“Gimme head with hair Long beautiful hair Shining, gleaming, Steaming, flaxen, waxen Give me down to there hair Shoulder length or longer Here baby, there mama Everywhere daddy daddy Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair Flow it, show it Long as God can grow it My hair” (from the musical Hair)
In my last two posts, “Keeping Up Appearances” and “Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up” I wrote about my understanding of the issue of what makes a real Christian. Today, I am going to write about the issue of hair (on the head, that is) and the “lengths” that people go to in order to preserve an image of Christianity.
As a Christian woman, the issue of hair has been another puzzle for me. I truly desire to be the woman of God that He wants me to be so I have often wondered if that meant that I should to grow my hair long. The Bible does contain scripture which discusses that very issue.
1Co 11:15 But if a woman should have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her in place of a veil.
As I have said before, when reading the Bible, one must take into account the context of the scripture verse or verses, the audience to whom it was written, the history, society and culture of the time in which the scripture was written.
The Corinthian church was having some difficulties in a few areas and Paul wrote to them with answers and instructions. It seems that one of the issues was improper and disruptive behavior of some of the women in the church. Below is an excellent excerpt from the website gotquestions.org
“The Corinthian church was in the middle of a controversy about the roles of men and women and the proper order of authority within the church. In the Corinthian society, women showed submission to their husbands by wearing a veil. It seems that some of the women in the church were discarding their veils, something that only pagan temple prostitutes or other rebellious women would do. For a woman to come to church without her veil would be dishonoring to her husband, as well as culturally confusing. By the same token, for a man to wear a veil or to somehow have his head covered during worship was not culturally acceptable in Corinth.
Our culture today does not use veils or head coverings to indicate submission to authority. The roles of men and women have not changed, but the way we symbolize those roles changes with the culture. Rather than establish legalistic standards of hair length, we must remember that the real issue is our heart condition, our individual response to the authority of God, His ordained order, and our choice to walk in submission to that authority. Men and women have different, God-ordained roles, and part of that difference is shown by their hair. A man’s hair should look masculine. A woman’s hair should look feminine.”
Besides the issue of the cultural aspect of wives showing submission to their husbands, there was also the issue of appearances. As mentioned above, at that time in Corinth, a woman who walked around with an uncovered head, or cut her hair, could be mistaken for a pagan temple prostitute (who were also the ones who wore wigs and cosmetics etc.) Another problem was being misidentified as a woman who worshiped the pagan god Dionysus or Bacchus.
The following excerpt from http://godwords.org is an excellent explanation of the subject:
“Paul’s instructions had nothing to do with cutting your hair, and everything to do with living in Corinth. Corinth was a city where many pagan gods were worshipped, including Dionysus. One of the names used in ancient Macedonia (Greece) for Dionysus was “Pseudanor”. It means “false man”, as in “effeminate man”. He was pictured in art from that time as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth. Literature described him as womanly or “man-womanish”. Because of this, worshippers of Dionysus would often engage in cross-dressing, where men would grow their hair and wear women’s clothing…and women would cut their hair and dress in men’s clothing. These women were known, for hundreds of years prior to Paul’s letter, as “imitators of men”.
That is why women having short hair was a big deal in Corinth: everybody would assume that they worshipped Dionysus instead of worshipping Jesus Christ.”
I have tried wearing long hair in the past. My hair is very straight, thick and heavy at the back. I can’t stand hair hanging in my face so I have to wear it back and/or up. Unfortunately, I have a very tender scalp and barrettes, combs and ponytails cause me a lot of discomfort. I also can not lift my arms above my head for very long or hold onto a hair dryer for any length of time. Having long hair is a real burden for me and I don’t think that God wants me to worry about living with that burden. I have decided that God is concerned about my comfort and well-being and since I am free in Christ, I choose to wear my hair short (and colour it to hide those nasty grey hairs!).
As I have written in my previous blogs, I believe that being a Christian is an inward heart thing and not an outward appearance thing. I wear my hair short unto the lord and my heart does not condemn me.
I do have dear sisters-in-Christ who believe in wearing their hair long – they do so from their heart as unto the Lord and their heart does not condemn them either. I honour their choice of dress and hair length, as I hope they do mine.
Whether you wear bright or sombre colours, pants or skirts, bling or plain, make-up or bare-face, short or long hair, hats or hair blowing in the breeze, the one thing that is most important to God is the state of your spiritual heart.
Luk 10:27 And answering, he said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.