History of Head Covering for JW Women

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    UnDisfellowshipped

    THE HISTORY OF WOMEN HAVING TO WEAR HEAD-COVERINGS INSIDE THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY:

    Basic Message from Watchtower to JW Women: SUBMIT TO THE SUPERIOR MALES!

    The Watchtower, September 1st 1950 Issue, Page 303:

    Questions from Readers

    • Must consecrated women who participate in congregational meetings have their heads covered?—Reader in California.

    After stating that the head of the woman is man, the head of man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God, Paul writes: “Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head unveiled shames the one who is her head.” (1 Cor. 11:3-10, NW) Commenting on this, the book “This Means Everlasting Life” states: “In the apostle’s day, and especially there in the scandalously immoral city of ancient Corinth, it was the custom for respectable women to go veiled in public. For a woman to go otherwise to public assemblies was to brand her a woman of low moral standards and easy virtue. . . . In these modern times or in lands where custom does not require women of the community to go veiled as a sign of respectability, Christian decency does not require the woman to comply with that ancient custom for the sake of the faith and organization. . . . But regardless of popular custom, if a woman today should rise in a congregation and pray or prophesy to the believing men and women present, she should veil her head or have a ‘sign of authority upon her head because of the angels’.” (Pages 161, 162) Hence if a Theocratic assignment requires a woman to pray at or to conduct a Bible study meeting she should wear a sign of authority while so performing, to show recognition of the Theocratic headship of the man and “because of the angels”. However, no head covering is necessary when she participates by merely answering questions put to the audience or relating experiences or serving in demonstrations.
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    The Watchtower, September 1st 1951 Issue, Pages 543-544:

    Questions from Readers

    • Is it necessary for a woman to cover her head when conducting a home Bible study? When such a covering is or is not required is causing much discussion in our company.—P. W., Ohio.

    She would not need her head covered for the conducting of a home Bible study, as it is not a congregational meeting, but one that she has arranged herself. It is not a case of her being appointed to conduct a congregational meeting. However, if her husband were to attend this home meeting, she would cover her head if she prayed at the opening or close of the study. This would harmonize with the instruction: “Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head unveiled shames the one who is her head.”—1 Cor. 11:3-16, NW.

    We view a head-covering necessary under two conditions: (1) when a sister receives an appointment through the congregation or theocratic organization to keep order and conduct congregational meetings, and (2) when she is married and must show submission to the one God has made head of the family, the husband. These two principles enable one to decide for herself the requirement of varying situations.

    A few examples may aid in grasping these principles. In a company composed entirely of sisters, the Society appoints sisters to positions ordinarily held by brothers. When such sisters serve from the platform at congregational meetings, they will show recognition of the theocratic headship of the man and that they are serving in the man’s place only because circumstances require it. This recognition they show by wearing a head-covering, such as a hat or scarf or other suitable covering. Any sister conducting or presiding over a part of a congregational meeting should do likewise, whether she is a servant in the company or not.

    While sisters presiding at the service meeting or Watchtower study or company book study wear head-coverings, other sisters who merely read the paragraphs in sum-up at such meetings, or who participate in demonstrations, or relate experiences, or answer questions from the audience, do not need to wear such a covering.

    Sisters leading in prayer at congregational meetings should have their head covered. The woman’s hair is not sufficient as a covering. If it were, the question would never have been raised.

    But when a sister finds interest in the field, follows it up and establishes a home Bible study of her own, she does not thereby become a conductor of a congregational meeting. Only if her husband is present must she wear a covering when she prays, for his presence brings into the matter the second principle, that of showing subjection to her family head. Of course, if the husband is in the truth he should do the praying, and if this is done then the sister, his wife, may conduct the meeting without head-covering.

    In the case of prayer at mealtime, the man of the house should do the praying. If he will not do this for one reason or another, and calls on his wife, her head should be covered to show recognition of the theocratic principle of man’s headship in the family relationship. If her husband is not present, she may pray with uncovered head, just as she does in her individual prayers privately uttered. If the sister praying at mealtime is unmarried, having no husband as her head, she need wear no head-covering, whether she is in her own home or a friend’s home or a missionary home. Of course, in all instances if a brother is present he should pray.

    So the matter resolves itself to this: Is it a congregational meeting where the sister is presiding or praying? If so she should have her head covered. If not a congregational meeting, does a husband-and-wife relationship exist for her to show recognition to his headship, if he is present? If yes, then she should have her head covered. She would not show this sign of subjection to another woman’s husband. Nor would a single sister or widow show this sign of subjection to another woman’s husband. Such unmarried sisters have no male head as does a married woman. The only time the single sister would concern herself about a head-covering is when she comes under congregational conditions calling for it.

    This has been answered at some length, since it comes up often in the United States. It is no question in many lands, where women customarily go with heads covered or with veils. In view of all that has been said on this subject, we suggest that each sister henceforth decide for herself when the covering is required, doing what she conscientiously believes right in situations not specifically covered herein, but which can be determined on the basis of the principles herein set forth. If she is in doubt and unsettled in conscience over a particular situation, she should wear the covering to be safe and at ease in mind and in conscience.

    Knowing now the principles involved, let us show Christian maturity and apply these for ourselves, conscientiously, and not have to ask others on every imaginable situation. The Society would soon be compiling a set of regulations as voluminous as the Talmud if it endeavored to prescribe specific rules for all the varying cases. In fallen man under Satan’s influence there is always the tendency to substitute rules for principles. It is so much easier to conform the conduct to a rule than to make a principle inform the whole life. Moses prescribed rules; Christ inculcated principles. Rules are for children; principles for men and women mature in Christian growth. So now show maturity in applying the principles herein given regarding head-covering, making your decisions conscientiously, and you will not properly be criticized by others.
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    The Watchtower, February 15th 1957 Issue, Page 123:

    6. But what if there are not sufficient dedicated men in a congregation? Can women be appointed to services? Yes, qualified sisters are appointed in such cases and care for the duties outlined. If there are no male appointed overseers, sisters have the responsibility to preside over meetings. In recognition of the theocratic headship of man and realizing that she is temporarily or circumstantially serving in the congregation in place of a man who should fill that position, it is proper for the sister while so serving to wear a head covering. When a brother moves into the area or local men learn the truth, qualify and are appointed overseers, it is a time of happiness for such sisters. Gladly they give way to the brother in recognition of Jehovah’s theocratic arrangement.—Eph. 5:24-32, NW. (See “This Means Everlasting Life”, pages 154-163, for additional information on “Woman’s Privileges in the Congregation.”)
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    The Watchtower, January 15th 1958 Issue, Page 56:

    21. Therefore let women see their proper position in the congregation. On proper occasions let them wear a head covering as a sign of submission, as a sign of not trying to usurp the position of the man, whether as a “star” overseer or as a ministerial servant. Let them not induce any brother to fornication spiritually or bodily. Let all the congregation jealously guard what it has, the Christian purity of doctrine and of conduct and the treasure of Kingdom witnessing. Then Christ’s coming as Executioner of judgment will be, not with mortal punishment, but with New World rewards.
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    The Watchtower, March 15th 1960 Issue, Pages 191-192:

    Questions from Readers

    • Is it necessary for a sister to cover her head when praying in the presence of a dedicated brother not her husband? Is it necessary for her to do so when conducting a Bible study under such a circumstance, as in the presence of a servant of the congregation who is training her or when the circuit servant accompanies her?—M. S., U.S.A.

    There appears to be no reason why a dedicated woman should ever lead in prayer in the presence of adult dedicated males. (1 Cor. 11:3) At the Brooklyn Bethel home no sisters are ever called on to lead the family in prayer. So long as an adult dedicated male is present, in the congregation or in the home, he should represent the rest in petition to Jehovah God. If an undedicated husband wishes his wife to lead in audible prayer, she may do so, but then out of respect for his headship she should have her head covered. (1 Cor. 11:5, 10) When the husband is absent but dedicated male minors, sons, are present, the mother should also have her head covered if she prays. At such times it would be at her discretion either to offer the prayer herself or ask one of her dedicated sons to offer it. But never should an unbaptized son represent dedicated members of the family in prayer. When only dedicated mother and dedicated daughters are present in the home, the mother may call on one of her dedicated daughters to pray if she so desires. In such cases none need cover her head.

    There may be instances, however, when it is advisable for a sister to conduct a home Bible study in the presence of a dedicated brother, such as those mentioned in the question; or she may be conducting a home Bible study with a brother newly baptized and who still needs help. What then? In such cases the dedicated brother should offer the prayer, and the sister may conduct the study with her head covered. This she does out of respect for theocratic order because he, as well as she, is a member of the congregation of God, and in the congregation the man should do the teaching. (1 Tim. 2:11, 12) If a dedicated sister is conducting a study with her undedicated husband or with another person but in the presence of her undedicated husband, she should also have her head covered. This would be in recognition of the fact that the husband ought to be the one giving Bible education in the presence of his family as represented by his wife.

    The Law of Moses in various ways reminded Israelite women of the preferred position that men occupied before Jehovah so that they would not lose sight of man’s headship and fall into the error made by Eve. Thus the identifying physical mark that distinguished Jehovah’s covenant people was one that applied only to the male, namely, circumcision. Then again, the period of a mother’s uncleanness for giving birth to a baby girl was twice as long as for a baby boy. When Jesus miraculously fed the multitudes his apostles counted only the men present: “Those eating comprised about five thousand men, besides women and young children.” “Those eating comprised four thousand men, besides women and young children.”—Ex. 12:48; Lev. 12:2, 5; Matt. 14:21; 15:38.

    Likewise in the Christian congregation, by means of the head-covering provision the theocratic position of the woman in relation to the man is stressed. In addition to its rich symbolic significance, it works in the interest of harmony and peace. It also serves to caution Christian women against exerting undue female influence and alerts Christian men against succumbing to it as did Adam, Samson, King Solomon and those in the congregation of Thyatira.—Rev. 2:20-23.
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    The Watchtower, December 1st 1960 Issue, Pages 717-718:

    19. By marriage one undertakes serious limitations and obligations. These responsibilities must be treated with dignity. When a woman marries, she marries into a state of independence of her parents but also marries into a state of subordination, this to her husband. She comes under a headship, that of her husband.

    20. This is something she should consider before marrying, rather than rebel against it after she is married. She should not try to ignore or be indifferent to headship. “I want you to know,” says the apostle Paul, “that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn, the head of a woman is the man; in turn, the head of the Christ is God.” And God has no head over him. This is why, on certain occasions, under certain situations, and when performing certain functions, a woman should have upon her head some sort of covering as a sign of being under authority by man. “For a man ought not to have his head veiled, as he is God’s image and glory; but the woman is man’s glory. For man is not out of woman [man being created first], but woman out of man; and, what is more, man was not created for the sake of the woman, but woman for the sake of the man. That is why the woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels. . . . the woman is out of the man.” (1 Cor. 11:3, 7-12) So, if a girl does not want the headship of a man other than her father, she should not get married. To be a Christian wife, she has to recognize husbandly headship.

    21. According to the Bible, a wife is her husband’s property, particularly in the case where a bride price is paid for her. That is why a married woman is Scripturally called “beulah,” this word really meaning “owned” as a wife. The masculine form of this word is “baal,” which even today in modern Israel is the Hebrew word for “husband.” The title really means “owner, master, lord.”

    22. Thus Deuteronomy 22:22 speaks of a “woman owned [beulah] by an owner [baal].” Proverbs 30:23 speaks of a “woman when she is taken possession of as a wife.” Exodus 21:3 speaks of the “owner [baal] of a wife.” To the ancient nation of Israel Jehovah said: “I myself have become the husbandly owner [baal] of you people.” (Jer. 3:14) To his symbolic “woman,” the mother of the promised Messianic Seed, Jehovah says: “You yourself will be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Owned as a Wife [Beulah]. For Jehovah will have taken delight in you, and your own land will be owned as a wife. For just as a; young man takes ownership [baal] of a virgin as his wife, your sons will take ownership [baal] of you as a wife.” (Isa. 62:4, 5) For this reason Boaz, David’s great-grandfather, said before witnesses in Bethlehem: “Ruth . . . I do buy for myself as a wife.”—Ruth 4:10; see also Exodus 20:17

    23. A woman marrying comes under a new law. What law, or whose law? The apostolic answer is this: “A married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is alive; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law of her husband. . . . But if her husband dies, she is free from his law.” (Rom. 7:2, 3) In harmony with this arrangement the same apostolic authority commands: “Be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ. Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation, he being a savior of this body. In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything. . . . the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”—Eph. 5:21-24, 33.

    24. Wives should do this in fear of Christ. That theocratic rule applies alongside this marvelous truth: “All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.” (Gal. 3:26-29) Their all being alike is with regard to the new developed personality: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality . . . where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all things and in all.” Because this does not wipe out the marriage relationship and the correct adjustment of the wife to the husband, Paul later adds: “You wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as it is becoming in the Lord.”—Col. 3:10, 11, 18.
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    The Watchtower, June 1st 1961 Issue, Page 352:

    Questions from Readers

    • Are sisters required to wear a head covering when giving the third and fourth student talks in the theocratic ministry school?—D. H., United States.

    No, it is not necessary for sisters to wear a head covering when giving these talks. They are not teaching dedicated males but only giving demonstrations of their own teaching ability for the purpose of being counseled. Since this is the purpose of their giving these talks and since the school is under male supervision, sisters are not required to wear a head covering. For similar reasons they would not be required to wear a head covering when taking part in service meeting demonstrations.
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    The Watchtower, March 15th 1964 Issue, Pages 181-183:

    13. It is the desire of all faithful women ministers in the New World society to conduct themselves in harmony with Jehovah’s principle of theocratic headship. Indeed, their loyal support in this matter, so opposite to the way of many women in the world, is a blessing to the New World society and contributes greatly to the wonderful unity and harmony within it. But, from time to time, questions arise on this matter of headship, such as: Just when is a head covering required by a sister? When may a woman offer prayer when others are present, and, if she does, would she always require a head covering?

    BIBLE PRINCIPLES ON HEAD COVERING

    14. That a head covering as a sign of subjection is required for a woman on certain occasions is clearly shown in the Scriptures. After stating the principle of headship at 1 Corinthians 11:3, the apostle goes on to apply the principle to the conduct of matters in the congregation. Bear in mind that at the time this counsel was given the regulating of the miraculous gifts of the spirit was also under consideration. However, basically what is said about head covering continues to apply to the congregation today. Note, then, what follows at 1 Corinthians 11:4-7: “Every man that prays or prophesies having something on his head shames the one who is his head; but every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames the one who is her head, for it is one and the same as if she were a woman with a shaved head. For if a woman does not cover herself, let her also be shorn; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man ought not to have his head covered, as he is God’s image and glory; but the woman is man’s glory.”

    15. As God’s image and glory, man was created to act as God’s representative toward his wife and family and he was to accept the responsibility of headship that this arrangement brought to him. Moreover, in the congregation he also acted as a representative of Christ, the head of the congregation. Thus, when he prayed or presided at a meeting of the congregation, it would not be proper for him to wear a sign of subjection on his head as though out of respect for others visibly present. To do so would, as it were, be covering over his headship, and acting as though this was not the normal assignment for him. In this he would fail to act as a proper representative of Christ to the congregation, and so would dishonor his head, Christ. The woman, on the other hand, was to have her head covered when praying or prophesying in the congregation out of respect for the theocratic principle that this was normally the function of the man, so as not to appear as though she were trying to act the man, to usurp the man’s position. This would be dishonoring, not only to the male members of the congregation, but also to her head, her husband, as though she felt no need to be in subjection to him either. So, Paul argues, if a woman were to act that way she might as well go the whole way and have her hair cut short just like a man’s or like a slave girl’s. But this would be disgraceful, would it not? It certainly was in Paul’s day, for the shaving of a woman’s head, or cutting the hair short, was customarily a sign of her being a slave, or worse, of being a woman caught in immorality or adultery and shorn as a sign of public reproach.

    16. It was a custom for women in the days of the early Christians to wear a head covering whenever going out in public; for a woman without a head covering in public was looked on as a woman of free and easy morals, as a woman recognizing no headship of either father or husband. However, this was not the basic point at issue. It was a matter of recognizing the divine principle of headship, and Paul argues in verses 13 to 15 how nature itself indicates this: “Judge for your own selves: Is it fitting for a woman to pray uncovered to God? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him; but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? Because her hair is given her instead of a headdress.” Not that her long hair was a sufficient head covering when she prayed or prophesied in the congregation; otherwise, verse six would not make good sense. Rather, her long hair would be a reminder to her on such occasions of the need for a head covering as a sign of subjection.

    17. Certainly a woman with a shaved head would not be very attractive, would she? Likewise, if a woman showed no respect for theocratic order, such as prophesying without a head covering in the early congregation, she would be most unattractive to Jehovah and to the other members of the congregation, because of her lack of humility. A faithful woman recognizes her assignment in Jehovah’s arrangement. As Paul writes in verses 8 to 10: “For man is not out of woman, but woman out of man; and, what is more, man was not created for the sake of the woman, but woman for the sake of the man. That is why the woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels.”

    18. Why “because of the angels”? This could not be in order to show subjection to them. At 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul makes no mention of the angels as having headship over women on earth. Angels have not been assigned to take the leadership in the Christian congregation or to preach the good news of the Kingdom. So there is no question of the woman’s having to wear a head covering out of respect for some angel for whom she might be substituting. But both dedicated men and women are “a theatrical spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” (1 Cor. 4:9) For example, a faithful woman can set an excellent example for the angels. In her loyally conforming to Jehovah’s theocratic pattern of subjection to her husbandly head and also in her showing respect for the male members of the congregation, she sets a right example for the angels in heaven in their continued faithful subjection to Jehovah and his reigning King, Jesus Christ.

    19. However, lest man get the wrong impression from what he wrote, as though the man was the all-important creature and the woman of no account, Paul goes on to say in verses 11 and 12 of 1 Corinthians chapter 11: “Besides, in connection with the Lord neither is woman without man nor man without woman. For just as the woman is out of the man, so also the man is through the woman; but all things are out of God.” Yes, this is the thing to keep in mind—that the arrangement of things as to headship, as to the relationship of man and woman, as to conduct and order in the congregation, is from God and not from man. Having this point of view keeps us balanced, humble and appreciative of Jehovah’s blessings, whether we be man or woman.

    20. Apparently there was some dispute on this question of the woman’s place in the congregation at Corinth, and so the apostle Paul took the time to set forth the principles for all to understand, and then concluded: “However, if any man seems to dispute for some other custom, we have no other, neither do the congregations of God.” (1 Cor. 11:16) While this may not be a matter for dispute among Jehovah’s witnesses in these days, yet it seems good at this time to consider the subject in some detail as to its practical application for the Christian congregation today. So, in the following issue of The Watchtower, we will consider some of the circumstances where the question of head covering might arise, so that faithful women ministers in the New World society will know how to act appropriately in harmony with the Scriptures and with a good Christian conscience.
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    The Watchtower, April 1st 1964 Issue, Pages 200-211:

    The Christian Woman’s Need for a Head Covering—When?

    “For a man ought not to have his head covered, as he is God’s image and glory; but the woman is man’s glory.”—1 Cor. 11:7.

    WHEN man and woman serve God in harmony with His principles of theocratic order they bring honor and praise to Him as their Creator. When a man faithfully fulfills his role as head of his family, not only in discharging his obligations as breadwinner and provider of material needs, but also in caring for the spiritual needs of his family with loving and patient concern, he truly is a glory to God, the One in whose image and likeness he was created. (Gen. 1:26) He is also a blessing to his family, and certainly makes it a delight for the woman to fulfill her role as his helpmate and wife. In turn, by the wife’s recognizing her relationship to her husband, that he is her head, and by her honoring her head by faithful and loyal support of him, she becomes a glory to him.—1 Cor. 11:7.

    2. The woman can only be “man’s glory” as she holds her God-arranged relationship to the man, never by usurping the man’s headship. It is for this reason that circumstances may at times require the woman to wear a head covering. As we have seen in the previous issue of The Watchtower, Paul’s argument at First Corinthians chapter 11 on the need for a head covering is based on the principle of theocratic headship, which he stated at verse three: “The head of every man is the Christ [Jesus, not the congregation]; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” So the head covering becomes necessary for a woman when she is performing some function or duty that normally should be performed by her husband or by a dedicated Christian man, and that she is performing in a temporary way or due to special circumstances. The important thing is not the head covering in itself, but the heart attitude and proper theocratic conscience of the woman wearing it. She appreciates that this is God’s arrangement, and wears the head covering primarily out of respect for Him and His theocratic arrangement of things as far as the sexes are concerned. A woman can have a good conscience in this matter only if, besides wearing the head covering at the appropriate time, she has a wholesome respect for the one whose headship is being honored thereby.

    3. Up until 1926 all the women in the congregation wore head coverings when attending meetings. (See The Golden Age as of September 8, 1926, pages 780-791; The New Creation (1904), pages 271, 272; Zion’s Watch Tower as of December 1, 1907, pages 360, 361.) It appears that there are basically three situations that would require a dedicated woman to wear a head covering. These may be stated as (1) where she has to pray or teach in the presence of her husband, (2) if she teaches a group including a dedicated brother, and (3) when, because of the absence of a qualified male, she has to pray or preside at a congregation meeting. In this and the succeeding article we will consider each of these situations in turn.

    HEAD COVERING AND WIFELY SUBJECTION

    4. The basic relationship of a woman to a man is in marriage, as a wife to a husband. The apostle Paul in his discussions on womanly subjection in the Christian congregation at 1 Timothy 2:11-13 and 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 refers to the creation of the first human pair to show their relationship to each other, the man being created first and being given the responsibility of headship. So certainly in the marriage relationship the Christian wife will want to show proper subjection, whether her husband is a fellow minister of the good news or not.

    5. When, then, in the marriage relationship might it become necessary for the woman to wear a head covering as a sign of subjection to her husbandly head? Perhaps asking another question will quickly help us to get the answer. If the whole family is together, the husband, the wife, and the children, and a family study is to be conducted, or prayer is to be offered, who would be the natural one to handle these matters? The husband, of course! As the head of the family, the father is the one who would normally be expected to lead in teaching his family and in bringing up the children in the “authoritative advice of Jehovah,” and in representing them in prayer to God. (Eph. 6:4) But if the husband is not a dedicated Christian, and yet he is agreeable to sit in on the study conducted by his dedicated wife and at which she offers prayer, then while performing these functions she would wear a head covering. She is performing duties that would normally be performed by her husband when present. Of course, if he is not present, then the wife need not wear a head covering, since teaching her children is also her privilege and responsibility and she is not thereby usurping the position of her head. But when the husband is present, then, if she conducts the study and offers prayer, she would do so with her head covered, since she is serving temporarily until such time as her husband accepts the truth and is able to care for these duties himself.

    6. Even outside the home the principle would apply. If the husband, because of being favorably inclined, accompanies his wife to another home where she holds a Bible study, she would wear a head covering while praying and while conducting the study. Though there may be another man present, such as the head of the house where the study is being held and who is also an undedicated person showing interest, her wearing a head covering would not be in connection with him, since he is not her head nor a member of the congregation. The head covering in such a case would serve as a sign of subjection only to her husbandly head.

    7. Likewise when at the meal table. If the undedicated husband requests his wife to pray, she may do so, but with her head covered. But, in his absence, where she is having a meal just with her minor undedicated children, she would not require a head covering when praying.

    IN CONNECTION WITH DEDICATED MALE CHILDREN

    8. But if, though the husband were absent, there were a dedicated son of the family present, what then? Of course, if this son is an adult there would be no question of the procedure to follow, since he would naturally do the praying. But it may be that the son is still fairly young in years, perhaps in his early teens. In that case the mother would have to use her own discretion whether to call on him to pray or not. He is still under her care as a mother, and for that reason he is subject to her, and, indeed, must give her “honor” from that standpoint. (Eph. 6:2) So it would be up to her as to whether she called on this dedicated young son to pray or, because of feeling that he was not yet sufficiently capable or because of particular circumstances at the time, chose to offer prayer herself. But if she did the praying, it would be proper for her to wear a head covering, and such would apply also while conducting a study with such dedicated son. Why so?

    9. The dedicated son is now a member of the congregation, and, as such, teaching him or praying in his presence should properly be by a mature dedicated male. In his home this would normally be by his father. So the mother, by wearing a head covering under such circumstances, is acting in more than the capacity of mother, for the head covering serves as a sign or indication that she acts also for her husband, the boy’s father. So we might say that this strengthens her position, enabling her to act theocratically toward the dedicated son in connection with spiritual things, yet without any violation of the theocratic order. At other times, when family worship is not involved, she can properly exercise her position as mother toward her son without any requirement of a head covering, giving necessary discipline and counsel as required.

    10. Such a mother will be an excellent example to her dedicated son of how a theocratic woman should act, and this will be of great value to him when he later has a wife and home of his own. Also, he will have no room for complaint that his mother is acting out of place toward him as a dedicated male. At the same time the dedicated mother will be interested in helping her son advance to maturity so that he can adequately represent the family, when necessary, in prayer to Jehovah. Of course, if the husband is also a dedicated witness of Jehovah, he will have all the more reason to fulfill personally, as far as possible, his obligations as head of the house, now that he has a dedicated son as a member of it. He is the one who can and should provide the more advanced training the boy now needs.—Prov. 23:19, 24.

    PRAYER BY UNDEDICATED ONES

    11. The situation may arise where the wife accepts the truth and becomes one of Jehovah’s witnesses but her husband does not, yet he continues to lead the family in prayer at mealtimes. If he is a person rightly disposed and is himself making progress toward dedication he might in sincerity express an appropriate prayer in harmony with the truth of God’s Word to which the dedicated woman can give a conscientious “Amen.” The man is still the head of the house and properly should be expected to lead his family in worship. However, if he manifests no interest in God’s Word or if he holds religious beliefs that are not in harmony with the Bible and that are reflected in his prayers, the enlightened wife could not say “Amen” to these. While he prays she could offer a silent prayer on behalf of herself and the children, with the assurance that Jehovah will hear her petition.

    12. Joining hands while praying is a regular practice with some families, but since this denotes unitedness in the prayer it would not be suitable for a Christian to share in this when the prayer is given by an undedicated person whose thoughts were not toward the true worship of Jehovah God. So this is something to watch when invited out for a meal by persons not in the truth where you know this is the custom of the family. For one thing, you do not know what may be said in the prayer and just as you could not give an “Amen” to it, so you would not want to show acquiescence in the prayer by holding hands around the table. But, some may ask, is this not taking matters to an extreme? No, not at all. Prayer is a matter of worship, something not to be treated lightly, but something that must be holy and in harmony with Jehovah’s will. To maintain a good conscience the dedicated Christian will not want to give even an appearance of sharing in any worship other than the true worship of Jehovah.—1 Cor. 10:20, 21; 2 Cor. 6:14-18.

    13. A difficult situation arises where the husband has been disfellowshiped from the Christian congregation and is still in a disfellowshiped state. While the wife is still subject to him as her husband, yet, in harmony with the Scriptures, she can have no spiritual fellowship with him. (Rom. 16:17) How might this affect the matter of prayer at mealtimes? If he insisted on praying at the meal table, the wife could not in any way acknowledge his prayer, either by a silent or an audible “Amen.” She can offer her own prayer silently to Jehovah while he is praying or afterward as she feels is suitable. If the disfellowshiped husband asked his wife to pray for the family in his presence, she would have to refuse. However, she could pray silently for herself and for the children even though he were present, but not at his direction. From this it can be seen that the question of the need for a head covering would never occur in this case, since there would be no occasion where the wife would perform any function of teaching or praying audibly in the presence of her disfellowshiped mate.

    CONDUCT TOWARD UNBELIEVING HUSBAND

    14. The faithful woman minister who is the wife of a man not in the truth, that is, an undedicated man, which circumstance may necessitate her wearing a head covering at times in his presence, will be concerned that her conduct is in keeping with this outward sign of subjection. Her attractiveness in Jehovah’s eyes does not depend on just a formal show of subjection by means of a head covering, but it is in her modestly keeping her position as a wife, always having “deep respect for her husband.” (Eph. 5:24, 33) But, you may ask, how can a woman have deep respect for a husband who takes a hateful course toward the truth and toward his wife’s worship of Jehovah? Certainly you cannot respect a man’s views when they are anti-God, or his words when they are blasphemous and perhaps even filthy. Yet even under such circumstances, by respecting the office of headship that a husband should be filling, it is possible to conduct oneself in a way so as to avoid any rebelliousness against Jehovah’s arrangement. For one thing, a woman would avoid speaking disparagingly of her husband, however bad, when she is with others.

    15. For a woman who finds herself in the situation of being married to a man who is difficult to get along with and who may even be harsh in his conduct, there is comfort in the example of Jesus. Note the opening words of First Peter chapter 3: “In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.” In what manner? For one thing, Peter has just been discussing the case of Christian house servants who suffered unrighteously for copying Jesus, who left us a model of how to conduct ourselves under undeserved suffering. Of him Peter writes: “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” So wives who have to endure unjust treatment can do so as those Christian house servants were told to do and as Jesus did, committing themselves to Jehovah, who in due time will reward their faithful conduct.—1 Pet. 2:18-23.

    16. But the subjection of house servants to owners may include at times “those hard to please.” Then he says: “For if someone, because of conscience toward God, bears up under grievous things and suffers unjustly, this is an agreeable thing. For what merit is there in it if, when you are sinning and being slapped, you endure it? But if, when you are doing good and you suffer, you endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God.” (1 Pet. 2:18-20) Just as in the case of house servants so in the case of wives, their subjection is a relative one, since God’s will and conscience have to be taken into account. So if her husband should prove to be hard to please, even to the point of outright opposition to her stand as a dedicated Christian, yet the faithful woman minister will always hold fast to her dedication to do Jehovah’s will. At the same time she will faithfully seek to hold to her relationship to her husband as Jehovah has arranged it, even though this proves to be very difficult at times.

    17. Fortunately, not all husbands are as bad as that. But quite often it happens that the husband just appears to have no interest in the truth and shows no desire to make any move to associate with the New World society. What then? Recall what we read earlier from 1 Peter 3:1, 2? “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.” Yes, the one thing that might win such husbands to the truth is the conduct of their wives, faithful wifely subjection along with deep respect.—1 Cor. 7:16.

    18. Because of such faithfulness the Christian wife at all times maintains her spiritual attractiveness before Jehovah and the Christian congregation. The dedicated man married to such a wife should be most appreciative of such a blessing, for she is indeed a glory to him. If her husband has not yet accepted the truth the Christian wife will maintain her chaste conduct with deep respect, for this may open his eyes to see what a fine wife he has and be led to accept the truth. What a wonderful blessing that will prove to be for him and for her!

    Her Head Covering and Congregational Activities

    A HEAD covering that is well chosen can do much to enhance the natural beauty and attractiveness of a woman. When worn as a sign of Christian subjection it enhances her more valuable spiritual attractiveness. While for this latter purpose the Christian woman would not want to wear as a head covering some frivolous and eye-catching “creation,” yet there is no reason why her head covering should not at the same time contribute to her outward appearance in a modest and becoming way.

    2. In the previous article (paragraph 3) three basic situations were mentioned that would require a woman to wear a head covering as a sign of Christian subjection. The first of these has been fully discussed, so we can now take up a consideration of the other two. These have to do with the woman’s activities in relation to the congregation.

    3. First, we might consider the matter from the standpoint of the field ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses, from house to house, making return visits and conducting home Bible studies. For example, would it be necessary for a woman to wear a head covering while in the house-to-house ministry if she is accompanied by a male dedicated minister, and where she gives a sermon? No, there does not seem to be any Scriptural reason that would require this. It is part of her assignment to preach the good news. (Matt. 24:14) She is not usurping the position of a brother. He is merely accompanying her, perhaps as a circuit servant or as the local congregation overseer, to assist her in the ministry, not to be taught by her. The same would apply to the back-call ministry. However, let us keep in mind the matter of conscience. It may be that some sisters feel that they should wear a head covering under these circumstances, and certainly there is no objection to their doing so if this is the way their conscience directs.

    4. However, when it comes to the Bible study work, we have a somewhat different situation. If a dedicated brother accompanies a sister to a home Bible study, then he should offer prayer, since a sister would never pray in the presence of a dedicated brother, even with a head covering, unless there were some exceptional reason, such as the brother’s having lost the physical power of speech. But, for the purpose of training, the sister may conduct the study, though she would do so with her head covered. Why so? This is more than giving a sermon from house to house or on a return visit. It is a prearranged session for Bible study and is formally opened with prayer. The one conducting the study is really presiding at a meeting where there is a dedicated male member of the congregation present. Normally, the dedicated brother would preside at such a meeting, which involves teaching in an organized way. (1 Tim. 2:12) However, because of the exceptional circumstance, that of providing training for the sister in the Bible study ministry, the sister may conduct the study. But, out of respect for the male member of the congregation present, she would wear a head covering while doing so.

    5. It may be on occasions that a sister is accompanied on a Bible study by a male associate of the congregation who is not yet baptized, though he is reporting to the congregation as a publisher of the good news. What should be the procedure? Since he is not dedicated he could not properly represent the dedicated sister in prayer to Jehovah, so it would be proper for her to offer prayer at the study. However, he might conduct the study. The sister, though, when praying, and also if she conducted the study, would properly do so with her head covered. While not yet in the fullest sense a member of the congregation, yet this man is prospectively so, and as far as those on the outside are concerned he is identified with the congregation due to his preaching activity, and he is showing an obedient course of action.

    6. The circumstance might arise where a sister actually conducts a home Bible study for the benefit of a dedicated brother. She may have preached the truth to this man, studied with him and helped him to dedication and baptism and into the service. Due to the lack of a male publisher she herself might have to continue the home Bible study with this new brother to complete the books “Let God Be True” and “This Means Everlasting Life.” He needs to learn these things, and in this case she is the only one there to help him. Under such circumstances she would properly wear a head covering while conducting the study, though prayer should be handled by the newly dedicated brother.

    7. Of course, to start with, she might also have to help him in the ministry, though circumstances would determine to what extent she could do so and she would have to use discretion. The situation of a man’s going alone with a woman in the ministry, especially if one or both of them are married, could easily be misunderstood and is to be avoided, if possible. In some countries it would be altogether unsuitable. So some other arrangement should be made if at all possible, and in most congregations there are brothers available who can help this new one. If there is no brother available in the congregation, perhaps a second sister could go along as well. Should the sister, under these circumstances, take the new brother in the service, this would not be a regular training program assignment, but the sister could help the new brother by letting him observe her own method of preaching. She should not offer counsel on his presentation the way a brother would, and, since she would not do so, a head covering would not be necessary, though again conscience might affect the matter. If the brother does ask for some suggestions, she can always refer to the Society’s publications, or perhaps explain how she handles various situations, but avoiding criticizing his presentation of the good news. Having a proper sense of the fitness of things and having in mind the Scriptural principles of headship will help a sister under these circumstances to conduct herself in a way that is both helpful and yet respectful of the situation.

    AT CONGREGATION MEETINGS

    8. As to the need for women to wear head coverings at meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses, this would not normally arise in the majority of congregations. As has been already noted, the principle that applies is: A head covering is required where, in the absence of a qualified male, a sister has to pray or preside at a congregation meeting. This situation might arise, for example, at a meeting for field service, perhaps in midweek, and which is attended only by sisters. On such occasions prayer should be offered on behalf of the group before setting out to share in Jehovah’s service, and someone would have to preside at or conduct the meeting. (Eph. 6:18) Since this is a congregationally arranged meeting, the sisters who preside or pray are handling duties that usually would be performed by brothers, and so they should have their heads covered, even though only sisters are present. A sister who is an appointed book study conductor would also have to wear a head covering while conducting the study and also while praying, if there is no dedicated brother present to care for this.

    9. No head covering is required for sisters taking part in demonstrations, relating experiences, or when handling student talks as demonstrations at the congregation’s ministry school. In such cases the sisters are not presiding in the congregation. They are not trying to instruct the brothers or direct them in what they should do, and so, in not wearing a head covering, there is no violation of Scriptural principle. However, the sisters do greatly contribute to the upbuilding of all in the congregation. For that reason a sister should never underestimate the benefit of any part she may have in the program, either by giving an experience or sharing in a demonstration.

    WOMEN MINISTERS OF CONGREGATIONS

    10. At Romans 16:1 Phoebe is spoken of as “a minister of the congregation that is in Cenchreae.” Just what her duties were we do not know, but, as apparently was the case with Phoebe, so today, due to a shortage of qualified brothers, sisters may have to be used to fill servant positions in a congregation. This may even include caring for the duties of the congregation servant. However, in such cases we would not speak of a sister as an overseer, since the very meaning of the Greek word epískopos, “one who visits for the purpose of inspecting,” indicates that such a position could be properly filled only by a dedicated male, who, if married, must be the husband of only one woman. Appropriately, we read at 1 Timothy 3:1: “If any man is reaching out for an office of overseer, he is desirous of a fine work.”

    11. When, in discharging her duties, the sister congregation servant, or any other sister who is dedicated and baptized, handles duties of a presiding nature, which would normally be performed by an overseer, ministerial assistant or a study conductor, then a head covering is necessary for her. The sister is serving temporarily or circumstantially in the place of a man, and by wearing a head covering she is showing proper conscientious regard for her relationship to the theocratic organization. The head covering also, you might say, acts as a caution not to try to run ahead or exert any untheocratic influence on the congregation, as was the case in the congregation at Thyatira described in Revelation 2:20.

    12. To illustrate: A sister who conducts the congregation Watchtower study or, as has already been mentioned, a congregation book study, should wear a head covering while doing so, as should a sister who offers prayer at such meetings, and they would do so even though being seated at the time. In most cases where a sister presides at a meeting with her head covered the number in attendance is quite small, and it would normally not be necessary for her to stand while conducting. Even at the Watchtower study the attendance may not be more than what is usually to be found at a congregation book study, so those attending can be grouped around in a similar way to that of such a study, and the conductor, while facing the audience, can remain seated in almost all instances. The sister reading the paragraphs can do so from her seat, and, as the one reading, she does not need to have her head covered. The Watchtower is doing the teaching. Even if, due to a larger attendance and with no qualified brother available, the sister had to stand to read in order for all to hear, she would not necessarily have to wear a head covering since she is not teaching or presiding at the meeting. She is not giving a talk, only reading a summary from The Watchtower. However, here again the sister may prefer to wear a head covering as being suitable for the occasion, and so this would be according to her conscience in the matter. If a sister is wearing a head covering as her normal practice she certainly does not have to remove it at any time while carrying on true worship.

    13. What should be the procedure at the service meeting and theocratic ministry school in the absence of dedicated male members? The sister presiding at these meetings would do so while wearing a head covering. In presenting material it should be kept in mind that teaching in the congregation is an assignment for male members, and so anything in the nature of presenting material to the congregation in discourse form by a sister should be avoided. Where the Kingdom Ministry calls for the consideration of some item in the form of a discourse, for example, a talk based on material in The Watchtower, the article in the magazine, or portions thereof, can be read by one of the sisters from her seat in the audience. The time available would determine what portions of the article can be handled, and the specific paragraphs can be assigned in advance so that the matter is not left to the discretion of the sister reading the material.

    14. The same method should be followed when presenting the material for the instruction talk and other talks usually assigned to brothers in the ministry school. The material can be read from the assigned publications by sisters from their seats in the audience, and in such cases no head covering is necessary. In this way the congregation, though composed entirely of sisters, will not miss any of the information being presented in other congregations.

    15. Where a sister is assigned to conduct a question-and-answer review, and this is always beneficial for audience participation, she would perform this assignment with her head covered, since it is in the nature of presiding, even though she may conduct the review from a seated position.

    16. As to the sister acting as school servant, how can she counsel the students without actually teaching in the congregation? She will certainly want to avoid giving any impression of acting as a critic or instructor. But she can still help the other sisters by offering suggestions, quoting directly from the Society’s publications, thus letting the Society’s publications do the teaching. She can also mark the counsel slip, and she can always give further help privately to the students who request this assistance.

    17. But what if a man begins to associate, dedicates himself and enrolls in the school? Until he qualifies to handle the duties of the school servant, the sister may have to continue to care for this assignment for some time. But she will not counsel the brother when he gives a talk, nor for that matter should she mark his counsel slip. However, in order for this new brother to get some help to improve his speaking ability, it would be well for him to have a speaking assignment during the visit of the circuit servant, and then the circuit servant can give him counsel and mark his counsel slip. Of course, this new brother may wish to get some additional help between such visits, and he may approach the sister who is the school servant for some suggestions, perhaps in regard to some specific difficulty. She can certainly help him locate helpful points in the Society’s publications and possibly assist him in understanding the principles of speaking discussed there, but without giving him direct counsel.

    18. Some have wondered about the question of a head covering for a sister who might be called on to act as an interpreter for a brother who is delivering a talk. Well, the sister is not originating the material; she is just relaying it. So from this standpoint it would seem that a head covering is not required. At the same time the woman doing the interpreting might feel more at ease if she had a head covering. After all, she may be in a position of some prominence before a large audience and she would want to put feeling and urgency in the translation to copy faithfully the feelings of the speaker who may be giving exhortation and pointed counsel. To avoid the appearance of being a teacher to the brothers she might wish to wear a head covering. So in this case, again, the sister would have to decide according to her conscience.

    19. These articles on godly women have not attempted to discuss every possible situation where the question of head covering might arise, and then to set a rule for each one. Rather, they have set forth, as far as possible, the principles with regard to headship and the use of a head covering and illustrations of how these principles are to be applied in the congregation of God’s people in order that all things may “take place decently and by arrangement,” and that faithful women ministers in the New World society may know how to conduct themselves in Jehovah’s service with a good conscience and with theocratic attractiveness. (1 Cor. 14:40) If one has in mind the purpose of a head covering and the basic situations that require a woman to wear such, there should be little difficulty in determining what to do in most circumstances.—See paragraph 3 of previous article.

    20. When it is said that a head covering is not required under certain circumstances, this is not in any way a criticism of those sisters who feel more at ease wearing a head covering at such times. We certainly respect their conscience and their desire to avoid any offense in such matters. Indeed, in some countries it is the custom for women always to wear a head covering when in public or in the presence of men. The important thing is that, where a head covering is Scripturally required as an evidence of subjection to a husbandly head or to male members of the Christian congregation, the sister should be conscious of this, even though she might normally wear a head covering at other times too. Where a head covering is not the everyday custom, then where there is the possibility of a woman’s requiring a head covering, either in order to offer prayer or to preside over part of a meeting in the absence of a dedicated male, it would be well to advise the sister in advance so as to avoid any embarrassment.

    21. We give thanks to Jehovah for his making provision for faithful women to have such a grand share in the final witness being given in these last days. The faithful women ministers in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses have many problems to overcome, and by Jehovah’s help they are overcoming them. Many come from divided homes, where, because of the need for them to render relative subjection to an undedicated man, there is a constant test of their faith, and day by day they may be required to face opposition to their meeting with Jehovah’s people and their sharing in the public preaching of the good news. In Russia, Eastern Germany and other Communist and dictatorial lands faithful women endure the hardship of prison and camp life, and even risk their lives along with their brothers as they continue loyal to their dedication to do Jehovah’s will.

    22. In most countries it can truly be said that the main burden of the house-to-house ministry and the Bible study work of Jehovah’s witnesses is taken up by these faithful women ministers. At times they outnumber the male members of the congregations. Also, the women often have more time available for sharing in the ministry. By the wise use of this time, and by the kindness, patience, sympathy and understanding they show as they call on the people, these faithful women ministers accomplish much in making the territory more receptive to the Kingdom message as they turn many to the truth and build them up in right knowledge by means of the home Bible studies they conduct. All this is evidence of their loyal support for the local congregation organizations in getting the good news of the Kingdom preached in the assigned territory.

    23. Proverbs chapter 31 speaks of the blessing that an industrious, faithful woman can be to her family and to others, and then shows how she in turn is blessed. Verses 28 and 31 read: “Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her. Give her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her even in the gates.” The New World society values highly all the faithful women ministers in its midst. (1 Pet. 3:4) May they continue to enjoy good fruitage from their works. May they continue to beautify the New World society with their theocratic attractiveness as they hold their assigned place in Jehovah’s arrangement of things, to his praise and to their own eternal blessing.
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    The Watchtower, May 1st 1964 Issue, Pages 286-287:

    Do You Remember?

    • Under what three conditions should a Christian woman wear a head covering?

    When teaching or praying in the presence of her husband; when teaching a group that includes a dedicated Christian male; when, because of the absence of a suitable Christian male, she presides or prays at a congregational meeting.—P. 201.
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    The Watchtower, March 15th 1968 Issue, Page 191:

    Questions from Readers

    • In what way does “nature itself teach” that it is a glory for women to have long hair but a dishonor for men to have long hair, as the apostle Paul wrote at 1 Corinthians 11:14, 15?—G. N., Canada.

    The comments made by Paul to support what he was writing concerning the position of women in the Christian congregation were very meaningful to the Corinthians. He wrote: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him; but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?” (1 Cor. 11:14, 15) Under certain circumstances a Christian woman should wear a head covering as a sign of her recognition of theocratic headship. (1 Cor. 11:5) And this should have been suggested by what occurred naturally among those to whom Paul wrote, and by the customs with which they were familiar.

    The Corinthian congregation was probably composed largely of Greeks and Jews, and among such people it is natural for women to have longer hair than men. This is not necessarily true among all peoples. Scientists usually recognize three characteristic types of hair: the long straight hair of Orientals and Indians, the short wooly hair of Negroes and Melanesians and the wavy hair of Europeans and Semites. Of the first two types, “the difference of length in man and woman is scarcely noticeable” if allowed to grow uncut. But not so with the third type. In general, among men “the length rarely exceeds 12 to 16 in. [30 to 40 centimeters], while with women the mean length is between 25 and 30 in. [63 and 76 centimeters] and in some cases has been known to reach 6 ft. [1.8 meters] or more.”—The Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th Ed., Vol. 12, p. 823.

    Additionally, those Christians were aware that it was the general custom for men to clip their hair to a moderate length. This was common with Jewish men, the long uncut hair of Nazirites marking them as men not following the general custom. (Num. 6:5) In contrast, Jewish women usually had their hair of considerable length. (Luke 7:38; John 11:2) Even the Greeks reading Paul’s comments would have appreciated his remarks concerning women having longer hair than men. This would have been emphasized to them by the fact that, in Corinth, shaving a woman’s head, or clipping her hair very short, was a sign of her being a slave girl or of being in disgrace for having been caught in fornication or adultery.—1 Cor. 11:6.

    So Paul could draw on these normal differences to illustrate that there was a distinction between the sexes. The difference should have served as a reminder to those in the congregation.

    What about the length of one’s hair today? Just as the natural length of hair differs among races, so do customs and personal tastes. The short style of men’s hair in the Western world is patterned after the Roman custom, and it is considerably shorter than the style common for Jewish men in Jesus’ time. Similarly, women today quite often cut their hair shorter than was usual among ancient women. Yet, there is still a marked difference between the sexes. So, while personal taste and local custom have a definite bearing on how long a Christian man wears his hair, he does want it to reflect his masculinity. Similarly, Christian women style their hair modestly and with evident femininity, so it will be a glory for them.—1 Pet. 3:3; 1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Cor. 11:15.

    In either case, though, mature Christians, men or women, take into consideration how their personal appearance will affect others. This is so that “in no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.”—2 Cor. 6:3, 4.
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    The Watchtower, June 15th 1968 Issue, Pages 383-384:

    Questions from Readers

    • Since the Jewish priests wore head coverings when serving in the temple, why did the apostle Paul later write that men should not wear a head covering, but, rather, that women should?—L. H., U.S.A.

    These two directions were under different arrangements. It was not until the conclusion of the Jewish arrangement, with its systems of priests, sacrifices and temple worship, that Paul explained what God desired concerning head coverings under the Christian arrangement. (Heb. 9:26) Just as Jehovah had the right to alter his procedure of true worship, he could make a change in regard to who should wear a head covering.—Dan. 4:35.

    The wearing of head coverings on the part of Israelite priests was not a matter of personal choice; it was by directive from God. The high priest had to wear a special turban. A small gold plate engraved with the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah” was fastened to the forefront of the turban and thus came to be upon the high priest’s forehead. (Ex. 28:4, 36-38) The underpriests wore headgears of a somewhat different type. (Ex. 28:40) In both cases the head coverings would serve as a sign of submission to Jehovah, as well as being “for glory and beauty.” (Ex. 28:2, 40) Thus the priests wore head coverings out of obedience to their God and Lawgiver.

    However, in describing what was proper in the Christian congregation, the apostle Paul showed that women praying or prophesying in the congregation, where a male would normally do that, should wear a head covering. For the male ministerial servant in the congregation, a head covering would be improper; it would shame his head, Christ. (1 Cor. 11:3-16) Let us note, though, that there was a difference here. At the temple or tabernacle under the Jewish arrangement, no women performed priestly duties, so there was no need to draw a distinction between male and female. But in the Christian congregation both males and females might be serving. So, by inspiration, Paul appropriately pointed out that under certain circumstances a Christian woman was to “have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels,” whereas the men who were directly representing Christ were to do so bareheaded.

    In both cases, under the Jewish priestly arrangement and under the Christian arrangement, the head covering served as a sign of submission. But there was double reason for the women serving in the Christian congregation to have a head covering. They thus pictured the subjection of the congregation to Christ, and, additionally, by wearing a head covering they acknowledged the headship of the male in God’s arrangement.—1 Cor. 11:8, 9; Eph. 5:21-24.
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    The Watchtower, July 15th 1972 Issue, Pages 446-447:

    WEARING A HEAD COVERING

    There are times when the Christian woman displays an outward sign of her recognition of man’s headship. This is when she must care for matters pertaining to worship that would ordinarily be handled by her husband or another man. The basis for this is outlined at 1 Corinthians 11:4-6: “Every man that prays or prophesies having something on his head shames his head; but every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head, for it is one and the same as if she were a woman with a shaved head. For if a woman does not cover herself, let her also be shorn; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.”

    Now, in the family the husband and father is God’s representative toward his wife and children. As such he is the one to take the lead in matters of worship. Yet, if the husband is an unbeliever, this responsibility may fall on the mother. Hence, if a Christian woman prays aloud on behalf of herself and others or conducts a Bible study with the children or others in the presence of her husband, she rightly wears a head covering. Thereby she demonstrates her recognition of the fact that she is serving in her husband’s place.

    Being divinely authorized to teach the children (Prov. 1:8; 6:20; compare 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15), she would not ordinarily wear a head covering when her husband is not present. However, it may be that a son in the family is a dedicated, baptized servant of Jehovah God. In that case the mother would wear a head covering if she were to pray aloud on behalf of a group in his presence or conduct a Bible study with him and the other children. The reason for this is that the son is a member of the Christian congregation and, as such, should receive instruction from the male members of the congregation. (1 Tim. 2:12) If his father were a believer, the son would receive such teaching from his father. So the mother’s head covering would signify that in this matter she is acting for her husband and/or male members of the congregation. When other family matters are involved, however, the mother can exercise her authority toward the son without wearing a head covering.

    In the congregations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses circumstances arise that call for women to wear a head covering. At times no baptized male Witnesses may be present at a congregational meeting (usually in small congregations or groups). This would make it necessary for a baptized female Witness to pray or preside at the meeting. Recognizing that she is doing something that would usually be handled by a man, she would wear a head covering.

    There are occasions when Christian women have to give oral translation of Bible discourses or publicly read the paragraphs from a Bible study aid that is being used at a congregation meeting. Women handling these duties are not presiding or teaching. Hence, it is not required that they wear a head covering. Some Christian women, however, may wish to do so for the sake of their conscience. Certainly there is nothing wrong with this.

    The teaching of male believers is to be done by the men in the congregation. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “I do not permit a woman to teach, or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence.” (1 Tim. 2:12) Nevertheless, both men and women could share in teaching outsiders. In fact, Jesus Christ commissioned his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Such prospective disciples would, of course, include both men and women. Since such preaching and teaching is the responsibility of both men and women, when speaking to others about God’s Word in the presence of a male witness of Jehovah, a woman would not need to wear a head covering. But if she preferred to do so for the sake of her conscience, this would be all right.

    The situation is somewhat different when a regular, scheduled Bible study is being conducted in a home and there is a dedicated, baptized male present. This is a prearranged session of instruction, teaching, with the one conducting the study actually presiding. With a baptized male Witness present, it becomes an extension of the congregation. If, for some reason, a baptized female Witness conducts such a study, she would rightly wear a head covering, acknowledging thereby that the man would ordinarily give Bible instruction under such circumstances.

    There is good reason for Christian women to give due consideration to wearing a head covering when the occasion calls for it. As the apostle Paul pointed out, this is to be done “because of the angels.” (1 Cor. 11:10) Yes, it is the privilege of Christian women to be a good example to the angels in their own loyal subjection to Jehovah God and his reigning King, Jesus Christ. This does not mean that the angels learn from the good example of Christian women. Millions of angels loyally subjected themselves to God long before man was created and they continue to do so. However, just as we draw encouragement from the good example of fellow believers, so the angels delight in seeing women that rightly view headship.

    What fine incentive this should give Christian women to continue demonstrating proper regard for headship in Jehovah’s arrangement!
    ____________________________________________________

    The Watchtower, February 15th 1977 Issue, Pages 125-128:

    Should You Cover Your Head During Prayer?

    IT WAS a cold, windy day when the friends of the deceased widow stood in the snow around the open grave. The balding minister offered some brief, comforting words and then prayed.

    Had you been there, would you have felt that during the prayer all present should remove anything covering their heads? The question might be especially pertinent in such wintry weather. But, really, do you feel that whenever you pray you should uncover your head? Or, might you believe that during prayer you definitely should have your head covered?

    Prayer is important. God wants us to pray. (Ps. 145:18; 50:14, 15) Understandably, ours should be proper prayers, offered to the right One, on fitting matters and in the correct manner. While the Bible does not list endless rules about prayer and praying, it does offer specific counsel about having one’s head covered when one is praying.

    That counsel is not in the pre-Christian Scriptures, for God did not require that all Israelites cover their heads when praying, though some may have done so out of reverence. He did, however, direct the Israelite priests to wear headgear, the high priest even having a special turban. (Lev. 8:13; Ex. 28:40; 39:27-29) They evidently wore head coverings as a sign of submission to God all the time that they were serving at the temple, not just when praying.

    ‘But do not Jewish people today cover their heads when praying?’ some may ask. Yes, now most do. Yet the ancient Jewish Talmud shows that covering the head for prayer was optional. Thus Professor Jacob Lauterbach said: “The custom of praying bareheaded or with covered head is not at all a question of law. It is merely a matter of social propriety and decorum.”

    For Christians, though, this matter is much more than a mere local or religious custom. The Christian Scriptures (or, “New Testament”) give pointed advice on the subject, saying: “Every man that prays or prophesies having something on his head shames his head; but every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head, for it is one and the same as if she were a woman with a shaved head. For if a woman does not cover herself, let her also be shorn.”—1 Cor. 11:4-6.

    What is the reason for that? And when does it apply?

    WHY COVERED OR UNCOVERED?

    As to understanding what the apostle Paul wrote about head covering and prayer, consider the verse before: “I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Yes, Paul was discussing the divine principle of headship, and particularly its application in public worship.

    As the apostle explained, the Creator assigned to the man, whom He created first, headship and authority over his wife, who was made from the man’s rib. In respect to headship, the man was “God’s image and glory” for he was not assigned another head on earth. His wife and children, though, do have an earthly head to whom they are in relative subjection.—1 Cor. 11:7-10; Eph. 5:22-24; 6:1.

    The principle of headship also applies in congregational activities. Paul wrote that women should respect and strive to cooperate with the men who are to do the teaching and praying. (1 Cor. 14:33-35; compare 1 Timothy 2:11, 12.) Therefore, in most instances, a woman back in the first century C.E. would not preach or pray in the congregation.

    Why, then, did Paul discuss head covering? When was such appropriate and when inappropriate? And how does that apply today?

    Paul wrote that when praying a woman ought to wear a head covering—be it a hat, scarf or head veil—as “a sign of authority.” (1 Cor. 11:10) It was to be an evidence that she recognized the principle of headship. But when would she need to cover her head? Consider these three situations:

    In Paul’s day Jehovah’s holy spirit gave miraculous gifts to some Christians, such as the ability to prophesy or to speak in tongues. For example, at a meeting in the first century the spirit might have impelled a Christian woman to prophesy. (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Acts 21:8, 9) Or, it might have been that only women were in attendance at a congregation meeting. With no baptized male to take the lead in prayer or in teaching, a Christian woman might have to do so. Then again, a Christian wife might have an unbelieving husband and on occasion be expected to pray or teach the Bible in his presence. In any of these situations a woman would have worn a head covering, “a sign of authority,” thus manifesting her recognition of the headship principle.

    YOUR “HEAD”—WHO?

    We can better appreciate the need for Christian men as well as women to comply with God’s directions about head covering by noting what could be the effect if they did not.

    Recall that the apostle wrote that a man who prays “having something on his head” is doing something. What? The original Greek text says that he “is shaming the head of him,” or, “shames his head.” Similarly, a woman who “prays or prophesies” with her head uncovered “shames the head of her,” or, “shames her head.” Who or what is being referred to as “head” in each case?

    This may be understood in the light of the verse before. There Paul said that “the head of every man is the Christ” and “the head of a woman is the man.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Hence, it may be reasoned that a man who prays with his head covered in a sense dishonors Christ. By wearing a head covering when praying a man would be acting as if he were a wife with a visible head on earth rather than being accountable to Christ as his head. Correspondingly, a woman who prayed with her head bared may be said to be shaming her “head” in the Christian arrangement, her husband (if she is married), her father or the headship of Christian men in the congregation.

    Some commentators offer another viewpoint. They call attention to the fact that First Corinthians 11:4, 5 states that every man who prays or prophesies with something “on his head” shames “his head” and a woman who prays or prophesies with “her head uncovered” shames “her head.” In both instances the person’s own physical head is mentioned immediately before referring to the “head” as being shamed. So, they express the thought that Paul may have meant that a Christian man or woman who acts inappropriately as to head covering shames himself or herself.

    In the Hebrew Scriptures we read of persons being given back or bringing on their own head reproach, badness, trouble, violence, bloodguilt and injury. (Neh. 4:4; 1 Sam. 25:39; Ps. 7:16; 2 Sam. 1:16; 1 Ki. 2:32, 44) In these cases the head represents the person himself, being that part of the body most responsible for his actions.

    Additionally, when discussing the matter of head covering, Paul said that if a man has long hair, “it is a dishonor to him.” And he wrote that “it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn,” as if she were a slave or had been caught in immorality; the one disgraced is the woman herself.—1 Cor. 11:14, 6.

    In view of Paul’s introducing this whole subject by emphasizing the divine arrangement of headship, it seems clear that when a Christian man flouts this headship principle, he definitely dishonors Christ; similarly, a woman might dishonor her husband, her father or the males in the congregation. However, at the same time it is true that the person who disregards God’s arrangement of headship and subjection simultaneously brings shame upon his or her own head.

    HEAD COVERING DURING PRAYER

    Paul was primarily discussing what was proper in “the congregations of God,” particularly at meetings. (1 Cor. 11:16, 20-34) Hence, his directions about head covering during prayer basically relate, not to prayer when a person is alone, but to prayer in a group, in public worship. This is borne out by the inclusion of prophesying along with prayer. It is not likely that a person back then would prophesy alone in his room where he might be saying his personal prayers.—Matt. 6:6.

    Accordingly, neither a man nor a woman would Scripturally be obliged to apply the directions about head covering when saying a private prayer to God. If a woman with head uncovered were doing housework and paused to pray, she would not need to cover her head. Similarly, a Christian man walking down the street with a hat on might offer a prayer to God. If his own personal feelings urged him to remove his hat, he should do so. But God’s counsel about head covering does not specifically require it.

    What about prayers in congregational activities or in the family? In line with the principle of headship, if a baptized man is present, he should offer prayer with his head uncovered. That is true in the family even when just husband and wife join in prayer.

    There might be occasions, though, when a Christian woman would have to cover her head to pray. As in the first century, a sister might have to pray aloud at a meeting because no brothers are present. Or, an unbelieving husband may ask his Christian wife to pray aloud for the family at a meal. In such situations a sister would be handling a function that normally would be cared for by someone having headship over her, a brother in the congregation or her husband. Consequently, she should wear a head covering. In doing this she would show her respect for the divine principle of headship and avoid ‘shaming her head.’—1 Cor. 11:5.

    Finally, what about head covering when you are part of a group but not personally voicing the prayer? Consider, for example, the prayer at the graveside that we mentioned. Would a woman present during the prayer have to cover her head? No, for she would not be taking the lead in public worship or performing a function that a male member of the congregation would normally be expected to handle. She would be listening to the prayer and saying “Amen.” Hence, whether she covered her head or did not would not reflect on her respect for the principle of headship. Likewise, a man listening to the prayer at the gravesite would not Scripturally need to have his head either uncovered or covered. He could do either, but likely would consider his own feelings and what would be inoffensive to others. If a man felt that he should take his hat off when represented by another’s prayer, he, of course, can follow the dictates of his personal conscience.

    How fine it is that, without setting down an encyclopedia of rules, Jehovah has provided in his Word some guidance about prayer! By having this in mind we can approach the Supreme One of the universe and at the same time manifest our respect for one of his fundamental principles, that of headship.

    [Footnotes]

    For more details regarding a woman’s teaching in the congregation or in the presence of a brother or her husband, see The Watchtower of July 15, 1972, pages 446 and 447.
    __________________________________________________

    The Watchtower, June 15th 1977 Issue, Page 383:

    Questions from Readers

    • When a sister is interpreting for the deaf, would Paul’s counsel at 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 make it necessary for her to cover her head?

    Since the sister serving as interpreter would not be originating the thoughts expressed, she would not be teaching in the congregation so as to require a head covering. She would be just relaying information in another language, in this case the sign language. The same would be true when interpreting a prayer. But she may feel better if she covers her head. She would be in a position of some prominence before the audience and it would be expected that she would put feeling and urgency into the talk, as required, in order to convey faithfully the feelings of the speaker. She might also feel that covering her head would help to prevent any false impressions that she was teaching or praying in the congregation without a head covering. Sisters who serve as interpreters can discreetly decide according to the circumstances in each situation and their own conscience.

    Occasionally at a congregation meeting the only dedicated brother is deaf. If he is able to speak audibly with clarity and understanding to all present, it would be fitting that he preside and offer prayer, if he is otherwise qualified. If he speaks only by sign language, he might preside as well as offer prayer, if there is a sister present who is able to interpret well for others in attendance. A head covering would not be mandatory, but, as discussed above, circumstances and her conscience may make it advisable. But if the brother does not speak well or at all, and there is no qualified interpreter present, then a qualified sister should preside and also offer prayer as required with her head covered. The apostle Paul counsels that one who speaks in a “tongue” not understood by others present should remain silent unless there is an interpreter present. (1 Cor. 14:27, 28) To avoid embarrassment and misunderstanding, where there is a possibility that situations of this nature may develop elders can make appropriate arrangements in advance.
    __________________________________________________

    Awake!, May 22nd 1978 Issue, Pages 27-28:

    Paul’s Attitude Toward Women

    9. Sometimes the apostle Paul is accused of misogyny, that is, a hatred and distrust of women. True, it was Paul who insisted that women keep their proper place within the Christian congregation. In the normal run of things, they were not to do the teaching at congregation meetings. (1 Corinthians 14:33-35) If, because no male Christian was present or because she prophesied under the impulse of the holy spirit, a Christian woman spoke at a meeting, she was required to wear a head covering. This covering was “a sign of authority,” visible proof that the woman recognized God’s arrangement of headship.—1 Corinthians 11:3-6, 10.

    10. Paul apparently found it necessary to remind the early Christians of these theocratic principles in order that ‘all things might take place decently’ at the congregation meetings. (1 Corinthians 14:40) But does this mean that Paul was antiwoman, as some claim? No, it does not. Was it not Paul who in the closing chapter of his letter to the Romans sent warm greetings to nine Christian women? Did he not show deep appreciation for Phoebe, Prisca (Priscilla), Tryphaena, and Tryphosa, calling these last two “women who are working hard in the Lord”? (Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12, 13, 15) And it was Paul who under inspiration wrote: “All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27, 28) Paul clearly loved and appreciated his Christian sisters, including Lydia, who showed exemplary hospitality during a time of trial.—Acts 16:12-15, 40; Philippians 4:2, 3.
    __________________________________________________

    United In Worship of the Only True God Book (1983), Page 122:

    11. The Scriptures direct that positions of oversight in the congregation be cared for by males. This in no way downgrades women, for many of them are included among the heirs of the heavenly Kingdom. By modest, chaste conduct and diligence in caring for their families, Christian women also contribute to the fine reputation of the congregation. (Titus 2:3-5) They often do much of the work in locating newly interested ones and bringing them into contact with the organization. (Ps. 68:11) But teaching within the congregation is cared for by men who are appointed. (1 Tim. 2:12, 13) And if there are no qualified men at a meeting arranged by the congregation, then a woman would wear a head covering when presiding or praying.* [FOOTNOTE says: She does not need a head covering, however, when preaching from house to house, since the responsibility to preach the good news rests on all Christians. But if circumstances require that she conduct a home Bible study in the presence of her husband (her head, even though not a Christian), she should use a head covering. Also, if, as an exceptional circumstance, a dedicated male member of the congregation is present when she conducts a prearranged home Bible study, she should cover her head, but he should offer the prayer.] Thus she shows respect for Jehovah’s arrangement, even as Jesus set the example for all in submission to his Father.—1 Cor. 11:3-16; John 8:28, 29.
    __________________________________________________

    Our Kingdom Ministry, March 1988 Issue, Page 3:

    ORGANIZED ARRANGEMENTS NEEDED

    2. The service overseer should take the lead in making definite arrangements for midweek service. The locations, days, and times should be convenient for the majority of publishers. Meetings for field service are sponsored by the congregation and would normally be presided over by elders, ministerial servants, or other qualified baptized brothers. If such qualified brothers are not available, capable baptized sisters can be assigned. (Note Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry, page 77, paragraph 3.) A sister assigned should wear a head covering and would normally sit when conducting the meeting for field service.
    __________________________________________________

    Insight On The Scriptures Book, Volume 1 (1988)

    Page 217:

    ATTITUDES AND GESTURES

    [...]

    Covering the head was a sign of respect on the part of women. This custom was followed in the Christian congregation. In discussing the principle of Christian headship, the apostle Paul stated: “Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head . . . That is why the woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels.”—1Co 11:3-10; see HEADSHIP.

    Page 1,021:

    HAIR

    [...]

    Christians. The apostles Peter and Paul were both impelled to counsel Christian women not to give undue attention to hairstyling and ornamentation, as was the custom of the day. Instead, they were admonished to focus their attention on adorning themselves with the incorruptible apparel of a quiet and mild spirit.—1Pe 3:3, 4; 1Ti 2:9, 10.

    The apostle Paul also called attention to the situation and general practice among the people to whom he wrote and showed that it was natural for a man to have shorter hair than a woman. (See NATURE.) A woman having her hair shorn, or shaved off, was disgraced. God had given her long hair “instead of a headdress,” but, Paul argued, a woman could not use this natural covering, which was a glory to her, to excuse herself from wearing a head covering, “a sign of authority,” when praying or prophesying in the Christian congregation. By recognizing this fact and wearing a covering in such circumstances, the Christian woman would be acknowledging theocratic headship and showing Christian subjection. She would thus glorify both her husbandly head and Jehovah God, the Head of all.—1Co 11:3-16.

    Pages 1,051-1,054:

    HEAD

    [...]

    The apostle Paul, drawing on the principle of the primary headship of God, the Head of Christ, and the relative headship of the man over the woman, sets forth the principle governing the Christian congregation, namely, that the woman should recognize the God-ordained headship of man by wearing a head covering, “a sign of authority,” upon her head when praying or prophesying in the congregation.—1Co 11:3-16; see HAIR; HEADDRESS; HEADSHIP.

    [...]

    HEAD COVERING

    Aside from being an item of dress, head covering has a spiritual significance among God’s servants in connection with headship and subjection. The apostle Paul sets forth the God-ordained principle of headship operative in the Christian congregation, saying: “The head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” (1Co 11:3) Paul points out that a head covering is “a sign of authority” that the woman should wear in acknowledging the headship of the man, submitting herself to proper theocratic authority, when she is praying or is prophesying in the congregation.—1Co 11:4-6, 10.

    The apostle shows, conversely, that the man should not wear a head covering when taking the lead before the congregation, as when praying or prophesying. It is his normal position under God’s arrangement. For the man to wear a head covering in these instances would bring shame upon his own head. It would also indicate disrespect for Jesus Christ as his head as well as for the Supreme Head, Jehovah God, for man is “God’s image and glory,” originally made as God’s representative on earth. He should not obscure this fact by wearing a head covering. The man was created first, prior to the woman; the woman is “out of man” and was created “for the sake of the man.” Her qualities are an expression of the man’s honor and dignity, just as the man’s qualities are a reflection of the honor and dignity of God. Therefore the Christian woman should be happy to acknowledge her subordinate position by the modesty and subjection she displays, and she should be willing to represent this visibly by wearing a veil or other material as a head covering. She should not try to usurp the man’s place but should, rather, uphold his headship.—1Co 11:4, 7-10.

    Paul calls attention to the naturally long hair of the women in the congregation to which he wrote as a continuous God-given reminder that the woman is by nature subject to the man. She should, therefore, acknowledge this when performing what are customarily the man’s duties in the Christian congregation, and she should wear some form of head covering besides her hair, which she normally always has. She will thereby show that she recognizes the God-ordained headship principle and that she makes a distinction between her normal daily activities and the performing of special duties in the congregation when, for example, there is no qualified male member present, or when she is teaching others individually in a formal session for Bible study in the presence of her husband or a male member of the congregation.—1Co 11:11-15.

    As a powerful reason for the congregation of God to follow this procedure, the apostle points to the angels of God, who are “sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation.” (Heb 1:13, 14) These mighty spirit persons are interested in and concerned with Christians’ keeping their places within God’s arrangement so that theocratic order and pure worship are maintained before God.—1Co 11:10.

    The need for this counsel to the congregation at ancient Corinth is better understood when we realize that it was the general custom then for women always to be veiled in public. Only those of loose morals went unveiled. And the pagan priestesses at the temples evidently followed the practice of removing their veils and letting their hair hang disheveled when claiming to be under divine inspiration. Such a practice in the Christian congregation would be disgraceful and a flouting of Jehovah God’s arrangement of headship and subjection. Paul concluded his argument by saying that if anyone disputed for any custom other than what Paul set forth, the congregation should nevertheless follow the apostle’s counsel regarding the wearing of a head covering. This makes such instruction applicable at all times and places in the Christian congregation.—1Co 11:16.

    The Hebrews in ancient times, aside from wearing a headdress as an article of apparel, would cover their heads to signify a condition of mourning. (2Sa 15:30; Jer 14:3) Women also showed modesty in this way. When Rebekah was about to meet Isaac, “she proceeded to take a headcloth and to cover herself,” evidently as a symbol of her subjection to him as the one who was to become her husband.—Ge 24:65; see HEADDRESS; HEADSHIP.

    [...]

    HEADDRESS

    [...]

    Head Covering and Feminine Subjection. The apostle Paul directed that women have on a head covering when praying or prophesying in the Christian congregation. The woman thereby acknowledged the headship principle, according to which the man is the head of the woman, Christ is man’s head and, in turn, God is the head of Christ. Paul said that a woman’s long hair is naturally given to her “instead of a headdress.” The apostle was then writing to the Christians at Corinth, living among Europeans and Semites, with whom this natural distinction between males and females as to length of hair was the case. Slave women and those caught in fornication or adultery had their heads shaved. Paul pointed out that the long hair of a woman was a natural evidence of her womanly position under man’s headship. The woman, seeing this natural reminder of her subjection, should, in consequence, wear a form of head covering as “a sign of authority” on her head when praying or prophesying in the congregation, thus demonstrating before others, including the angels, her personal recognition of the headship principle. (1Co 11:3-16) This had doubtless been the practice of prophetesses of ancient times, such as Deborah (Jg 4:4) and Anna (Lu 2:36-38), when they prophesied.—See HAIR.

    [...]

    HEADSHIP

    [...]

    Woman’s Place. In ancient times, there were circumstances under which a woman put on a head covering to denote subjection. (Ge 24:65) Discussing the headship arrangement in the Christian congregation, the apostle Paul explained that if a woman prays or prophesies in the congregation, occupying a position God has assigned to the man, she should have on a head covering. In temporarily doing these things because no dedicated male Christian is present to do them, even though she may have long hair, the woman should not argue that her long hair is sufficient to denote her subjection. Instead, she should let her own actions demonstrate her submissiveness and her acknowledgment of man’s headship. The Christian woman does this by wearing a head covering as “a sign of authority.” This should be done “because of the angels,” who observe the Christian’s actions and who, as those ministering to the Christian congregation, are concerned with it. By wearing a head covering when necessary for spiritual reasons, the Christian woman acknowledges God’s headship arrangement.—1Co 11:5-16; Heb 1:14.

    This proper theocratic order in the congregation and in the family arrangement does not hinder the woman in serving God, nor does it impede her efforts in carrying out her family activities and responsibilities. It allows her full and Scriptural freedom to serve in her place, while still being pleasing to God in harmony with the principle: “God has set the members in the body, each one of them, just as he pleased.” (1Co 12:18) Many women of ancient times had fine privileges while recognizing the headship of the man and enjoyed happy and satisfying lives. Among these were Sarah, Rebekah, Abigail, and Christian women such as Priscilla and Phoebe.
    ___________________________________________________

    Insight On The Scriptures Book, Volume 2 (1988)

    Page 475:

    NATURE

    [...]

    In discussing the matter of headship with the Corinthian congregation, Paul called attention to the rule that a woman should wear a head covering when praying or prophesying before the congregation, as a sign of subjection. In illustration, he says: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him; but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? Because her hair is given her instead of a headdress.”—1Co 11:14, 15.

    Paul’s reference to “nature itself” evidently included more than “custom,” which he mentions in verse 16 in connection with the use of a head covering by women. Hereditary characteristics also likely had a bearing on what Christians in Corinth viewed as natural. Among Europeans (such as the Greeks), the hair of women, when left uncut, usually becomes considerably longer than that of men. But this is not true of the straight hair of Orientals and Indians or of the woolly hair of Blacks and Melanesians.

    Page 477:

    NAZIRITE

    [...]

    In the Christian congregation the apostle says that a woman’s long hair is given to her instead of a headdress. It is a natural reminder to her that she is in a position different from the man; she should be mindful of her submissive position under God’s arrangement. So such requirements—uncut hair (unnatural for the man), total abstinence from wine as well as the need to be clean and undefiled—impressed on the dedicated Nazirite the importance of self-denial and complete submission to the will of Jehovah.—1Co 11:2-16; see HAIR; HEAD COVERING; NATURE.

    Page 698:

    PROPHETESS

    [...]

    Prophesying was among the miraculous gifts of the spirit that were granted to the newly formed Christian congregation. Certain Christian women, such as Philip’s four virgin daughters, prophesied under the impulse of God’s holy spirit. (Ac 21:9; 1Co 12:4, 10) This was in fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29, which foretold that “your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy.” (Ac 2:14-18) Such gift, however, did not remove a woman from subjection to the headship of her husband or to that of men within the Christian congregation; in symbol of her subjection she was to wear a head covering when prophesying (1Co 11:3-6) and was not to act as a teacher within the congregation.—1Ti 2:11-15; 1Co 14:31-35.

    Page 1,197:

    WOMAN

    [...]

    Congregational meetings. There were meetings when these women could pray or prophesy, provided they wore a head covering. (1Co 11:3-16; see HEAD COVERING.) However, at what were evidently public meetings, when “the whole congregation” as well as “unbelievers” assembled in one place (1Co 14:23-25), women were to “keep silent.” If ‘they wanted to learn something, they could question their own husbands at home, for it was disgraceful for a woman to speak in a congregation.’—1Co 14:31-35.

    While not permitted to teach in congregational assembly, a woman could teach persons outside the congregation who desired to learn the truth of the Bible and the good news about Jesus Christ (compare Ps 68:11), as well as be a ‘teacher of what is good’ to younger women (and children) within the congregation. (Tit 2:3-5) But she was not to exercise authority over a man or dispute with men, as, for example, in the meetings of the congregation. She was to remember what happened to Eve and how God expressed the matter of woman’s position after Adam and Eve had sinned.—1Ti 2:11-14; Ge 3:16.
    ___________________________________________________

    Reasoning From The Scriptures Book (1989), Pages 433-434:

    WOMEN

    [...]

    Why do Christian women wear head coverings on certain occasions?

    1 Cor. 11:3-10: “The head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God. . . . Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head . . . For a man ought not to have his head covered, as he is God’s image and glory; but the woman is man’s glory. For man is not out of woman, but woman out of man; and, what is more, man was not created for the sake of the woman, but woman for the sake of the man. That is why the woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels.” (When a Christian woman wears a head covering on appropriate occasions, this is an evidence of her respect for the headship arrangement that was instituted by God. Christ respects theocratic headship; man and woman are also obligated to do so. The first man, Adam, was not produced by birth from a woman but was created by God. When creating Eve, God used a rib from Adam as a foundation, and God stated that she was to be a helper for Adam. Thus to man, who was produced first, was assigned the position of head. The man does not wear a head covering when ‘praying or prophesying’ because, in regard to headship, man is “God’s image,” having no earthly head in matters relating to his family. However, for a woman to ‘pray or prophesy’ without a head covering would show disrespect for man’s God-assigned position and would shame him. Even the angels, who are members of Jehovah’s wifelike heavenly organization, observe the “sign of authority” worn by faithful Christian women and are reminded of their own subjection to Jehovah.)

    When is it necessary for a woman to wear a head covering?

    When she “prays or prophesies,” as stated at 1 Corinthians 11:5. This does not mean that a head covering is needed when she prays privately or when she converses with others about Bible prophecy. However, she should wear such a head covering as an outward sign of her respect for man’s headship when she cares for matters pertaining to worship that would ordinarily be cared for by her husband or by another man. If she prays aloud on behalf of herself and others or conducts a formal Bible study, thus doing the teaching, in the presence of her husband, she should wear a head covering, even if he does not share her faith. But since she is divinely authorized to teach her children, no head covering is needed when praying or studying with her undedicated young ones at times when her husband is not present. If, in an exceptional circumstance, a dedicated male member of the congregation is present or when she is accompanied by a visiting traveling overseer, then, when she conducts a prearranged Bible study, she should cover her head, but he should offer the prayer.
    __________________________________________________

    The Watchtower, September 15th 1990 Issue, Page 25:

    Show Respect and Maintain Order

    ‘Doing all things for God’s glory’ requires that we show proper respect. (11:1-34) A first-century Christian woman showed respect for headship by wearing a head covering when praying or prophesying in the congregation. Similar respect for headship is shown by godly women today.
    ___________________________________________________

    Our Kingdom Ministry, April 1991 Issue, Page 7:

    5. Psalm 68:11 says: “The women telling the good news are a large army.” Like male members of the congregation, sisters also must adhere to proper conduct for them in God’s household. At times questions arise about subjects such as when a sister must wear a head covering or what should be done when no brother capable of conducting a meeting or representing the congregation in prayer is present. The heading “Women” can direct you to information on these subjects. Also helpful are the headings “Sisters,” “Head Covering,” and “Prayer.”
    ___________________________________________________

    The Watchtower, July 1st 1991 Issue, Pages 15-16:

    Paul’s Attitude Toward Women

    9. Sometimes the apostle Paul is accused of misogyny, that is, a hatred and distrust of women. True, it was Paul who insisted that women keep their proper place within the Christian congregation. In the normal run of things, they were not to do the teaching at congregation meetings. (1 Corinthians 14:33-35) If, because no male Christian was present or because she prophesied under the impulse of the holy spirit, a Christian woman spoke at a meeting, she was required to wear a head covering. This covering was “a sign of authority,” visible proof that the woman recognized God’s arrangement of headship.—1 Corinthians 11:3-6, 10.

    10. Paul apparently found it necessary to remind the early Christians of these theocratic principles in order that ‘all things might take place decently’ at the congregation meetings. (1 Corinthians 14:40) But does this mean that Paul was antiwoman, as some claim? No, it does not. Was it not Paul who in the closing chapter of his letter to the Romans sent warm greetings to nine Christian women? Did he not show deep appreciation for Phoebe, Prisca (Priscilla), Tryphaena, and Tryphosa, calling these last two “women who are working hard in the Lord”? (Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12, 13, 15) And it was Paul who under inspiration wrote: “All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27, 28) Paul clearly loved and appreciated his Christian sisters, including Lydia, who showed exemplary hospitality during a time of trial.—Acts 16:12-15, 40; Philippians 4:2, 3.
    ___________________________________________________

    Our Kingdom Ministry, June 2000 Issue, Page 3:

    Occasionally at meetings for field service, it might be necessary for a baptized sister to offer prayer if there is no qualified brother there to represent the group. She would need to wear an appropriate head covering. If it is likely that a qualified brother will not be present at certain meetings for service, the elders should assign a qualified sister to take the lead.
    ___________________________________________________

    Our Kingdom Ministry, September 2001 Issue, Page 3:

    Qualified baptized brothers should be assigned in advance to conduct each meeting for service. If none are available to take the lead on a particular day, the elders should designate which baptized sisters can do so when the need arises. While remaining seated, the sister may initiate a group discussion of the day’s text or other points relative to the field service, keeping her remarks brief. She would wear a head covering.
    ___________________________________________________

    2002 Ministry School Book, Page 285:

    A qualified teacher is needed. Preferably, the assignment should be given to a brother who is a good reader and who is well acquainted with the language. If a brother is not available, the elders may ask a capable, exemplary sister to help. She should wear a head covering when instructing the class.—1 Cor. 11:3-10; 1 Tim. 2:11, 12.
    ___________________________________________________

    The Watchtower, July 15th 2002 Issue, Pages 26-27:

    Questions From Readers

    In what situations is it appropriate for a Christian woman to wear a head covering for spiritual reasons?

    "Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head," wrote the apostle Paul. Why? Because of the divine principle of headship: "The head of a woman is the man." Praying or preaching in the Christian congregation is normally the responsibility of a man. Hence, when a Christian woman cares for matters pertaining to worship that ordinarily would be performed by her husband or by a baptized man, she should wear a head cover-
    ing.-1 Corinthians 11:3-10.

    Situations in which a Christian woman ought to wear a head covering may arise in her marriage relationship. For example, when the family comes together for a Bible study or for a meal, the husband normally takes the lead in teaching them and in representing them in prayer to God. If he is an unbeliever, however, this responsibility may fall on his wife. therefore, when praying aloud on behalf of herself and others or when conducting a Bible study with her children in the presence of her husband, a christian sister rightly wears a head covering. If her husband is not present, the wife need not wear a head covering since she is divinely authrized to do so.
    Proverbs 1:8; 6:20.

    What, though, if a young son in the family is a dedicated, baptized servant of Jehovah God? Since the son is a member of the Christian congregation, he should receive instruction from its male members. (1 Timothy 2:12) If his father is a believer, the son should be taught by him. However, if the father is absent, then the mother should wear a head covering if she conducts a Bible study with the young baptized son and the other children. Whether she calls on the baptized son to pray at such a study or at meal-time is left to her discretion. She may feel that he is not yet sufficiently capable and may choose to offer prayer herself. If she chooses to pray on such an occasion, she should wear a head covering.

    While sharing in certain congregation activities, Christian women may need to wear a head covering. At a midweek meeting for field service, for example, there may only be Christian sisters present, no baptized males. There may be other occasions when no baptized males are
    present at a congregation meeting. If a sister has to handle duties usually performed by a brother at a congregationally arranged meeting or meeting for field service, she should wear a head covering.

    Must Christian women wear a head covering when giving oral or sign-language translation of Bible discourses or when publicly reading the paragraphs from a Bible study aid that is being used at a congregation meeting? No. Sisters handling these duties are not presiding or teaching. similiarly, no head covering is required for sisters taking part in demonstrations, relating experiences, or handling student talks in the Theocratic Ministry School.

    While teaching within the congregation is to be done by baptized men, both men and women have the responsibility of preaching and teaching outside the congregation. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) So when a Christian woman is speaking to outsiders about God's Word in the
    presence of a male Witness of Jehovah, she would not need to wear a head covering. However, the situation is different when a regular, scheduled Bible study is being conducted in a home and a dedicated, baptized male is present. This is a prearranged session of
    teaching where the one conducting the study actually presides. Under these circumstances, a study becomes an extension of the congregation. If a baptized female Witness conducts such a study with a baptized male Witness present, she would rightly wear a head cover-
    ing. However, the dedicated brother should offer prayer. A sister would not pray in the presence of a dedicated brother unless there were some exceptional reason, such as the brother's having lost the physical power of speech.

    A Christian sister may on occasion be accompanied on a Bible study by an unbaptized male Kingdom publisher. If she wishes, she may ask him to conduct the study. But since he could not properly represent the baptized sister in prayer to Jehovah, it would be proper for her to
    pray at the study. When conducting the study and when praying under these circumstances, the sister should cover her head. Even though the male publisher is not yet baptized, outsiders identify him with the congregation because of his preaching activity.
    "The woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels," wrote the apostle Paul. Yes, Christian sisters have the privilege of being good examples to the millions of angels who loyally continue to subject themselves to Jehovah. How appropriate that godly women give due consideration to wearing a head covering when the occasion calls for it!

  • DJ
    DJ

    Well, there they go again......................straining outs those gnats again. I have actually seen a sister nervously grab a paper dinner napkin to put on her head.

  • unclebruce
    unclebruce

    good call dj,

    most common head covering for jw sisters in australia? - the humble tea towel (fresh is best)

    unclebruce

  • greven
    greven

    You can never go wrong with the good ol' Burqua!

    Cover everything, worry about nothing.

    **Whip crackle** Back in your cage! Show some respect for male dominance!

    Greven!

  • berylblue
    berylblue

    This always nauseated me.

    Beryl

  • Shakita
    Shakita

    17. Certainly a woman with a shaved head would not be very attractive, would she? Likewise, if a woman showed no respect for theocratic order, such as prophesying without a head covering in the early congregation, she would be most unattractive to Jehovah and to the other members of the congregation, because of her lack of humility. A faithful woman recognizes her assignment in Jehovah’s arrangement. As Paul writes in verses 8 to 10: “For man is not out of woman, but woman out of man; and, what is more, man was not created for the sake of the woman, but woman for the sake of the man. That is why the woman ought to have a sign of authority upon her head because of the angels.”

    But, of course, a man with a shaved head is attractive, isn't he? Never liked how sexiest the bible was when I was a JW, and I detest it even more now. Woman are seen as just a step above the family dog.

    Mrs. Shakita

  • PurpleV
    PurpleV

    This is an excellent way to make sure the baptized son stays a witness. Let him see the power he has even over his mother that she should have to cover her head to pray with him. Talk about undermining parental authority!!!

    He'll never leave.... he'll probably grow up to be a bully husband and a bully elder. Such POWER!!!

  • teenyuck
    teenyuck

    **Cough** Had to go throw up as I read this.....

    I despise them................

  • SixofNine
    SixofNine

    I'm working on an Illustrated History of the Headcoverings of JW Women. Sort of a thin coffee table book. It's to be jointly published by Freeminds and Conde Naste.

    Six- trust me, it's the Illist, class

  • mouthy
    mouthy

    Can you wonder my husband--Frank !! not a JW ( now deceased) used to sit at every meal & laugh his head of at "You silly Bitch" as I sat praying in front of my children with a TEA COSY!!!! on my head....

    Hey Frank !!!!! Where ever you are!!! & I do believe when your heart was examined -we will meet again!!I am so sorry!!!! FOR MAKING YOU MAD!!!!!!

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