These three matters are not usually brought into mutual connection. There may not appear to be a connection on face value. The truth is, however, that we cannot consistently oppose same-sex “marriage” or sodomy from Scripture unless we also maintain Scripture’s requirements in relation to head covering and hair length.
Those who claim to be evangelicals and argue that sodomy is not against Scripture do so by reinterpreting Scripture. Effectively of course, this means explaining it away. They do so in a way that is similar to those who say that the requirements of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 are merely cultural.
The defenders of sodomy point out that many evangelicals do not accept that Paul was laying down permanent principles or at least permanent practice in 1 Corinthians 11:1-11. They then accuse those evangelicals of being inconsistent when they refuse to apply the same method of interpretation to Romans 1.
An article on our Church website makes the connection between Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 11. “Long hair for women – short hair for men!” mentions the following. “Paul uses the word nature in Romans 1:26 when explaining that both male and female homosexuality is against the creation ordinance of marriage between the man and the woman”. “When Paul speaks of long hair on a man as shameful according to nature he uses the same Greek word (atimia) that is used in Romans 1:26 to describe the vileness of homosexual practice”. We might also note that dishonour is also introduced in both passages in connection with our created responsibilities.
Nothing in 1 Corinthians 11 suggests that Paul’s teaching is temporary or cultural any more than Romans 1. It is more straightforward and honouring to the clarity of Scripture to understand it as dealing with matters of permanent obligation. The appeal to nature, creation and universal practice in the Churches shows that this is indeed permanent. The other method of interpretation means that anything in Scripture could be discarded as cultural according to preference.
Paul also argued from nature when insisting that women should not teach or usurp authority over men in 1 Timothy 2:12-13. It should be clear that rejecting 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 as cultural has led to others rejecting 1 Timothy 2:12-13 and now others Romans 1:26. It is only conscience – not consistency – that keeps some from making this logical progression.
Those who show indifference in the matters of hair length and head covering in terms of discipline and teaching should consider why they are inconsistent in their handling cases of homosexuality. Impartiality, consistency and faithful submission to the authority of Scripture makes our duty clear. We cannot dismiss it as indifferent.
These issues and observations have also been brought to greater attention by a new initiative called “The Head Covering Movement”. This robustly defends the requirements of head covering and hair length. It is gaining greater attention and support for the issue as a consequence. While there may still be differences in worship and practice and Bible versions used, it is encouraging to see this challenge to an unbiblical consensus among evangelicals.
Their website highlights the fact that so-called evangelicals supporting homosexuality (e.g. Matthew Vines) appeal to the fact that Paul appeals to nature in dealing with both homosexuality and head covering / hair length. They argue that since most evangelicals set aside Paul’s teaching on head covering / hair length as cultural, they must also do this for his teaching on homosexuality. This is because Paul’s argument in both cases involves an appeal to what nature teaches. This abominable endeavour nevertheless exposes the evangelical cultural interpretation as untenable.
“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” (1 Cor 11:16).
Matthew A Vogan