If you ask for a square and I give you a triangle, you aren't going to accept it because it's close. "Hey, it's only missing one corner!" That's just the way it is in the real world. Blue can't be the new orange just because it's what you want or perhaps what you feel. Different rules seem to apply though to what the Bible says, and everyone is supposed to play along and very often they do -- squares can be circles and triangles can be rectangles -- just bring along your etch-a-sketch. So much that has been clear has been rendered unclear, very convenient to make passages mean what someone wants, especially those that set apart a believer from the lost.
God created male and female and designed them to be different, but men would blur the edges and finally leave confusion either to have it their own way or fit into the world. The designs are obvious, which is why in a proposed gender change, you find men attempting to add certain proportions that were once not there. In His Word, God also built in regulations to support the differences in physical design and in role. He doesn't want His special creation taking this into its own hands and transforming it into its own "creation."
In a country that respected natural law, designed gender distinction was a given, going almost unquestioned, even among unbelievers. No one, no one -- and without doubt no Christians -- would see it any differently. It didn't occur to people otherwise: the symbol of male headship was pants, and women wore dresses. This arrangement arose out of distinctions already existent in the days of simpler body covering. As people have turned from this teaching and practice, new excuses have arisen, really cop-outs. Even the "Christians" want God's plan to disappear, the same people who are to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The omnipresent, omnipotent, holy God is still in His heaven. He watches. He judges. People will not get away with this and they can't escape it.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship and supposedly intellectual bastion for the Southern Baptist Convention, since 1993 has had as its president, Albert Mohler. I knew little to nothing about his family until I bumped into the above public offering of Mary, his wife, and her recruitment to answer the question, "Should women wear head coverings in church services?"
My two general takeaways from watching her imaginative, Edisonian shot from the hip was, one, its complete lack of tether to the mooring of scripture, and, two, its contiguity to the lipservice of a politician. Some sort of deconstruction of 1 Corinthians 11, akin to the meanderings of modern art, passes for her as an answer to what should be understanding and application of the passage. Nothing can be a joke anymore, because it's always possible someone is serious (read Bindlestiff's take).
To break down Mrs. Mohler's presentation, she started by relating the 'head-covering issue' to what people apparently see as a "gotcha" moment against inerrancy, thus requiring a defense. 'Is Paul talking about lace on the head, hair, or an attitude?' she asks. She says that men and women in that culture wore clothing that was similar to each other -- they were "head to toe toga-like things" -- but 1 Corinthians 11 doesn't make a point of the similarity of the dress, as neither do the related passages. People use similar robes to divert from the actual point of dissimilarity to be designed into appearance.
She added, "So if they were bowing down in prayer in some type of church gathering, it is possible that from a distance, you could not tell the men from the women, unless one had a head covering on." 1 Corinthians 11 says about head gear that enabled onlookers to ascertain a man from a woman. The headcovering was not for the purpose of telling the difference between men and women, so this is just another smokescreen.
Mohler proceeded, "So I understand that, but we clearly don't wear togas anymore." We don't wear togas anymore? Suddenly grinning, she continued:
Until recently we wore dresses versus suits and ties, but that's another whole issue. You could tell from a distance who a man was and who a woman was. So there's that debate.
Why isn't that debate the actual subject? Women wore dresses and men wore suits and ties in complete distinction from one another, the point of the headcovering. And everyone knows that pants were a symbol of male authority. Then she said:
So if I were to a headcovering in 2014 in this society, I would run the risk of being confused with being a Muslim because Muslim women cover their heads. And I certainly don't want to be confused with a Muslim woman who's wearing the headcovering in a subservient, degrading manner in which she is being treated in her culture.
This is a red herring. This is an utter distraction from the real issue, playing on women's disgust with treatment of Muslim women by Muslim society and equating that with this distinction in dress.
Looking clever, Mrs. Mohler then mentioned that women wear hats in Kentucky at Derby time, relegating the headcovering to seeming insignificance. She said that the hat at the Derby doesn't say that women are under the authority of their husbands, which introduced a whole new topic and direction to the previous idea that headcoverings were supposed to mark the gender of a woman who is bowing in prayer. Where did that thought disappear? Out of the blue, she says the headcoverings were intended to signify the submission of the woman to male authority.
So what does Mrs. Mohler do to practice 1 Corinthians 11 and the teaching on headcoverings? She says she wears a wedding ring, but, alas, her husband wears one as well, so that won't work. False alarm. Is this a filibuster? Then she asked:
What about this? What about the fact that I take his name? I was very proudly my father's daughter until the day I got married and then there was no question that I would be taking my husband's name. . . . Now that is counter-cultural in 2014, because there are many feminist women who would not think of taking their husband's name or they'll hyphenate it perhaps.
She concludes that "taking his name does fulfill the intention of this passage." How does wearing a last name distinguish a woman from a man while praying? How can someone see from that her submission to authority? Nonetheless, according to Mary Mohler, today's best application of the head-covering is the woman changing her last name to her husband's, which is nothing like what 1 Corinthians 11 or any parallel passage even teaches.
But Mohler quickly and wisely pushed an eject button from her own point of view, very unlikely discouraging future attacks on inerrancy with her answer:
I could be completely wrong. It could be that Paul intended for me to wear a headcovering, but you know what? (Grin again) On judgment day, I will not be responsible for that, because of this: my husband, whose authority I stand under, has never once asked me to wear a headcovering . . . . if I am wrong on this, it will be his responsibility and not mine.
Her comments would lead me to believe that perplexity offers the best argument for inerrancy. Anything to which you can apply whatever meaning you wish must be inerrant. And then, could passing off final judgment on your husband for your own decisions be less degrading than Muslim female subservience? "I'm not responsible for my decisions -- the man which thou gavest me, is."
Women who disobey scripture will not get a pass for disobeying the Bible, excused by male headship. Husbands have responsibility, but not to the extent that wives are not responsible. She can't throw down the husband card on judgment day.
Evangelicals and fundamentalists so obscure the truth about the symbolism of male headship and designed gender distinction, that no one could anymore think he has the ability to understand what God expects in these things. Society was once very clear. The new uncertainty mitigates any disobedience, shrouded in ambiguity.
How would someone explain the expected acceptance of a man wearing a dress? This culture does understand the symbols of gender distinction, as evinced by the following from the linked article, surrounding Jaden Smith, son of the actor Will Smith, choosing to wear a dress, while his sister, Willow, cut her hair:
Whether or not he was intentionally doing it, he expertly put on blast fashion’s biggest lingering double standard. The menswear trend for women has been vibrant for decades, evolving to the point of mainstream acceptability. So why can Ellen DeGeneres sport a tuxedo, but the moment a male celebrity wears something traditionally labeled as “girly,” the fashion choice is instantly controversial? More, Smith’s youth and style influence makes the move all the more progressive, and hopefully resonant. Facing a chorus of expected backlash, could we even call it brave?
Is there really menswear? Really? Evangelicals, fundamentalists -- you tell me. Evangelicalism and fundamentalism have capitulated on menswear. If there is no male garment, nothing remainging to distinguish a man as a man, in this present climate, why would there be any female symbol either?
Mary Mohler represents the most conservative of evangelicalism and the best she can manage is the sharing of her husband's last name as an interpretation and application of 1 Corinthians 11, relating nothing to the subject of dress and doing nothing for the eye of a beholder.