Should Christian Women Have Long Hair?

Should women have short hair? Can Christians cut their hair?

I do not cut my hair because I believe the bible says not to. This may seem silly, but I would like to style my hair by putting lots of layers but keeping it looking long. I am 54 and look 20 years older with long hair but feel like it is wrong to cut it in any way. I know one Pastor says never ever cut your hair and others just do not care one way or the other. What do you think? Thank you for your help and God Bless.

Doreen

Doreen:

Thanks for writing! Clearly, your question isn’t exactly about hair, but about how to understand what the Bible teaches. I commend you for wanting to do the right thing, and hope that I can clarify the situation for you.

It’s important to ask the simplest questions first: does the Bible teach that women shouldn’t have short hair? Certainly not. If we look at Numbers 6, we’ll see the following:

“If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite…no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long…when the period of their dedication is over…they are to be brought to the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that symbolizes their dedication. They are to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.” (vv. 2, 5, 13, 18)

As you can see, both men and women made this vow. They grew their hair as a symbol of their dedication to God, then shaved it all off. If women aren’t supposed to cut their hair, they could never take part in the Nazirite vows. Women took the Nazirite vow and shaved their heads, and that was good. In case anyone thinks that this is an ‘Old Testament vs New Testament’ thing, I refer you to Acts 21 .

If women shaving their heads to take part in an important vow to God was good, why would it be bad for you (or any other woman) to cut your hair?

Those who teach that it’s wrong for Christian women to cut their hair generally refer to several verses in 1 Corinthians 11 . “every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is the same as having her head shaved.” (v.5)

If Paul’s words to the Christians in Corinth weren’t about the length of a woman’s hair, what was he talking about? Look at v5: a woman was expected to cover her head during prayer, or when she prophesied. Paul likens a woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered to one who has her head shaved. The Greek word used is KEIRO…the same word use to describe the shearing of sheep.

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.

Paul didn’t teach that women should have long hair. He taught, as was the custom of the day, that women should cover their heads while praying or prophesying. Keeping their heads uncovered at those times would have been considered shameful…as shameful as having people assume you worshipped a pagan god.

I don’t know where you live, but it’s unlikely that cutting your hair will confuse your neighbors and convince them that you worship Dionysus, or make you look like a man. That’s what Paul was saying, clearly…so please feel free to cut and style your hair.

While you’re at it, you might take a moment to read another article: Should Christians Separate from the World?. From where I stand, those who teach that you shouldn’t cut your hair are guilty of misrepresenting God, making it harder for others to trust Him.