In these days of political scandals, when covering one’s self has evolved to such a high art that we the citizenry cannot find out who gave what order to whom and when, it is good to meditate on the good and godly use of “covering.”
Jewish wedding ceremonies include the beddeken custom, in which the groom covers his bride with a veil or decktich. Some say it derives from an ancient understanding that the husband is entering into a covenant of protection of his bride.
In the Old Testament, if a young woman still living at home made a rash oath (say, she promised to read the Bible seven hours a day and then found she couldn’t keep it up), if it came to the attention of her father, he had the power to nullify it (Numbers 30:3-5). And if the young woman married, the right of “covering” her rash oaths passed to the husband:
“But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her” (Numbers 30:12).
Then we have cryptic words from Ruth, when she went to the threshing floor of her employer Boaz, and symbolically sought his protection for her mother-in-law Naomi, who was his relative:
“Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” (Ruth 3:9).
I wondered if that God-given configuration continues into the New Testament times. I believe the answer is yes, inasmuch as there has been no biblical word to rescind it and much to reaffirm it:
“For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. … That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:7-10).
“Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, his body …” (Ephesians 5:22-23).
I now understand that I am living with a man who would have the authority to cancel out any rash oath of mine. Just realizing that gives me awe regarding the relationship I embarked on back in April.