Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.
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 men 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 gays 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, if the Bible is to be believed. Surely, Bible believing preachers would not want to neglect preaching about behaviors the Good Book calls s-h-a-m-e-f-u-l. Yet, most Evangelical preachers never say a word about men having long hair (and women having short hair).
The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, a subset of Evangelicalism, is not ashamed to preach against homosexuality AND long hair on men.
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.”
Hyles’ booklet reflects 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 hairstyles are considered “godly?”
- Hair off the ear
- Hair off the collar
- Tapered, and not block cut
Preaching against long hair on men finds its impetus in the rebellion against authority of the 1960s and 1970s. 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 — all hallmarks of the love and peace generation.
Their preaching did little good.
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 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. (Some IFB preachers believe having facial hair is a sin too.)
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 (see the pictures throughout this post) 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.
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 search logs of this blog. Evidently, in some corners of the Evangelical world, the length of a man’s hair still matters.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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