Rhetorical Questions ll
However, the answer is less obvious. Is it "Does not nature itself teach you?" or "Nature itself does not teach you?" I find little support for the first option. The natural world does not teach us this. Nor does the Old Testament, with its stories of Samson and Absalom. Experience might teach you to keep long hair tied back, that is reasonable. The other interpretation is contrary to what we know.
Neither is there a single dominant custom regarding head covering. And if 'nature' means 'custom' then how does one explain the following verse, "We have no such custom." Even though this option appears to contradict verse 4, it seems to be the only clear choice.
If verse 14 contradicts verse 4, verse 11
- πλην ουτε γυνη χωρις ανδρος, ουτε ανηρ χωρις γυναικος εν κυριω
- ου γαρ εστιν ανηρ εκ γυναικος, αλλα γυνη εξ ανδρος
It seems clear that a woman should have liberty regarding her own head. I have a definite doubt about whether a woman should take this liberty if it will cause others to stumble. That is, if an older woman always wears a hat out of her own upbringing and conscience, a younger woman might also where a hat, even if she felt no requirement. That has often been done. If a head covering correctly communicates a married status it seems reasonable to wear one. Today it does not.
Paul discusses many Christian liberties. But we should not necessarily take them. It would surprise me very much if any woman ever spoke up in a Brethren breaking of bread service. I cannot ever remember hearing a woman speak in a situation where she had not been given that liberty by the men. (I have just recently heard that there are Brethren assemblies that allow women to teach. I know little about them.)
That does not mean that a woman should always keep silent. The first time I ever challenged church elders, it was over a matter of serious abuse. I do not in any way think that I should have kept quiet. But I went to the home and spoke in private. No one should look out for their own interests but for the interests of others. 1 Cor. 10:24.
The first women ordained in Canada had served as deacons and teachers for a lifetime before they were formally recognized for the service they had given, often in remote locations. They had no more to do with modern worldly feminism, than Florence Nightingale. They took the Christian liberty of working for the gospel in a place where no one else did and many scholarly and traditional men realized that this was of God.