WHY I DECIDED TO WEAR A COVERING

By: Darlene Smith

There are many reasons why I decided to start wearing a covering. For many years I have been growing in my walk with the Lord and have desired to honor the Lord with my life. I look for ways that I can have a more productive Christian walk and a better testimony for Christ. As a Christian I do not want to identify with the world and the ways of the world; for instance, dress, music, entertainment, and even worldly attitudes. I want to live a life full of faith in God and a life in which others can see Christ working in and through. I want my life to be a true representation of a Christian who carefully walks with the Lord and tries with a whole heart to be real and transparent and honor the Lord in every area of my life. I do not claim to be perfect and I, of all people, know the areas in which the Lord is working to make me a better Christian. There are still areas in my life that the Lord will reveal to me that I need to improve in the future. I take my Christian walk one day at a time. The bible says, “15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15,16) I do not want to be a cold or lukewarm Christian. When people look at me I want them to see a person who is different from the world, I want them to see that I’m not fooling around.

Because I have decided to wear a covering, I stick my neck out and make myself vulnerable. When I’m driving a vehicle I can’t honk my horn and get mad, I’m a Christian and it is obvious by the way I’m dressed and my covering. When I’m at the store and the lines are long and my feet hurt and I only have a few items and the five buggies ahead of me are laden down with groceries, I have to be calm, patient, and pleasant like a true Christian should be. The covering helps me to grow in Christian character. I can’t blend in with the crowd because I’m accountable, I have a covering on which tells everyone around me, she is a Christian. I do not want to ever shame the Lord Jesus Christ with a bad testimony.

About five years ago while at a Baptist church the Lord sent two different preachers to speak at our church. The evangelist came and preached and afterwards he had some pictures of the church he was from and we noticed many of the women wore the covering. Several months later a missionary came and preached. Afterward we noticed on his prayer card a picture of his family. He had a large family with twelve children and his wife and all the daughters wore a covering. We asked him why they did this and he said for us to study for ourselves I Corinthians 11:1-16. We took out our Strong’s concordance and started our study. We noticed there were two different words in the text used for the word, covering. We were always told the covering was just the long hair. NOTE: Many Baptists and women in other denominations do not have long hair, but will argue that the long hair is the covering. This prompted us to investigate the meaning of these two different words. Verses 4-14 used the word, katakalupto, which means, to cover wholly, i.e. veil:--cover, hide. Verse 15, on the other hand, is the word, peribolaion, which means, something thrown around one, i.e. a mantle, veil:--covering, vesture. We saw a difference here. One is a cover or veil and the other was a long mantle or vesture like some kind of long garment. There apparently was a difference between the covering in verses 4-14 and the covering in verse 15. Notice the hair is only mentioned as a covering in this one verse. Peribolaion tells us that woman is to be covered with long hair like a coat or cloak.

We also came to realize that women commonly cover in many places around the world. In Asia, Africa, and places like Hungry, Romania, Germany, and Russia, etc., women still cover except for those who have become modernized and have forsaken the old ways. Likewise here in America we are modern and we do not adhere to the old ways. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s women covered. A scarf or hat was always worn at least when one went to town or church as late as the 1960’s. Recently we saw some republished ‘Dick and Jane’ books that were originally printed in 1951. In these books the mother would put on a hat every time she went to town. My husband and I remember our mothers and grandmothers commonly wearing a scarf when they went out in public. Still in the black churches in American a hat can commonly been seen covering the head of a lady. After much study and prayer we realized this is a true biblical teaching and practice for the Christian woman.

In today’s modern society the woman is independent, liberated, and for the most part can make it without a man. Most women even Christian women only yield to their husbands a portion of their life and rights, they have a partnership not a marriage where the man is head. Because of the woman’s liberation movement, the woman’s role became stronger and more independent and women became stubborn and self-willed. Thus forcing most men into a box which the woman controls by her domineering attitudes and personality. Over time men and women have switched or laid down their God-given rolls thus causing a breakdown in God’s order. It is not an easy thing to restore, I will be the first to admit. Most honest Christian women would like to follow God’s order for a Christian marriage, but most find it a losing battle. The world’s influence is strong in magazines, radio, television, worldly friends, and co-workers. All teach us that a woman has her rights. After all, “Who does he think he is anyways! He makes wrong decisions, he needs my help making decisions, paying the bills, running the house, etc.!” The rolls have been switched and distorted for so long that women do not know truly how to submit and, I’m sad to say most men do not know how to lead. It takes two, honestly determined and committed Christians, who will study God’s word for themselves and pray and seek the Lord for His help, healing, and direction in their marriage, for the Lord to have His way. Both have to lay down their ideas and yield their wills to Christ for the Lord to teach both how to acknowledge and live out their God-given roles.

God has an order as taught in I Corinthians 11. The wife is to be under her husband’s authority and leadership, and men are to be under the Lords authority and leadership, loving their wives, “…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Eph 5:25b) protecting, providing, and leading her and his household. This is God’s perfect will and way. It does take two dedicated, sincere Christians to make it work. God can always change a wayward spouse if the husband or wife will seek the Lord through much prayer and fasting. I am thankful that my husband has a heart toward God and desires to honor the Lord with his whole heart. We desire for the Lord to do a perfect work in us and help us to take our proper rolls in our marriage so we can be happy and have a good testimony and be used of the Lord however He sees fit.

The cloth covering as mentioned in I Corinthians 11 is just another way I choose to express myself as a Christian. In today’s society many women do not believe in God’s order neither do they practice it. Most think it undesirable to be submissive to their husbands, and for their husband’s to be the sole provider. Wives are to be as the scripture commands, “…discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:5) They are to let the Lord be in control of their womb. The Psalmist said, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:1,3-5) The wife shouldn’t desire the things of this world and its lusts, but give themselves 100% to their husbands and children, and being a witness and a help to those around them. Most women would have a hard time with these Biblical teachings, much less wearing a cloth covering on their head that represents all these truths.

I have to admit, starting to wear a covering was not an easy thing. When I yielded to the Lord’s leadership in this area the Lord laid it on my heart to stop wearing jewelry, make-up, and fancy, eye-catching, trendy Christian styles. I used to wear small earrings and tiny gold or silver chain necklaces, rings, and jewelry that was not gaudy. I thought this was a modest Christian testimony, but the Lord asked me to give it all up because what is the purpose in all these outward adornings, and does it profit anything. It was costly, and my heart did desire new trinkets every now and then. Nevertheless, the Lord changed my heart and desires. My make-up was light and modest but the Lord spoke to my heart, “Why do you have to wear make-up?” I thought, “Well, to cover up bumps and blemishes, I don’t want to look plain Jane, after all any good barn needs paint.” Again, the Lord dealt with my heart, “What’s wrong with looking plain Jane? It’s a simple, clean, lovely look; one that does not want to attract complements on beauty.” The Bible says, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Prov. 31:30) After I quit wearing make-up, my face got natural sunlight and I didn’t look pale from always having my face covered with make-up. It shows one’s God-given natural beauty. One of my husbands favorite verses says, “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” (Ps. 29:2) Our life and walk is to be a form of worship.

Next, the Lord convicted me about my pretty clothing. I always wore modest dresses and skirts. I made sure not to wear pants or slits in my skirts and my shirts and blouses were not exposing my figure or neck and chest. I thought I was being very modest and pleasing to the Lord, but here again, the Lord asked more of me. “What is the purpose in wearing bright eye catching clothes?” My clothes were costly and fashionable, but modest. The Bible says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (I Tim. 2:9,10) The Lord showed me that these clothes drew the wrong kind of attention to myself. My friends would say, “What a pretty dress,” or “Where did you get your shoes?” A lot of attention was paid on my outward appearance and a lot of time and money was spent getting ready or buying the clothes, shoes, and accessories needed to dress nice. The Lord laid on my heart to be neat, clean, and pleasant looking without a lot of extra attention paid to the way I looked. This would be pleasing to Him. Now I make sure my clothes are modest, not accentuating my figure, but clean and pressed, not funny looking, but pleasant. My hair is clean and brushed, my face and countenance is clean and pleasant, and I work hard to keep my heart right with the Lord so my attitude will match When someone asks me, Why do you wear a covering?’ the Lord gave me this to say, “It is an outward expression of my inward submission to the Lord and my husband.” .

I would like to address two misconceptions. The first would be the idea some have expressed that by wearing a covering it would make you look strange or so different that it would detour people from hearing what you have to say; thus your gospel witness would be less or of none effect. I would like to say, that wearing a covering has not hindered but enhanced my witness for the Lord. Actually I haven’t met anyone who says it has hindered their witness in any way. If a person has a cheerful friendly attitude, people are going to know you are sincere and care about them as a person. The covering is fascinating to people, and they appreciate a bold symbol of your belief. They are curious about what you believe. People often come to me and ask me, “What church do you go to?” or “What denomination are you?” they are shocked and interested when I tell them, “I’m Baptist, we’re very conservative Baptists.” A Christian lady can be modest, clean, and neatly dressed, and if she is not cheerful and friendly, then her witness will be of little or none effect. It has nothing to do with the covering.

Secondly, many ladies are taught, as was I, the hair is the covering. If we use this logic then I Cor. 11:6 would state, “For if the woman be not covered (with long hair) let her also be shorn (have short hair) but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn (have short hair) or shaven (be bald) then let her be covered (with long hair.) This does not make sense. If a woman does not have long hair, she has short hair. The Bible would teach if she has short hair let her be shorn (have her hair cut short.) NOTE: A sheep that has been sheared has been shorn. To shear a sheep is to cut very short like a mans hair cut. There are only three types of hair mentioned here, long, shorn (short like a mans,) and shaven (which is bald.) How can you shorn (to cut short) short hair? Short hair is already short. If Paul meant for the long hair to be the covering for the New Testament Christian woman, instead of the practiced cloth covering, then why did he not teach on this subject but just once. You would think he would teach on it again to cause women to repent of their wrong practice and take off their cloth covering. Furthermore, why do the early church fathers teach that a Christian woman is to wear a cloth covering over her God-given natural covering, being her long hair. This cloth covering was to be worn by the Christian woman as a sign of purity, humility, and submission. Why do so many people groups around the world still practice a cloth covering on women? Here in America it was faithfully practiced up until the 1900’s, and it declined from there. Consider this, dresses were also worn instead of pants, and that declined also. Now pants are worn more than dresses, and even Christian women condone this practice. Remember Deut. 22:5.

We can see by this it is not talking about the hair. The issue here is not long hair, but a cloth covering that hangs down to be worn over the long hair as a symbol of submission to the Bible teaching of the headship order. Let’s look at it like this, For if the woman be not covered (with a cloth covering,) let her also be shorn, (have a man’s hair cut,) because if she is not going to submit to the headship order, she’s being shameful and out of her God-given place. But if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn (have a mans hair cut.) or shaven (bald,) let her be covered (with a cloth covering) Remember, the cloth covering is an outward symbol of a Christian ladies inward submission to the Lord, and if she is married, to her husband. If it is shameful for a woman to look like a man instead of a woman, then let her put on a cloth covering over her long hair which is her God-given natural covering, and be in her God-given place.

While wearing a covering out in public, I noticed two unusual things; total strangers often come up to me and ask me to pray about specific needs in their life. Also, after talking with somebody in public, and the conversation is over and we depart, this person I’ve never met before will tell me, “God bless you!” I just find this strange because before I started wearing a covering no one ever came and asked me to pray for them or ended their conversation with God bless you. There must be an unspoken testimony associated with this covering.

I would like the reader to know that I am not judging those who do not do as I have been led to do in my Christian walk. I do not think I am better or farther along in my Christian walk. I know many Christians that do not practice all the things I practice who are much stronger in the Lord and godlier that I am. I just wanted to put down on paper how the Lord has led me to wear a covering as a personal expression of my faith and walk with God. I hope this testimony has been a blessing to you. May the Lord greatly bless you as you live for Him.

Saved by His grace, Darlene Smith.

NOTE: Some of my friends have expressed to me that they wished they had a tract to hand out on the covering for those who ask why we do this. If you feel that this tract would be helpful feel free to make copies of this and use it to the glory of God. March 2004

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