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The Hair

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Is a study of the hair relevant or irrelevant? Can the hair save you or cause you to lose your soul? Why do organizations hold on to this old way of thinking about dressing and adorning? These are some of the many questions that Christians pose to their peers, and leaders. A biblical synopsis of these questions should highlight how God inspired us to think on this matter.


Let’s answer the introductory questions. Is a study of the hair relevant or irrelevant? The clear answer is yes! It led to Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 14). Forty-two children were killed by she-bears because they teased Elisha’s lack of hair (2 Kings 2). The change of Nebuchadnezzar’s hair to a harder form was chastisement for his pride (Daniel 4:33), while the Hebrew boys’ rescue was highlighted by God’s protection of the hair on their head (Daniel 3:27). Moses (Leviticus 13), Paul (1 Corinthians 11:14- 15); 1 Timothy 2:9), Peter (1 Peter 3:3), Jesus (Matt 10:30) among others, all spoke about it. Yes, it’s not only relevant but important. The argument usually is that there are more serious issues in the church, so why waste resources and energy on this matter. Well, Jesus addressed this concept in Matthew 23:23Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done and not leave the other undone.” The key to Christ’s discourse was that he said the underlined words, these ought ye to have done. Today we discard the little leavens, and then they become huge, devastating, cancerous lumps to the sanctity and purity of the church. So yes, the little things are critical to the well-being of the church, and hence a study of the hair concepts.


So, can the hair save you? A resounding NO! In retrospect and to keep a balanced perspective, I always say though, that the Sabbath by itself cannot save either, but we keep it! Why, because it is an integral part of a set of rules made by God himself. The truth is that it’s a dual belief in Christ, and the keeping of his commandments that saves you (Rev 12:17; 14:12 and 22:14). And yes, there are other rules that God made. A profound one is the rule of nature. He created male and female, and over time morphed us into different languages, tongues, and needless to say, appearances. This rule of nature should be respected as a token of our general respect for God himself.


Why do organizations hold on to such principles? The answer is that there are values created to maintain the identity, purity, and distinctive simplistic nature of Christendom. Christ had to be kissed by Judas to be recognized by those who came to arrest him. Yes, he didn’t look much differently from the other disciples. He wore a simplistic look.


As you read the study, please understand God’s will for you. The purpose is not to tear down and conquer, it is to build and inform. I will examine the biblical and historical, implications and impact of the hair on the church you will also see inferences of the psychological and sociological impacts as well. Here we go.


Biblical Perspective


Over time there has been much speculation that the bible is silent on the hair. Is this really so? No. it says enough for the church and members to coin a reasonable course and expectation for the saints. Remember God’s words show us how to live. Managing your hair is a part of living. (I used the term ‘managing’ because like the rest of our temple, it belongs to God. It is loaned to us to manage it). So, what does the bible declare about hair?


The white (or gray) hair was a symbol of honor, respect and authority (Lev 19:32; Prov. 16:31; Dan 7:9 and Rev 1:14). So, the church asks members to desist from dyeing the hair to preserve one’s honor! It’s due to you. Christ declared in Matthew 5:36 that we should not swear by our heads because we cannot make one hair white or black! The significance is that God has power over our hair. That is why he numbers them (Matthew 10:30).


The hair was used to distinguish the leprous from the clean (even the lack of hair was relevant) see Lev 13:10, 25, 26, and 36. The point is that it ties with what Paul declares to the church at Rome. He said, “Be not conformed to the world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind….” Romans 12:2. The hair still distinguishes the modest from the elaborate; the humble from the sophisticated; and the transformed child of God from the conformist child of the world order. Christ the high priest is still looking and seeing deeply beyond your hair (whether you process it or not), into your heart. He knows the basis of your decisions. Unfortunately, the common man on the street has to go by your outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7, and Matt. 23:28). Hereby, the church still teaches members that your hair distinguishes you from the world. We are not naive! There are people in the world and church with naturally straight long hair et cetera (Rev. 7:9). The key word though is naturally. Yes, it’s a mark of identification, even of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9)


God’s saving grace and mercy was exemplified in Daniel 3:27. The hairs of the Hebrew boys were not burned in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace! Today, we flip the script! We burn our hair (perm) in defiance of God’s genetic design then declare mercy and grace with our lips!


God designed us! Genesis 1:26 – 27, shows we were fashioned in His image and likeness by Him. Psalm 100:3 says, “He made us and not we ourselves.” Even though we live in our bodies, they are borrowed. Psalm 139:13-16 lauds the excellence and completeness of the design. The Psalmist wrote ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’. Each race has its own distinctive marks and features. When we alter these genetic clues, we declare to God that his design was flawed. Each child of God should bask in the part they play in God’s artistic collage. We should recognize and embrace our value to the His artistic will.


Samson and Absalom both died in hair related incidents. Samson delivered Israel from the hands of the enemies of God. In obedience, Manoah and his wife (Samson’s parents) heeded the angel’s request as to the grooming of Samson’s hair (among other things). It became a source of deliverance for a nation perplexed by the Philistines Judges 16:17. So the instructions from the angel of the Lord said the hair would be a symbol of Samson’s separation and personal call. The church today has the same creed or parallel principle. We do not ask members to take the Nazarite vow, but we ask our members to outwardly mark their separation from the world. For men, we ask them not to do outlandish markings and designs (like Mohawks, gang signs, etc.). Because an entire movement (Rastafarianism) is defined by the locking of the hair, we ask that our men not do this practice either. Paul agrees in 1 Corinthians 11:14. For our women of God, perming, locking, weaving, and any outlandish coiffure (hairdo) is not advised (the historical view will give more information on the why). Samson’s demise came as a direct violation of this vow of separation. Absalom had a similar fate. He (and Israel as a matter of fact) was so in tuned to his hair that they knew the weight when he cut it yearly, 2 Samuel 14:26. His pride was ironically the center of his demise 2 Samuel 18:9. His hair that was so heralded got caught in the oak, and as he hung there in midair, he became helpless to the darts of Joab and his men. Whilst it was not his hair that caused him to rise against David, God used this symbol of his pride to facilitate his death. I see the same behavior today. The hair may not be the only essence of pride, but many have stubbornly used it to hang between righteousness and unrighteousness, and ultimately die spiritually from the darts of the enemy. On the other hand, the woman who used her hair to wash and anoint Jesus’ feet was commended and honored for her positive and unselfish use of her hair Luke 7:44.


Revelations 12 outlines a woman, symbolic of the church. She was naturally adorned. Compare her to the woman (false church) in Revelations 17. The purpose of the church’s stand is not to be legalists, but to maintain simplicity and modesty. The uniform of the church declares our independence from the world. Paul in Romans 12:2 ask us not to be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 1 John 2:15 -17 say, “Love not the world, neither the things of the world….’ A lot of the hairstyles we adopt are coined from the worldly design. The creators were not thinking modesty or purity when these were invented. We should not depend on the world to set our standards. Isaiah 3:17 show how God dealt with the haughty in Zion. He attacked one source of their pride, the hair. 1 Timothy 2:9 shows that Christian women should dress sensibly, and in harmony with what is proper for Christian decency and dignity. They should not draw attention to themselves with outlandish hairdos. The term ‘broided’ comes from the same root as the word embroidery. It means to add embellishments (exaggeration, enlargement, enhancement, accompaniments, add-ons, additions). There is more information coming about the weave in the historical perspective.


Paul spoke to men in 1 Corinthians 11:14 about Christian grooming. He inferred that cutting one’s hair is naturally normal. He said long hair is a shame unto him (a man). We saw Joseph get this sort of grooming to see Pharaoh after being in prison (Genesis 41:14). The bible speaks of the Nazarite vow of separation in Numbers 6. Note that it was not for everyone! Verse 2 says, “When either man or woman shall separate themselves…” Another important point is that it was for a period of time, and not necessarily a lifetime tenure (see the beginning of verses 4 and 5). When the vow is ended or broken, there was a sacrificial procedure (verses 9-21). The shaven hair was offered as a part of the sacrifice (verse 18)! The physical vow is not for us today, but did you notice that hair was offered as sacrifice as a token of a period of sanctified living? The lesson for us today is that if God asked Moses to convey this message and inference about hair, it was important to him. Whilst the sacrificial system is done away with, there is still room for the spiritual lesson. We should still honor the spiritual principle that hair means something to God and be careful what we put in it, add to it, and in general manage it! So yes, there was Samson and Ezekiel (see chapter 8:3) etc. who had this type of hairdo, but it is not required today (see Ezekiel 44:20).


1 Corinthians 11:15 also says that if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her. The devil has whispered this scripture to countless women globally. He however twisted the spiritual essence into a selfish, personal ‘honor system’ by reverse psychology. He (Satan) tells women that the opposite/converse is true! He says that any shortened version is a shame and disgrace. He slams women with overwhelming evidence of this pride through the television, internet and workplace (especially the corporate world) norms. Notice the ‘exotic’ women of the world (there are exceptions where some shave for effect too like certain supermodels)! So, Paul again answers with some overarching principles that should be applied to this reasoning. He said in Philippians 3:8 that he counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and counts them dung to win Christ. He asked Christians in verses 13 and 14 to forget the things which are behind (anything picked up from the world, or that we practiced while in the old man) and press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling. The part of the chapter that struck me the most was verse 19 last part. He said, “Whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things.” Though Paul spoke the inspired word in context to the enemies of the cross of Christ, it can be used to analyze a mindset sewn and woven by the greatest enemy of God. Think, God gave the hair for a woman’s glory and honor, but by our behavior and disposition, we have caused it to be an element of shame. How? We allow the enemy to focus the attention of the hair away from God to ourselves. Thus, we mind earthly things. We mind earthly opinions about the natural hair God gave us. We mind and conform to the earthly viewpoint of how it is supposed to be.


The complaint is that, “I can’t manage my hair! It is too tough and course!” This may be true. But the scripture declares that not everyone got the same number or value of talents Matthew 25:14 and 15. Some received five, others two and some of us only get one. Our behavior often suggests that we have placed our hair situation parallel to the man with the one talent. We seem covetous of the design of others and thus complain. We then dig the earth and hide God’s heritage and design in the mire of shame and laziness (to comb it), instead of honoring Him with our resilience (to comb it) and management of it. Rastafarianism embraces elements of the Nazarite vow mentioned in the scripture (Numbers 6). The major fallacy lies in the fact that the Nazarite vow was a designated period of separation. We follow Paul’s leadership in separation the Church from being identified with this false practice! Paul, in 1 Peter 3:3-6, encourages married women to move away from absolute focus on the outside and put more emphasis on inner character and duty, “the hidden man of the heart.” Note that Paul spoke against the extreme coiffures (hairdos that included plaiting/extensions and additions); gaudy exhibits of jewelry, and expensive or rapid changes of apparel. Just think Jezebel and what happened to her!


So, in conclusion of the biblical perspective, the hair was used as a mark of identification and even in ministry to Christ, which we endorse. Adversely, it was also a source of pride and destruction, which we discourage and prohibit. In the next step, let’s see the historic perspective.


Historic Perspective


Hair extensions (commonly called weave) is originated in Egypt. As early as five millennia ago, there were artwork created (such as the Sphinx) that modeled this practice.

The Sphinx is aligned with the rising sun each morning (it faces east). Later Egyptian rulers worshipped it as an aspect of the sun god, calling it Hor-Em-Akhet (meaning "Horus of the Horizon"). There is a small chapel between its outstretched paws. It contains dozens of inscribed stele (upright stone slab or pillar bearing an inscription or design and serving as a monument) placed by the Pharaohs to honor the god. One of these inscriptions recounts a dream that Thutmose IV had while taking a nap in the shade of the monument. He claimed the Sphinx came to him and promised him the crown of Egypt if he would only dig it out of the sand that was engulfing it.


Pliny the Elder, Roman author and statesman, 1st century AD wrote, “In front of the pyramids is the Sphinx, which is perhaps even more to be admired than they. It impresses one by its stillness and silence, and is the local divinity of the inhabitants of the surrounding district."


Why do we then want to live in the image of the Sphinx rather than in the image of God? The practice of adding hair to one’s hair historically had a religious significance rooted in idolatry. The enemy simply uses us to amplify his plans of subtle idolatry. Instead of the Sphinx being stationery in the plains of Egypt, he masquerades the practice in the superstars and ordinary women who has no clue of the plan! As he did to Thutmose IV, Satan promises the crowns of beauty, status, youth, fashion, hope, and most of all acceptance and societal validation. Exodus 12:12 and Isaiah 19:1 amplifies that God hates idols and definitely the ones of Egypt too!


According to the book "Hair Story, Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America" by Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps., braids (weave) were an indicator of age, religion, and marital status, depending upon what types of knots, twists and adornment a person wore. Do we really know what we are representing with the extensions in our hair? Hence the church asks our sisters not to wear weave (and men not to wear wigs).

What about perms?


I once had a dream, while on fasting, about a woman named C.J. walker. She is a cultural icon among African Americans. I knew about her, but the voice in the dream said to see her quotes, because this would unlock her thoughts behind her creations. She said many positive things, but three of her famous quotes unlocked some deeper issues.


“One night I had a dream, and in that dream a big black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up for my hair. I made up my mind I would begin to sell it.”


“I want the great masses of my people (blacks) to take greater pride in their personal appearance and to give their hair proper attention.”


“There would be no hair growing business today, had I not started it.”


These quotes may seem harmless, but look again. It all started with a poor, frustrated teenage widow. This woman was actually born in Louisiana just after the Civil War (1867). She got a visit (dream) from a ‘big black man’ that gave a potion to success, and told her to sell it. She galvanized the hair industry, and died a millionaire at the age of 51, when women (neither black nor white) weren’t even able to vote. The story seemed similar to the visit of Elijah to the widow in Zarephath (1 Kings 17: 8-24) or even more so Elisha to the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7. However, the copy-cat blessing (curse) for C.J. walker is that the product that she sold required the mindset of the first quote (pride). That was the biggest formula that the man in her vision gave to her. In essence she used this subtle persuasive gesture to become rich. The devil used the same trick on Eve! God was not the author of that vision, because he required the saints to be clothed in humility. The end product of her vision was that her company patented perming (a machine that could keep the waves longer was invented and improved by Marjorie Joyner in 1928 but was the intellectual property of the Walker Company). The perming of the hair was born from a desire to change the creative work of God to suit the mentality of inferiority complex. Blacks were subject to great oppression, and this push by Walker gave them some credibility and equality with the ‘superior’ races. Notice James Brown, Rick James, The Platters (and other male groups), Michael Jackson, Prince and so on. They all used these products in their hair! It was not a female thing; it was a cultural healing for a people who couldn’t accept their curly hair, both male and female.


The expense and time to do the changes are factors Christians should consider. To add also, consider that perming can cause other damage. Some perm solution is made up of a highly potent ammonium thioglycolate chemical solution, which can be irritating to some users. It can cause itching, redness, burning and peeling of the scalp. Because of the strength of the ammonium thioglycolate solution, many find their hair texture changed after using it. Ammonium thioglycolate can dry out the hair, leaving it brittle and more susceptible to breakage. According to hair experts, the only way to correct this problem is to grow the hair out (naturally) and cut off the damaged portion.


According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary 1988, Assyrian sculptures and images of old showed the hair as always being long, combed closely to the down upon the head, and falling in a mass of curls upon the shoulder. Historians have concluded that the hair in the sculptures were partly false, and was a type of headdress to add to the effect of the natural hair.


Merrill Unger continued, that the Greeks (especially free Athenians) did not wear short hair (the men) or he would be mistaken for a slave (remember Paul’s attack on this culture in 1 Corinthians 11:14?). Greek women were obsessed with covering their forehead (bangs). An interesting fact on their history according to Hungers, is that these women often ‘tried by artificial means to lighten their dark hair.’ Again, we are seeing patterns of behavior regarding the hair woven and pressed into our societal norms by these world powers over time.

Conclusion


Hebrews 12:1 says, “Now we are compassed with so great a cloud of witnesses….” There are too many doctrines contrived because of man’s unwillingness to draw closer to God. It is hoped that this writing gave some premise to the responsibility of the church to be pure and separated from the world. I end with an anecdote of my sister that went through customs. Her spending was over the allowed limit, hence additional taxes. The Custom officer asked for the amount spent. She responded and the officer asked if she was a Christian. My sister asked why. The officer mentioned her natural hair coming from the Unites States as being rare and outstanding. This was all the evidence she needed to waive the taxes and gave further commendation. That’s what your hair should do, be a distinctive mark and validation of a change and difference from the norms of the world.


The church’s prohibition sets and defines holiness expectations (rather than leaving it up to individuals). This fosters accountability among members and a level playing field. Vagueness breathes contempt and sin. It’s a loop-hole that invites the daring minds to challenge the edges, and live on the periphery (edges) of righteousness, rather than to dive in to the core.


As people of God should we walk in God’s mercy or in stubbornness (Read Romans 9:18 also verses 7 and 8)? Jesus asked Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these?” referring of course to the fish (and fishing lifestyle) that Peter had returned to after experiencing Christ (John 21:17). The question today is the same for us as men and women in the church. Men should respect the words of God and adorn ourselves appropriately. Women should do the same. We should complement and support our women who try to adapt the simple, biblical adorning of humility. Leaders should study to inform the church on the will of God, and be genuine shepherds to the people of God. We should advise in a way to promote holiness, especially on issues that the bible is perceived to be silent on.


When serving self, modesty seems depressing, but the spiritual mind sees modesty as a bird set free from the imprisonment of carnality and societal norms harmful to spiritual growth. They know that the aim is not to be seen in the light of self, but to be the light that points the wayward soul away from those norms to the narrow (way). God bless you.

References


Allen, Bianca. E-How Style. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2013. <: http://www.ehow.com/about_5486239_history-hair-weaving.html#ixzz2ephvTYRe>.

Byrd, Ayana, and Lori Tharps. Hair Story, Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001. Print.

"Hair." The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. 1988. 515-17. Print.

"Hair." Strong's. 21st centuryst ed. 2001. 489-90. Print.

Barcex, Usuario. "Great Sphinx of Giza." WikiMedia, 16 July 2008, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4483211, 16 Aug 2020


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