Lengths of hair?


in 1 corinthians 11, st. paul is talking about it being shameful for women to have short hair and for men to have long hair. what exactly does he mean by this?


Now now St. Paul, who cut Adam’s hair?:shrug:


Most likely he meant that women should act like women, and men should act like men.
Keep in mind that all his writings were specific to a particular audience…in this case, the people of Corinth.
I wouldn’t get bogged down in literalism…I don’t think he was giving coiffure laws/


I was actually reading about what Church Fathers had to say regarding beards.

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” says the Lord; those on the chin, too, are numbered, and those on the whole body. There must be therefore no plucking out, contrary to God’s appointment, which has counted them in according to His will… For it is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble ornament." Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.276-277

Clement of Alexandria seemed to believe hair could be a matter of moral.


Perhaps. But keep in mind that the Old Testament is a collection of different kinds of writings…some may be able to be read literally…while other writings are meant to be symbolic, or poetic. And that many of the scriptures therein pertain to cultural norms and tribal laws of the times.
You can find a passage there to justify just about any thought.
I doubt God cares whether we shave or cut our hair.


I wear my hair as I like. My husband wears his hair as he likes (in a ponytail, past his shoulders). My son likes his hair short. My daughter likes her hair medium length. Not sure what the big deal is. Think for yourself.:shrug:


I know this is a really bad pun: Barber Eden :o

(Barbara Eden could cut my hair anytime)




Here’s one source that has a pretty academic approach to this topic:

The passage of 1 Cor. 11:1-16 must be understood within its correct historical context. More than anything else, the historical background illuminates the passage.
Hair length is not a Heaven and Hell issue, but the subject of hair and hair length falls into the category of CULTURE. “Shame” indicated a social stigma and a cultural convention. Paul was writing to the Corinthian situation and not trying to make a universal, timeless statement.



The quote about our hairs being numbered is not from the Old Testament but from the new.


We must remember that Corinth was a center of prostitution and sexual immorality in the ancient world. Paul is probably referring to the transsexual-homosexual culture, which was popular with the elites then as now.


From an introduction to 1 Corinthians:

Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth provides us with a fuller insight into the life of an early Christian community of the first generation than any other book of the New Testament. Through it we can glimpse both the strengths and the weaknesses of this small group in a great city of the ancient world, men and women who had accepted the good news of Christ and were now trying to realize in their lives the implications of their baptism. Paul, who had founded the community and continued to look after it as a father, responds both to questions addressed to him and to situations of which he had been informed. In doing so, he reveals much about himself, his teaching, and the way in which he conducted his work of apostleship. **Some things are puzzling because we have the correspondence only in one direction. **For the person studying this letter, it seems to raise as many questions as it answers, but without it our knowledge of church life in the middle of the first century would be much poorer.

Paul established a Christian community in Corinth about the year 51, on his second missionary journey. The city, a commercial crossroads, was a melting pot full of devotees of various pagan cults and marked by a measure of moral depravity not unusual in a great seaport. The Acts of the Apostles suggests that moderate success attended Paul’s efforts among the Jews in Corinth at first, but that they soon turned against him (Acts 18:1–8). More fruitful was his year and a half spent among the Gentiles (Acts 18:11), which won to the faith many of the city’s poor and underprivileged (1 Cor 1:26). After his departure the eloquent Apollos, an Alexandrian Jewish Christian, rendered great service to the community, expounding “from the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus” (Acts 18:24–28).

While Paul was in Ephesus on his third journey (1 Cor 16:8; Acts 19:1–20), he received disquieting news about Corinth. The community there was displaying open factionalism, as certain members were identifying themselves exclusively with individual Christian leaders and interpreting Christian teaching as a superior wisdom for the initiated few (1 Cor 1:10–4:21). The community lacked the decisiveness to take appropriate action against one of its members who was living publicly in an incestuous union (1 Cor 5:1–13). Other members engaged in legal conflicts in pagan courts of law (1 Cor 6:1–11); still others may have participated in religious prostitution (1 Cor 6:12–20) or temple sacrifices (1 Cor 10:14–22).

The community’s ills were reflected in its liturgy. In the celebration of the Eucharist certain members discriminated against others, drank too freely at the agape, or fellowship meal, and denied Christian social courtesies to the poor among the membership (1 Cor 11:17–22). Charisms such as ecstatic prayer, attributed freely to the impulse of the holy Spirit, were more highly prized than works of charity (1 Cor 13:1–2, 8), and were used at times in a disorderly way (1 Cor 14:1–40). Women appeared at the assembly without the customary head-covering (1 Cor 11:3–16), and perhaps were quarreling over their right to address the assembly (1 Cor 14:34–35).

Still other problems with which Paul had to deal concerned matters of conscience discussed among the faithful members of the community: the eating of meat that had been sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8:1–13), the use of sex in marriage (1 Cor 7:1–7), and the attitude to be taken by the unmarried toward marriage in view of the possible proximity of Christ’s second coming (1 Cor 7:25–40). There was also a doctrinal matter that called for Paul’s attention, for some members of the community, despite their belief in the resurrection of Christ, were denying the possibility of general bodily resurrection.

To treat this wide spectrum of questions, Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus about the year 56. The majority of the Corinthian Christians may well have been quite faithful. Paul writes on their behalf to guard against the threats posed to the community by the views and conduct of various minorities. He writes with confidence in the authority of his apostolic mission, and he presumes that the Corinthians, despite their deficiencies, will recognize and accept it. On the other hand, he does not hesitate to exercise his authority as his judgment dictates in each situation, even going so far as to promise a direct confrontation with recalcitrants, should the abuses he scores remain uncorrected (1 Cor 4:18–21).

St. Paul was addressing disorder in the Church, and also addressing issues of Christians participating in pagan practicies including temple prostitution and sacrifices. It’s probable that some members were imitating these things in their appearance, including men trying to look like women and vice-versa. This is not Christian behavior.

As our culture and customs are different than 2,000 years ago in Corinth, and we don’t have pagan sacrifices and temple prostitution, we don’t face this issue. No one today confuses a man with long hair with such things. Of course a man intentionally cross-dressing to imitate a woman is not acceptable. Just as the same is true for a woman to imitate a man.

In addition to all this, it also deals with the issue of pride. For men, we naturally lose our hair, so a head covering or hat is sometimes worn to hide this fact or cover it. Removing your hat for a man can be a sign of humility. And the opposite is true for a woman, as women naturally have nicer hair than men, and generally do not lose their hair like men do. A woman’s hair is an accent to her beauty. So covering this can be an act of being humble. Of course these are broad generalizations that apply less in today’s very informal society.


Paul starts with, “Doth not even nature itself teach you…”
No, this was not for the Corinthians only.

Before that, Paul says, “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (v. 8-9).
Clearly, Paul’s teaching was directed to all of humankind.


First of all, I’m pretty sure that it’s not a fashion trend today for men to pluck their beards. Shave? Sure. Use chemical depilatories like Nair? Maybe some do. Pull out the hairs like women do? Nope, men today aren’t into suffering for beauty like women are. :slight_smile:

The implication of plucking out a man’s beard for fashion in Roman Alexandria was that you wanted to look like a boy or a eunuch instead of a grown man, and that was usually for sexual reasons. Men shaved or let their beards or mustaches or goatees grow. Boy prostitutes plucked out their beards and got rid of body hair so their slavemasters could continue renting them out as boy prostitutes. A Christian man who was lucky enough not to be enslaved as a prostitute was obviously going to look really sleazy if he followed this fashion.

I hate to be blunt about this stuff, but the bishop wasn’t harping on this because he had time on his hands.


Second, it is generally the case that women in almost every time and place have longer hair than men do. Whenever it becomes the fashion for men to grow their hair long, it usually becomes the fashion for women to grow their hair ultra-long. If it gets to a certain point, it becomes fashionable to tie up one’s hair, or have it in a giant bun.

The limiting factor on this is that women and men who work in jobs where long hair is a burden will always have shorter hair than women or men who work in jobs where long hair is safe.

Men are historically more likely to work jobs where long hair is unsafe, and where tying up one’s hair out of the way is inconvenient.

Women are historically more likely to put up en masse with pain, inconvenience, heat prostration from a hot head, brushing hair a hundred strokes a night, braiding and unbraiding, waking up in pain after sleeping wrong on one’s hair, and all the other burdens of long hair fashion.

closed #16

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