Is it a Sin for a Man to Have Long Hair?

charles spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon, 19th Century English Baptist Preacher

God pity you people who call yourselves Christians and wear your long hair, beard and sideburns like a bunch of heathens. God, clean you up! Go to the barber shop tomorrow morning, and I am not kidding. It is time God’s people looked like God’s people. Good night, let folks know you are saved! There are about a dozen of you fellows here tonight who look like you belong to a Communist-front organization. You say, “I do not.” Then look like you do not. You say, “I do not like that kind of preaching.” You can always lump anything you do not like here.

Jack Hyles, sermon Satan’s Bid for Your Child

Where do Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers get the idea that it is a sin for a man to have long hair?

It is in the B-i-b-l-e.

In 1 Corinthians 11:14 the Bible says:

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

According to this verse:

  • It is a shame for a man to have long hair
  • That nature teaches us that a man having long hair is shameful

Most Evangelicals believe that homosexuality is a sin, a sin against nature. In Romans 1:26, 27 the Bible says:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

It is clear from Romans 1:26, 27 that when homosexuals engage in homosexual sexual activity they are going against nature. Preachers scream from the pulpit, homosexuality is an abomination. It is unnatural!

The word nature that appears in Romans 1:26,27 is the same Greek word that appears in 1 Corinthians 11:14. According to the Christian Bible, human nature tells us that homosexuality AND a man having long hair is a sin.

Why is it Evangelicals are so focused on homosexuality but rarely say a word about men having long hair? Both are against nature. Surely, the good Bible believers that they are, they would not want to neglect preaching about what the Bible calls s-h-a-m-e-f-u-l.

john wesley

John Wesley, 18th century English preacher

The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, a subset of Evangelicalism, is not ashamed to preach against homosexuality AND long hair on men.

IFB pastor, Jack Hyles, wrote a booklet titled, Jesus Had Short Hair. Hyles wrote:

I Corinthians 11:14 says, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” The Greek word for “shame” in this verse is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “dishonor,” “vile,” “disgrace.” In Romans 1:26 the same word is translated “vile”, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” You will notice that these “vile affections” have to do with homosexuality.

It is very interesting that as the trend toward long hair increases, the acceptance of homosexuality increases. This is not to say that long hair and homosexuality always go together, but it is to note the fact that both are on the rise in our generation. Several of the major denominations have now accepted homosexuals. In some cities there are churches for homosexuals pastored by avowed homosexuals. At least one major denomination has ordained a homosexual preacher and others are considering following suit.

Answering the question, Did Jesus have long hair?, Hyles wrote:

The paintings of Christ are simply artists’ conceptions and have no Scriptural authorization. At least one historian of His day described Him as being a tall man with chestnut-colored hair, parted in the middle, with short hair which turned up at the end. In the book, THE MODERN STUDENT’S LIFE OF CHRIST by Irving Vollmer, published by Fleming H. Revell, the author says, “Archeologists object to the conventional pictures of Christ because they are not true to history.”

A German painter, L. Fahrenkrog, says, “Christ certainly never wore a beard, and His hair was beyond a doubt a closely cut. For this we have historical proof.” The oldest representations going back to the first Christian centuries and found chiefly in the catacombs of Rome all pictured Him without a beard.

All the pictures of Christ down to the beginning of the first century and even later are of this kind. Students of the first century and of Roman history are aware of the fact that the time of Christ was characterized by short hair for men. This author has seen many coins and statues which bear the likenesses of emperors who reigned during and after the time of Christ. Such likenesses reveal that the Caesars and other rulers and emperors had short hair, and of course, the subjects followed the example set by the emperor.

The plain simple truth is that during the life of Christ, short hair was the acceptable style. That Jesus wore the conventional style of His day is proved by the fact that Judas had to kiss Him to point Him out to the soldiers. Had Jesus been somewhat different, as a long-haired freak, Judas could have simply told the soldiers that Jesus was the One with the long hair. This, of course, is not true, as Judas had to place a kiss on Him in order to identify Him.

Answering the question, What should a Christian’s attitude be about long hair?, Hyles wrote:

The only long haired person other than a Nazarite mentioned in the Bible was Absalom, a son of David. It was he who rebelled against his father. It was he who started a revolution. It is worth noting that even in Bible days rebellion, revolution, disobedience to parents, and long hair were associated.

Now what should the Christian’s attitude be concerning male hair styles? First, we men should follow the admonition of the Scripture and have short hair. It should be short enough as to be obviously contradictory to the revolutionary symbol. Many Christians allow their hair to become longer in an effort not to be identified as fundamental believers. Why shouldn’t a Christian be just as proud of his identity with the Word of God as the hippie is to identify himself with the revolution? Men, let us wear our short hair with pride as a symbol of our belief in the Bible and its Christ.

Parents, start your son with haircuts and short hair when he is a baby. With discipline and, if needs be, punishment, see to it that as he grows up he uses his hair as a symbol of patriotism and Christianity, thereby following the admonition of the Scripture that says in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed (fashioned) to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

hudson taylor

Hudson Taylor, 19th century missionary to China

Hyles’ booklet reflects the standard IFB thinking about long hair on men. As a youth in an IFB church, a student at an IFB college, and an IFB pastor for many years, I heard a lot of preaching against men having long hair. Ironically, I heard very little preaching about short hair on women which the Bible also condemns,

IFB men are taught:

  • Long hair is a sign of rebellion against God
  • Long hair is effeminate
  • Long hair is worldly

What hair styles are considered godly?

  • Hair off the ear
  • Hair off the collar
  • Tapered, and not block cut

The preaching against long hair on men finds its impetus in the rebellion against authority of the 1960’s and 1970’s. IFB preachers were alarmed that church youth were being drawn into the hippie culture. Preachers spent many a Sunday preaching against premarital sex, rock music, mini-skirts, and long hair.

Their preaching did little good.

john bunyan

John Bunyan, 17th century English Baptist preacher

Fast forward to today. Many IFB pastors still preach against premarital sex, rock music, mini-skirts, and long hair. And just like their bellowing fathers in the ministry, they find their preaching largely ignored.

IFB preachers who preach against long hair have a real problem on their hands when it comes to suggesting that long hair is a sign of rebellion against God. While some men still have long hair, many of the rebellious worldlings now have short hair or shave their head. This conundrum is what happens when a preacher determines what is Biblical or “godly” based on the whims and trends of culture.

Besides, how l-o-n-g is long? Where does the Bible state exactly how short or long a man’s hair should be? If long hair on a man is “against nature,” why were Nazarite priests forbidden to cut their hair in the Old Testament? Was their long hair a “shame” against nature? Some of the most revered preachers of the past were men with long hair. Was their long hair a “shame,” against nature?

This whole subject might seem silly to many Christians and most non-Christians, but, let’s not forget, it IS in the B-I-B-L-E.

Note

Lest you think this is a silly issue, every day I see “is long hair a sin”  search (or a variation of it) requests in the logs.

The pictures in this post are of men who are revered in the IFB church. Yet, according to Jack Hyles and others who preach against long hair on men, these men are worldly and in rebellion to God.

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16 Comments

  1. HeIsSailing

    Fascinating article Bruce, and one that brought back a lot of memories. You can argue that IFB preachers were alarmed that church youth were being drawn *out of* the hippie culture. I grew up in northern New Mexico during the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s/ early 1970s. Hippie communal Christians were normal up here during that time. Everybody, men and women, had long hair, and nobody shaved much of anything on their bodies. Those Biblical admonitions against long hair? Hey, that was just the culture Paul was living in..!!

    By 1976 my family moved to southeast Missouri. Talk about a radical culture shock for me and my family. We did attend a Baptist Church at the time. I remember if they were IFB, but from the way you describe it, our church very well might have been IFB. My hair had to go. As you describe, off the collar and over the ears. My mom and sister had to wear ankle length dresses. You say you do not remember many sermons against women’s short hair, but I sure do! Most of the women I knew had very long, unstyled hair, usually tied back in a bun. Some covered their heads for Church by wearing a kercheif.

    I fought and argued constantly about my hair and clothing choices. Hey I was a teenage boy in the 1970s who just wanted to look like Robert Plant – what do you expect! Jesus did not have long hair! Amazing I heard the same arguments from my friends that you quote from Jack Hyles. One friend told me that Roman era coins had depicted men with short hair, so Jesus must have had short hair too!! Pull a coin out of your pocket, I told him, and tell me if any of those guys on your nickels and quarters look like anybody you know. I really really did not like my hair short back then!

    By the way that is a really fascinating point about long hair being ‘against nature’, same as homosexuality. That is one I missed, but you sure make a good point. Anyway, sorry for the long comment but this one brought back some fond memories!!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      The church I attended in high school was more focused on mini skirts and rock music. Hippy hair got mentioned from time to time. College and preacher’s meetings? Long hair on sissy men was a frequent target of blowhard preachers.

      It seems so silly now. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Geoff

    The Jesus comparison is interesting. Although I have been non-religious all my life, atheist most of it, I have tended to assume that Jesus existed historically.

    There is now a growing body of serious academic opinion that questions this, Richard Carrier being perhaps the latest, and certainly most thorough. Now I don’t know if these claims are true but, regardless, the fact that they can be made at all means that discussion of Jesus’ hair length become completely meaningless. It extends of course, to all claims about Jesus, including divinity and miracles, but that’s a different issue.

    Reply
    1. Troy

      Richard Carrier’s thesis compares Jesus with other legendary heros like Hercules. Most people, especially Christians, would likely have dismissed Hercules as a mere story with no historical figure. So following Carrier’s logic you can dismiss Jesus. The issue for me is I always assumed the Greek heros were based on a kernal of truth so I reject Carrier’s line of reasoning to disprove a historical Jesus. It may be very difficult to prove a historical Jesus either way though.

      Reply
  3. Mary Ellen

    Why do I, as a female, have short hair? Because baby sister got all the hairstyling talent in the family and I didn’t, and she lives an 8-hour trip on the Greyhound away; and as a person with a disabling condition, it is just much easier for me to take care of short hair…

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Why do I have short/no hair? Because my curly black hair covering my neck (and worn in a pony tail for ‘sports’ was taken from me by Gawd, for wearing it long during the 70’s and 80’s. He made it all fall out in a manner silly scientists call male-pattern baldness. You and I know that it is Gawd at work, doing his will as he pleases. He showed me that my love of Hendrix and hair hanging down was selfish and sissy and homo-like and so he took it away. This proves the existence of Gawd. You silly atheistics!

      Hyles is s prick of the first order. How does someone teach about nature when they have no idea what nature is? And if I choose to feel close/touch someone of my sex and it feels sensually good, then is that not ‘nature”? Of course it is, the same as if I felt little or nothing when somebody of the same sex touched me.
      What the dimly-lit twits howl from pulpits is not even as valuable as shit-spray from the farmer’s manure spreader: The one just stinks of stupidity, base hatreds, fear of life, while the other grows good organic food to sell locally to lucky neighbors! I say shit on your pews and plant carrots there: Make the church a decent garden to visit and be nourished. Here endeth the sermon.

      Reply
  4. J.D. Matthews

    My mother told me once that my long hair looked “effeminate.” I told her to step back for just a moment and take a good hard luck at me. Look at this beard on me. Look at the beer gut. Look at my 6 foot frame, linebacker shoulders and my general frame. If I still look effeminate to you, then may I suggest laser eye surgery?

    Not that I care anymore. I am a long-haired, tattooed, pierced, atheist sumbitch and proud of it.

    Reply
  5. Leon

    Im sorry, but if wearing long hair as a man is “going against nature”, then why did god let hair grow so long in the first place? If god made our hair grow so long by itself, isnt it more of an act of rebellion to cut off your hair? Since everybody who takes part in worldly matters is expected to have long hair, doesn’t it make sense to keep gods gift of long hair as a sign of devotion to him?

    Reply
  6. Raymond Harwood

    Saint Paul just asked a question regarding long hair and did not make it a command. In the Old Testament many had long hair and it was not deemed a sin. God commanded that Samson have long hair and it was a requirement in relation to the Nazarite vow. God would not have commanded these things if they were a sin!
    Jesus said that he did not come to annul the word of God (the Old Testament) but to fulfil it and that it should remain and be adhered to.

    Reply
  7. John Arthur

    Hi Raymond,

    “Jesus said that ne did not come to annul the word of God (the Old Testament) but to fulfil it and that it should remain and be adhered to.”

    Are you sure that you want to adhere to the whole Old Testament? There are 615 commandments in the OT. There are also God’s alleged commands to the Israelites to commit genocide. Also we have God not condemning aggressive wars committed by Israel against its neighbours. We have capital punishment for male homosexuality, for adultery, for incorrigible children and for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

    It doesn’t appear as if Jesus supported some of these things. e.g genocide. As for long hair, Jesus said nothing but Paul said that it was a shame for a man to have long hair. Of course, Paul is wrong. There is no shame in having long hair.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  8. Michael

    Men with long hair is something some Christians don’t like at all. So I thought I’d have to cover this issue to get rid of all misconceptions concerning this by some so controversial issue.

    Some even say that it’s unbiblical to have long hair and refer to the verse that saids: Does not even nature itself teach you, that if a man has long hair, it’s a shame unto him?

    BUT to understand this scripture we need to understand what the situation was like in Corinth. At that time Corinth was known for it’s immorality and perversity and significant for the men that were prostituted/homosexual were that they had long hair. Paul that wrote this letter didn’t want the men in the church to be taken for perverted and that’s why he wrote these words.

    For more information about how the situation was in Corinth see the articles on the bottom of this page.

    So this is NOT God’s commandment to all people throughout all times, but Paul’s SPECIAL ADVICE for the people in Corinth, at that time!

    Another interesting thing is that the prostitutes in Corinth had short hair (and were the only ones in Corinth that did not cover their heads) and Paul didn’t want the people in church to be taken for whores so that’s why he told the females in church to not cut their hair off. Again that was Paul’s SPECIAL ADVICE for the women in Corinth in that time and NOT God’s commandment to all Christians throughout all times.

    With this thing clarified, let’s look into another scripture that talks about long hair.

    The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.

    As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long.

    This scripture talks about the Nazirites. The Nazirites were people that had devoted themselves to God and given Him a pledge. As a sign of their pledge they didn’t drank wine and they LET THEIR HAIR GROW LONG!! Yeah, they let their hair grow long and their long hair was the outer sign to people around them that they had devoted themselves to God. Their long hair was the SIGN OF HOLINESS to speak clear!

    Samson was a Nazirite from the moment he was born. He let his hair grow and didn’t cut it, and through God that was a source of his strength. But when he played with his annointing and cut his hair he immediately loosed his strength. Another man in the Bible that seems to have been a Nazirite was the prophet Samuel.

    So here we see that God have nothing against long hair. The Bible also saids clearly that God doesn’t look on our outer look but He looks at our hearts! So God doesn’t care if you have long or short hair, what’s important isn’t your hairlength but that you are living for Him.

    To sum it up we can see that God have nothing against men having long hair. So if you want to look real Metal, do as the Nazirites, grow your hair out and grow it long!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Several points:

      1. What historical evidence do you have for these claims?

      2. This special advice of Paul was just his personal opinion? If so, wouldn’t this mean that his words weren’t inspired by God? If you say they were inspired, how do you know this?

      3. Were Paul’s words about women and their hair and behavior “special advice?’

      4. What hermeneutical rule do you use to determine what must be obeyed by Christians today and what can be ignored?

      5. I assume that you would have no problems with women shaving their heads (looking like men) and men growing their hair down to their waists (looking like women).

      6. Using your “special advice ” interpretative rule, couldn’t it be used to say that ALL the laws in the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments (both versions) , were “special advice” for Israel, and not anyone else?

      I have other points, but these will do for now.

      Reply
  9. Larry Kinsler

    The ” nature ” in 1 Cor.11 cannot mean ” God’s created nature “, for in nature the male lion has the long mane, and the female does not. No Christian I know will look at Samson, Absalom, or George Washington, and label them ” effeminate “; this is a handed down tradition of men, also known as I.F.B.. Any serious Bible studier knows that 1 Cor. 11 was concerning the immediate environment in Corinth, and had to do with ” social nature “. Lastly, the verse ” But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. ” ( verse 16 ) denies ” I.F.B.s the right to label mere longer hair on a Christian man as ” sinful”. To do so goes beyond Scripture Itself. This is the same group of people that has men like Lester Roloff attempting to bring the new testament Church under the dietary laws of Leviticus 11. When man places the traditions of men as equal to God’s Word, then man has sinned by adding to God’s Word. I.F.B.s have done precisely this concerning 1 Cor. 11 and long hair.

    Reply
  10. joseph

    With all due respect. we seem to deal with verse 14 only. what about verse 16
    Verse
    1 cor 11:16

    New International Version
    If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God

    which seems to say it since there is no custom, so there should not have an argument about it. weather it is right or wrong. my hair is not that long to touch ear and or collar but I’m being commented regarding this. I wan’t to understand both side where coming from as it affects me. I just want to follow a spirit lead bible basis on this. I would highly appreciate any enlightenment

    Reply
    1. Brian

      My advice is to look in the mirror and say’ “I am actually seriously wondering if a God wants me to wear my hair a certain way and wondering why different preachers preach different lengths and styles… The answer is not in scripture but in your own heart. Do you feel you have any business telling somebody else how to cut their hair or not? Do you feel that God (your idea of it) has an interest or right to tell you how to clip your locks? Is God peering into your pants and brain to judge you?
      It is very sad to me how Christianity is designed to corral those who are at a loss in life and feel in need. Christianity says, You are fallen, evil-born and need forgiveness! And poor, sad folk say, “Please hurt me! I deserve it!”
      The fact is, joseph, your hair style means nothing at all in the world, either now or eternally and your excessive concern over it is mere evidence of your suffering in the present moment. You are free to be and appear as you please. Nobody has the right to tell you to wear hijab or cut your locks. What nonsense… Are you serious? Do you know your own spirit or hate yourself?

      Reply
  11. Glenys Wolmarans

    Jesus had a beard – Isaiah 50:6

    Reply

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