The Honor & Beauty of the Head Covering



Introduction:  The practice of using a head covering for worship and to symbolize submission and respect for authority is seen in both the Old and New Testaments.  It was initially to be used by even the man “for glory and beauty.”  Today it is still “comely,” I Corinthians 11:13.  We are to adorn our body in the ways that God desires, because “the body is… for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.”  1 Corinthians 6:13; Romans 12:1,2



I.  In the Old Testament, the first house of God where He chose to meet with His people was the tabernacle made by Moses and later the temple in Jerusalem.  The voluntary covering of the head for public worship showed submission and reverence, as it also did when a bride was presented to the groom.

A.     The priests covered their heads, because God instructed them to wear special clothing for worship, Exodus 28:2 and 40, which was to be  for glory and for beauty.”  They all had to have their heads covered so that the sacrifices which they presented on behalf of the children of Israel would be accepted before the Lord, Exodus 28:38; Leviticus 21:10: Ezekiel 44:18.

B.      The seraphims showed reverence to our Holy God by instinctively covering their faces and feet in His presence, Isaiah 6:2,3.  In contrast, Moses was told to remove his shoes when he stood before the burning bush.  It was called holy ground because God chose to meet with him there, Exodus 3:5.

C.     Rebekah covered herself with a veil, not during the whole journey across the desert with Abraham´s servant, but only when she saw that they were approaching Isaac, her husband-to-be.  This act, and also her descent from the camel, showed respect and submission to him, Genesis 24:63-65.  Many brides still practice this custom today in their wedding ceremony for the same reason.


II.  In the New Testament, the Lord chooses to meet with His people in each of His churches, 1 Timothy 3:15, and has changed some of what He formerly required of His people.  Some things that were ordained for worship in the tabernacle and temple are not to be part of the church service.  In the book of Hebrews, we see that the animal sacrifices are no longer needed, since the sacrifice of Christ was that which put away sins forever and needs not to be repeated.  Also, the man is no longer permitted to worship with his head covered.  A head covering on a man would now symbolize rebellion instead of submission to Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:4,7, and as the woman appears before God with her head covered, it portrays her submission to the authority of man. For the many reasons listed in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, God asks that a distinction be maintained between male and female in the worship service in addition to the natural every-day distinction observed in their hair lengths, vs. 14-15. 

A.     Sometimes the laws of God are given with no explanation, but even so we are expected to trust Him and obey.  For example, when God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac on the altar (the one from whom would come a great nation, but as of yet he had not even married), Abraham showed his faith by rising early in the morning to fulfill what God had asked.  We do not see that he doubted and hesitated, or consulted with others to see if they thought God would have really meant it.

B.      However, since specific reasons are stated in regard to this issue of the head covering required of women and girls in the worship service, we are left with no room to speculate.  There are those who invent possible reasons for this passage with the purpose of setting it aside, but we are warned not to add to the Word of God, lest He reprove us and we be found liars, Proverbs 30:6. 

1.     The will of God was faithfully presented in the writings of Paul.  We should not set aside his teachings, as if they were not inspired, 1 Corinthians 14:37-38.

2.     This was not just a special order to the church in Corinth, based on the local situation there.  God sent the same instruction to all the churches, 1 Corinthians 11:16; 14:33-34.

C.     Ten reasons are given in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 for the difference between male and female in the worship service, which all show why the man has authority over the woman, and therefore must worship with his head uncovered, and the woman with hers covered,

1.  My head covering shows my acknowledgment of the chain of authority:  God-Christ-Man-Woman, v.3.

2.  My head covering is just as important as long hair to show femininity.  If my head were uncovered in the church, it would be as disgraceful as if my hair were cut short, v. 4-6.

a.      We consider the phrase, “praying or prophesying,” to refer to the worship service, and not to mean that all are speaking at once.  Only one man is leading the service while the other men, as well as all the women, participate in silence.  Compare this verse with the verses in 1 Corinthians 14:29-35 to see that only one person may speak at a time, and it cannot be a woman. 

b.     It disturbs the service for a woman even to whisper to her husband, so she must wait until after the service to bring up something she wants to discuss, 1 Cor. 14:35.

3.  My head covering in worship gives glory (“honor and respect”) to the men, just as they give glory to God, worshiping with their heads uncovered, v.7.  When a woman has long hair and wears a head covering in the church services, with the corresponding inner beauty that those symbols represent, she truly serves her purpose as the glory of the man: she brings honor to her father, brothers, husband, sons, the pastor, and the other men in the church.  They are not ashamed to say that she is part of their family or a member of their church when she is very feminine and modest, a true lady.

4.  My head covering reminds me of my origin.  The man was made first, and not the woman, so it is appropriate that he have the priority, v. 8.

5.  My head covering speaks of my position.  The man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man; to be his helper, and not for him to be mine, v.9.

6.  My head covering speaks of my responsibility to the angels, v. 10.

a.  We must remember how fully and respectfully the angels obey in heaven.  When we pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven… Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” we are promising God that we will obey with the same zeal.

b.  The angels observe the church services because they want to learn more of God.  They have never sinned, and wonder how it must feel to be redeemed, Eph. 3:10; Heb. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:12.  They need to see that our love and gratitude humbles us, and motivates us to obey our Lord by using our head covering as a God-ordained symbol of respect for those in authority over us.

7.  My head covering speaks of my responsibility to the men, v. 11-12.  We as women and girls have important work in the church.  Our obedience influences other women and girls to be steadfast and obedient in the faith, and will also encourage the brothers in Christ to be faithful in their service to God, Luke 8:1-3.  All are dependant on each other for encouragement and mutual edification.  Let us take care not to be a hindrance.

8.  Logic teaches that proper worship requires me to cover my head, v.13.  God says, “Think about it.  Is it comely (appropriate, becoming, or fitting) to worship without covering your head?”  God expects us to answer, “No.”  Just as the Old Testament priests had to have their heads covered to enter into the house of God “for honor and beauty,” so must girls and women today.  It is also honorable and beautiful for us.

9.  Nature itself teaches that a distinction is to be observed between the heads of male and female - in regard to hair lengths, v.14-15.  God asks us to consider, “Is it not common knowledge that long hair is a disgrace for a man; but that long hair is glorious (that which brings admiration, honor, and praise) for a woman?”  IF it be long, it is a glory…”

a.  God expects even the unbelievers to understand - by human nature - that men should keep their hair cut, and that women need to let theirs grow.  For example, this is seen in remote villages in Honduras or Guatemala, where they have no knowledge of the Bible or of Hollywood.  The men keep their own hair short, while insisting that their wife and daughters not cut their hair. 

b.  In Spanish, these verses say, “Nature itself – does it not teach you that for a male it is dishonorable to let his hair grow?  To the contrary, for a woman it is honorable to let her hair grow; because it is given to her as a cape.”  The Spanish Bible was translated in 1569, before the King James Version of 1611, and was one of the texts considered in the preparation of the 1611 KJV.

c.  According to Strong´s Concordance, the word in this verse for covering is different than the word used in the previous verses.  Here, the word is “peribolaion” which means, “something thrown around one, as a mantle, veil, covering, or vesture.”  In all the other verses, the head is to be covered with something on top of it, which could be removed or put on, as was the case with the mitres and bonnets used by the priests in the Old Testament.

c.  One woman honored our Lord by wiping His feet with her hair, John 11:2; 12:3.  I ought to ask myself if my hair would be long enough to have done that?

d.  The locusts of Revelation 9:3-10 have “the hair of women,” v. 8.  What would this mean?  Was the hair fluffy, instead of flat; thick, thin, curly, straight, frizzy, wavy; or… does it refer to the length?

10.  Paul and all the churches of God taught women to use the head covering.  None had the custom of being contentious (or opposing it), v. 16.  If anyone opposed this teaching, they would not have the backing of any of the churches.



III.  Note:  If we should know this by nature, why do we find ourselves confused about it? 

A.    In the early 1900´s young women ignored the warnings of their pastors not to “bob” their hair. 

B.     Since the 60´s, some Christian women have reacted to the term, “dirty, long-haired hippies,” equating the expression “long-haired” with “dirty and un-kept.” 

C.     Short hair is now considered to be more stylish for little girls than long hair.  Also short hair is acclaimed as the most convenient, attractive, and professional look for women.  At the same time, there are men and boys who have adopted longer hairstyles.

D.    God is not the author of confusion, so we can safely trust His Word to clear up our doubts.  Baptists have always claimed that the Bible is our only rule of faith and practice.  May that really be true of us!    


Conclusion:  Out of respect for God, the angels, men in general, and your own body as a woman, feel honored to be modest and feminine.  Delight in the constant adornment of your long, well-cared-for hair; and also in wearing an additional covering in the house of God.  These symbols can remind us to develop the feminine attitudes and mannerisms that we ought to manifest in our life.


The use of the head covering is taught in the Old Testament, as well as in the church age.  In the sight of God, it has always been for glory and beauty, so we should not be ashamed or embarrassed to distinguish ourselves from the men by our dress, our long hair, and by wearing a hat or veil in the assembly of the saints.  Glory means “honor and respect,” or “that which merits honor and respect.”