Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

Where a recovering ex-atheist skewers things with a sharp two-edged sword

About Answering Error Covenant Life Language & Interpretation

Not veiling is a sin just like not baptizing your babies

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4 minutes to read Contrary to a common objection bandied about today, there is nothing sectarian about head covering, and to disallow it on such grounds is grossly inconsistent with how these very same people approach other important doctrinal disagreements.

A third objection to veiling goes beyond exegetical disagreement, and positively disallows veiling on the grounds of sectarianism.

In my view, this objection in particular demonstrates how the disagreement is not fundamentally exegetical, but emotional. I say this because it can so obviously be applied to any number of other issues in the church—yet objectors seem oblivious to this, and would certainly never apply their logic consistently to those other issues. This reveals that the objection is not a good-faith concern, but more likely a motivated pretext to shut down something offensive. Let me show you what I mean. The phrasing below is essentially verbatim from actual comments I have both heard, and received.

Objectors will point out that if veiling is required by God, then not veiling is by definition a sin. Thus, they question the sincerity or consistency of proponents who claim not to judge those who worship unveiled. How could they avoid judging them? Given this inclination, they further argue that veiling ought to be disallowed in a church, since otherwise you will have women who believe they are being obedient to Jesus, necessarily viewing the other women as continuing in disobedience. This is a recipe for division and misunderstanding. They will even go so far as to say that veiling in worship is sectarian, since it is an implicit public condemnation of those who don’t.

That this objection seems to be coming out of the CREC, which allows both pedobaptism and credobaptism, is extremely ironic. Let us apply the same logic:

If pedobaptism is required by God, then not baptizing your babies is by definition a sin. Thus, how could pedobaptists avoid judging the credobaptists (and vice versa)? Will you not have parents who believe they are being obedient to Jesus, necessarily viewing the other parents as continuing in disobedience? And is this not a recipe for division and misunderstanding? Pedobaptism is therefore sectarian, since it is an implicit public condemnation of those who don’t baptize their infants.

When you understand how pedobaptists can get along charitably with credobaptists, you will understand how veiling proponents can get along charitably with those who don’t veil.

The blinding obviousness of this response is what makes me doubt that objectors are truly secure in their exegetical case against veiling. Were they thinking rationally, they would never use such a manipulative, hasty, and ill-considered line of argumentation. When ordinarily clear thinkers don’t notice that they’re pointing the gun at their own feet, it’s a good sign that they are so busy trying to hit something scary that they aren’t taking the time to aim.

If only they would aim. That way we could also avoid a lot of other childish objections that come along with this one—such as that there is a danger of vanity in veiling, and therefore we should avoid it. Imagine applying the same argument to church offices. Or, since there is a danger of drunkenness in wine, we should only have bread at the Lord’s Supper.

I have even heard (from a pulpit, no less) that since veiling is a matter of religious devotion, people who practice it may become dependent on a man-made object for devotion to God—which makes veiling idolatrous. Yet quite obviously, similar logic can be applied to all of the priestly garments of the Old Testament, making the entire Levitical cultus an exercise in idolatry.

There is also an extremely common objection that no one can say with certainty what 1 Corinthians 11 means, and we therefore need not obey it. Those who find this passage baffling, for whatever reason, will simply deny that anyone can find it clear—and further say that since every lasting ordinance of God is perspicuous, this ambiguity is proof that it no longer applies! Rather like the feminist who dismisses the clear commands of scripture about women not preaching even when no men are present. But while there are unclear elements in 1 Co 11, the command to veil is perfectly clear. Its purpose is fully explicable: to ensure that any glory not God’s is covered in worship. And its application requires only the slightest modicum of wisdom: if the woman’s hair is visibly glorious, the command is being neglected.

This denial is essentially weaponized incompetence. Imagine applying the same standard to the prohibition on blood, and arguing that since we don’t know exactly how to apply it—does it mean only literal blood, or also the red juices found in raw meat?—we therefore need not obey it. Or, to return to the title of this post, let’s apply the same logic to baptism. When God wants a law to be preserved for all generations, that law is unambiguous for all generations—so since it is unclear to many Christians whether we should baptize infants, infant baptism is not a requirement any longer. Indeed, since it is not stated with clarity how we are to baptize, let us dispense with the practice altogether!

This is a borderline blasphemous approach to scripture. Instead of a posture of humility that admits our own failure to read God’s word well, it foists all the blame back onto God for not being clear enough. But God was clear enough. The problem isn’t him. It is us.


Richard Hooker Fan

Bnonn, this is fantastic and I’m sharing it widely. I go to a CREC church that actually partially split over this issue. The paper thin arguments against head covering you lay out here were told to me almost verbatim by my old pastor. He tried to manipulate us to stop head covering by saying I clearly thought everyone else was in sin by not doing it and therefore was being divisive. Thanks for your great exegetical work on this topic as it’s sorely needed. I feel like we are in the time of the Josiah where the book of the Law was found and Israel realized how far they had fallen from the standard laid out in Scripture. We need a similar repentance on head coverings among a host of other topics.


“Imagine applying the same standard to the prohibition on blood”

We have, I don’t personally know of any Christians other than myself and my wife who take the prohibition on blood as for today. When we refuse to eat rare meat we are attacked by Christians.

Sarah Tennant

Jac, I admire the firmness of your convictions, but for the sake of good steak I have to point out… the red stuff that comes out of a rare steak isn’t actually blood. It’s water and myoglobin.

Pretty much all commercially-available meat has had the blood drained out of it at the time of slaughter, for reasons of hygiene and shelf-life. Even supposing it hadn’t, I’m not sure how cooking a blood-filled steak more would solve the issue: any blood present wouldn’t disappear, it would just become cooked blood, like in black pudding. The Old Testament prohibition isn’t just against *raw* blood.

‘Bloody steak’ is just an expression. Eat it medium-rare as the good Lord intended, with a clear conscience.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Symbolically speaking, “just an expression” is a contradiction in terms. I think there’s a reasonable case that a very rare steak is a violation of Genesis 9:4. It’s hard to see a more natural reading than one referring to raw meat:

But flesh with the life thereof, the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Cf. the NET: “But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it.”

Phenomenologically, when meat is raw, the blood is in it; and when you cook it properly, the blood goes away. Black pudding would be a different category, since you’re actually deliberately keeping the blood as an ingredient to cook. That’s a fortiori even worse, but not quite what Ge 9:4 is talking about on the face of it.

Sarah Tennant

Doesn’t that assume Noah and co. weren’t smart enough to distinguish between blood and kind-of-looks-like-blood? I can understand it in a culture where we’re so separated from the reality of animal slaughter, but myoglobin and water doesn’t have nearly the texture and colour of real blood. An *actually bleeding* steak would be like something out of a horror film. Someone who slaughtered and drained the blood of animals would know the difference.

Also, modern Jews, even the most orthodox, don’t take the prohibition in the way you say. They’re fine with rare and raw meat. They have a specific term for the ‘juice’ of the meat as opposed to the actual blood.

It also seems odd that a prohibition on raw/rare meat wouldn’t have been specifically reiterated in the New Testament for the benefit of Gentile converts. But it isn’t: just “abstain from blood”.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant

This is somewhat off topic, and I am yet to be convinced either way, however…

To clarify, I don’t interpret Ge 9:4 as a prohibition on raw meat. I interpret it as a prohibition on blood, with the paradigm case being blood in meat. The most natural way to read this, in my view, is the appearance of blood “in the meat,” since that is literally how the Hebrew puts it. (Much like we don’t assume the Nile must necessarily have been turned to literal blood, but may have had the appearance of blood; similarly with blood moons.) One could take it more narrowly to refer only to eating meat from an animal that has not had the blood drained from it. I don’t have a problem with that. But it seems like a less natural reading as I understand the text.


Hello Sarah! Thanks for responding to my comment! Allow me to explain my position. Please forgive any typos or errors or general disorderliness as I was just discharged from the hospital and am still very tired.

Myoglobin and Hemoglobin are, for our purposes, the same thing. Up until the 1950s we didn’t even fully understand Myoglobin. The very expression “bloody steak” is a testament to the fact that for nearly all of human history we considered it blood. Paul, Peter, and James would have considered it to be blood. I have slaughtered and drained animals and I still consider it a type of blood.

Blood transports O2 which is the source of life on this planet. No multicellular organism (save one species of rare parasite that simply steals the energy from it’s host) can live with out it. O2 is life and blood carries O2 through the body. Both Myoglobin and Hemoglobin handle this job.

Saying Myoglobin isn’t blood but Hemoglobin is makes as much sense as saying the soldiers guarding the base aren’t part of the army but the ones on the battlefield are or that only mail carriers work for the USPS.

We must not allow science to shape our faith. The same science that tells us there is a technical difference between the two, says men can get pregnant, men can become women, homosexuality is normal, the virgin birth is impossible, and more. Science is merely a tool nothing more. I agree they are technically different and this is valuable to know for medicine and greater understanding but the Bible doesn’t make a distinction.

I personally care very little what so called “orthodox” jews do. They twist the law on it’s head with the traditions of men. They have decided they can’t touch electrical switches on the sabbath. So they use a small stick to turn the lights on or off (since it only counts if you touch it for some reason). Or they pay a gentile to come do it for them. Or they just leave them all on. They completely violate the spirit of the law by twisting the letter. Their writings can be useful as context but that is about it.

From an article on the Shabbat Phone:

“Orthodox Jews do not make or receive phone calls on the Sabbath (“Shabbat” in Hebrew), as the activation of an electric appliance – so that a current is introduced to a device – violates rules against starting or completing a project on the day of rest.

This has posed a problem for key senior military officers and public servants, who are observant or modern orthodox Jews but need to be on call 24/7. The Shabbat phone, from the Zomet Institute has been dubbed kosher as the current continuously runs through it, and increases when the call is made.”

Remember that they have decided God doesn’t want them opening and closing electrical circuits when you watch this. AND that any law can be broken to save lives according to Jewish law. So what is the need for this?

It’s a joke. They twist themselves in knots trying to avoid technically breaking the law but making sure it will have no actual effect on their lives. Rabbinic Judaism directly descended from the Pharisees and has almost nothing to do with the Jews of the Old Testament.

It is restated in the new testament in Acts 15:19-29
Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:


Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.


“Things Strangled” refers to meat with the blood still in it. Furthermore I say again that they would have considered the red liquids that comes out of a steak to be blood when they wrote this.

And before you say God made all unclean food clean I’d like to say that is true. I have no problem with pork but Blood wasn’t unclean food. It was never given for food. When God told us we could eat animals (any and all of them) in Genesis 9 He explicitly told us the Blood was not for us to eat. It wasn’t then, It wasn’t under the law, and it still isn’t today. Noah could eat pork but not blood. Samuel couldn’t eat pork or blood, and we can eat pork but not blood.

When it says “sexual immorality” It is referring to what the old testament defined (and expounded by the new testament) Leviticus 18 is one of the places that defines it. It’s why Christians can’t marry their mother. Acts 15:19-29 tells us what parts of the old law are still in effect by virtue of the fact they give the definition of the thing prohibited. If you discarded the old testament how would you define sexual immorality? By the same reason I use Genesis 9:4 to understand the prohibition on blood and bloody meat.

As Bnonn said in his comment “Phenomenologically, when meat is raw, the blood is in it; and when you cook it properly, the blood goes away.” and “The most natural way to read this, in my view, is the appearance of blood “in the meat,” since that is literally how the Hebrew puts it. (Much like we don’t assume the Nile must necessarily have been turned to literal blood, but may have had the appearance of blood; similarly with blood moons.)”

I’m not attacking you or anything, just stating my view. God was already so kind as to allow me to eat anything and everything He ever gave for food, why would I try to get around the one and only thing He told me not to eat? Reminds me of the tree in the garden. Trying to reinterpret away plain and natural readings of the text to fit with modern tastes reminds me too much of how we ditched veiling and the male elder only rules.

You said “but for the sake of good steak” you had to point out the technical difference and “”Eat it medium-rare as the good Lord intended, with a clear conscience” With respect, my belly is not my god and for the sake of the scripture I humbly say you should examine this issue after putting aside what you think tastes better.

Also I believe what the Lord intended was what He wrote and I personally think invoking the Lord in vain to validate a personal decision is distasteful like “Drive a manual transmission car as the Good Lord intended.” Because it implies that I am in sin if I disagree with said opinion since going against the Lord’s intentions would be a sin for sure.

Please share your thoughts with me!

Your Brother in Christ,
Jesse. (The display name is simply my full initials)

Jeremiah Z

Late to this discussion … but as a crazy (who prefers well-done meat and therefore no skin in this) and an OT/Hebrew guy …

Sarah has this. Not even a question.

No idea why the NET’s extremely interpretive gloss is determining what is the most natural reading to you, Bnonn.

That is not the most natural reading to me as I read Hebrew.

But even if you don’t read Hebrew, and actually consider the full ancient context this shouldn’t even be a question.

Notice that

“But flesh with the life thereof, the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”

is very different than

the NET: “But you must not eat meat with its life (that is, its blood) in it.”

Not eating flesh and blood and not eating flesh with blood IN IT are two very different things.

אַךְ־בָּשָׂ֕ר בְּנַפְשֹׁ֥ו דָמֹ֖ו לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ׃

‘k – bsr bnpshw dmw l’ t’klw.

The Hebrew very woodenly is

Even/surely flesh WITH its life (its blood) you shall not eat.

You could just as easily read this as flesh and blood (two distinct entity). There is nothing in the Hebrew that corresponds to the “in it” in the NET. That’s an interpretive assumption.

And it is certainly a wrong one (if you read that to mean meat that is still pink/red/juicy after cooked).

In the Hebrew there are two things here. Meat and blood. Two distinct things physical things that can be separated. You shouldn’t eat meat AND blood.

It does not say meat with blood in it. It says meat alongside blood.

If you aren’t making that distinction, none of the Levitical laws concerning blood are possible. Because Leviticus is very clear throughout, ALL blood was to be reserved for ritual use.

Anyone who has worked with animal slaughter for ritual purposes clearly makes the distinction, well-before modern scientific categories. You can drain blood and be left with meat that has no blood. Blood is not something removed during cooking in the ancient mind, it is removed during draining. Blood is a constituent part of the animal, like the ribs, or the liver, or the loins, etc, etc. It was something separable from the rest.

Just consider the purpose of blood use in Levitical/Sacrifical law. You were to separate ALL the blood from the meat to be used for ritual purposes. But according to a view that understands pink juice in meat as blood, you can’t ever obey the Levitical stipulations … since the blood was in the meat.

Just consider Exodus 29:12

‏לָקַחְתָּ מִדַּם הַפָּר וְנָתַתָּה עַל־קַרְנֹת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בְּאֶצְבָּעֶךָ וְאֶת־כָּל־הַדָּם תִּשְׁפֹּךְ אֶל־יְסוֹד הַמִּזְבֵּחַ׃

“You will take from the blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger. And ALL the blood you will spill on the foundation of the altar.”

Most translations opt for “and the rest,” because of the fact that some was just used, but the text is pointedly using the word for all (kl), emphasizing the totality of the animal’s blood. Leviticus does this consistently.

And the very first time the no-blood eating rule is mentioned in Leviticus (3:17) it is in summary

חֻקַּ֤ת עוֹלָם֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכֹ֖ל מֹֽושְׁבֹתֵיכֶ֑ם כָּל־חֵ֥לֶב וְכָל־דָּ֖ם לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ׃

“A forever statute, for all your generations, in all your dwellings all fat and all blood shall not be eaten.”

But note, in context this is a SUMMARY, that follows after explaining what to do with blood and fat, ritually. Blood has to mean something that can be removed from the meat, before cooking, so it can be manipulated ritually.

And in the fuller anti-blood eating law statement in Lev 17 the explicit reason for not eating blood is

כִּ֣י נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַבָּשָׂר֮ בַּדָּ֣ם הִוא֒ וַאֲנִ֞י נְתַתִּ֤יו לָכֶם֙ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ לְכַפֵּ֖ר

“For the life of the living thing is in the blood, and I have set that aside (given it) for you to use on the altar for atonement.”

In other words, you don’t eat blood because you use blood for atonement.

Regardless of modern medical/chemical categories, that pink juice in flesh is never what they meant by blood in ritual law. Because that wasn’t the stuff you drained and then splashed against the altar. You could never drain or use that stuff.

The law never talks about cooking the blood out of the meat, it talks of separating it and using the blood. It persistently emphasizes ALL the blood must be reserved for this. Therefore, that must be possible.

Additionally, Trying to read phenomenologically is a good start, but you are still skipping way too many ancient cultural considerations.

For example. Ancient people that didn’t have the blood laws (by and large) weren’t drinking it raw as a drink casually. Notice the laws don’t specify not to drink blood, but not to EAT it. Because by a large, other cultures that were okay ingesting blood cooked it (and with it). And guess what … blood cooked no longer looks like a red liquid. Depending on what exactly you are doing with it, it took all sorts of forms. Obviously, ancients who cooked blood clearly understood that.

The simplistic phenomenological reading would necessitate that blood sausage is okay, but rare steak is not. An actual backwards application from the intent of the law!

Given that ancients regularly did cook blood and knew it changed appearance, texture, etc when you did, they were able to understand that cooked blood was STILL blood. The Israelites never cooked blood to make it licit to eat. Blood was blood. Not allowed to be eaten under any circumstances.

So IF you understand the juices in the meat to be blood, then meat is never okay to eat. Because cooking it doesn’t make it go away. It just means you have cooked blood now. If you understand the law to be prohibiting eating the pink/red stuff in meat, then it does not matter that it no longer looks like that when cooked. You still would not be allowed to eat the meat, you just have cooked blood now.

Gen 9:4 should be read in context with the Levitical laws. Since Gen 9:4 says nothing of meat “with blood in it” and only says “meat and blood” we should understand that exactly the same as Levitical law which assumes meat and blood could be separated (before cooking) so the blood could be used.

Jeremiah Z

“The most natural way to read this, in my view, is the appearance of blood “in the meat,” since that is literally how the Hebrew puts it.”

See my comment above, but I think I wasn’t clear, reading my too quickly written reply. So just to clarify

That is most certainly NOT literally how the Hebrew puts it. The only preposition in the text is prefixed to the life (the blood), not the flesh/meat.

The text literally says “flesh WITH blood.” It unequivocally does not say “blood in flesh.”

Jeremiah Z

You are very welcome. Glad to see you and the family are doing well. Apologies for the mess of a reply. I wrote it on an ipad and I hate not having a keyboard.