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On The Veiling Of Virgins by Tertullian

Chapter VIII.--The Argument E Contrario.

The contraries, at all events, of all these (considerations) effect that a man is not to cover his head: to wit, because he has not by nature been gifted with excess of hair; because to be shaven or shorn is not shameful to him; because it was not on his account that the angels transgressed; because his Head is Christ. Accordingly, since the apostle is treating of man and woman -- why the latter ought to be veiled, but the former not -- it is apparent why he has been silent as to the virgin; allowing, to wit, the virgin to be understood in the woman by the self-same reason by which he forbore to name the boy as implied in the man; embracing the whole order of either sex in the names proper (to each) of woman and man. So likewise Adam, while still intact, is surnamed in Genesis man: |She shall be called,| says he, |woman, because she hath been taken from her own man.| Thus was Adam a man before nuptial intercourse, in like manner as Eve a woman. On either side the apostle has made his sentence apply with sufficient plainness to the universal species of each sex; and briefly and fully, with so well-appointed a definition, he says, |Every woman.| What is |every,| but of every class, of every order, of every condition, of every dignity, of every age? -- if, (as is the case), |every| means total and entire, and in none of its parts defective. But the virgin is withal a part of the woman. Equally, too, with regard to not veiling the man, he says |every.| Behold two diverse names, Man and woman -- |every one| in each case: two laws, mutually distinctive; on the one hand (a law) of veiling, on the other (a law) of baring. Therefore, if the fact that it is said |every man| makes it plain that the name of man is common even to him who is not yet a man, a stripling male; (if), moreover, since the name is common according to nature, the law of not veiling him who among men is a virgin is common too according to discipline: why is it that it is not consequently prejudged that, woman being named, every woman-virgin is similarly comprised in the fellowship of the name, so as to be comprised too in the community of the law? If a virgin is not a woman, neither is a stripling a man. If the virgin is not covered on the plea that she is not a woman, let the stripling be covered on the plea that he is not a man. Let identity of virginity share equality of indulgence. As virgins are not compelled to be veiled, so let boys not be bidden to be unveiled. Why do we partly acknowledge the definition of the apostle, as absolute with regard to |every man,| without entering upon disquisitions as to why he has not withal named the boy; but partly prevaricate, though it is equally absolute with regard to |every woman?| |If any,| he says, |is contentious, we have not such a custom, nor (has) the Church of God.| He shows that there had been some contention about this point; for the extinction whereof he uses the whole compendiousness (of language): not naming the virgin, on the one hand, in order to show that there is to be no doubt about her veiling; and, on the other hand, naming |every woman,| whereas he would have named the virgin (had the question been confined to her). So, too, did the Corinthians themselves understand him. In fact, at this day the Corinthians do veil their virgins. What the apostles taught, their disciples approve.
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