Women With Short Hair and Men With Long Hair?

 

Women with short hair and men with long hair?

Question

“I notice that most girls and women have fairly short hair and some of them have very short hair.  Sometimes their hair is not as long as the typical man’s hair length.  The opposite is also a question: some men do have fairly long hair.  Is this a problem that is addressed in Scripture? 

Answer

With the realization that some readers will think that we are majoring on minors, we yet must speak to this common problem since this is part of God’s will.  Paul wrote, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27).

As mentioned in the question, most women have short hair, especially those who are older.  Some younger women still have relatively long hair, but even this is usually cut regularly and very few have very long hair length.  Even religious women seem to be unconcerned about whether they have short or long hair, although they may openly condemn men for wearing long hair!  This is quite inconsistent, don’t you think?

 

Probably most of these women think that Paul’s instructions on this matter were to be applied only in Corinth, but the text doesn’t say this.  Others say that it should be limited to the New Testament period, but the text doesn’t say this either.  Still others have a low view of the inspiration of the Bible and suggest that Paul was just wrong in his statement.  But for those who do accept the fact that the Scriptures are inspired of God and given for our benefit, the issue of women’s hair should be relatively simple (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 1:13).

As for the length of men’s hair, it is true that many men do now have short hair.  Yet there are some who allow their hair to grow long.  Some of these are in their sixties, apparently adopting this practice in their youth back in the 1960s.  Others have chosen to let their hair grow long, even though they are in their twenties or thirties.  Granted, these are not in the mainstream of society, whereas women with short hair are very much in the mainstream.

Paul’s instructions are quite simple: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?  For her hair is given to her for a covering” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

This passage is in the context of Paul’s instructions that women are to wear a veiling or head covering when they pray or prophecy, whereas men are not to cover their head during these spiritual exercises (1 Corinthians 11:4-13).  Then, in verses 14-15, Paul is giving a supplementary argument to support his basic instruction.  He is saying that “nature” gives to the woman a natural covering; therefore, she should also wear the additional covering.  The natural covering given to the woman is long hair (see also vv. 5-6).

Paul’s instructions are clear: If a man has long hair, it is a “dishonor” to him (v. 14).  It is a “disgrace” to him (ESV, NET Bible, NIV).  If a woman has long hair, it is a “glory” to her (v. 15).  This speaks to something that is basic and fundamental, something that must not be limited to one culture or period of time.

We know that some women have hair that doesn’t grow long, or doesn’t grow very long.  Some ethnic groups have trouble growing their hair long.  Surely God doesn’t require the impossible for these sincere women.  If they allow their hair to grow, without hindering it, even relatively short hair would be “long” to them.  They should not be condemned in any way.

We also know that when a woman comes to Christ, her hair will probably be quite short.  Even if she allows it to grow, unhindered, it may take some years before her hair appears to be long.  These sincere sisters in Christ should not be denounced in any way. She is doing what she can.  Every person who comes to Christ probably has various issues that he or she is working out and it may take a while before they can be resolved.  While it would be wrong for a woman to cut her hair short, the state of being short is not sinful in itself.  Do we see the difference?  A newborn woman of God may have short hair because of her former lifestyle but she can begin there to follow the ways of God and should not be looked down on by Pharisaical people.  They are doing what they can under the circumstances.

Let’s all determine that we will follow the Lord and His divine instructions in all things, even in the things that people sometimes consider “minor.”

Richard Hollerman

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