Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is Headcovering Distracting?

This month marks one year that I have been covering my head in observance of 1 Corinthians 11. (For a detailed look at my reasoning through this process, please click on the headcovering link in the sidebar.) After a year of study, I have been asked several questions surrounding the opposing viewpoint, namely, that headcoverings are not for today. One of these views which I have not yet addressed is the idea that headcoverings are a distraction in today's culture. The reasoning is that since there are not many women who cover in the church today, a woman who does choose to observe this practice will be considered such an oddity that she will be a distraction to others during the worship service. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the woman might be doing it to purposely draw attention to herself, because she has issues with pride.

I've been approached with this scenario twice in the past month: once online, and once in person. And at the risk of sounding callous, my short and simple response to this objection is, "So what?"

It is insufficient to protest with a mere reply of, "Yeah, but it's distracting to others." I will admit that my reply is a bit cocky. After a year of study, I am sure that headcovering is for today. I am confident I can provide a solid argument for this position and that the opposing viewpoint is nothing more than a mere expression of one's personal opinion. Therefore, if there is scriptural evidence that God has ordained something, it is insufficient to protest with a mere reply of, "Yeah, but it's distracting to others."

I will also admit that in spite of it being a personal opinion, there is truth to the objection. Headcovering is a distraction to some people, which further warrants my response of, "So what?" In other words, if it distracts you, what are you going to do about it?

Let's be honest. The word "distraction" is more often than not a thin disguise for what is really going on: we feel irritated with a sister in Christ after we've passed judgment on her. In my experience, people who are distracted by headcovering are those who do not think it is for today and as a result are quite annoyed that some women choose to do it. If we are annoyed because of what someone else is doing, the problem is not with the other person. The problem is in our own hearts.

I am sure there are those who are offended by what I'm saying. But let me flip the scenario because I've actually been in this position myself.

You see, there are two men in my church who persistently wear hats during the service. One wears a knit cap and the other wears a newsboy-type cap. It is the most distracting thing in the world to me. I think, "According to scripture, they should not be doing that!" I find myself irritated throughout the service, grumbling against them in my heart: "Ugh! Look at those two! Don't they realize that they are disgracing their head? How on earth can anybody concentrate on the service when they are wearing that?! They are so distracting!"

Now I am confident that according to 1 Corinthians 11, I am right, and they are wrong. But I ask you, who do you think God is more displeased with? These two men who are wearing headgear when they shouldn't be (and most likely oblivious to what they are doing), or this woman who's got a prideful, holier-than-thou attitude about being right?

I think whatever someone is doing or not doing is trumped by our attitudes toward those people. If a man covers and I'm distracted by it, what are my choices? My first option is to approach the man, tell him he's bothering me (as if I am a poor innocent bystander who has suffered a deliberate assault on my ability to concentrate) and ask him to remove his hat. Funny, I never take that option. Maybe it's because deep down, I know that if I am irritated over something that is really none of my business, it is my sin and I have a responsibility to deal with it.

We love to point the finger at others and say, "Oh, Lord, what about this person? This person is distracting me!" but honestly, if I was truly focused on the service I wouldn't be concerned over who is covering or not covering:
Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (John 21:21-22)
When I find myself annoyed with a man who chooses to wear a hat, I am only left with the second option: I can choose to ask myself, "So what?" I imagine the Lord would ask me something similar: "So what, Jennifer? So if he covered his whole face, what is that to you? You follow Me!"

5 comments:

LisaM at ThoseHeadcoverings said...

Oh, I really really like this response. Yes, I know what you mean about how the attitude may be interpreted, but I really agree with you, and I like the way you worded it. I'm so glad you shared about men who cover, because I think it really puts the attitude into perspective. Be a blessing!

Trinka said...

I've been covering my head for almost 20 years now. I do choose hats rather than mantillas, in an attempt to be less distracting, but on the whole, obeying God has to be the first priority.

But I appreciate your comments re: our attitudes towards others. Unity in the church is WAY more of an emphasis in Scripture than what's sitting on our heads!

Arthur Sido said...

I kind of like it that it distracts people that my wife covers, it hopefully shakes them up a little. We do way too many traditional things for no Scriptural reasons, and not enough Scriptural commands because it is not traditional.

Chris said...

"But I ask you, who do you think God is more displeased with? These two men who are wearing headgear when they shouldn't be (and most likely oblivious to what they are doing), or this woman who's got a prideful, holier-than-thou attitude about being right?"

I love your humility!

Honestly, it may be true that you distract some people. It may be true that you're trying to show attention to yourself. Or it may not be. If you're seeking to obey God and you have in your mind the principles behind the head covering, and are seeking to slay the lust of pride, let people be distracted. I suggest such people meditate upon Romans 14. I also suggest you have the principles of 1 Corinthians 14 in your head (you most likely do).

"Let not the one who [wears a hat/covering] despise the one who [does not], and let not the one who [does not wear a hat/covering] pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his [or her] own master that he [or she] stands or falls. And he [or she] will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him [or her] stand." (Romans 14:3-4 ESV)

Good stuff, keep it coming, keep obeying the Scriptures even if it's culturally unacceptable! The culture always drifts from God's Word, so it is the culture who must be judged, not the other way around.

Geraldine said...

"Good stuff, keep it coming, keep obeying the Scriptures even if it's culturally unacceptable!"

Amen! I echo Chris. Thank you for your openess Jen. I'm glad you shared this and i hope you will continue to share your experiences on headcovering as you share from the heart and with a willing and right attitude.