Men and Women’s Hair – I Corinthians 11:2-15

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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Several months ago, our oldest grandson got a pair of scissors and really butchered his hair. His mother was particularly unhappy with him because they were leaving in a few days to see family who live a great distance away. The only way to make his hair look remotely presentable was to basically buzz it all off. Sound familiar?

It might be surprising, but God’s Word has a great deal to say about the hair of men and women. In the context of proper worship within the assembly at Corinth, Paul told the women that there were at least five reasons why they should wear long hair. First, doing so is a demonstration of godly submission to the headship of God and the man who is the head in her home (I Corinthians 11:5). To do otherwise is an expression of rebellion that “dishonoureth her head.” Second, it was “a shame” for a woman to be “shorn [hair cut short] or shaven” (vs. 6). It is believed that prostitutes in the temples of idols wore extremely short hair; so wearing short hair had this evil association. It was also seen as a form of public shame or mourning, as when non-Jewish women were taken captive. Before marrying a Jewish man, she had to “shave her head” and bewail her parents for one month (Deuteronomy 21:10-12). Therefore, Paul said, “…let her be covered” (vs. 6). Third, “…the woman is the glory of the man” (vs. 7). This simply acknowledges the inherent beauty of a woman, making her the ornament, jewel, or honor of her man. Longer hair magnifies that feminine beauty. Fourth, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels” (vs. 10). Whether these “angels” were human messengers to the church or holy angels observing the conduct of women seeking to honor the Lord, longer hair was considered a proper example. Fifth, Paul teaches that “even nature itself teach [es] you…if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her…[as a] covering” (vss. 14-15). Conversely, men are not to have long hair because nature teaches it is a “shame” for men to wear long hair (vs. 14), and doing so dishonors their ultimate head: God.

Before the Lord, there is certainly great liberty in acceptable hairstyles and length. However, a woman’s hair should always be long enough to be distinctive from a man and a man’s hair short enough to be clearly distinctive from a woman. Is this your standard?

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."