What Does The Bible Say About Head Covering

Despite being a nine-hundred-year-old tradition, the practice of women wearing a head covering while in prayer or in church has been met with much controversy, particularly in modern times. But, what does the Bible actually say about the practice? This article seeks to explore what the Bible has to say about head covering and how people of faith today should view it.
The Bible’s guidance on head coverings comes from four primary texts: 1 Corinthians 11:2–16, 1 Timothy 2:9–15, Isaiah 3:16–26, and Genesis 24:65 . In 1 Corinthians 11:2–16, Paul speaks about the importance of a woman’s long hair as a sign of reverence and modesty. In 1 Timothy 2:9–15, Paul addresses the importance of a woman’s attire and the importance of modesty. In Isaiah 3:16–26 and Genesis 24:65, the writers discuss the issue of covering the head as a sign of respect and humility before God.
In 1 Corinthians 11:2–16, Paul speaks of the concept of submission and humility as a sign of respect to God. Paul also states that “…if anyone wants to be contentious, we have no other practice- nor do the churches of God” which implies that the practice of head covering was accepted by the majority of the early Church. In 1 Timothy 2:9–15, Paul exhorts the women to dress modestly and not adorn themselves with adornments that bring attention to themselves. He also states that it is “…not proper for women to be adorning themselves with costly clothing or gold or pearls, or costly clothing…”.
Christian churches continue to debate the concept of head coverings. Some interpret the Bible’s guidance differently, some reject its relevance altogether, and others interpret it differently for their specific denominations. The debate often takes different forms; for example, some discuss the symbolic implications of having a head covering and what it says about gender roles and the modern Church. Others take a more literal approach, viewing head coverings simply as a sign of reverence to God.

Role of Women in Society

In the scriptures, head covering is often linked to the concept of submission and the role of women in society. In 1 Corinthians 11:8-10, Paul states that ‘For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have a covering on her head…’. This has led some to believe that head covering is a sign of submission, and thus strongly linked to the patriarchal societal values of the era in which the scriptures were written.
Other perspectives interpret the Bible’s guidance differently. For example, some see the idea of covering the head as a sign of respect and reverence to God, a reminder that the woman’s head is her husband’s domain and he should be respected as such. While others take it as a spiritual symbol, a sign that the woman respects the institution of marriage and is submitting to God’s will.

Theological and Cultural Perspectives

Theological and cultural perspectives are often seen as contributing to the understanding of head covering and its relevance to the Church today. From a theological point of view, head covering is viewed as a mark of the spiritual authority and the way that it is employed in the Church. Often, head covering is seen as a sign of humility and submission to God and this makes it look like a way of putting focus on the importance of spiritual authority in the Church.
From a cultural perspective, head covering is seen as a way of protecting and preserving the values of the society. It is also seen as a way of emphasizing a woman’s transformative role in society. This can be seen in the way a woman wearing a headscarf is seen as an important contributor to the family’s reputation, to the community and in social circles.

Modern Worship Setting

In a modern worship setting, the decision of whether to wear a head covering or not is something that individual believers are left to decide. Head covering is often seen as a private matter and it can bring comfort to those who choose to do it. For example, by covering the head in church, some women feel they are showing respect to God, emphasizing the Church setting, and being submissive to the Lord.
For others, a head covering acted as a symbol of protection and honor, similar to the way a wedding ring is seen. In this view, the head covering is a reminder of a woman’s faithfulness to God and to her family. A head covering can also be compared to a man’s wedding ring, acting as a signal that he is in a relationship and has a commitment to keep.

The Importance of Personal Choice

Ultimately, the Scripture continues to leave the decision to wear a head covering up to each individual. Although it has been a practice within the Church for centuries, there is no strict requirement in the Bible that all believers must wear a head covering. For example, 1 Corinthians 11:16 reads “…but if anybody wants to be controversial about this, we have no other practice-nor do the churches of God.” This suggests that while the practice of head covering exists in the Church, it is mainly a personal choice and there is no strict requirement.

The Richness of Cultural Diversity

As the Church continues to grapple with the issue of head coverings and its place within the modern context, it is important to recognize and celebrate the diversity of cultural expression seen in the range of practices around the world. Different cultures have different interpretations of the Bible and how it is to be practiced. This variety is a testament to the richness of cultural diversity within the global Church.
Above all, it is important to remember that the practice of head covering, no matter how it is interpreted, is about respect, humility, and reverence for God. For those who choose to wear a head covering, it is a reminder that God is the ultimate authority in our lives, and we should respect Him in our actions and words.

Head Coverings in Contemporary Life

In today’s world, head covering is still practiced in certain Christian circles. Often, it is predominately worn in more traditional, conservative settings, as well as in certain evangelical or Charismatic churches. Some churches view it as a form of holiness and respect, while others choose not to emphasize it.
In contemporary life, head coverings have become a political expression of gender equality for some women. This is especially true for those of the Muslim faith who wear a hijab. For them, it is a sign of power and identity, as well as a way of showing strength and resilience in the face of gender discrimination.


The debate surrounding head covering in the Church is not an easy one to resolve. The Bible provides some guidance but leaves much of the decision up to personal interpretation and preference. It is important, though, to be respectful of those who choose to practice head covering, whatever the reason may be. Above all, remember that the practice is ultimately a reminder of our reverence and respect for God.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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