Do Paul's instructions about head coverings apply today, since he appeals to creation, not culture?
If you read almost any commentary on 1 Corinthians, you will see that the commentators look at the life situation in which the epistle was written. They notice that, in Corinth, which was a somewhat loose city, a sign of a prostitute was to go around with an uncovered head. So, the commentators say that, in all probability, the reason why the Apostle exhorts women to cover their heads during church is because they don’t want to have that cultural scandal of appearing like prostitutes.
My problem with that is this: If the Apostle gives an injunction and doesn’t give a reason for it, it’s certainly fair game to speculate to some degree, looking at the contemporary culture and saying, “Maybe the reason the Apostle gives this injunction is because of this problem in the contemporary culture.” However, Paul gives a reason. And if there’s anything that’s transcultural, it’s that which is rooted and grounded in creation—and the reason he gives for this is rooted and grounded in creation.
So, I think it’s a mistake to just dismiss this as a contemporary custom that is not applicable today. Now, I’m in a minority in that point. I give the minority report there.
This is a transcript of R.C. Sproul’s answer from our Theology in Dialogue event and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.