1 Corinthians 11:14-15b (HCSB)
“Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?”
In teaching the Corinthian Church about the practice of head coverings for women, Paul makes a reference to what all image bearers of God know by default as human beings… that men are men and women are women, and to conflate their distinction is to disgrace them. In other words, Paul appeals to how “nature itself” illustrates the obvious regarding our differences as males and females. We all know deep down inside that it’s wrong to deny or to even blur the contrast by which God has clearly created all of us (as either male or female)…
Genesis 1:26-27 (HCSB)
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”
This is where Paul rested his argument regarding proper dressing practice in the churches. “Nature itself” teaches that men ought to never appear as a women, and that women ought to never appear as a man. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated what God had previously commanded the Israelites regarding natural distinctions…
Deuteronomy 22:5 (HCSB)
“A woman is not to wear male clothing, and a man is not to put on a woman’s garment, for everyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord your God.”
It’s not that the Israelites did not already know the importance of this as His image bearers, but that due to the surrounding nations’ practice of ignoring the obvious (see Leviticus 18), God was again making it clear to them that confusing, changing, or blending the obvious ought not to be done, because doing such was “detestable to the Lord your God.”
The Coffee Shop
This underlying default or built-in, natural understanding of gender distinction (which we all have) could not have been better shown than during an experience that my family had at a well-known coffee shop chain in Manhattan. While enjoying a visit to NYC to go out to dinner and to then walk around to see the sites, we decided to get some coffee and hot chocolate. While there, my wife, my son, and my daughter all had to use the restroom. The line was long for them, but to my surprise it was long for a reason that I had not imagined…
When my son came back, he had explained to me that the long wait was not because too many people had to use the bathroom, but that the bathroom (which had multiple stalls inside) was gender neutral. The irony of what he described was blatant. This very popular coffee shop chain which decided to make its bathroom gender neutral (I’m sure that you could probably guess why), failed to realize that even though they had designed the one restroom with multiple stalls, it ironically had instead exasperated the intended efficiency by making it gender neutral!
Because everyone there still treated it as though it only had one toilet, ignoring the fact that it had multiple stalls. In other words, everyone knew by “nature itself” that it was inappropriate to use the bathroom together with a person of opposite gender, regardless of how many more opportunities were available inside to help keep people from having to wait. My son said that no one would go in the restroom until each person was sure that someone of the opposite sex was not already in there, thus, the long line.
We all know by default what is proper and improper regarding bathroom usage. There’s nothing to debate. It just goes to show that no matter how hard man might try to ignore the obvious, we all know that when we go against nature itself it reveals our short comings; and God will one day judge us for it…
Romans 2:14-16 (HCSB)
“So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.”
Godspeed, to the brethren!