Re: Women in the Church

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Tue Aug 18 1998 - 13:49:25 EDT

On Tue, 18 Aug 1998 07:46:22 -0400 Jonathan Robie <>
>At 08:02 PM 8/16/98 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>>In summary, there is a conflict between 1 Cor 11:5 and 1 Cor 14:34-45,
>>only if one assumes the negation of 1 Cor 11:5. As you well know,
>>the negation of a conditional is not a valid inference. "If A, then
>>B" does not imply "if not A, then not B." 1 Cor 11:5 says, "she who
>>prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head."
>>This does not imply, as most usually erroneously infer, the negation:
>>she who prays or prophesies with her head covered does not shame her
>Are you saying that she who prays or prophesies shames her head
>regardless of what she is wearing? If this were true, why wouldn't Paul
>mentioned such an important factor, instead of telling women what to
wear >while shaming their head, letting them know that praying or
prophesying with
>their heads uncovered shames their head, and somehow failing to
>mention that she who prays or prophesies shames her head regardless of
>she is wearing?
>Treated as a formal logical syllogism, you are right, but if this were
>Paul's belief, then the whole question of covering the head or
>the head is completely irrelevant and the passage is almost perversely
>misleading. It would be like saying:
> "He who commits adultery without wearing a hat sins".
>I can't think of any biblical admonitions that take that form.

Hi Jonathan. Long time no hear. You at least do acknowledge that the
logic is correct, though you do not seem to think the application of
logic here is warranted. Let me try to defend the application of the
especially in light of your final statement, "I can't think of any
admonitions that take that form."

What Paul the Apostle seems to be doing in 1 Cor 11:5 ff is assuming for
the sake of argument that a woman prays or prophesies with her head
uncovered. To do so was a shameful thing. But, what about the woman
who prays or prophesies with her head covered? He makes no judgment here
as to whether doing so was right or wrong. Indeed, he is under no
obligation to do so. Rather, his point is simply to point out that doing
so with her head uncovered brings shame. We cannot and must not deduce
from this that Paul condones a woman praying or prophesying with her head
covered. He never says that, and we go too far to infer this intent,
expecially if other portions of scripture seem to forbid it (1 Cor
14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:12-13).

This "assuming for the sake of argument without implying consent or
condemnation" is typical of Paul. Are we to assume from 1 Cor 7:11,
"but if she does leave" that Paul condones or approves of a woman
leaving her husband? Heavens no! That has been strictly forbidden in
the preceding verse. So, we must not assume that this assumption for
the sake of argument in v. 11 implies Paul now condones it.

Then consider all those assumptions for the sake of argument in 1 Cor 15
where surely Paul must not be construed to be giving his assent:
"if there is no resurrection of the dead" (v. 13), "if Christ has not
raised" (v. 14), etc.

No, just because Paul or any other author considers the possibility of
A occurring in no way suggests or implies he approves or gives his assent
to its occurrence.

You might ask then, what is the point in 1 Cor 11:5ff. The most we can
deduce for sure is this: a woman who prays or prophesies with her head
uncovered shames her head. In other words, if she is going to do it,
at least she should be sure to cover her head. But, whether she should
it in the first place is not even dealt with here. It is not Paul's
point. Rather,
the point was the shamefulness incurred by the woman who did so
uncovered. It is that simple. We must not go beyond the words of
Scripture itself; nor should we go beyond the rules of logical

Two other parallels to such thinking, Jonathan, is identified in my
"Negative Inference Fallacies: Acts 2:38, Mt 19:9, 1 Cor 11:5."

Paul S. Dixon

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