Question: When only women are gathered for the purpose of ministering the Word among themselves, should they wear a headcovering? What about a home Bible study where women do or do not take part in the discussion, or a mid-week Bible study of a local church, when the gathering divides into two groups — male and female — and each has a separate Bible study?
(Editor’s note: To some extent this manifold question overlaps with a previous question which was answered by the associate editor prior to this issue of Focus. There is, however, sufficient additional material on this subject in the answer which follows to warrant its present inclusion).
Answer: We would find certain matters much easier if, in the Holy Scriptures, we discovered clear-cut statements in regard to them. Personally, it appears to me that the Lord has left us without explicit instructions covering different practices in order that we may commit ourselves the more to Him and thus to rely upon divine wisdom rather than upon human arrangements.
May the Lord Himself guide us.
In connection with the subject of the headcovering in 1 Corinthians11:2-16, I would ask that you notice that chapter 11 begins the section of the epistle that deals with collective or congregational matters. In the previous chapter, Paul treats of the individual Christian in his social life in the world, but at the beginning of chapter 11 he examines affairs in gatherings of the church at Corinth. This section of the epistle is characterized by the clause, “When ye be come together.” This clause obviously refers to at least a representative gathering of the entire local church. It is there that all the sisters should wear a headcovering; man under those circumstances represents the Lord.
The sisters’ meeting, where women minister the Word among themselves, is not actually a church gathering, although it may be sponsored by the local church. The whole church is not represented; men are not present. The head-covering may, therefore, not be necessary.
Another similar example is the Sunday school. Strictly speaking, it is sponsored by the church. How we thank God for the Sunday school! In relation to some of us, we owe our conversion to this important effort.
I feel that the home Bible study may be considered in the same light.
While I call attention to these unusual gatherings where a head-covering for our sisters may not be required, one is always gratified to see, even in such meetings, a sister who may go beyond what is asked and wear a hat or mantilla.
(Please send all questions to Dr. James T. Naismith, 1121 Hilltop St., Peterborough, Ont., K9J 5S6.).