Why Christian Women Should Wear Head Coverings

The photo above features a veil like the one that I bought for my daughter a while back from the site VeilsByLily.com. So the question is why did I purchase this veil for my daughter? Was it simply a fashion accessory? Or something more?

For all of Christian history up until the 1960s with the advent of second wave feminism women wore some type of head covering whenever they went to church for worship. The practice of women wearing head coverings is not simply a Christian tradition, but it is actually commanded in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5(KJV):
“4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

Many Christians today argue that Christian women do not have to wear head coverings any more. And believe it or not, there were Christians even back during the Apostle’s time that were arguing against the requirement of women wearing head coverings as is seen in I Corinthians 11:16 (KJV):
“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

And the great irony is that many Christians today have taken Paul’s rebuke of those who were arguing against women being required to wear head coverings and they attempt to use his rebuke to say women don’t have to wear head coverings! It really is enough to make your head explode if you let it.

In I Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul answers three very important questions about head coverings for women. He answers WHY women must wear head coverings, WHAT head coverings are, and WHEN head coverings should be worn.

Click here to listen to my 3 part podcast series “Why Women Should Wear Head Coverings”

WHY God Wants Women to Wear Head Coverings

Paul gives the reason why woman must wear head coverings as an introduction to the conversation on head coverings in I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV):
“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.”

So, the reason women must wear head coverings is because “the head of the woman is the man”. Head here refers to man’s authority over woman.

Egalitarian Christians claim that “head” in verse 3 refers to man as the “source” of woman. The problem with that interpretation is it would then make God the father the source of Christ and that is heresy according to John 1:1-3 (KJV) which tells us the following:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

The context of I Corinthians 11:3 is not the source of man or woman, but rather the authority structure God has created.

But after showing the Egalitarian argument to be faulty, we must now address the Complementarian argument. Complementarians believe in male headship but they limit it to the home and the church. They do not believe male headship over women extends to all areas of society.

The problem for Complementarians is that nothing in the language of verse 3, or the entire discussion of male headship in I Corinthians limits the man’s headship to just the home and the church. It is a broad and sweeping statement of man’s headship over woman.

Is God the Father the head of Christ in all things? Is Christ the head of man in all things? How then can Complementarians claim that men are only the head of women in the home and in the church but not outside those two areas?

And then we must consider the practical implications of the Complementarian attempt to limit man’s headship over woman to just the home and the church. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:24 (KJV) “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. So, this presents a problem for Complementarians who believe women may take authority over men as long as it outside the home or church.

Let’s take a man and his wife. His wife runs for mayor of their town and she wins. So that means if he were to go to a town hall meeting where his wife is presiding, she now becomes his authority in that sphere. But yet God calls her to submit to her husband in everything. That means in every part of her life. The only exception to her submission to him is the rule the Apostle Peter gave us in Acts 5:29 (KJV) that “We ought to obey God rather than men” if our earthly authority is violating God’s law in what they are asking us to do. The same would go for if his wife was his boss at work.

This is the conundrum the Complementarians run into when they attempt to limit the headship of man over woman to just the home and the church.

For a larger discussion of why women should not be in politics see my article “Does the Bible allow for a woman to be President of the United States?

But I Corinthians 11:3 is only one part of the Apostle Paul’s answer as to why women should wear head coverings. Later in this passage Paul actually dives into a deeper “WHY” question.

WHY is Man the Head of Woman

God does not always tell us why everything is the way it is. But sometimes he does tell us why some things are the way they are. And in this case of head coverings God caused Paul to fully explain why man is the head of woman in all areas of this life.

Paul writes the following statements just a few verses down in I Corinthians 11:7-10 (KJV) after telling us man is the head of woman and he now explains why man is the head of woman:
“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have been in Complementarian churches’ where they basically take the attitude of “Well God had to put someone in charge, so he picked the man and we just have to accept that”. God did not flip a cosmic coin to decide if man was the head of woman or woman was the head of man. Man being the head of woman was God’s design before he ever created man or woman!

This passage I have just shown from I Corinthians 11:7-10 tells us why man is the head of woman.
Man is the head of woman because man is “the image and glory of God” and “neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”. This is a simple and yet profound truth that will change the direction of every man and woman that reads it if they will only accept it and apply it to their lives.

Man was created to image God by living out his attributes and thereby bring him glory. Woman was created by God for man to serve man and bring man glory and in doing so she serves God and brings him glory as well.

And it is “For this cause”, because man is God’s image and glory and because of that woman’s head, that woman ought “to have power on her head because of the angels”. The “power on her head” is the head covering Paul is talking about in this entire first half of I Corinthians 11.
When a woman wears a head covering, she is proclaiming to the world that she fully accepts God’s authority over her life and the fact that God has placed her under man’s headship in all areas of life whether that be in the home, the church or elsewhere. Such a woman who fully accepts what her head covering means would never seek to be in any position that would place in her in authority over a man.

Now that we have fully covered the Apostle Paul’s explanation of why women should wear head coverings, we will now dive into what the head covering is that he is referring to.

WHAT is the Head Covering for Women?

Paul gives his answer to what the head covering is in I Corinthians 11:5-6 (KJV)
“5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”

The English word “uncovered” in verse 5 and the phrase “not covered” find their root in the negative form of the Greek word “Kalupto” which means “to hide or to veil”. So, Paul is saying when woman does not veil her head, she dishonors her head.

Paul goes on to use a cultural norm that the Corinthians would understand. For a woman to have her hair cut short (shorn) or have her head shaved would be for her to dishonor herself. Paul then goes on to explain where this cultural norm originated in I Corinthians 11:13-15 (KJV):
“13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”

Man did not invent this cultural norm, but rather it came from the human nature God designed in man and woman. God put this knowledge into our original nature as human beings to know that long hair on a man is a disgrace, but long hair on a woman is her glory.

Paul talks about this original human nature, our original programming, which tells us right from wrong in Romans 2:14 (KJV):
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves”

In the garden of Eden God created Adam with a perfect male human nature and he created Eve with a perfect female human nature. These nature’s had God’s law directly written into them. Their original human natures told them things like assault, murder and theft were wrong. Adam’s original masculine human nature instinctually told him he needed to lead, protect and provide for his wife. Eve’s original feminine human nature told her she needed to submit to and serve Adam as his subordinate helper.

But both Adam and Eve did not listen to the perfect natures God gave them which told them what to do – instead they went against the perfect human natures they were given and they sinned against God.

From that point forward both human natures, the masculine and feminine, became corrupted by sin. Yet even in its corruption, our human nature can still tell us when something is right or wrong according to God’s law.
Now before anyone misunderstands me – I am NOT saying our human natures (either masculine or feminine) are always right and that we can always trust them.

To know where our natures are right and where they are corrupt, we must look to our owner’s manual which is the Word of God. It tells us where our nature is wrong and has been corrupted by sin and where our nature is functioning as God designed it to.

The same thing goes for our culture. If what our culture condemns matches up with what God condemns and if what our culture promotes matches up with what God promotes then we can follow those things in our culture. But if what our culture condemns God approves and what our culture approves God condemns then we must disregard what our culture teaches in that area.

A Woman’s Long Hair is NOT the Covering

The woman’s long hair is “a covering” but it is not THE covering God requires when women pray or prophesy. Let’s apply the “long hair” argument to the passage we have already looked at below:
“5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth without long hair dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman has not long hair, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her have long hair.”

Now let’s apply some basic logic.

A woman without long hair = a woman shorn (with short hair) or a woman with a shaved head.

Now let’s apply this to the passage again:
“5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head shaven dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be shorn, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her have long hair.”

You can’t make a comparison by comparing something to itself. It is like saying “Eating ghost peppers is like eating ghost peppers”. But rather if you wanted to tell someone what eating ghost peppers is like, you might say “Eating ghost peppers is like putting gasoline in your mouth and lighting it on fire”. The comparison of lighting gasoline in your mouth might be a little exaggerated – but it communicates the point of what it is like when you eat ghost peppers.
This is why we can confidently conclude that the veil that Paul exhorts women to wear while praying and prophesying is NOT a woman’s long hair. Paul is speaking of two coverings. One is the natural covering (veil) God wants women to wear which is their long hair and the second is the additional physical covering (veil) God wants women to wear over their natural covering when they are praying or prophesying.

Now that we have discussed why God wants women to wear a head covering and we have shown it to be a separate veil in additional to their natural veil we will now show according the Bible when women are to wear this second veil as a spiritual symbol.

WHEN Does God Want Women to Wear a Head Covering?

Before we give the answer as to when women should wear head coverings we need to have a discussion about prophesy since this along with prayer is a central theme of this passage on head coverings.

The English word prophesieth is a translation of the Greek word “Propheteuo”.

Propheteuo is one of those words that you really have to pay attention to the context it is used in. In certain contexts, it refers to someone supernaturally foretelling the future like Christ did in the Gospels or the Apostle John did in the book of Revelation and like the Apostle John these prophets were also ordained by God to speak and write his Word.
But in other contexts, propheteuo simply refers to someone teaching, reproving or admonishing others based on the truths of God’s Word.

The Apostle Peter spoke of the prophecy of Joel being fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on Christians in Acts 1:16-18 (KJV):
“16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”

Peter is addressing both types of prophesy in this one statement. He talks about the young men seeing visions and old men dreaming dreams. That is exactly what happened to the Apostles and they wrote about the visions they had in the New Testament. But he also talks about “daughters” and “handmaidens” prophesying. So, what does he mean by this?

In I Corinthians 14:3 (KJV) we read the following statement about prophesy:
“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

Before I explain this passage, I want to make two points. The first thing I want to say is that I love the KJV because even though it has a very old form of English, it is often the most literal rendering of the original text. But like any other translation of the original texts, it sometimes is either confusing because of the old English or it is not as precise as it should be. The second thing I want to say is that I can’t stand all these gender-neutral translations of the Bible. The fact is that the Bible is written in a very masculine tone because God’s nature is represented by the masculine human nature and translations should be faithful to that tone.

But sometimes in the Bible the language used is gender neutral and I Corinthians 14:3 is actually one those passages.

First, where the King James version says “he” as in “he that prophesieth” the Greek Word which is “ho” is actually gender neutral and it would be more accurately translated as “the one”.

Secondly when the KJV refers to hearers of the prophesy it calls them “men” but that is not as precise as it should be when used together with the gender neutral “ho”. The Greek word that is translated as “men” is “Anthropos”. This word can be translated as “man”, “men”, “mankind” or as “people” or a “person” depending on the context it is used in. It is a less precise word than the Greek word “Aner” which is specifically used to refer to male human beings in the Bible or to “gune” which specifically refers to female human beings in the Bible.

With all that being said I believe in this rare case the NIV actually is actually closest to the original meaning with one minor correction:
“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”

Where I think the NIV is wrong is in their use of the word “strengthening” where the KJV and other translations like the NASB translate the word as “edification” which is a better translation of the Greek word “Oikodome”. Even Thayer’s Bible dictionary states that Oikodome which literally means “the act of building up” also is used metaphorically to mean edifying or edification. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of edify means to “to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge”.

So, what is I Corinthians 14:3 saying? It is saying that “the one” (man or woman) that prophesies speaks to people (men or women) using the Word of God to instruct them, exhort them and comfort them.

The next verse, I Corinthians 14:4 (KJV) actually mentions the church:
“He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”

Again we have the gender neutral “Ho” for which is translated as “He” and the gender neutral “Heautou” which can be translated as “himself, herself, itself or themselves” depending on the context it is used. And since it is used with the gender neutral “Ho” once again the NIV is the most accurate translation of this verse where it says:
Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”

And on this subject of prophecy I want to mention one more verse which is found in Acts 21:8-9 (KJV):
“8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

So here is the point I have been building to with all these passages on prophesy. We who believe in the doctrines of Biblical gender roles cannot deny that God gifts some women with the gift of prophecy. And I do not mean the “foretelling of the future and writing God’s Word” kind of prophecy. I mean the kind of prophecy that edifies, exhorts and comforts people and edifies the church as the Scriptures say.

Acts 21:8-9 shows this to be true and the central passage we are talking about here – I Corinthians 11:5 which exhorts women when they prophesy to wear a head covering proves this to be true.
I know that many Christian wives have been led astray by false female prophets of God only to see their marriages destroyed. I have had many men write me emails testifying to this fact. Far too many. And it would be easy to say women can never prophesy in any form or venue because we are afraid of false teachings. But gentlemen let me remind you all that women don’t have a monopoly on being false prophets. There are many male false prophets out there today as there have always been.

The Scriptures tell us that God gifts some women with the gift of prophecy so the question then becomes where can they use this gift to edify, exhort and comfort?

Some would wrongly say because I Corinthians 14:4 (NIV) says “the one who prophesies edifies the church” that women can instruct and exhort men in the Church. But such an interpretation ignores clear prohibitions against women teaching men in the Church such this one found in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 (KJV):
“11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

And in the same chapter of I Corinthians that we have just mentioned with gender neutral language about people prophesying to the church we find this restriction on women once again in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV):
“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

So how do we explain this? We are told in the Scriptures that prophesy edifies, exhorts and comforts all people and it also edifies the church and we are told that God gives this gift to both men and women. He even tells women when the prophesy to wear a head covering. Yet he tells women to remain silent in the church and learn from their husbands at home.

The answer my friends is found in Titus 2:3-5 (KJV):
“3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

When we combine the fact that Bible says some women have the gift of prophecy which includes edification, exhortation and comfort along with this passage we have a clear picture of God’s vision for women.
God gifts some women with the ability to be able to edify and exhort other WOMEN “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands” and to comfort them when they are in difficult situations.

Before I show you the final answer as to when a woman must wear a head covering according to the Scriptures, we need to understand one more point. When the Scriptures say “the one who prophesies edifies the church” this is not limited to a local church assembly of men and women together in a worship service.

The church, the body of Christ, is both universal and local. When you go down the street and see a physical church building and see Christians meeting there on Sunday mornings for worship that is a local manifestation of the body of Christ coming together for worship and instruction in the Word.

But then we have the universal body of Christ which includes all saints. There are many ministries which minister to the church on a universal level. A Christian radio show is an example of a ministry which ministers to the universal church. This blog ministry, BiblicalGenderRoles.com, is another example of a ministry which ministers to the universal church. And in this same way Christian women can have blogs which minister to the universal church and are specifically tailored toward women. Even on a local church level woman can have ladies Bible studies or ladies Sunday school classes where women with the gift of prophecy can exercise their gift within the bounds of God’s law.

But as I have said before on this blog – all ministries which are conducted by women, even by those women who have the gift of prophesy, must be done under the headship of man. If it is a single woman with no family that might mean she operates under the authority of the Pastor of her local church. If it is a woman with a Christian father and no husband then she operates under the spiritual authority of her father. And certainly, if a woman has a Christian husband then she operates her ministry to women under the spiritual authority of her husband.

And now we can finally answer the question of WHEN women are scripturally required to wear head coverings.

A woman should wear a head covering, a veil of some sort, during worship services because she certainly should be silently praying together with her local church during worship. Secondly, if a woman is prophesy to other women such as through a podcast or in person in a Sunday school class or a ladies Bible study, she also should wear a head covering.

Now prayer unlike prophesy, can occur within or totally outside any type of church ministry setting. But because the commands for women to wear head coverings for prayer are not qualified by a statement saying something like “in the church” or “the house of God” then it must therefore be treated as an absolute command for all occasions. See my note at the end of this article explaining my change or “sharpening” on this position about head coverings for prayer.

The “All Times” Argument

Before I conclude I wanted to address the “All Times” argument as to when Christian women should wear head coverings. There are some Christians like the Amish, Mennonites and Anabaptists and others outside those denominations that believe women are to wear head coverings at all times.

There argument is that the prayer Paul is referring to is not limited to that which occurs in the context of church ministries like worship services or other women’s ministries outside the worship service setting. And they point to 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV) which exhorts all Christians to “Pray without ceasing” to say that since Christian women should be in a constant state of pray that they should always have their head coverings.

The Biblical command to “Pray without ceasing” is like the Biblical command for us as Christians to be “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” in Hebrews 10:25 (KJV). In the same way the call to not forsake assembling within our local church bodies does not mean we must be at church 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so too the call to pray without ceasing does not mean we must pray 24 hours a day 7 days a week at all minutes of the day.

Taken together these commands are telling us not give on the regular practice of meeting together in our local churches or of praying. We as Christians should have regular habits of praying and going to church. This the command of the Scriptures.

Otherwise if we took “pray without ceasing” the way some of these groups have tried to portray it – we could never talk to anyone else because we would be constantly talking to God and if we applied that to forsaking not the assembling of ourselves in the church we would never leave the church building or stop praying. That is not God’s will for our Christian lives. God simply wants prayer and church attendance to be a regular habit for all Christians.

Conclusion

I hope this study has been a blessing to you, I know it was for me as I studied this out again. I have believed in women wearing head coverings within the context of church ministry for many years but God really fined tuned this for me as I studied his Word on this subject once again.

So, we answered here from the Scriptures the three important questions when it comes to Christian women wearing head coverings. We answered the why, the what and the when.

The reason why God wants a woman to wear a head covering is because it is a public acknowledgement by that woman that man is the image bearer of God and man has been designated by God as the head of woman in all areas of this life. It is a testimony to all the people who see her as well as the angels who are watching that she acknowledges the male headship that God has placed her under and she would never seek to take authority over a man.

What is the head covering which God requires when women pray or prophesy? It is the second veil which God requires women to cover their heads with when praying or prophesying. The first veil God requires women to have is the one he naturally gives them the ability to have – and that is their long hair.

When should women wear their head covering or a second veil? Any time a woman prays or prophesies including if she prophesies outside a local church setting like with a podcast or having a ladies Bible study group at home. And she should wear a head covering any time she prays even outside a ministry setting.

As I conclude I just want to give one more “why” answer.

Why did the church abandon the teaching that women should wear head coverings? Why have so many pastors and other Christian teachers and writers gone to great lengths to say it was a “temporary cultural requirement” Even if they agree it is still required, they make the argument I have shown to be logically false that the woman’s long hair is the only covering Paul was talking about.

The answer is that Christian men over the last century or so gradually abandoned their God given headship over the women in their lives. And this leadership vacuum allowed for a poisonous ideology called Feminism to form. And Feminism since its inception has decimated God’s institution of gender roles and marriage and it brought the divorce rate from 3 percent to 45 percent causing more than 60 million divorces. Feminist ideology has also led to the deaths of over 60 million babies in abortion.

Whether it is their wives, their daughters or the women under their ministries in their churches most Christian men have neglected their duty in this regard. They now seek to appease women in their churches or marriages. They are more concerned with making the women in their lives happy than pleasing God.

If you are a God fearing, Bible believing Christian man or woman I ask you to pray for the men around you that God will give them the strength and courage to lead the women in their lives even it that may cause some momentary or even long-term unhappiness for them. I also ask you to pray for the women in your lives that they will have the courage to take a stand and if they do not have the two head coverings God requires for women (long hair and a veil for church ministry) that they will make this right before God and start doing what is right.

Update 5/5/2018 – My Change or “Sharpening” On When Women Should Wear Head Coverings For Prayer

Since originally publishing this article the Lord has led me to make a change on my position on head coverings. And “change” might not be the right word, as that might imply to some a 180 degree turn, which is not the kind of change I am referring to. I think a better word might be “sharpen” as in God has led me to “sharpen” my position on women wearing head coverings.

Let me just say before I introduce this change that no Christian should ever think they have arrived and perfectly interpret or apply the Scriptures. The Scriptures tell us as much in the following passage:
“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)

We will never be perfect in this life in how we live or in our interpretations or understanding of the Word of God. But Christ gives us the Holy Spirit of God and also brothers and sisters in Christ to help us along the way. While we may never be perfect, or even perfectly unified as believers in our understanding of the Scriptures – we are to progressively strive for that each day of our lives.

This means we should always be willing to entertain the possibility that we can be wrong in either our interpretation or our application of the Scriptures. Sometimes the Holy Spirit can show us something all on our own but other times the Holy Spirit may use other Christians to show us his truths. It might be something our Pastor says in a sermon on Sunday. It might a something we hear from a preacher on a radio. It might be something we read from a Christian writer in a book or blog. And sometimes it might be from a comment that someone places on your blog.

The Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 27:17 that Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” and that is what Tyler Bryant has done for me on this subject of women wearing head coverings.

For all of my adult life I have believed in women wearing head coverings for worship since I attended a Plymouth Brethren church with my parents when I was a teenager for about a year before we returned to a Baptist church. My mother for a time started wearing a head covering while we attend that church and my father showed me from I Corinthians 11 why the church believed women should wear head coverings.

I have since that time held the position that since prophesy can only be exercised in a church ministry setting (either within the local church or in some parachurch or universal church capacity) that the absoluteness of the statement was applying only to prophesy and the prayer portion was pertaining to that which was done with prophecy which is done in church ministry.

Tyler is 100 percent sure that the prayer mentioned is NOT limited to that which is done within the context of church ministry (either in the local church or outside as a universal church ministry).

The struggle I have had since Tyler’s comments is that I am not 100 percent sure that the prayer mentioned IS limited to just that which is done in the context of church ministry (like alongside of prophesy). But before I give my change or “sharpening” on this subject of women wearing head coverings for prayer I want to give a little background on qualifications about things done “in the church” which Tyler alluded to in his comments.

There are some passages like I Corinthians 14:34-35’s admonition for women to be silent that specifically qualify the statement with “in the church” so I can 100 percent say this is not applying to outside of church ministries. And then I further 100 percent know it is talking about mixed gender settings because women are exhorted to teach other women and we are told women can prophesy to other women (Acts 2:17 ,1 Corinthians 14:3-4 & Titus 2:3-5).

There are other statements like this one from 1 Timothy 3:15 which qualify all of chapter three that came before it as well as half of chapter 2:
“14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

In this passage above Paul is end capping his discussion on general behavior rules within the assembled church as well as the qualifications for church officers – he started this discussion in the previous chapter in I Timothy 2:7 where restates his authority as an Apostle of Christ and then he starts telling men and women how to conduct themselves within the assembled church. He mentions a very similar statement about women being silent in verses 11-12 and this is qualified later by his statement that this is “how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God”.

My point I am trying to make is that sometimes the qualification does not occur right alongside the command but it occurs later in the discussion as an end cap to many commands. But with this case of women wearing head coverings while praying – there is no qualifying endcap anywhere related to the discussion of head coverings.

I Corinthians 11 is an interesting chapter because Paul begins with speaking about prophecy which is a church ministry, but it is one that can be exercised toward the church either on a local church level or universal church level and then he switches gears and begins speaking of a church ministry, that of communion, which can ONLY occur within the local church with them all coming together in I Corinthians 11:17-18 (KJV):
“17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.”

So here is my change or “sharpening”

Since the discussion of head coverings for prayer is not qualified with the command itself like I Corinthians 14:34-35 and it also does not qualify the command about head coverings for prayer as part of a list of many commands like 1 Timothy 3:15 then we cannot know with a 100 percent degree of confidence that it is only speaking of prayers done in the context of church ministry. Therefore, I believe in the absence of either of these types of qualifications we must regard the command for women to wear head coverings for prayer as absolute. This means women should wear head coverings for prayer whether it is during a a church ministry or even in a private setting outside of church ministries.

Stories of Sexual Denial in Marriage – Episode 6

This next story of sexual denial comes from a man who is a minister and has been married 27 years.  I asked him for some clarification on his initial comments because I had some confusion on how often he was having sex with his wife.  I truly believe that as a minister he has the potential to make a huge impact for God with this situation.

Just a warning – this is probably the longest post I have ever done, but what has been said here needed to be said. But for men seeking help I believe it is worth the read.

Joe’s Story

“My wife and I have been married 27 years. I’m a minister.
We have been sexual only 7 times. (when she wants to be) This is the middle of September.
She tells me that sex is the farthest thing from her mind. I exercise often and am in athletic condition and well groomed. I do the things that most women complain about their husband NOT doing. I do most of the chores and cook almost all of the meals.

My wife says that she’s attracted to me and we are very nice to each other. We hold hands often. I give her back rubs which seems to help her chronic pain that she’s had for a number of years. She comes in from work every day totally exhausted and wanting no affection from me, unless it’s just a small kiss.

I’ve lovingly told her how rejected I feel for her not wanting to have sex with me. Oh, every time in our married life when we make love I always help her to achieve an orgasm.

At our last counseling appointment the counselor reiterated scripture that you mentioned above. The thing is…I don’t want her to make love to me out of a “duty”. I want her to do it because SHE wants to. I want to be desired her but she’s not interested.

I’m feeling resentful and very angry. I feel unloved. I recently just read Kevin Leman’s book “Sheet Music” and it made me angry cause I know that my wife will never do the things that Leman mentioned.
From what I’ve read in other articles if you have sex less than 8 times in a year that’s considered a “sexless” marriage.

I never thought I would only be 53 and be in a sexless marriage. If I were 85 or 90 I could understand but I’m so frustrated right now and honestly do not see an end to this. For me to “divorce” her over this could put an end to me being a pastor. I doubt seriously I could convince others that she’s committed sexual immorality against me over not wanting to have sex with me.

I’ve tried to woo her, wanting to take her on a date, just me and her. Nope, she’s too tired and wants to veg out on Netflix. I’ve suggested a weekend away somewhere or a cruise, just me and her. Not interested. I married “in sickess and in health, richer or poorer” but I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS. I’ve shed a bucket of tears over this and just don’t know how much more rejection I can handle. I’m ready to leave.”

He then responded to my questions asking for clarification with these comments:

“Sorry for the confusion. I meant to say we’ve had sex 7 times this year. ..which is way better than 7 times in 27 years. We’ve been seeing a wonderful Christian counselor…for other other issues but Only 2 times now for this particular “no sex” issue.

Sex in our marriage started out great..like most couples but then when children came along it basically came to a screeching halt. With child #2 my wife seemed to be sick the entire pregnancy which meant no sex for me…but i felt sorry for her. She also seemed to develop an invisible disease called fibromyalgia which causes pain all over her body. Its hard to diagnose. It was pretty bad for a number of years. We would only have sex a handful of times a year (whenever SHE was in the mood) .

Now things are somewhat better with her physically but we still seldom have any sex or any other physical touch. The issue now is she works full time, comes home and collapses and has nothing left. She says she loves me but just has no interest in sex. I’ve told her how i feel. The counselor (a woman) has used the same scripture you mentioned.
There is however, a ray of hope. Today she left me a note saying that she wants to pursue passion and for me not to despair. She does realize that she’s not normal. But it’s very upsetting to me that regardless of her non existent libido that she would not care about my desires and needs. I don’t feel desired at all.

Ive noticed that as a result of my situation i am now being tempted to do some immoral things. Have not given in yet but i feel very vulnerable right now. At this point i have resentment that’s built up. I lay awake at night wanting to be touched…and honestly it all just ticks me off. I want to sleep somewhere else.

In response to your last questions:
She initiates. And yes, i gave up initiating long ago because of the rejection. She lets me know when. When she IS in the mood i will ask “is there something i did that put you in the mood? If so what was it so i can try that again.” As far as touch she does not smack my hand but just move it away and then tell me she’s too tired or she’s hurting (with her pain issue). At the moment she feels like i am pressuring her and all i am doing is trying to have conversation about it. “Speak the truth in love”. Im trying real hard to get the “in love” part. I’ve read both books our counselor suggested in three days. She’s struggling to read them cause she doesn’t want to and said it makes her angry. Im all alone here.

My Response to Joe and other men who see themselves in this situation

First and foremost I want to extend my heart felt sympathy to this Christian husband and any other Christian husband who faces this issue of chronic and willful sexual denial from his wife.

Joe truly seems to have been trying to “woo” his wife, to see what he can do to put her in the mood.  He gives her back rubs, he does most of the cooking and cleaning  all in an attempt to relieve her stress which might allow her to be in the mood more often.  He tries to take her on dates. On those rare occasions when she is in the mood he asks her what put her in the mood so he can do whatever that is more to help her to be in the mood more often.

He has shared his frustration with his wife and she has been honest with him that she simply does not have the desire to have sex.

Joe is right that he is truly living in a sexless marriage(only 7 times in a year).

Joe’s situation is further compounded by the fact that he is a minister and he is afraid of what it will do to his Church if he confronts his wife and has to divorce her.

Joe’s story is very close to my own

I receive these emails and comments all the time and rarely do I see a story that so closely mimics issues I faced in my own marriage.   I believe God is leading me to share my story here for Joe as an encouragement for him to learn from what God had to show me in my marriage.  Previously I have shared bits and pieces about my marriage history in other posts.  But this will probably be the most I have ever opened up about my marriage history in a single post.

As I have stated on several occasions on this blog – I was divorced from my first wife with whom I had my children.  While it takes two for a marriage to fall apart the fault is not always equal on both sides. I was not the perfect husband and I know that I failed her many ways, despite trying to love her the best I could.

In my first marriage my wife had several affairs.  We really didn’t have sexual issues in the sense that until we were getting divorced she really never denied me sexually.  But I could never trust her as she would keep returning to affairs and I had to eventually divorce her.

Not long after I divorced her – I went on a Christian dating site where I met the woman who would eventually become my second wife.  When we were first married the sex was great! For about 3 months.

Then after about 3 months of marriage my wife started feeling more free to turn me down for sex. During this same period the personal touching between us went down drastically as well.  My wife started sitting on her couch and I had my couch, and if I were to go and try and sit with her to cuddle up she would tell me she needed her space.

My wife worked a full time job as a manager and she would routinely tell me she was stressed out from work and she had back pain and foot pain from her job.

Why did I marry a career woman?

I realize that may seem like a complete contradiction to what I believe and teach on this site – why would I marry a career woman? The reason is because after my divorce from my first wife I was in the position where I had older children who did not need a mother at home to care for them.  If you look closely at my articles on this site about career women – I say that a woman should not work until at least when her kids are in school and they are not needing full time care at home from their mother.

But even though I am not against women working outside the home when their kids are grown and in school, I think they have to be careful of over committing themselves to their jobs to the neglect of their husbands, their children or their home.

My first wife was a very untrustworthy woman constantly lying and doing things behind my back.  The most important thing to me was finding a Christian woman and a person I could trust with my heart and my children and one that would not betray me as my first wife had.

My second wife was involved in her church before I met her  – she went on missions trips and was involved in various ministries of her church.   I met her family and church friends and found that my wife was a woman with great character.   Once I realized she was the kind of woman who would never betray me and that we shared a common faith in Christ that was it – I was head over heels for her!

She was married previously and was never able to have kids and I came with a ready made family.  My kids loved her and she loved them.  We were married about a year after we met.

While we were dating and then engaged we did talk about how I felt about Biblical gender roles and she asked if it would be a problem with me that she worked full time once she knew my beliefs.  I told her that as long she put me, my kids and our home before her career I had no problem with her continuing to work as a manager since my kids were older and in school full time.  I even offered to help with doing half the house work.

But even while we were dating I detected feminist tendencies in her that she had from her upbringing(her mom was a career woman as well).  Her mom even told me on one occasion that she taught her daughters to “be independent and not need a man”.  So even though my wife had become a Christian a few years before she met me, the feminism ran deep in her.  I also detected that her job as a manager might cause some friction in her commitment to our marriage and our home.

But she was so different from my first wife, and such a good Christian woman with great character that I chose to overlook some of these areas that would later come back to haunt me, naively thinking I could help her to see what God says a Christian woman’s priorities should be in regard to her husband, her children and her home.

Some might say “well they were not her children” so they are not her responsibility.   That is false.  When a woman agrees to marry a man who already has children, she agrees to be a mother to his children and we agreed to that before we were married.

So now with all that as a backdrop to the sexual issues I faced with my wife let me go into what I did to address the issue of my wife’s sexual denial.

Mr Nice guy goes to work

So like Joe I went to work trying to help reduce my wife’s stress.  My first wife was a traditional stay at home mom and did the majority of the cooking and cleaning(although I did cook frequently too).

My second wife was the polar opposite – she was a hardworking successful career woman working as a manager.   My second wife did not cook much as her mother did not cook much so she had no example to learn from.  Her father cooked more often then her mother because he got home from his factory job earlier than her mom from her office job.  Her mom would take care of most of the laundry.

My wife has admitted to me many times that for her growing the norm was “the dad does the cooking and the mom does the laundry” so this is why she never really took an interest in learning how to cook.

So my wife did not have the homemaker model of mother teaching her how to cook.  It was a big change for her to cook at all for our family but she tried.  Not long into our marriage I took on most of the cooking duties(where I cooked about 80% to 90%  of the time)  and at some points I cooked 100% of the time.  Eventually I was doing most of the laundry but she would help put the clean and folded clothes a way.

I hoped that by doing all these things it would help reduce the stress I saw in my wife and perhaps it would jump start and rekindle our love life.  I would try to take her on dates and buy my wife expensive jewelry and take her on expensive getaways(just me and her).  Because she suffered back pain I would give her back rubs and foot rubs.

None of this worked to get her to open up sexually or for us to even have more non sexual touch(like sitting on couch cuddling up together).

At one point in the first year of our marriage I remember sitting in a parking lot and I just told my wife how I felt. I wept. I told her that this was not how marriage was supposed to be were a couple rarely had sex and rarely touched one another.

She told me very candidly that while she understood my feelings, that she felt that a couple should only have sex when both the husband and wife are in the mood and that she really was not in the mood that often – maybe once or twice a month. She told me she was not a “touchy feely person” and she needed her space.  She told me that she loved me, enjoyed spending time together and going on trips together, but that she felt marriage should be more about companionship and friendship than having to be about these physical things.

I asked her “What happened to the woman I dated and the woman who I was married to for the first few months of our marriage?”

Her response was “That was not the real me.  That was just because our relationship was brand new, now this is what I am really like.” She then told me that since we were not young, but in our 30’s that “Sex and touchiness should not be a big deal – that is for younger couples in their teens and early 20’s”.

I wish I could say that right after that conversation I went to work confronting my wife’s sexual denial as I now advice men to do in many posts on this site.  I did tell her that day that I thought she was wrong, but then I dropped it hoping she would realize it on her own and change.

I continued doing almost all the cooking and laundry, taking her on dates and trips, buying her expensive jewelry and giving her back rubs and foot rubs.

Then she began to have health problems which eventually lead to her having to step down from her job as a manager and she worked a regular worker part time.   Then she had a car accident which caused her to become disabled.  During all this time I cared for her with all her various ailments.

I believe in some ways God allowed all these things to come into my wife’s life to humble her, because she was so neglectful of our marriage and our home in favor of her career and other interests.

But even through God allowed all these things to come into my wife’s life and despite my caring for her needs and taking care of the household duties she continued to sexually deny me except on the rare occasions that she was in the mood.  She also continued to deny me the physical touch(not just sexual, but just touch) that I so needed.

So you can see by my own story that I can very much relate to Joe’s story.

My confrontation of my wife’s sexual denial

Eventually I came to the point where I realized that I could not stand back and allow my wife’s behavior to go unchecked. Despite all the trials God had brought into her life to show her that her marriage and family were more important than her career she did not see the changes that God was trying make in her life.

She continued to focus on the loss of her health and her job with no consideration for the opportunity God had given her to focus on our marriage and our family.

This is not to say that I had not complained to her before this – but it was just that a complaint with no followup.

Then God revealed to me that I was not powerless to try and change this situation with my wife. I realized that God had called me not only to love her and care for her physical and emotional needs, but also to rebuke sin in her life toward our marriage.

We went and counseled with our Pastor and his wife(whom she respects) and our Pastor made it clear to her that God says a wife is not to deny her husband sexually, even if she is not in the mood.

After that she stopped denying me for a short period but then it started up again. At that point I felt the Lord leading me to discipline my wife.  I stopped buying her flowers(I used to buy them at least once or twice a month for her).  I stopped taking her to our favorite restaurants when my kids were with their mom.  I stopped the weekend getaways and I stopped the jewelry and gifts.  I stopped giving her the back and foot massages. The message was clear – this sinful behavior will stop.

At first she acted stubborn about it, and then she tried to pull the “Am I your whore that I have to perform to get these things”.  She told me “you just think marriage is all about sex”.

I told her “I do not expect you to have sex with me in order for you to get these things from me – in fact you ought to have sex with me regardless of if I do those things. I expect you to honor the vows you made to God and me when we got married to respect me, submit to me and give me your body freely and without complaint.”

I told her “you are breaking the marriage vows you made to me and you are being unfaithful to me by denying me sexually – this is a breach of our marriage covenant”. I made it clear to her that I would eventually seek divorce if this situation did not change.

You know what happened? Now she does not deny me except for when she is truly sick and I know she is, and then she humbly gives me a rain check.  Has she had some relapses where turns me down in a wrong way or for wrong reasons? Yes. Do we still have issues with her not wanting to touch? Yes.   But I address it head on and remind her that I won’t tolerate this sin to rise up again in our marriage.

I also realized that I was not only enabling her sin of sexual denial, but I was also enabling her laziness.  Yes she had some health issues, but according to her own doctors it would be healthy for her to do things like wash dishes and do laundry as long as I could help her with any heavy lifting(which I always still do).

So I told her I expected her to do what she could and that meant doing dishes and learning to cook.  I would no longer cook 80% percent of the time now that she is at home full time.  You know what? She learned how to cook.  She looks up recipes and now she cooks 80% of the time and I only cook 20% of the time.  She packs my lunch every evening for me to take to work the next morning.

Has my wife completely turned from her feminist tendencies and fully embraced Biblical patriarchy as I have laid out on this site?  No she has not.  But she has made progress and I recognize that.  However, it is my job as a husband to not only continue to search my own self for sinful thoughts and actions but to search my wife as well.  Ephesians 5: 25-27 tells us that as Christian husbands part of loving our wives is for us to wash their spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes with the Word of God as Christ washes his Church.

My wife, like myself, still has many spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes that need to be washed.  However, while it is not her job as one under my spiritual authority to wash my spiritual spots, wrinkles and blemishes  – it is my job to wash hers.

But I can only wash my wife as she full submits to God and then to me.  She no longer flat out denies like she did before but she still has not fully recognized that God made her for me and has given her to me.  She still is retaining ownership of herself.

A battle plan for Joe and other husbands facing this situation

Joe – this is about way more than your feelings and your frustrations.  This about sin in your wife’s life.  But you can’t take on sin in your wife’s life until you take on the sin in your own life.

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;  that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” – Hebrews 12:15-16 (KJV)

Your wife has sinned against you and she has hurt you in a very personal way by sexually denying you and refusing to give you the affection that every man needs from the woman he loves.

But as a minister I know that you know one sin never justifies another sin.  You have allowed a root bitterness and resentment to grow up and you need to rid yourself of that so you can clearly see and confront the sin in your wife’s life.  I struggled with this bitterness and resentment toward my wife for a while until I realized it was making me powerless to confront my wife’s sin.  I needed God’s power to confront my wife and I would not have that till I made my own heart right with God.

Once you make your heart right with God – you will be ready to take on your wife’s sin head on.

You said there is a “ray of hope” and your wife acknowledges the issue.  But my wife did that too but she would change for a week and go back to the same behavior. Your wife may do this as well.  You can’t let her just say “I know I need to change”, actions must follow her words and there needs to be a consistent change.

If you don’t see this real and consistent change occur then you need to move to discipline with your wife(tough love).

First realize why you are disciplining your wife

Your wife is acting selfishly toward you and thinks she should only have to have sex with you or let you touch her when she feels like it which is clear violation of God’s Word.

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” – I Corinthians 7:3-5 (KJV)

The  Bible also says you as her husband are to be able to be find satisfaction in your wife’s body and be ravished by her love – something she is not doing.

“Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” – Proverbs 5:19 (KJV)

Remember God made your wife as a helper for you, not you as a helper for her.

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” – I Corinthians 11:9 (KJV)

This is not to say that husbands should not serve their wives as Christ washed his Apostles feet.  But it must clear in your relationship who is the leader of your home and who is the helper in your home. And this is not about you being selfish. Biblically speaking selfishness  is when we think ONLY of our needs and not the needs of others.   But it is not selfish to also think of your needs.

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 (NASB)

Most of the time sexual denial, especially on the part of the wife is way bigger than just sex.  Sexual denial is just the tip of the iceberg.  The issue is your wife’s attitude toward her role as your help meet.  She may say she believes she is to be a help meet to you – but her actions show something very different.

Her actions show a woman who has no problem with her husband acting as her help meet, instead of her acting as his help meet.  This needs to change.

How to discipline your wife

Joe – you need to confront this sin head on in your wife’s life by removing the back rubs, the dates and doing all the chores.  Does she really need to work? Maybe you can bring up to her that if she is so exhausted from her job maybe she does not need to work.  But whether she works or not – she must reserve some energy for you.  Her focus needs to be more on her role as your help meet and less on her role as an employee of whatever company she works for.

If she will not listen and rebels against your attempts to bring godly correction into her life then you may have to move to the next level.

It maybe require you stepping down from your Church as Pastor in anticipation of divorcing your wife for her marital unfaithfulness(which sexual denial is form of).

I know that some of my readers will disagree, but I do believe that one of the qualifications of Pastors, Deacons and Widows that serve directly in Church is that they cannot be divorced:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” – I Timothy 3:2 (KJV)

“Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” – I Timothy 3:12 (KJV)

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.” – I Timothy 5:9 (KJV)

But this does not have to be the end of your life, but rather a new beginning and imagine the impact and spot light you could bring to sexual denial in marriage – something that is far too often ignored in our churches today.

This situation could be used for God’s glory

I know it does not seem like it now and you might be wondering – “How could God possibly get any glory from this horrible situation?”

If your wife repents and changes her ways – if she truly realizes how she was not being the help meet to you that God meant her to be you could use this to show other women how to be better help meets to their husbands by meeting their sexual needs.  Your wife could teach women’s classes and share her story and how God changed her life.

I know that many would disagree with me about this – but I believe if your wife remains in sinful rebellion that you need to let your Church know why you are getting divorced.  Do you realize as a minister how much impact this could have? I have no doubt there are other men in your church that face this issue and they do not know how to confront it.  In fact you could end up being an influence on many Christian men in other churches in the area.

You could literally ignite a spiritual fire in your church and perhaps other churches in the area for men to stand up and lead in their homes in this all important area of sexuality.

I hope this will be of some encouragement to you as you seek the Lord’s guidance.