Why We Wear a Headship Covering

“Yes, I’ll tell you why I wear it”

As a Mennonite woman, I’m occasionally asked, “Why do you wear that cap?” In all fairness to you, I would like to give you a written explanation rather than a hurried, confusing answer.

The Covering
The “cap” or veil I wear on my head is a headship veiling, commonly called a “covering”.
It may surprise you to know that the practice of wearing a veiling did not originate with those who continue to wear it today. A woman, by covering her head symbolizes her submission, and for centuries she has done so. More recently, it has been practiced by many Christian women only when attending church. Gradually the practice has been lost by all but a few churches. It is still worn by the Amish, and by many Mennonites and Brethren. Though practices have changed, the scriptural significance remains, and the blessings of wearing the covering are abundant.
You can find the scriptural basis for this practice in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. The headship veiling is a symbol of God’s all-inclusive order of authority. Allow me to explain.

God’s Order of Authority
Of equal value (Galatians 3:26-28), men and women are divinely created; different in many ways. Due to our differences, and as a result of mankind’s fall into sin, God has established an order of authority. Thereby our lifestyles are simplified and our differences are complemented.
This beautiful order of authority, commonly called “headship order,” is stated in 1 Corinthians 11:3. “But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” In this scripture head may also be interpreted authority. Christ is the Head, or authority, of mankind. Even though He holds this lofty position, and shares in the Godhead, Jesus Christ submits to the authority of God, His Father (John 8:16; 14:28; Mark 13:31-33).
Similarly, men and women hold equally important positions; but God asks women to be submissive to the authority of men. Married women are under the authority of their husbands. Single women are under the authority of their fathers or church leaders.

Why Should Women Submit?
You may ask why women are asked to be submissive and men are to provide leadership. The answer is two-fold. First, woman was originally created to be a “help-meet” for man (Genesis 2:20-23). She was created from Adam’s rib to be his companion, in the loving embrace of his protection and leadership. Woman was created as “the glory of man”; “of the man” and “for the man” (1 Corinthians 11:7,8,9).
Secondly, when Eve yielded to temptation, and enticed Adam to sin as well, God pronounced curses on the serpent, the woman, and the man. Each had to bear the consequences of their sin (Genesis 3:14-19). Man, thereafter, needed to work hard to provide food for himself and his family. Woman, thereafter, was to experience sorrow in childbearing an be subject to her husband (Genesis 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; Ephesians 5: 23-24).

Not Tyrants and Slaves
Of course these scriptures, addressing the headship order, do not mean that husbands and fathers are to by tyrants, or rule over their wives and daughters in a disrespectful manner. Balanced with other scriptures (Ephesians 5:21, 25, 28; 1 Peter 3:7), they enable men to provide loving, unoppressive leadership in the way that God intended.
It has been said that headship is not “lordship” but is rather a shouldering of responsibility. When a man shoulders his responsibility, it enables the woman to find security and gives her opportunity to reach her greatest potential.

Under Attack Today
Sadly, though, this God-ordained headship order is looked upon with disdain and discontent by many today. Many men have neglected or abused their authority; while many woman say they feel degraded and deprived.
“Liberated” women have exchanged their position of honor, as given by God, for a position of independent equality. In exchange for new freedoms, they sacrifice their place of protection under man’s authority. This attitude of independence is cautioned against in verses 11 and 12 of 1 Corinthians 11. God desires men and women to be dependent on each other.
By God’s grace, a leading, providing husband and a submissive, supportive wife become building blocks for a stable, happy family. Stable families, in turn, build solid, caring churches, and a healthy society.
Conversely, as men neglect their leadership, and women spurn that authority, the family begins to deteriorate and our society experiences repercussive social ills. Men and women become bound by the freedoms they sought, and children suffer immeasurably.

Why Wear a Covering
In the light of all that has been said, the first and most important reason I wear a covering, is that it is a visible symbol of my acceptance of God’s order of authority.
Secondly, I wear my covering to honor both Christ and man. Verse 4 of 1 Corinthians 11 states that it dishonors Christ if a man prays with his head covered. As a man’s uncovered head honors Christ, so a woman’s covered head honors Christ and man. (See verse 5).
A third reason why I cover my head is to rest in the protection that is referred to in Verse 10 of this same chapter. Though woman is created “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7), and under the authority of man, her acceptance of God’s headship order gives appropriate signals to the angels.
It is a comfort to know that God’s ministering angels, and even Satan’s angels of darkness, take note of my headship veiling.
Finally, I enjoy wearing my covering for personal reasons. It reminds me, and those around me, that I am a child of God. In this way it helps to protect me from evil.
I also enjoy the opportunity it provides to further witness for my Lord. May I share God’s marvelous provision for our redemption from sin?

Glorious Salvation for All
It is a fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As we admit our sinfulness, and realize that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23), we have a new appreciation for Christ’s death on the cross (Romans 5:6-10). BY faith we believe that Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our salvation (Acts 16:31). If we receive Him as Savior and Lord, repent of and forsake our evil ways, we shall be saved. Romans 10:9, 10; John 3:16; 1 John 1:9.

Thanks for Asking
Than you for allowing me to share why I wear a headship veiling. No, it is not always easy to be submissive. In fact, sometimes it takes great strength to submit. But as God strengthens us, and helps us to submit to His plan for our lives, we find indescribable peace and security. May our lives radiate these blessings.

-written by Brenda M. Weaver
used with permission

This information is also available in pamphlet form.
To request a pamphlet, please write too:
Mark Beachy
11095 Pleasant Hill Rd. NW
Dundee, OH. 44624
Or pick up a pamphlet at Wilkes-Barre Mennonite Church