Friday, April 4, 2014

day no 12,947: the helmet of salvation is not allowed at the dinner table during prayer‏

I have been asking Atticus and Penelope to pray before dinner.
I usually give them a suggestion.
The other night we sat down to dinner and as we began to hold hands to pray before our meal Atticus suddenly stopped and said,
“I’m going to take my helmet off because the Bible says men shouldn't pray with helmets on their heads."
He had been wearing his yellow construction worker’s helmet when he sat down to eat.
He made this comment based off a conversation we had a day or two earlier regarding:
1 Corinthians 11:4
Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head.
Spot on little man.
A helmet, I suppose, would qualify as “something.”


  1. So what are your thoughts on women covering their heads during prayer? (Maybe Atticus should have passed the helmet over to Penelope.) I want to be faithfully obedient even if I don't totally understand why, but no ladies in my church cover their heads. I'm seriously considering wearing a hat to church and the issue of "talking in church" is something I've been thinking about too. I'm curious what your thoughts are on Paul's commands to women.

    1. Great question Emily. It’s not only a great question in general, because it is, but I also appreciate the fact that your tenor is one of wanting to honor God and obey Scripture. Many who have no intention of doing what they hear God command would ask this question as well. It’s still a great question, but I feel less great about interacting with them on it if that makes sense.
      Paige and I were just discussing this very topic whilst eating dueling lobsters on our date night last week.
      It is without question that the principle of 1 Cor 11 is that there is an authoritative order to the home just as there is in the Trinity and in the church. That is the principle that must be clearly observed.
      If that’s culturally bound, then the principle still applies to us because principles are timeless and fixed . So what is our cultural equivalent? And that’s only if you come to the conclusion that this was, in fact, a culturally bound command.
      To be honest, I’m still in process when it comes to practice. I’m not sure what weight I should give to the fact that, like you observed, MOST solid Christians I know who genuinely have a heart for Jesus and His commands seemingly find no conscience issue with making this an incident of cultural command. And MOST of the godly men I would follow into battle have a similar conviction. The sheer weight of evidence to that conclusion makes me question if I’m wrong for wondering. That is possible. Maybe it’s a non-issue. It’s certainly secondary in that it’s not salvific in nature. Women who can’t afford the material to make a head covering can go to Heaven by grace through faith in Jesus alone without question.
      All that to say, I’m no help to you at this point and I know that. But I’m mulling these things over. I’d love to stay in conversation regarding this as you attempt to flesh this out as well.

  2. Thanks, Todd. I definitely want to know what further conclusions you and Paige reach as you read the Word. Andrew and I aren't totally convinced that it is a cultural thing since Paul appeals to creation order to explain why men shouldn't and women should cover their heads. He also says women should cover their heads because of the angels, which I think could have been given the parenthetical explanation treatment from Paul, and that's not cultural either. He also appeals to nature, again not cultural. I think Andrew would actually be kind of pleased if I covered my head for prayer (and prophecy if that were ever to be gifted me) simply because I'd be obeying Scripture as far as I understand it even if I don't totally get why. So the fact that it would make my husband happy is another point on the side of head covering. Also, what's to lose? Maybe some people think I'm a weirdo, but that's ok.
    In regard to speaking in church, it seems like prayer and prophecy (probably reading Scripture also) are ok for a woman when it's a mixed group, but I'm not sure about other talking. That might be cultural as well, but again, I think I'd rather obey God and look like a weirdo than ignore God's Word and do what I want because it's what is normal in church today. Anyway, that's what I'm thinking now, but I want to continue to look at the Word more and probably see what other godly people think on the matter.


      In your circumstance, I would encourage you to cover your head in prayer. It is your understanding of the passage. It would make your husband happy. And the trajectory of the passage is one of placing oneself under the proper authority structure. If the principle is, wives should submit to their husbands, it would stand to reason that a wife, whose husband interprets the passage to mean that his wife should cover her head in prayer, should cover her head whether it’s her interpretation of the passage or not. If the principle holds, the wife submits (whether they would choose that for themselves or like you said, whether or not they understand totally why).

      To your last point, I also agree. There is certainly no sin or error in doing what the passage seems to be indicating. I would not fault a woman for covering her head because she read this verse and did what it said. There may be fault in not doing, but it would be hard to fault any woman who took it at face value. (the only potential danger would come from the idea that the hermeneutic was off or faulty like the guy who gouges out his eyes and cuts his hands off for being sexually immoral with his web browsing. You might fault him for that interpretation of the passage taken at face value. That said, you have to have a better hermeneutic to assess what kind of passage is in front of you (letter ,apocalyptic, narrative, parable, etc…)

      Your points regarding an appeal to creation and created order and the angels are both valid and strong arguments for the principality of this passage being applied broad-brush regardless of culture. The cultural part could be what you use to cover your head. No prescription is given for that per se, but it’s probably safe to assume that it covers your head in some capacity :) Long and flowing or doily, I don’t know. There is probably wiggle room in that,

      One difficulty is that we know we are called to pray without ceasing in 1 Th 5. So that given the case, would it be proper to cover your head all the time or only in the assembled gathering of God’s local church? If you take this to be an assembly bound command, then it is only when you pray in church that you should have your head covered, which would likely then make sense to cover your head the WHOLE time you’re in church.


      Women speaking in church from 1 Cor 14 is local gathering specific as the passage itself indicates (as it gives back in the person’s home what it is taking away in the assembly). The principle here appears likely to be more related to the greater context of ORDER in the church as opposed to the chaos of tongues and talking.
      It would be consistent with 1 Cor 11 and 1 Tim 2 that women would not speak in any capacity that proposes authority over the mixed gathering of local church. Praying and Prophesying (if I’m understanding the context correctly in that meaning: speaking truth about God) do not take the form of authority over the congregation, but rather acknowledging the authority over the whole congregation through prayer and prophecy. Based on this, a woman singing as part of the worship band seems permissible. A woman reading the Scripture passage before the sermon seems permissible.

      I think it also reinforces the position of the husband as spiritual head of the home responsible for washing his wife in the Word of God. He is her pastor, at least her personal pastor in the context of their home. At the local gathering, both are under the authority of the local elders.

      Both of these are clearly important to Paul based on the amount of weight and space afforded to addressing them.

      I find the words he uses in 1 Cor 11:16 particularly pithy and potent:

      1 Corinthians 11:16
      But if anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.

      You think Paul anticipated people might be punchy about this? Sure thing. That’s why he speaks directly to the reader whose heart is burning with push back as their eyes read over the past 15 verses of 1 Cor 11.

      You can disagree and do something different, but you do so on your own.

      There is NO OTHER custom.
      Not here.
      Not anywhere that exists churches of God.

      So you can start a different church or group if you like. But so you know, that’s a different thing that will do not promote or tolerate.
      Heavy words to consider indeed.