Notes on Veils

If you walk into our church for liturgy any given Sunday, you will observe that about 1/3 of the women are wearing some form of head covering, which I will refer to as a veil for convenience. If you arrive during matins, the number is probably a bit higher, but likely remains less than 1/2. This is the highest percentage of veiled women at any church that I have personally ever attended, but I am given to understand that there are churches in the US where the percentage is much higher.

When we first walked into our church, the fact that my wife was not the only woman veiled made a positive impression on me. Since then, I haven’t given much thought to who does and doesn’t wear a veil, although when I picked my godparents (an odd privilege of choice reserved to converts like me) I chose an older couple in which the wife wore a veil. The veil wasn’t the primary consideration in choosing godparents, but I can’t say that I didn’t consider it at all. Neither the unmarried woman I chose as my son’s godmother, nor the married woman that I chose as my daughter’s godmother wears a veil.

Not to say that I consider the issue unimportant–my wife was instructed that a veil for church is a non-negotiable before we even married–but that I don’t worry about the behavior of those that aren’t mine to worry about. Scott told his wife that when he sees her in her veil at church he sees obedience, and I would say the same about my wife and her veil. However, when I see unveiled women at church I don’t see disobedience. Or rather, I don’t know whose disobedience I see. Did her husband instruct her not wear a veil? I know of husbands who have, and I would tell women in that situation to obey their husbands. Its one of the issues I always had with a protestant website on veiling called The Head Covering Movement–it seemed aimed at convincing women, rather than their husbands.

This has been an issue that a few inquirers have brought up to my wife privately–not a question of why she veils, but why a good portion of the other women don’t. It’s the opposite of what she’s been asked in previous churches we’ve attended. It’s a question I’ve been asked too. The only answer I have is that while only about 1/3 of the women in the church are veiled, 100% of the women in the Ikons are.

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