A question about 1 Corinthians 11:3-15

Does that verse imply that it’s sinful for guys to have long hair, or for girls to have short hair? If not, then what’s the true and accurate interpretation of that verse?

One of the reasons why it may be wrong for a guy to have long hair, or for a girl to have short hair, is because long hair may look feminine, or because short hair may look masculine. The Bible says that men shouldn’t dress to look like women, and women shouldn’t dress to look like men. Verses in Deuteronomy condemn cross dressing. God wants men looking like men, and women looking like women.

However, in my opinion (and it depends on the person), long hair on a man doesn’t necessarily look feminine, and short hair on women doesn’t necessarily look masculine. So why is it sinful for men to have long hair, or for women to have short hair? If it isn’t sinful, than what’s the proper interpretation of that verse in Corinthians?

One problem with interpretations like that is that the definition of “long hair” varies over time and space.

You must consider the historical framework in which the verse was written: Men did not grow excessively long hair in those times (with the exception, among Jews, of the Nazirites, that is, those who did not ever cut their hair or drink wine or alcohol, as they were totally dedicated to God from childhood or from birth (Samson was a Nazirite from birth, which is why it shows specifically that he had very long hair, and was dedicated to God). Also, women seldom or almost never cut their hair at all, except possibly to trim the ends. It was common for women’s hair to be long enough to sit on by the time they were in their mid-teens, and to their knees in middle age. Of course, they usually braided it, and wound it around their heads, securing it in place then covered their hair with a veil or scarf. Men generally had hair at ear or chin length, to keep it out of their way when working. (Pictures notwithstanding, Jesus most likely did not have hair to his shoulders, but most likely chin length or shorter) Remember, most men were working hard, farming, fishing, day laborers, carpenters. Long hair would definitely get in the way! If they did have shoulder length hair, they probably tied it back at the nape of the neck, but likely they cut it shorter, as they did not have the free time (or inclination) to care for long locks daily! Women, on the other hand, traditionally wore hair that was never cut. The “sinful” part was probably referring to trying to look like a man, or a woman, not the length of hair. Exception would have been women. A woman who cut off her hair would have been a scandal with hair as short as a man’s.

Given the fact the Our Lord is almost exclusively portrayed with long hair and beard and the Nazarite vow etc. found in the O.T., I doubt Paul was referring to the length of the hair per se but rather to men wearing their hear in an ornamental fashion, something that would cause the man to appear effeminate.

In the East it is the norm for Priests and Monks to have long hair, it is not as common in the West anymore but this seems to be a cultural thing. I am a Roman Catholic with long hair and a beard and I feel no shame or conviction for this, though I tend to stand out in certain places. When I was a Protestant there were certain people (or denominations) that used the words of Paul to assert that I should be ashamed for the length of my hair. Meanwhile they all had pictures of Our Lord with long hair–somehow the irony was lost on them.

Hit squarely on the nail there.
It has to do with what are we intending to do with “our looks” rather than explicit prohibitions on trousers for women for example.
St. Joan of Ark wore an Armour and a sword and led the French army to victory over the English.
She never tried to decieve any one that she was not a woman.

If you have ever looked at very old photos or drawings, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a man or woman. Clothing, and hair were the biggest clues.

Absolutely. :thumbsup:

The reference may be more to intent, or to possible pagan (homosexual?) practices, than to hair length as a numerical variable. :slight_smile:

The NAB has this helpful note: “certain less honored classes in society, such as lesbians and prostitutes, are thought to have worn their hair close-cropped.”

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