Tuesday, February 20, 2007

long hair and feminity

A BBC website article entitled
"Mark of a Woman"
discusses the relationship between long hair and femininity.

Hair is so significant because of what it is and where it is," says Dr Martin Skinner, social psychologist at the University of Warwick. "It is part of us, much more intimate than things like clothes. If you cut it away, you are cutting away a bit of yourself. Whatever we do with it is very much part of our identity."

The article focuses on the link between long hair and femininity. It has always been so, psychologist Lorraine Sherr says, "As far back as cavemen, there are drawings of women with longer, glossier hair."

The article points out that a shaved head for a woman always has negative connotations. "It has been used a badge of shame, often linked to sexual promiscuity. During World War II, for example, French women who fraternised with German soldiers were punished by having their heads shaved. "

"When a woman does something like shave her head it is not what society would expect of her, or dictates to her," says psychologist Simon Moore. "People don't like it because they don't know how to act, they don't know what it means."

The article then goes on to interview a lady named Nicki Hastie, 37, who shaved her head nearly 20 years ago. She says. "It's about doing something for yourself, despite all the pressures out there to conform." "We need to widen what's acceptable for women and men, and accept there are different layers of femininity and masculinity in one person."

A reader from the Democratic Republic of Congo comments: "Cutting hair to a woman here in my country is looked to be a bad habit...It is like a shame for a wamon to cut her hair without a specific reason. Here we consider that having the long hair is a style for the women, but the short hair for the men."


These discussions are interesting but if we want real answers for living we must turn to the Scriptures, and to 1 Corinthians 11.

"every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the gloryof the man. 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. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

We learn from this that:

- Nature teaches us that women should have long hair but that it is shameful for men to have long hair
- It is shameful for women to have short hair (shorn) as well as shaved
- If a woman has short hair she is dishonouring her head (i.e. her husband or is denying the principle of male headship)
- Long hair is given to women for their glory and for modesty.
- It is not only natural but the church should have no other practice in these mattters
Short hair on women is also a clear violation of God's law relating to maintaining the God-ordained difference between the sexes established at creation. It appears that it was common for lesbians of the time to prefer short hair in order to look like men. Paul states that nature should teach us of this distinction. The word nature (phusis) in Scripture is always used to refer to creation ordinances. This is the case in Romans 1:26 where Paul refers to homosexuality as against the creation ordinance of marriage between men and women: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature [phusis]". Homosexual behavior, the apostle says, is against nature; that is, it is against God's original order established at creation. That which subverts and perverts such creation ordinances is regarded as an "abomination" to the Lord (Deut. 22:5). This is also therefore true of hair length. When Paul speaks of long hair on a man as shameful according to nature he uses the same Greek word atimia that is used in Romans 1:26 to describe the vileness of homosexual practice. That which is highly esteemed among men, is abominable in the sight of God.

People will want to ask, sometimes implicitly disputing with the words of inspiration, the sufficiency of Scripture and the wisdom of God, "how long is long then?". There is an evident difference between long and short. They are relative. Medium is another relative term in measuring length. These things are clear enough for those that categorize hairstyles according to hairlengths for women in glossy magazines. But there are other considerations that help us. Paul uses the various Greek words related to kalumma (katakalupto, akatakaluptos, akatakalupto) in 1 Corinthians when referring to head covering, but then introduces the word peribolaion when referring to hair as a covering shows that he is distinguising between different kinds of coverings. Moreover, the word peribolaion signifies literally "to throw all around" like a mantle or veil. It therefore refers to something copious that wraps about a person. This gives the indication that long hair must be at least shoulder-length since a veil must cover the face.

Lastly, since Scripture is clear, the church must be clear and uniform. "If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God". One notable example of this is the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland ruling of Synod.