Hats and Head Coverings

The official policy of Candlelight Christian Fellowship is that a man attending the services at Candlelight should remove their hat as a matter of respect. This decision is based upon, 1) Biblical tradition identified by Paul, 2) Nature – as Paul illustrates, and 3) Western tradition found in modern American culture.) However, we will not in any case ask a man attending the services to remove his hat. We believe it is our responsibility to exercise grace and trust the Lord to work in the life of those persons attending.

Additionally, based upon consistency of interpretation, we ask any and all women who are members of Candlelight, and who lead other women, children, or are involved on the platform, to maintain a head covering. This head covering may be either hair or removable item if needed. This we request as a matter of love for those who otherwise may be either offended or stumbled. This decision is based upon Biblical tradition identified in, 1) Nature – as Paul illustrates, and, 2) Western tradition found in modern American culture.) However, we will not in any case ask a woman attending the services to cover her head if she is either sheared or shaven. We believe it is our responsibility to exercise grace and trust the Lord to work in the life of those persons attending.

We do ask any and all men who are members of Candlelight, and are in a leadership role, or who fill an official position on the platform, to remove their head covering while in the gatherings. This we request as a matter of love for those who otherwise may be either offended or stumbled. We will not ask this of non-members or visiting ministers.

Additionally, based upon consistency of interpretation, we ask any and all women who are members of Candlelight, and who lead other women, children, or are involved on the platform, to maintain a head covering. This head covering may be either her hair or a removable item if needed. This we request as a matter of love for those who otherwise may be either offended or stumbled.

Our motivation is love for the Lord, love for the body of Christ, and love for those who are unlearned or unwise and who may be visiting our services. This is not matter of holiness or legalism. The Scriptures clearly indicate that “if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:16)

Detailed Study

Over the years there have been a number of opinions on whether or not a man (or woman) should wear a hat in church. Traditions abound and differing opinions have caused no small dissension.

To add to the controversy, there are differing translations on the topic from varying translations of the Bible. The King James (KJV) and New King James Versions (NKJV) are taken from what is referred to as the Textus Receptus (Received Text) and the New International (NIV) and New American Standard Versions (NASV) use the Textus Receptus for reference but rest heavier on the Majority, Alexandrian and Critical Texts. The variety of translations differ on the subject.

Here is the only New Testament passage that deals with the subject.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (NKJV):

2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.
5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.
8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man.
9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.
10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.
12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.
13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?
15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.
16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

Greek Renderings

The primary translational difference found in the varying versions of Scripture is seen in vs. 16

In the (NASV) it reads, “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice , nor have the churches of God.”

In the (NIV) it reads, “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice – nor do the churches of God.”

As noted above the (KJV) and (NKJV) read “we have no such custom .”

The difference is obvious: “no such custom” or “no other custom.”

The Greek words translated “ no such ” is ou toioutos . In the Greek manuscripts there are no variations from the Textus Receptus, Majority, Alexandrian or Critical Texts, so the issue is not one of manuscript difference, but is simply of translation.

ou in Greek is: No No! It is a double negative. The varying translations show no differentiation here.

toioutos is a combination of toi (real, true or in sooth,) and houtos (this, these, they, such or like.) The controversy rests in this word. As stated above the (KJV) and (NKJV) translate houtos as “ such ” and the (NIV) and (NASV) translate it “ other .” The translation for “custom” shows no differentiation.

It would seem the Greek rendering of a correct literal translation should be “ no real or true-like custom .” The Kenneth Weust translation from the literal Greek reads, “ we do not have such a custom .”

Context

Interesting to this discussion is the context of the passage. Paul does indicate that a woman was given her hair for a covering and that it is suggested that to shear (to cut) or shave (razor) a woman’s hair is against nature and demonstrates dishonor. (As is the case in cultures that shave the head to defame or humiliate.) (Britney Spears recently did this to herself while in a time of crisis. In her case it seemed to be a cry for help.) In ancient customs a prostitute or woman caught in adultery would have her head shaved as a disciplinary act intending to dishonor and humiliate her.

It seems that Paul ends the address with a weighty injunction that a man should not pray or prophesy with his head covered, and a woman should not pray or prophesy without her head covered. According to Paul, the woman’s covering may be her hair. (Assuming she has hair and assuming it is unsheared and/or unshaven.) Then Paul adds as his concluding remarks, “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom , nor do the churches of God.”

The Onus

As the translations of verse 16 appear in conflict, we conclude that Paul is suggesting one of two options. 1) There is no custom or, 2) There is no other custom . The onus is on us to make a decision. Therefore we have made an official statement above…