Not Really About Hats or Hair Length…(or Burquas)

This morning I came across the following thoughts, posted to my blog almost two years ago. It’s possibly the kind of article that is liable to provoke knee-jerk responses if not read carefully. There’s a reason for the title

Not Really About Hats or Hair Length…

[A] cessationist friend said something that has made me think.

I had made the point that scripture makes it clear that Spiritual gifts were given to the church, but nowhere does it make it clear that those gifts would be withdrawn within less than a century (or even in subsequent centuries).

She made the comparison with what scripture says about womens’ head coverings and hair length. Should we consider THEY are still necessary because scripture doesn’t mention a withdrawal of that requirement?

While that may initially seem to be a valid point, it made me think a little about the reason women no longer wear head coverings in church and how long they haven’t been doing it.
Is it a changed requirement from God’s point of view or is it more a matter of quite recent changes in western fashion?

Until maybe the mid-20th century (or a little earlier) it wouldn’t have been an issue at all because it was common for women to wear hats; and in non-western cultures head coverings of various types are still normal attire for women.

I’m not intending this as a campaign to return hats to the heads of church attending women, it’s not really an issue that I’ve thought to be important and I’ve not looked at what scripture DOES say about it, but it made me think of how easily our understanding of spiritual issues can be changed by the world’s trends or our observations of the world, and then become accepted as spiritual “normality”.

Two years ago I wrote those few paragraphs to encourage thought on the extent that our ideas about acceptability and normality can often be formed more by the secular culture around us than by Godly standards.
My thoughts were brought back to the idea behind this article last weekend when I saw a Moslem woman wearing the full covering that left only her eyes exposed.

In the west many (even Christians) find that kind of clothing more confronting and less acceptable than some of the often revealing apparel commonly seen in Western society.

As the Moslem woman walked by, I was hit by the question of which dress style more closely conformed to the standards of modesty addressed in scripture.
Now again I’m NOT advocating compulsory head wear or hair length, or suggesting that Christian women turn to Moslem dress styles. I AM suggesting that its maybe time to consider the extent to which our understanding and attitudes have been shaped more by the secular culture around us than by God’s standards revealed through scripture.

And could I once again make it absolutely clear that what I’ve written here is Not Really About Hats or Hair Length…(or Burquas).


5 thoughts on “Not Really About Hats or Hair Length…(or Burquas)

  1. We’ve “talked” before about the obscuring of identity. That’s still a problem, still in more than one way. Guess what? It was in the Bible too. Think of the woman who covered herself in order to pose as a prostitute. [Now, nevertheless, she wasn’t as bad or in the wrong as the man who had determined not to support her or acknowledge her rightful and proper place in her family, his family, her future in the culture of the time.]

  2. The thing that struck me about the Moslem woman’s attire was the realisation that her style of dress is that westerners (including Christians) find it more offensive than a lot of the skimpy and revealing clothing that are now common place.

  3. Yeah, I get it. Even so, I actually am more concerned about hiding recognizable traits. I’ll tell you something I found interesting last summer. A lady who moved out of the neighborhood a couple years ago (to Qatar, I think) came back and visited for a yearly block party. She was pregnant and had on a long gown and a head covering (but you could see her face; I don’t remember if her neck was fully covered). This was all fine. But I couldn’t figure out why it was okay that the gown was one layer of thin, solid orange fabric that you could see her naval through. And it draped quite close to her body. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the incongruity. She probably made this herself. It was material I wouldn’t wear without an under layer or a slip. But she was a lovely pregnant lady.

    At the same time, I think its okay to wear shorts. And I think it’s okay to ride a bike. She’s probably doesn’t.

  4. I shouldn’t really say “draped.” It was a very stretchy material, and this gown was form-fitting and not folded, pleated, tied, or layered. It was thinner than the stretchy yoga pant fabric you’re probably aware of. Sort of a very snug, long tee shirt/dress, not only snug at the top. And that reminds me that I saw a woman downtown a few days ago wearing stretchy black leggings with a blazer that didn’t cover down even to the rear. I did comment (not to her) that the pants were stupid. However, she would probably need to get any non-stretchy pants specially tailored after buying maybe like four sizes bigger than her waist. That could get expensive. If I were her (if I were wearing pants like that on a street, no matter if I had that issue or not), I’d wear a longer jacket or something. But I was furniture shopping this summer on a miserably hot day and came across a couple women and a couple men exiting a store. The men looked completely normal (pants and short-sleeve polos). But the women were in long, black tents of copious hanging stuff, plus generous headcoverings. Now, really, that’s stupid — not necessarily on the womens’ part you know — in more ways than one or two. Well, this run on paragraph is long enough.

  5. This is making me think of the course I’ve noticed at a local college about Muslim women. I don’t know if it’s in a women’s studies department or just social studies or geography or something. I think it compares different realities (that they’re not all the same or dealing with the same things). I think I will see if that’s still available next semester. (Hopefully, there won’t be recruiters/evangelists in there.)

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