I’ll start this post, which deals a bit with the conflict inherent in most headcovering “debates” by saying I’ve really appreciated all of the headcovering comments that I’ve gotten so far. It’s been really interesting to read the comments from those who cover and from those who don’t and no one has fallen into the typical (unpleasant) comments that are so often found on either side of the debate (Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!). But since I’ve been covering headcovering this week (don’t worry I only have a couple more posts on the subject! Headcovering Week is almost over!) I thought I would address the debate itself and the pitfalls that go along with it. This post is the result:
There is one thing that I don’t understand when it comes to the great and unstoppable headcovering debate. It comes in the form of a comment that always comes arises and that always strikes me in a negative manner because it really adds nothing, other than bitterness, to the conversation. It goes something like this:
“I don’t need a headcovering to help me pray better. In fact I feel that I’m called by God to pray with my head uncovered. I think they’re distracting and I would be able to focus less with a cover on my head. Besides, it’s just a cultural symbol of women’s oppression and who would embrace that anyways?”
Sigh. Of course, you seldom get every point here in a single comment, but this sums up the argument that is bound to come up and you usually hear at least a few of them.
First off, the “I feel called not to cover” has always confused me. The first time I heard it I thought that the speaker was being sarcastic, but then I realized that she was genuine. I guess what it comes down to is that I don’t understand why God would “call someone not to cover.” I believe that many women don’t feel the call to cover, but why would God call someone not to do something that is mentioned specifically in the Bible as a good thing (again, I’ll add the standard disclaimer of: while not required). Let’s put it another way.
Have you ever heard someone say: “I feel called not to pray the rosary”? I know that I haven’t. You may not feel called to the devotion of praying the rosary, but would God specifically call you not to pray something that is a spiritual aid for so many? That’s why this response always confuses me.
The comment about covering as a “cultural symbol of oppression” may be the easiest to respond to. While women in some cultures cover as a sign of submission to man, Catholic women cover as a sign of submitting to God (in most cases at least!). I think this comment is a combination of indoctrination in feminist thinking and a lack of education about why Christian women cover.
Sadly think this type of comment is sometimes a response to people who insist that women are required to cover (and let’s face it, forcing women to cover isn’t going to help spread this wonderful practice, because the knee jerk reaction for most of us to being forced to do something is to resist it). On the other hand some of us who cover (and I’ve fallen into this trap before) are more likely to insist that it’s required after hearing the practice torn to shreds by people who hate it. In our over-eagerness to prove that the practice is good, it can be difficult hard not to push too hard.
So my resolution of late is to always remind myself, in these debates, to be more kind even than I feel is necessary. Even if I find myself repeating the same points, over and over again (usually that no one is saying that its required, which seems to be the basic assumption in most arguments against it… even when no one in the conversation has made the claim). Perhaps by kindly uncovering the reality behind this devotion we will eventually dispel the myths that surround it and make the subject a little less contentious.