To Cover or Not to Cover
Do you need to cover to go plain?
- Why I cover.
I cover because I believe God wants me to. I suppose that sounds annoyingly simplistic, but before I became a plain-dressing Quaker, I was miserable, and once I adopted Quaker plain dress, I found peace. I can only suppose this is because it is God's will for me. The symbol that God used to lead me to plain dress was the bonnet. By starting with the bonnet, I knew that it was traditional plain dress I was to adopt and that the path for me was traditional Conservative Quaker Christianity. Attaching myself to the liberal branch of the Religious Society of Friends, such as it is today, would not have required me to change a thing about myself. God required it, and in his requirement, showed me my Path.
As I was prior to my convincement, I could have easily become a liberal Friend without changing a thought in my head or a priority in my heart. By leading me to plain dress and the cap and bonnet, God let me know that I was to change my thinking, to change my heart, and to change my ways. Without God's insistence, I would never have become a Christian and I would never have grown in love and compassion the way I have.
Adopting traditional plain dress means people will assume you are a Christian, so if you are not comfortable with people making that assumption, perhaps you should not adopt it. I submitted to God's will and knew Christianity was my path, but it was at least a year after going plain before I knew in my heart the full Truth of Jesus. It turned out to be one thing for God to tell me Christianity was to be my path, it was another for me to learn to actually walk upon that path with a Free and Open Heart.
- What covering has done for me: my Testimony
For starters, it reminds me that God comes first. In my previous condition, I came first and a great concern for my and other women's position in the world came first. My feminism came first. It came before God. It came before my marriage. It came before happiness. I did not know how to trust my husband, as from my viewpoint he did not have my best interest at heart. I believed I had to have a hand in every decision that was made, indeed control most everything, or it would not be the best decision, or even an okay decision.
In a way I saw my husband as the enemy. After I began covering and submitted myself to God's will, I learned to trust my husband and to let him make decisions without my input. I can remember quite distinctly the first time I consciously let go of my need to control and left a decision to him. What he said pierces my heart to this day, "Why are you being so nice to me?" He was suspicious, and I don't blame him. I never meant to be mean, and yet the inability to trust isolates us and, not being based in love, is not Christian.
On a more mundane level, it has proven to be wonderfully simple. I do not cut my hair and do not have the expense or concern. No matter how successful I was at arranging my hair, I put the covering on, and I look neat as a pin.
- Reasons other women cover: Headship
"Judge in yourselves: Is it becoming for a woman to be praying to God uncovered? Or doth not nature herself teach you that on the one hand if a man should have long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but on the other hand if a woman should have long hair, it is to her glory? For the long hair hath been given to her for a covering." I Corinthians 11:13-16
Many other women give Biblically-based reasons for covering. In particular, they cite I Corinthians 11: 1-16. Many plain-dressing women believe in the concept of "headship" where a woman covers as a sign of her submission to her husband and to God. The husband is seen as a step closer to God, the head of the family, and the covering symbolizes that for them. Showing this obedience to her husband is a way of showing her obedience to God. It is not viewed as subservience, it is viewed as living out the right order God created in this world.
The Christian Woman's Veiling is a concise elucidation of the biblical basis for a woman covering.
I really liked the section in Margaret Reynolds' book where she lets Old Order River Brethren women explain why they cover. Plain Women: Gender and Ritual in the Old Order River Brethren by Margaret C. Reynolds (Penn State Press, 2001)