The Covering

Only In The Assembly???

By Patrick T. Donahue

 I Corinthians 11:2-16 teaches that a woman should cover her head when she "prayeth or prophesieth." However, most women who wear the covering only wear it in the public assemblies. Where is the scripture for that? My Bible says she is to wear it whenever she prays or prophesies.

Some reason that the phrase, "prayeth or prophesieth," stands for all the activities of public worship. If that is so, how would we know that is so? What verse proves it? A woman would certainly want to know this for sure if she were going to pray uncovered at home.

The fact that women were to be covered when they "prophesied" should tell us that the requirement is not limited to the assemblies. Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9). Did these daughters prohesy only in the assembly, when the whole church be come together into one place (I Corinthians 14:23)? Of course not; women are forbidden to speak in the church (I Corinthians 14:34-35). The conclusion is that "prayeth or prophesieth" could not be talking about "just the assembly" because women were not to prophesy in the assembly.

Some argue though that a woman prophesies in the church when she teaches in song (Colossians 3:16). If that were so, all that would argue for is that a woman should also cover her head when she sings. For someone to limit the wearing of the covering to the assembly, they would have to limit the prophesying of I Corinthians 11:5 to mean just singing. No one ever read that in the Bible. If that is so, why didn't God just say so; why didn't He just say "praying or singing?" Or better yet, if women are to be covered only in the church, why doesn't I Corinthians 11:5 read, "But every woman with her head uncovered 'in the church' dishonoureth her head?"

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Let's go by, and let's only go by what we can hear from the word of God. Therefore, let the men be uncovered and let the women be covered whenever they pray or prophesy (I Corinthians 11:4-5).

[Pat Donahue can be reached at, Pat.Donahue@MSFC.NASA.GOV (email), 4607 Old Railroad Bed Road, Harvest, Alabama 35749, (205) 721-0726 home, (205) 461-4303 office]

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you DISAGREE with what Pat Donahue taught in his article, please write him, or me, and we will be happy to consider publishing a "differing view" (and review), or arrange for a public discussion (written or oral) on this vital Bible subject. I can be reached at 

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