Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 27, 1952
NUMBER 46, PAGE 8-9a

Hats, Or Hair — Reviewed

Bryan Vinson, Dallas, Texas

At the solicitation of, and in response to an invitation by the editor of the Guardian I wish to reply to a series of three articles by brother W. S. Thompson entitled "Hats or Hair?" I welcome this opportunity of reviewing a position so confidently taken, so boldly urged and with an air of triumph so conclusively presented. If it were a question of no moment we might amusingly pass by the matters presented, the reasoning or lack of reasoning employed, and the spirit of dogmatism pervading the series. But this is not a question of no significance; it has devoted to its proper consideration a series of sixteen verses of inspired scripture. Many will, most likely, give but a momentary notice to either what brother Thompson has said or what I shall write in a review thereof. It is gratifying to know that the writer does not subscribe to the popularly held view that the teaching in 1 Cor. 11 only was applicable to the time and place in which and to which it was written.

If the position taken by the brother be the true one, then by all means it should be accepted; however, many may too readily subscribe to it prompted by the desire that such be true, and in such instances "the wish be the father to the thought." The novel exposition which as been given these verses will find a popular response in the hearts of many who want to bob their hair and discard the artificial covering. For this reason the writer should not fear a lack of appreciation by the reading brethren, particularly the sisters.

The subject is headed in the form of an interrogation, thereby suggesting that it is a question of determining WHICH — the hat or hair — , and in learning that one is a covering the other is eliminated. No one could possibly deny that the hair is A covering, for it is expressly so stated in verse 15. Equally true can no one say that the hair is THE covering when the scripture does not so state. The writer reasoning on the assumption that there is but one covering involved concludes his first article by saying: "To persons with any degree of intellect there is not a doubt: The head is the part that Paul is writing about. But, have you stopped to consider, many have not, that the apostle has just as plainly told us the covering under consideration, as he has the part of the body to be covered?" And, would not I, or any other, appear just as simple to reason that there was some other covering under consideration, as we would to reason that it was the feet Paul was writing about? Someone tell, please verse 15 — "But if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her; for hair is given her for a covering." Who can miss it?

In view of the foregoing statement I am made to wonder why no one ever thought that possibly the feet, rather than the head, was the part of the body to be covered, since the same destitution of intellect would be required to permit the thought of another covering than the hair as would be necessary to cherish the idea of the feet being that part of the body to be covered.

(1) Note: A person with ANY degree of intellect cannot doubt the head to be that which is to be covered.

(2) Equally simple is the one who cannot see that the hair is THE covering, and the only covering required in this chapter.

(3) Many have been unable to see that the hair is the only covering required in this chapter.

(4) Therefore, there are many brethren who are without any degree of intellect, and, consequently irresponsible for what they think or do. Since intelligence is required of those who would be capable of believing and obeying from the heart the gospel of Christ, it follows in reality that those who thus think there are two coverings are not gospel subjects, and are not Christians in fact. This is not stated for prejudicial purposes, but to reveal the intemperate, rash and radical character of reasoning employed; which really is no reasoning at all, but bold, reckless asserting. As a further observation on this statement marking the close of his first article, he follows with two more articles designed to establish in the minds of his readers the correctness of his contention; namely, that the hair is the covering, the only covering, of this passage. Now, if those with any degree of intellect can see it so readily why labor so strenuously and repetitiously to prove it; and to those moronic creatures, without any degree of intellect, your labors must prove abortive.

I have headed this article "Hats and Hair" thereby suggesting the thought that there are two coverings enjoined, and I so believe. I reject the appellatives "Hatters" and "Hat Theorists," as being a discourteous reflection tending to ridicule those of us who believe two coverings are taught by Paul. With me it is no theory, but a firm persuasion formed by a reverent regard for and study of the Word of God. Surely a view entertained by so many able, consecrated brethren as well as many renowned scholars and expositors of the scriptures whose writings command our respect cannot be shunted aside with a flourish and scornfully branded as a theory. Now to take leave of matters largely introductory we invite an examination of the position of brother Thompson. All are requested to read this review with his articles before them for ready reference, and to conserve space but little shall be quoted from him.

In the first article he says we, and he, would be simple to reason that Paul had any other covering under consideration than the hair. In the second he says: "Now, someone may ask, brother Thompson, have you not already ruled out all other coverings? If the only other covering is the hair, does it not exclude all other coverings? The answers are both NO. I said that hair was the only noun used in the passage that referred to the kind of covering." Please notice that in the first article he says the hair is the only covering, and in the second that it isn't. Now to escape the force of this contradiction he engages in a dissertation on the peculiarities of nouns and verbs. Surely the fact that the hair is named as a covering in one verse does not preclude the possibility of some other form of covering being required in another verse. From all that I am able to glean from that written it appears that he does believe another, and necessarily an artificial, covering must be used if for any reason the woman has been divested of her hair — either voluntary or involuntary on her part. That is, the hair is the covering required by God, but a woman may cut her hair off — even shave her head — deliberately and then substitute therefore an artificial covering of her own choosing and meet with no divine censure for so doing. I would not charge the brother with the consequences of such reasoning, but it should be apparent to all that this principle of substitution is extremely dangerous. It is employed by effusionists in substituting sprinkling for immersion; and arises initially in the arrogant presumption of the papacy for having the power to change the law of Christ. While certainly brother Thompson does not believe we have the right to substitute, to thus substitute as his contention requires is evidently founded on a false conception of the fifth and sixth verses of this chapter. On these two verses the ground of difference must principally rest between his position and the one to which I subscribe. Before, however, giving attention to them, and preparatory to a proper understanding of them, some observations are merited.

A. The Principle Involved In This Subject

The fact that the apostle introduces the subject with a statement which sets forth a principle invests it with an importance that may fail to properly ascribe to it. This principle is one of authority, graduated authority, and the order is woman, man, Christ and God in the ascending scale. No one can despise lower authority without also despising the higher authority from which it is derived. Illustrative of this truth Christ told his apostles in Luke 10:16 — "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him who sent me." From this it is entirely obvious that one cannot reject, set aside or despise what an apostle taught without in so doing despising Christ and also Jehovah. Fearful, indeed, to contemplate and I am confident that brother Thompson so teaches. By the same token and on the same principle Paul sets forth the teaching that in the assembly the woman with the uncovered head dishonors her head, which is there stated to be man. Also, the man with his head covered dishonors his head, which is stated to be Christ. The man, in dishonoring Christ, his immediate head, would thereby dishonor God his Creator. Likewise the woman in dishonoring her head, the man, would by so doing dishonor Christ and God. From this reasoning and the severity of this conclusion I am unable to see any escape; and in the acknowledgement of it there should be formed a most serious regard for the true understanding of that which is here taught free from every consideration suggested by personal preferences and prejudices.

With this prefaced let us examine the fourth verse: "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered dishonoreth his head." If brother Thompson held to the most widely accepted view that this body of instruction was exclusively applicable to that time and age and by reason of a prevailing custom of men appearing with uncovered heads and women with covered heads, it would be pertinent to suggest that such was not true. Male Jews then, and now, appeared in religious services with covered heads and, therefore, Paul's instruction here is counter to that practice. This being true, the apostle revokes and reverses a custom rather than conforming to one. Apostolic injunction, in superseding an established practice, cannot in turn be abrogated by custom. Therefore, the idea that it was just a custom then, and customs being changed the obligation to follow this instruction no longer obtains must be wrong. The practice enjoined by Paul is a divinely approved way of expressing, by those observing it, a recognition of the principle of authority upon which said practice is established. And principles are enduring.

Equally binding on women are the requirements of the fifth and sixth verses, as is that which is enjoined on man in the fourth verse. I have yet to find one who thinks men can sit in the assembly of the saints, engage in the worship with their hats on, without violating the fourth verse of this chapter. I wonder if brother Thompson thinks they can? If not, can he prove that the covering of verse four, which is prescribed for the man, is a hat or some artificial covering? He says in his second article that the heads of the man and woman are to be the exact opposite one of the other that the uncovered state of the man is to be the opposite of the covered state or condition of the woman's head. Then if the woman, in being covered as required in the verses five and six, need not wear a hat or some artificial covering then the man would not be required to remove his hat in order to be uncovered. Otherwise the antithetical balance of the language would be upset, and the brother's statement of exact opposites would be untrue. An examination of the fifth and sixth verses will be reserved for the next article.