/2) is making her own. Until it is finished she has been using something else. It is so sad how the culture has led us away from what God wants us to do (all Satan's work) & then how our flesh screams because we too will stand out. But isn't that what Christ Himself told us to do, to stand out & be a light. We can't be a light if we are in the middle of the crowd. I really need to make my public stance on this as well & not just at home. May the Lord continue to bring you closer to Him. April

David and Susan Sifford said...

Joleen,

Thank you for your comment. I believe the manner in which I currently cover my head is acceptable to meet the letter and spirit of Paul's instruction in 1 Cor. 11. I would be interested to learn the convictions of those you know who cover all of their hair. I certainly pray for God to continually bring me into further obedience to Him and am always open to learning about other perspectives which I would consider and submit to God for wisdom, understanding and discernment. Thanks again! I look forward to hearing back from you should you wish to respond.

April,

I appreciate your comments and pray for God to continue to give you strength and courage to be a godly mother, teacher and example to your children. May God bless you.

PocketsoftheFuture said...

Dear Susan,

Thank you and your husband for fixing the link and, most especially, for adding links to sermon notes. I read the two sermons with interest and can say that it is fear of looking "cultish" that holds me back. I was happy to see that named in MB's sermon.

I think I wasn't clear in my first note. I feel that headcoverings are right. I just haven't found a particular headcovering that feels right to me. I am not interested in those little ones so many wear because I want the entire top of my head covered. I also don't like having my ears covered because I can't hear as well. I love the look of some of the long ones but wonder if they will get in the way of my work. These seem like dopey concerns, I guess, but I want to just solve the problem in a practical way and then never have to think about it again unless I want to.

Thank you again,
Leslie

Abigail @ Pearls and Diamonds said...

I stumbled upon your site searching for headcovering articles--we're gearing up for a marathon posting soon. Thank you for sharing your own journey!

Blessings,

Abigail @ Pearls and Diamonds

kathy swiger said...

Hi Susan, I'm going on three years now on headcoving. When I frist looked into it I was the one who showed my husband about headcoving. With much prayer and ok from my husband, I started to cover. I cover all the time. I never know when I may need to pray. With no place to go or anyone to talk to about this I had to make some choices on what to wear. I chose the muslim scarves and the hijab. My church has never said one word about my covering. Other ladies have come to me and asked about it, and I show them in the bible were to look. I say to them that every women must make their own mind on what to do. Bless my husband he has been behind me every step of the way. I just wanted to share with you my journey into headcovering In his name, kathy swiger

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Kathy,

Thank you very much for your comment. Praise God for His mercies in showing you His truths and granting belief and obedience. And also what a blessing to have a husband who supports you in your obedience. May God bless and guide you in your pilgrim path.

Susan

Carolyn Mary Hartnett said...

Dear Mrs. Sifford:

I am a Catholic who has recently embraced obedience to my husband. He is of course a little numb (I am a CPA/financial advisor) but happy. Not only do they not teach obedience in the Catholic church they do not teach covering one's head nor the inappropriateness of women speaking in church. I am wondering if you think it would be disobedient to discuss joining a preVatican II church with my husband or should I wait for God's will? I am very new at this obedience thing but it feels right, I've never been happier, our home is tranquil and I clearly have Biblical support for doing this. It's a little weird but I actually did ask my husband's permission to take a vow of obedience to him. It's a huge change and obviously he made the call. Thankfully, he agreed to let me pursue obedience to him. There is no one I could tell this that wouldn't think I was completely nuts. Thank you for letting me share my random thoughts. So many women have won the power struggle in their homes and lost their marriages. I would be honored to renew my vows to my husband and publicly declare my obedience to him. What a blessing!

Sincerely,

Carolyn Hartnett

David and Susan Sifford said...

Carolyn,

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad to hear you are on your own journey into obedience to your husband and pray for God to grant you a continued desire to study His word and obey it. The Bible instructs women to be obedient to their own husbands in everything (Eph. 5:24) except when it is in violation of the scriptures. I don't know the personal dynamics of your marital relationship but believe it's reasonable to ask your husband questions with the mindset of being prepared to accept and obey the answer.

With respect to your question on asking your husband to join a pre-Vatican II church, I need to respectfully tell you that we hold to the orthodox/traditional Protestant tenets of faith which declare biblically that the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope are Antichrist. So I cannot encourage you in any way to pursue Catholicism or anything related to it but run from it and seek God, study His word and ask for Him to guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Thank you again for your comment, and I appreciate you reading our blog.

Susan

Anonymous said...

I have recently started wearing head coverings in may and I am getting so much flack from my family (mostly mon and sis) and I am so glad you posted this to read. I'm glad there are others out there who also cover. my mother has even called me sacreligious. I'm so hurt and I can't get anyone to understand my point of view. I even quoted the original greek . I don't know a soul in my area who covers. it's hard being alone and with family even thinking you're off your rocker. thanks for posting.
mary

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Mary,

Thank you very much for your comment. We decided to re-post your comment without your email address to protect you from possible spam and for your personal privacy.

I am so thankful God has shown you His word on this issue and granted you obedience. What a blessing! I am sorry you are experiencing disapproval from your family and friends. I have learned that many times when people give you a lot of grief it is because they are pricked in their conscience because they know this is truth but their flesh is refusing to repent and be obedient to God's Word, so they are taking it out on you. Also, the Bible tells us we will experience all kinds of persecution for the sake of Christ (John 7:7, John 12:25, John 15:18-19, John 17:14 and 1 John 3:13). I pray for God to lead you into all truth and grant you strength and obedience to follow Him.

Hang in there and "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

Susan

Mrs Sarah Coller said...

Such a real and true testimony...thank you for your honesty and heart. I am just coming into these convictions and appreciate the encouragement!

Mrs. Sarah Coller
obedience without legalism (dot) blogspot (dot) com

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Mrs. Coller, and thank you for your comment! I am very grateful to God for using the blog post to encourage you. I pray that God will continue to grant you and your husband wisdom, understanding and obedience and glorify Himself through you.

I love the name of your blog. It captures so much in the title.

May God bless and keep you and your family. And thank you again for stopping by!

Susan

CLL said...

I appreciate reading this. I'm 50 years old and finding myself searching for answers in many areas in the last few years. I bought Mr. Bunker's book on head coverings recently and have begun going through it.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello CLL, and thank you for your comment. I am 50 years old, as well! May God's Word be that lamp unto your feet and light unto your path, and may He grant you wisdom, understanding and obedience as He shows you things. I am excited for what He is doing in your life and thankful He has used this blog post to encourage you! Mr. Bunker's book and sermons on head covering are excellent, in my opinion.

Susan

Carolyn said...

If you are not Amish or Mennonite, why do you wear their caps and clothing? Is their example the only one to follow for plain?

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Carolyn and thanks for your question!

To answer the second part first: I think the definition of plain covers a lot of ground. There are many different styles and varieties of dress in the Amish/Mennonite communities, but when one thinks of "plain" I think most of us envision Amish/Mennonite dress first in our minds. But, that said, I don't personally believe that dressing in standard Amish/Mennonite dress is the only way to look "plain". Our community made a collective decision that the Amish look and lifestyle resonated the closest to our worldview so we started down that path. The women found the website www.friendspatterns.net which has several different varieties of plain clothing. We selected our dress and cap patterns from there.

But I have found that the heart condition is the most important thing overall. A person may be the most modestly dressed by far in a large group of people but, unless the heart condition is right, it doesn't mean a thing. This style of dress is the way our specific community has chosen to go. I wrote another blog post that dealt with my personal journey into dressing modestly in case it might be of some help to you: http://blog.siffordsojournal.com/2008/05/susans-musins-journey-into-modesty-aka.html. Let me know if that doesn't answer your question and I will be glad to respond further.

Again, thank you!

Susan

The Momma Chronicles said...

I appreciate this (very old) post. I am recently converted to the truth and benefit of head covering and there's no turning back. It's a treasured weapon of prayer, why wouldn't I pick it up and wield it? I wore my hair down and put a prayer cover shawl in my purse just the other day and it felt SO uncomfortable. As if I were on display. When I read your words about having to give up the beautiful ways you used to style your hair, I realized that God was gracious to not remove that from me. I was just styling it for the wrong reasons. I will be saving that display for my husband from now on. Thank you for your post!

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello Momma Chronicles and thank you so much for your comment!

"It's a treasured weapon of prayer, why wouldn't I pick it up and wield it?" That's a great line!

I am thankful there seem to be more and more women who understand the beauty, blessing and honor in the obedience of wearing a head covering. A tangible display to God, your husband, the world and the heavenly realms of your love and desire to serve God humbly.

Yes, even though it's kind of a peripheral benefit I think saving your hair for your husband is a very powerful and special intimacy, a gift from God for your husband's eyes only. I feel the same way about modest dress, to save your body for your husband alone to see. What an amazing blessing in the marriage! May God continue to bless and keep you and guide you into all truth.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Susan