I did have a pressing concern, and I’m sorry if you’ve repeated yourself on this topic but it’s about head coverings. I’ve read multiple answers of yours to questions about this and I’ve looked at countless other resources as well and no matter what, I can’t seem to decide which is right. One way will make sense to me one day, and then the next I’ll feel differently. It’s to the point where I’ve stopped praying because I’m afraid I might be sinning when I pray if I’m not doing it correctly. I can’t remember where exactly but I’ve even read where having the head covered meant to wear your hair up on top of your head, and it’s considered uncovered when your hair is down. There seem to be so many different interpretations of I Corinthians 11 out there and it’s all making my head spin, I want to be able to pray and know that it’s acceptable and being heard by God, but I feel as though I can’t when I’m so confused.
"The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:22-23).
I know of nothing in I Corinthians that says a certain hairstyle counts as a head covering.
When you are uncertain about something, the general rule is to select the "safer" option. In this case, if you think that a head covering may not matter when praying, then praying with a head covering won't make a difference to you. If you think a head covering is required, then you would need to wear one. Thus, the "safer" option is to wear one.
The reason I give the arguments and verses is so that people can read through the passages for themselves and make up their own minds about what God requires. You can always find contradictory claims. You can't be a Christian based on what everyone agrees with. It has to be based on your own convictions regarding what the Bible says. As you grow and mature in Christ, you'll change your views on this at times and that is fine.
But the idea that you have to do everything absolutely perfectly to be pleasing to God is something contrary to what the Bible teaches. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has been described as a doubter's disorder. The person suffering from it is always unsure. But it can also be viewed as having an intolerance of risk [Fletcher Wortmann, "The Danger of Doubt: The Ruthless and Frequently Misunderstood Logic of OCD"]. The sufferer is striving for greater perfection in his life than God expects. He adds rules and requirements more stringent than God has ever made because they might make him more acceptable to God. I believe this problem is what Solomon warned against. "Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?" (Ecclesiastes 7:16). Since no one can exceed God's righteousness and we all come short of living without sin, the OCD sufferer has set himself up for failure.
I think it came from Numbers 5:18 where it talks about the priest letting the woman’s hair loose and the word that was used there meant “to uncover”. It makes it sound like wearing the hair up is covering your head and letting it down is uncovering it. Please correct me if I’m wrong though.
I’ve even heard an interpretation that the praying that is being talked about in I Corinthians 11 is “inspired prayer”? As in something that can’t even be done today, like prophesying. Which would mean those verses couldn’t apply to us today. Or the opposite approach, which teaches that “prophesying” includes all teaching, inspired or not, and so it would apply, say, even to a woman teaching a Bible class to children.
And then there’s the view that it’s not only talking about the worship service but at any time you pray or talk to somebody about the Bible. And if the covering is an actual physical covering is it a little doily enough to actually cover you or should it be something more like what they used to wear?
I know that God is not the author of confusion so I don’t understand why I’m having such a hard time with this. And you’re not supposed to have to turn to other books or commentaries because the Bible is supposed to have everything you need in it. If wearing the head covering is a matter of going to heaven or hell I don’t see how it could be OK to change my views every so often on it, shouldn’t it be set in stone, whether I see it that way or not? I know I can’t be perfect but some things have to be done in certain ways don’t they?
There is only one correct answer since there are not multiple truths. However, people do have to grow. "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (I Peter 2:1-3). Growth implies that you are going to learn things you didn't realize before and it is expected that some of the things you learn will require you to make changes in your life.
I'm sure you've guessed from what is on this web site that I believe the head covering is required. I didn't always hold that view but the more I studied it over the years, the more convinced I became that there is no other conclusion. But I remember why I had thought it wasn't a requirement in the past, so I understand why some came to their conclusion not to wear a covering. A woman's decision not to wear a head covering doesn't affect me or my wife in our worship.
Therefore, I urge people to make up their own minds about the covering. I'll happily present you with what I've learned, but the decision is yours to make, not mine.
In regards to Numbers 5:18, you need to remember that the Old Testament is written in Hebrew and the New Testament is written in Greek. Comparing two words in different languages to argue meaning doesn't make sense. The Hebrew word para means to loosen or release. Thus, when used with hair that is tied up, it means to let the hair down. When used with behavior, it means to act wildly (Exodus 32:25). In regards to instruction or guidance, para means to reject the restrictions on behavior (Proverbs 15:32). If something is on a person's head, para is used to say that the head has been released (or uncovered) (Leviticus 21:10). In this latter verse, it is not talking about releasing bound-up hair but removing something from the head.
Greek is a different language. The word being used in I Corinthians 11 means "cover." But take a look at Is the covering in I Corinthians 11 an article of clothing? All the verses where the word is used are marked. Try replacing every instance with "bind hair" (or "unbind hair" for the negative) and you'll run into problems. For instance, how can men unbind their hair when they are supposed to have short hair anyway?
The argument about the head covering only applying to the age of miraculous gifts is covered in Is the veil only for married women? Since prayer is for people to communicate to God, there is no such thing as "inspired prayer." Why would God give a person words to talk to Himself? You would need to find a passage that shows prophecy meaning uninspired teaching. I don't know of one.
The question about limiting the head covering to only worship is covered in Is a head covering needed for all prayers or only during worship?
Where can I find a head covering? touches on the fact that it is the head that is being covered and not all the hair.