In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about women, prayer, and head coverings. As he often does, rather than simply laying down a law, he appeals to logic and well known facts. For example,
Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
— 1 Corinthians 11:14, KJV.
The problem is that this particular well known fact is not as universal as Paul appears to imagine. In some cultures, it is not considered shameful for a man to have long hair.
- One could say that this means that Paul is wrong. He’s building up a chain of logical reasoning from what he appears to imagine is a universal fact, but actually isn’t. This could be understood to invalidate the entire passage.
- One could say that this means that Paul’s logic, and therefore the resultant rules, applies only where the facts on which it’s built are correct. In that case, though, what rules apply where Paul’s facts don’t apply? Can other rules be derived by applying the same logic to different underlying facts?
- However, when Paul says that nature itself teaches us, he really does seem to think that this is a universal rule. And he’s wrong about that. To what extent is this a problem?
- One could say that when Paul writes that nature itself teaches us, that this is a normative statement. He could be saying that it is universally wrong for men to have long hair, and that cultures in which it is acceptable are also simply wrong.
Does the Roman Catholic church take one of these positions, or another which I’ve not thought of?