Questions From Readers
● Is it necessary for a sister to cover her head when praying in the presence of a dedicated brother not her husband? Is it necessary for her to do so when conducting a Bible study under such a circumstance, as in the presence of a servant of the congregation who is training her or when the circuit servant accompanies her?—M. S., U.S.A.
There appears to be no reason why a dedicated woman should ever lead in prayer in the presence of adult dedicated males. (1 Cor. 11:3) At the Brooklyn Bethel home no sisters are ever called on to lead the family in prayer. So long as an adult dedicated male is present, in the congregation or in the home, he should represent the rest in petition to Jehovah God. If an undedicated husband wishes his wife to lead in audible prayer, she may do so, but then out of respect for his headship she should have her head covered. (1 Cor. 11:5, 10) When the husband is absent but dedicated male minors, sons, are present, the mother should also have her head covered if she prays. At such times it would be at her discretion either to offer the prayer herself or ask one of her dedicated sons to offer it. But never should an unbaptized son represent dedicated members of the family in prayer. When only dedicated mother and dedicated daughters are present in the home, the mother may call on one of her dedicated daughters to pray if she so desires. In such cases none need cover her head.
There may be instances, however, when it is advisable for a sister to conduct a home Bible study in the presence of a dedicated brother, such as those mentioned in the question; or she may be conducting a home Bible study with a brother newly baptized and who still needs help. What then? In such cases the dedicated brother should offer the prayer, and the sister may conduct the study with her head covered. This she does out of respect for theocratic order because he, as well as she, is a member of the congregation of God, and in the congregation the man should do the teaching. (1 Tim. 2:11, 12) If a dedicated sister is conducting a study with her undedicated husband or with another person but in the presence of her undedicated husband, she should also have her head covered. This would be in recognition of the fact that the husband ought to be the one giving Bible education in the presence of his family as represented by his wife.
The Law of Moses in various ways reminded Israelite women of the preferred position that men occupied before Jehovah so that they would not lose sight of man’s headship and fall into the error made by Eve. Thus the identifying physical mark that distinguished Jehovah’s covenant people was one that applied only to the male, namely, circumcision. Then again, the period of a mother’s uncleanness for giving birth to a baby girl was twice as long as for a baby boy. When Jesus miraculously fed the multitudes his apostles counted only the men present: “Those eating comprised about five thousand men, besides women and young children.” “Those eating comprised four thousand men, besides women and young children.”—Ex. 12:48; Lev. 12:2, 5; Matt. 14:21; 15:38.
Likewise in the Christian congregation, by means of the head-covering provision the theocratic position of the woman in relation to the man is stressed. In addition to its rich symbolic significance, it works in the interest of harmony and peace. It also serves to caution Christian women against exerting undue female influence and alerts Christian men against succumbing to it as did Adam, Samson, King Solomon and those in the congregation of Thyatira.—Rev. 2:20-23.