Sue in a pink hat

Why I Am “The Lady In the Hat”

It’s pretty easy to find me at our church; I’m the one always in a hat. Someone always makes an affirming comment like “Love the hat!”—and probably the biggest reason is that I’m the only one wearing one. Even in a church of 5,000 people. Most people assume it’s a fashion statement, but I wear a hat after wrestling with God over the issue of headcoverings for six years.

For years, I dismissed 1 Corinthians 11 as culturally bound and obsolete: women don’t cover their heads in worship anymore because. . . well, because we just don’t. Slam dunk.

Then I discovered that it had been a worldwide practice in the church for almost 2,000 years until just a few decades ago. As the result of an inaccurate reporting of the proceedings of Vatican II (as I understand it), it was like a rumor swept through Christianity: “no more covering.” And since the fashion of wearing hats in public had changed, it was nothing more than a pointless relic to most churchgoers, gladly dropped.

Then I came across an argument for 1 Corinthians 11 that I couldn’t counter.  In this passage, there are three glories: man, who is God’s glory; woman, who is man’s glory, and the woman’s long hair, which is her glory. When a woman covers, she is covering two glories—her own, and the man’s. This leaves only God’s glory—the man—uncovered during worship.

That was pretty powerful, but it wasn’t enough to get me to cover my head. It was, however, enough to get me to feel increasingly uncomfortable worshiping. With the sense of missing something. For six years.

Finally, there was one verse in that chapter that clinched it for me: 10 For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Ohhh. . . the angels. The beings present when we worship, who “long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12) like forgiveness and reconciliation and grace and redemption.

Sue at her son's weddingSo I looked for someone to tell me what that symbol of authority should be, if not a physical symbol. A wedding ring? Doesn’t work for unmarried women. Hair? That’s already standard issue for women, even unsubmissive rebellious ones. I asked my husband what he thought, and he gently replied, “I can’t see any other conclusion from the text. I’ve always thought wearing a covering is what is commanded.”

So I gave in, and started wearing a hat because of the angels. I don’t understand what difference it makes to them, but they know why I’m the lady in the hat.

I was not prepared for the personal blessing that came as a result: I love feeling so feminine! I’ve also been blessed by the way men seem to have a visceral, positive reaction to the sight of a woman in a hat.

It’s all good.

Sue Bohlin is a speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries, a Christian organization that helps people to think biblically. She loves teaching women and laughing, and if those two can be combined, all the better. She also loves speaking for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Clubs) on the topic How to Handle the Things You Hate But Can't Change, based on her lifelong experience as a polio survivor. She has a freelance calligraphy business in her home studio; hand lettering was her "Proverbs 31 job" while her children were young. Sue also serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered organization that helps people struggling with unwanted homosexuality and the family members of those with same-sex attractions. Sue never met a cruise ship she didn't like, especially now that God has provided a travel scooter for getting around any ship! She is happily married to Dr. Ray Bohlin, writer and speaker on faith and science with Probe Ministries, and they have two grown sons. You can follow Sue on Twitter @suebohlin.


  • Nathan

    It seems as though 1
    It seems as though 1 Corinthians 11:2,16 presents it as a universal practice. It’s hard to get around that, but it’s also hard to change attitudes about it. After all, wouldn’t this lead back to the skirts/pants debate and the revival of those hideous things called culottes?

    • Sue Bohlin

      Coppin’ a ‘tude

      Hi Nathan,

      Attitudes are definitly hard to change, which is why I’m grateful all God calls me to do is obey Him and trust Him for everything else.

  • Lael Arrington

    Arwen and Eowyn

    I appreciate the gentle way you speak of your own conviction before God, Sue. Vulnerable. Not judging. I’ve always watched Arwen (Liv Tyler), the gentle Elfin princess, and Eowyn, the Rohan warrior princess in LOTR with their long hair and dignified manor, and wondered if we aren’t missing something. There is a beauty to long hair as well that we’ve styled away. And a mystery and femeninity to veils. Love your pic!

    Veilless and tender to it but

    • Sue Bohlin

      Arwen and Eowyn. . . and us

      I appreciate your affirmation, Lael.

      And I agree about the beauty in long hair. My hairdresser calls it "the Rapunzel syndrome." Lots of men want their women to wear long tresses, which admittedly is very feminine, even when it’s put up on top of the head. I did a long(er) hair experiment last year to see if the Lord was calling me to grow mine out and frankly, it just didn’t look anywhere near as beautiful in reality as I imagined it would be. I decided that wearing a female hairstyle that would never EVER be mistaken for a man was consistent with the principle of separating the genders. 🙂

  • Bree

    Thank you!

    Thank you Sue, for this. I just love to be able to sit at your feet and listen to what you have to say. And for what it's worth, I plan to pray about this, and depending on the outcome, you may not be the only lady in the hat at our church! 🙂

  • Sue Bohlin

    More ladies in hats?

    Bless you, Bree!

    I understand I may be completely missing it, but I know I won't regret not obeying what I believing God is prompting me to do even if I find out the covering meant something different than what it looks like to me. He knows my heart is to honor Him and His word, even when I misunderstand. And praise the Lord, our hearts matter more than anything else! 😉

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