Heidelminicast Q&A Why Not Hymns, Why Not Monks, And What About Head Coverings?

Call or text the Heidelphone anytime at (760) 618-1563. Leave a message or email us a voice memo from your phone and we may use it in a future podcast. Record it and email it to heidelcast@heidelblog.net. If you benefit from the Heidelcast please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts so that others can find it. Please do not forget to make the coffer clink (see the donate button below).


Heidelberg Reformation Association
1637 E. Valley Parkway #391
Escondido CA 92027

The HRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. Dr. Clark,

    I’ll offer a few clarifications and further questions here.

    (1) I’m not sure where I land on head coverings. I was going through 1 Corinthians in my devotions at the time when I emailed you and I got to chapter 11 shortly after arguing with an egalitarian friend of mine on 1 Timothy 2. I’ve always thought of head coverings as being a cultural thing, but the creational reasoning stuck out to me in examining both passages. When it comes to this issue, I’m just trying to make sure I do my due diligence before committing to either side of the debate.

    (2) My question about daughters was derived from the fact that the NASB (all editions; see also KJV, NKJV, LSB, NIV, CSB, NLT) translates “women” where the ESV translates “wives”. If the translation choice of the ESV is accurate, it seems like a clear-cut case to me, but I don’t yet have the training in biblical languages to discern which is the better translation. From what I’ve looked into, the other translations listed above all agree with the NASB rendering whereas the only translations that agree with the ESV are the RSV and NRSV (though the NRSVUE switches to agree with the NASB).

    (3) The natural follow-up question would be what this mandate looks like today if head coverings aren’t for today. The fact that Paul’s argument is creational seems to me to mean that there’s at least something about what Paul’s talking about that carries on to the present. If not head coverings, then what? Furthermore, what does this mean for 1 Timothy 2? I’ve come across many egalitarians who point out that people who point to 1 Timothy 2 as barring female pastors are often inconsistent in reading these two passages. How do we resolve this supposed inconsistency? If the head covering command is just cultural, how is it wrong for the egalitarian to use the same line of reasoning to dismiss 1 Timothy 2 (assuming, of course, that egalitarian historical proofs are accurate)?

    (4) I’d love to see some interaction with arguments for this. I know the late R.C. Sproul argued in favor of head coverings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1Zmjyvet_4&t). Maybe a book review of “A Cover for Glory: A Biblical Defense for Headcoverings” by Dale Partridge? I’ll add two caveats: (1) I haven’t read the book, so I can’t speak to its quality. I do know that it seems representative of a growing movement in modern American Christianity. (2) Partridge isn’t someone to be read or listened to uncritically. He’s part of the postmillennial Christian Nationalist (though I don’t know if Partridge himself is a CN) Biblical Patriarchy crowd that tends to be very friendly with the thought of Doug Wilson. That group seems to be in support of head coverings, which made me initially skeptical. What made it more palatable to me was the fact that consistently solid teachers like Dr. Sproul also support this. It’s at least worth looking into.


    • In Bible college I took a Bible-study course in which the professor took a different controversial passage each semester and had the students focus on that passage for the whole semester. The semester I took the class, the focus was the head-covering passage. The professor told us that he would not tell us his own position on the passage until the end of the semester, after we had studied it.

      In studying it, I found that scholars divided into three about what the passage meant. Some believed that the covering was hair, that a woman should wear her hair long. Some believed that it was an additional covering, but cultural–for example, that only prostitutes in that day walked around with uncovered heads. Others believed that today’s Christian women should be having their heads covered in church. I ended up uncertain what to think, even with a semester of study, but figured that I wear my hair long and that uncovered heads don’t “say” anything in our culture, so with two out of three interpretations I’m “covered.”

      The last day of class, someone reminded our professor that he had told us he’d give us his own position at the end of the class. He said oh yeah–and that his position was that a woman should wear something in her hair that shows she is female, that a barrette would work, for example. My take was “You’re kidding, right?” If a person looking at me (feminine form, feminine attire, feminine face, long hair) needs a barrette in my hair to “show” I’m female, that just really seemed a trivialization of this. But I do continue to wear my hair long, well past the age when many women cut it short, partly as a potential application of this passage.

      • Hi Joseph,
        After listening to the episode and hearing of your follow up, I’ve just submitted a four-part series on 1 Cor. 11:2–16 that I hope will appear on the Heidelblog soon. I hope it might be helpful when it comes out to answer some of the questions in more detail.

  2. How is the verse unclear? I don’t understand the problem.
    [15] But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

    • John,

      It’s not but v. 5 is a little more challenging: “but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.” No one thinks that females were shaving their heads bald.

  3. ‭‭ I’m wondering why the stricter advocates of Psalm only singers, do not implement Psalm 150? Or perhaps the better question is How should this be implemented? I agree that when Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn (Matt. 26) they (obviously) weren’t using Isaac Watts or Charles Wesley!
    I remember in Dabney he, at the latter part of the 19th century, was still singing psalms only in the Pressie churches, at least in his circles in the South. So uninspired songs are a relatively new thing in public worship.
    I remember singing Psalm 16 once from the metrical psalms and I thought it said the opposite of what the prose said! Changing the prose to rhyme can still cause problems.

    Psalm 150 does raise some questions though for exclusive psalmody as practised in the Free Church.
    [3] Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: Praise him with the psaltery and harp. [4] Praise him with the timbrel and dance: Praise him with stringed instruments and organs. [5] Praise him upon the loud cymbals: Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

    • John,

      I asked that question of Bob Godfrey 30+ years ago. His answer was correct. The Psalms tell us to do a number of things, e.g., commit holy war against the Canaanites. The church has never done it, at least not literally (the Crusades came close) because we always recognized that language was typological and temporary and fulfilled in the death of Christ.

      The same is true of instruments. The ancient Christians recognized that the instruments were part of the types and shadows fulfilled in Christ. That’s why they never used instruments. Indeed, there were no instruments used anywhere in the church until, at the earliest in the 8th century and then it was only one church in Spain. It maybe that they weren’t actually introduced into the worship until the 11th century. They were rare enough in the 13th century that Thomas Aquinas was unaware of them.

      The Reformed churches universally got rid of them in the 16th and 17th century for the same reason the ancient church did not use them.

      Check out these resources and the chapter on worship in Recovering the Reformed Confession.

      In the episode I encouraged you to read 2 Chronicles 29 closely. Did you do that? Which class of Israelites were shedding blood? Which class of Israelites were playing instruments? What happened to that class of Israelites? Where did they go and why didn’t their blood-covered instruments go with them? Who authorized the church to reintroduce instruments?

      • Thx for the extra bit of history about the church practice Dr Clark. Very helpful indeed to understand how to approach the Psalm.

    • Gordon Clark says this in his treatment of Eph. 5:19 – “Since psalm originally meant the tune played on a harp, and since even the Covenanters admit that the Old Testament approves of the use of musical instruments, it is hard to accept their view that the New Testament has abolished instrumental music. On one occasion I attended a Covenanter church for several Sundays. The auditorium was filled to capacity. The singing was vigorous. The preaching was superb. At the end of the service…the congregation burst forth with Psalm 150. It was all new to me, and I could hardly refrain from laughing. Read Psalm 150 and compare, or contrast, what the Psalm commands and what the Covenanters did not do. Not that I wish to ridicule the Covenanters; I wish other denominations were half so good.” (Ephesians, p. 182)

      It used to be we Covenanters could argue, “The Psalm proves too much, for it also commands dance (v.4).” With the widespread introduction of “liturgical dance” into worship services, that argument no longer carries any weight. But Psalm 150 also commands “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,” and that includes animals (Gen. 7:15). Not many churches use singing parrots or braying donkeys, but I suppose it is just a matter of time for that too.

      Actually we are using an instrument when we sing “a cappella,” which literally means “as in the chapel.” Paul says we are to not only sing but “make melody (ψάλλοντες) in our hearts to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). Thayer’s gives the root meaning of psallō as to pluck or twang. So we are to accompany our singing by plucking the strings of our heart. I love to play my tuba or bagpipes, but in neither case is my heart touched like when singing a rousing doxology at the close of a worship service using Psalm 150.

  4. Being brought up among Anabaptists who still practiced head covering, I was taught to be sympathetic to the practice in light of 1 Cor. 11. But outside of their circles (at least in the U.S.), head covering is as rare as hen’s teeth. This observation from my father helped me to understand head covering as a universal practice: “What do you think is more likely, that resistance to head covering followed secular feminism? Or that theologians in the 20th century finally were able to understand 1 Cor. 11 properly and cast off the practice?”. Well, the first seems much more likely indeed. In fact, one is very hard pressed to find any depictions (paintings or photographs) of Christian worship prior to the mid-2oth century where the women uncover their heads.

    Further, we should not forget that 1 Cor. 11 instructs the men as well! If you’re comfortable with your wife remaining uncovered during corporate prayer, will you also take up the practice of keeping your hat on during prayer? If not, why not?

    • “In fact, one is very hard pressed to find any depictions (paintings or photographs) of Christian worship prior to the mid-2oth century where the women uncover their heads.”

      Good point David. Thx.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane, deny the gospel, advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession, or irritate the management are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.