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It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Photos of adherents of Oregon City's Followers of Christ Church have frequent found their way into newspapers and programs. Selling stories is much easier with grabbing photos of mug shots or court proceedings. Both sides of the court system know that juries are often swayed along with the public by first impressions. A defense attorney asks his client to look the part of a normal every day upbeat true blood American and the other side leaks and introduces to the court and press the most vilifying photos. The photos themselves depict whether a person is happy or stressed, normal or peculiar, and we begin our evaluation of that person with these impressions.
I belong to a related church with some differences. And when we see these pictures there is one that leaps out to us. We don't focus on facial expressions or even much on the dress. We see the hair. I know my first reaction at seeing some of the women on trial was, "How do they pray?"
What does hair have to do with prayer? Let me explain.
In a nutshell we are faith healing sects and rely on prayer for our healing, for many of us, it is the only recourse. Any hindrance to our prayer could have serious repercussions. If we have sin in our lives we have to root it out and confess it. We also have to show ourselves to be subject to the orders God established.
In I Corinthians 11 Apostle Paul begins with, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ," It is a plea to some brethren then, and to us today to hear him out and keep what he says. He continues, "I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you."
His subject is the significance of the head's covering and how it indicates an order with God. "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." Then comes Paul's statement. "EVERY man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But EVERY woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God."
He reiterates and presents another argument so as to press his point home, introducing the importance of having a proper relationship with God. "Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God." NO OTHER PRACTICE...possibly the Followers Church has overlooked this?
I am not exactly sure how the Followers Church escaped this teaching, but have an idea. I do know that this doctrine has been a historical bone of contention among many assemblies, and some have put it aside as if it was an old coat. Long ago beginning with Charlie Smith women were forbidden to openly pray in the church. If they are not to pray publicly then their public covering becomes a moot point. I have heard it said by many men that they preferred their wives to have shorter hair, for many women it is easier to maintain. The argument then runs that they are being subject to their husband's will and therefore in God's order! Hold on a minute, since when were men able to change God's order? How did man usurp a woman's obligation to pray? How are we – men or women – to be heard when we have not submitted ourselves to God? How are we to rely on healing by prayer when we are dishonored by what is or is not upon our head, or our spouse's?
I would like to see some responses to these questions, perhaps a deeper discussion is in order.