Monday, March 21, 2016

Christian Head Covering Issue: Achilles' heel of our Complementarianism

Parenthetically, why do our Southern Baptists friends–and other evangelicals who agree with them–not equally insist on the enforcement of the veil (1 Corinthians 11:3—6) along with the enforcement of "silence" for women? Why this selectivity in the text? By their own hermeneutic, wouldn’t this failure to enforce the veil amount to a capitulation to "liberal culture" and "tinkering with the words of God"?

-George O. Wood, a general superintendent for The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri; quotes from Exploring Why We Think The Way We Do AboutWomen In Ministry

While I was investigating the history of female ordination in various denominations, I encountered the above criticism from the non-complementarian side.

A Christian feminist Rachel Held Evans has found the same point;

Anyone who says that Paul’s instructions regarding the women at Ephesus are universally binding because he appeals to the creation narrative to make his point can be consistent in that position only if they also require women in their church to cover their heads, as Paul uses a very similar line of argumentation to advocate that. (See 1 Corinthians 11.)

Well, I must admit that their criticism is both correct and logical. Without literal recovery of the headcovering practice in the church, our complementarianism--which is a lifeline of the biblical evangelicalism--cannot testify its truthfulness and validity to the feminist-driven world to the full content. Yes, complementarianism without headcovering practice is simply inconsistent and defective.

 Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Quote Image

Brother Jeremy Gardiner, a founder of the headcovering movement, mentioned that some complementarian friends have begun to question whether appeals to creation are a strong argument for male eldership in light of the head covering issue. Here is a honest confession of one brother;

 I have grown to see that my own treatment of, say, I Timothy 2:9-15 has not always reflected a sensitivity to the points made in an egalitarian exegesis of this passage. For example, I used to think that Paul’s mandate here is obviously trans-cultural because it is rooted in his doctrine of creation. Then I realized that Paul’s instruction about head coverings in I Corinthians 11 (which I have always accepted is culturally conditioned) is also rooted in creation. There is no reason in principle why exhortation grounded in the doctrine of creation must necessarily be trans-cultural.

And this is the very point that we are concerned. Like this brother, we're concerned that more and more will see this obvious inconsistency and start to get lost in the midst. Here is what brother Jeremy says;

I’m concerned many more will also see this inconsistency and instead of embracing head covering, will leave behind complementarianism. It’s not too late to make a change. If we restore the practice of head covering, I believe complementarianism will be embraced by more and will increase its longevity throughout future church history.

 ,,So to my complementarian brothers and sisters, will you devote some time to thinking through this issue? Will you with an open mind, listen to the best case for the timelessness of head covering and consider thoughtful responses to common objections? My hope is that you will, because more than a symbol is at stake.

How Gay Rights Advocate use Head Covering to Support their Position (VTR)
*The head covering passage (1 Corinthians 11:2-16) is a battleground for one of the most important issues of our day. Those who advocate for the normality of same-sex relationships by appealing to the Bible, use this passage to garner support for their position. As Christians we must understand their argument and get consistent in our theology if we are going to faithfully defend biblical sexuality.

Yes, more than a symbol is at stake indeed.

O Lord, help and bless all of our dear friends who are serving the Lord in various parts of the world. Help us to live up to Your word and be faithful to You until the end. In Jesus' name. Amen.