Shepherding/Discipleship Movement Survivor's Blog

The present-day impact of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement from the perspective of a former member of Morning Star International (now Every Nation Churches and Ministries).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Thoughts on the "Covering" Doctrine

Ok, so it's been many, many months since I started this blog... let's try again, shall we? :-)

The "Covering" Doctrine:

Integral to the authority and control Shepherding/Discipleship leaders have over their flocks is the notion of "covering" - that in order to receive the blessings and protection of God, believers need to be "plugged in" to a "spiritual family" and demonstrate their submissiveness to God's authority by submitting to their local church leaders, who are in turn "covered" on up the line to the top of the network, with the assumption that a person or persons at the top of the pyramid are themselves directly submitted to Jesus Christ, having been divinely chosen or "anointed" to apostolically "cover" those underneath them.

According to the church network with which I was once affiliated, this kind of submission to "covering" and concomitant accountability gives adherents "security in God's order" (Morning Star International Policies, Procedures and Guidelines for Convention Membership, 19). This is done through submitting to apostolic governmental oversight, since God is supposedly restoring the foundational "apostolic gift" to the church today (5).

Security, perhaps, but is this kind of security Biblical? Are we to be "covered" by church government? And what if we leave? Are we no longer under God's protection and blessing?

Cheryl McGrath does an excellent job of uncovering the covering doctrine, as she puts it, even though I would exercise discernment with some of her other writings regarding the apostolic/prophetic which tend to get into Latter Rain/Sonship doctrines. Frank Viola and Steve Coleman are very helpful on the "covering" issue as well, imho.

A while back I was reading 1 Corinthians 11: 3-10 and realized there might be yet another way of looking at the covering doctrine:

3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

(Scripture quoted from; emphases mine)

Now, most of the time this passage is referred to in order to reinforce women's (wives') submission to their husbands, particularly in authoritarian churches like the one I was once involved with, but what is this passage saying about men? I reflected upon my growing up in the Northeast US which has a significant Jewish population, and about the practice of men wearing yarmulkes (or kippah)... and wondered if there might be a connection.

Well, it turns out there probably is, as Jewish men both during the time of Acts and today wear head coverings to symbolize their being covered by God as well as by Jewish Law. It is required in Talmud, although there is debate over whether it is required Biblically (by Torah) or not.

In addition, in ancient Rome, servants were required to cover their heads while free men did not; thus, Jews covered their heads to show that they were servants of G-d (from

Then there is also the talit, or prayer shawl, which is used to cover one's head during prayer (I have recently seen charismatic leaders promote and sell these on their TV shows and websites, btw. I was appalled to see last year that my brother-in-law even had one!).

But what is Paul telling the Corinthians? That a man who prays with his head covered dishonors his head/covering, which is CHRIST! In historic, cultural, and religious context, this is an extremely radical statement, much more than the statements about women which would have been more widely accepted at least by the Jews. Men are not covered by the Law, but are now covered by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, directly! A talit or kippah signifies to both the wearer and to others the wearer's submission to the Lord under the Law's "covering," but Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law, so now it is a disgrace for a man to adopt any other covering... for to do so implies that Christ's covering is insufficient. There is no longer a need for an intermediary covering between the believer and God, whether it be cloth, priest, or otherwise, for Jesus Christ alone is that intermediary for us, allowing us to have direct communion with the Lord.

Concurrently, if a believing man is convinced to adopt another covering that is not directly Christ, then he is leading his household under another "covering" which again, is not Christ! This was a conflict we had in our own home when I was "covered" by a female discipler, and my husband was "covered" by his discipler, and we were "covered" separately by church leadership even as I was additionally "covered" by my husband... of course, the rest of this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 was conveniently used to get women to "submit" to their husbands, but what was also happening was that their husbands were being covered not by Christ, but by men, which potentially leads the entire household out from Christ's direct covering and contradicts the entire spirit of that passage. And when women do wake up and realize what is going on, a commonly offered solution (as was presented to me) is to be quiet, get in line, and submit.

My heartwrenching decision to reject and leave this false covering, even though my husband was being convinced otherwise (see blog #1), WAS Biblical, because it was the only way I could come back under our REAL and ONLY covering as believers, which is Christ. I had no choice but to leave whether my husband decided to leave "covering" or not (he did, praise God!!!!).

"Covering" is just another word for LEGALISM, imho.

In light of this, note how many times the words "talith" or "mantle" are used to symbolize authority in this Chuck Pierce prophecy from earlier this year... it is a call for believers to come under (another) covering... in direct opposition to 1 Corinthians 11! Pierce states:

And as we release this I want you to decree that everything that is in your family that is not in line will begin to line up! Everything in your house that is not in line! Everything that is in your church that is not in line!

My question to Pierce is, "In line with WHAT?"

I am going to take this talith out, this new mantle, but I want some of you to hold it up [. . .]. Mantle means authority. You have the ultimate authority in this land.

So the answer is, get in line with a NEW COVERING, a NEW AUTHORITY, which is not directly Jesus Christ, but MEN who have the audacity to claim to act on His behalf! If putting on this "new mantle" doesn't dishonor the one, true Head of the Body of Christ, Jesus Christ Himself, I don't know what does!

If the head of the household comes under this "new mantle," then his house will follow. If a pastor comes under another covering, his church will follow. Everyone is to get in line... OR ELSE. This is typical of the rhetoric of the resurgent Latter Rain movement. That is why, in my opinion, men especially are so vulnerable - because they are being led away from Christ with these very attractive promises of power and authority over their homes, cities, and countries, sometimes never knowing that what is really happening is that they are being offered the same temptation Jesus withstood in the wilderness.

Do not be fooled, my friends in Christ. Do not let anyone convince you to trade your birthright in Christ for another covering... for Jesus Christ's covering, grace, blessing and protection are all-sufficient.

blessings, ulyankee

PS. You can read another similar perspective on this issue here - very long and indepth.


Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for the blog, I was a member of a church who taught the same doctrine. In my heart I knew it was false. According to God's word we are to submit, but I do not believe my husband is my Lord. Jesus Christ is my Lord! First and foremost! My husband is second because of the role God called him to be in, and I am the wife, not a doormat. On Judgement day I'll have to stand before God for what I have done in this body. My husband can't stand for me, he'll have to stand for himself.

10:03 PM  

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