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Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers by John R. Rice

john r rice and jack hyles
John R Rice of Sword of the Lord Fame and Jack Hyles

Excerpt from the sermon Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers by John R. Rice, editor of the Sword of the Lord, circa the 1970s.

1st Corinthians 11:3-15 tells us that since the man is the head of the woman, and there is a fundamental difference between men and women, that difference should be symbolized in the ways men and women wear their hair. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head …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 glory of the man. … For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels…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.

Throughout the Bible it is stressed that men and women are different. A man is not like a woman. A woman is not like a man. It is a sin for a woman to try to appear like a man. God has one place for a man and a different place for a woman. For this cause, in Deuteronomy 22:5 we are commanded: “A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” It is a sin for women to appear masculine. It is equally a sin for men to appear effeminate. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:9 names some of the unrighteous that “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” And among the adulterers and fornicators and drunkards and thieves and covetous and extortioners, God put the effeminate. To be effeminate is a horrible sin in God’s sight.

And the first sin with which God chided Adam, after the fall, was this: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife…”

I say, God has given man one position and woman another position and this difference in their position should be shown by men having short hair and women long hair. “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven” (1 Corinthians 11:4,5). And verse 6 continues: “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.”

Man is made in the image of God. God is a masculine God. The masculine pronoun is used of God everywhere in the Bible. That foolish and unscriptural title given by a woman preacher, Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, “Our Father-Mother God,” dishonors God. God is not effeminate. God is not feminine, but masculine. And man is made in the image of God. On the other hand, a woman is not made so much in the image of God, but in the image and as a mate to man. So the Scripture says: “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 glory of the man.”

Blessed is the woman that remembers this; her glory is in being a help to a man, and in submission to her husband or her father. And long hair is the mark of this submission, the mark of this femininity.

A man should not pray or prophesy with his head covered. That would dishonor his head, says the Scripture. Men instinctively know that it is shameful to wear hats in public service, and reverent men remove their hats when they pray. Likewise, men instinctively know that they ought not to have long hair. A man has short hair, and this symbolizes the fact that he can approach Jesus Christ freely and that he takes the responsibility as the head of his home.

On the other hand, a woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head. Now look at verse 15 and you will see plainly that God is not talking about a woman wearing a hat or veil. Verse 15 says: “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” A woman, when she prays, should have a covering, some symbol that marks her as an obedient and surrendered wife or daughter. Her long hair is given her for a covering, and a woman who does not have her head covered in that way dishonors her head. And verse 6 says that it is a shame for a woman to be shorn, and she ought to be covered. This symbolic covering or veil for a woman is long hair. Long hair is a mark of a woman’s womanliness in God’s sight, and is plainly given her for that express purpose, as verse 15 says.


In the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians we find a remarkable teaching which ought to stir the heart of every woman. The Lord says, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” The word power here means authority. A woman ought to have a symbol of her husband’s authority or her father’s authority on her head. That is, a woman should wear long hair to indicate that she is submissive to the authority God has put over her. And this special reason mentioned here for a woman having long hair is that angels look on, and for their sakes a woman needs to have long hair.


So angels are all round about us. And they are surpassingly concerned about our lives. Our eyes are blinded! We think that the other world, the unseen world and spirit beings are far, far away, but that is not true. And how angels do listen when a woman kneels to pray! For the sake of angels who always are near, Christian women should especially be careful to have long hair–“because of the angels,” the Scripture says.

How are angels concerned about a woman’s hair? I think that not only would angels be grieved by this mark of rebellion against husband or father and against God, but angels would be tempted, likewise, to rebel.

We know that some angels are fallen. I understand the Bible to teach that Satan himself was Lucifer, an archangel who became ambitious and rebellious and said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13). He wanted to be like God (Isaiah 14:14), and was not willing to be subject, just as many women want to be equal to their husbands instead of being subject to them. And Satan fell. So a great group of angels fell, too. Rev. 12:4 may suggest that a third of the angels fell. I do not know how many. But actually, these angels are now chained in darkness, awaiting judgment (2 Pet. 2:4). Angels can fall, and in the past angels have fallen into sin.

This is especially sad when we remember that Christ never became an angel and did not die for angels. There is nothing said in the Bible about the redemption of fallen angels. If God has any plans for saving angels, He has not revealed them to us.

What sins did angels commit when they fell? They did not get drunk. They did not commit adultery, for it seems that angels are sexless beings who neither marry nor are given in marriage (Matt. 23:30). We suppose that heavenly angels, accustomed to the beauty and glory of Heaven, are never covetous. No, the sin of angels is the sin of rebellion.

Thus, when a woman with bobbed hair and a rebellious heart comes to pray, angels who are near and see her head and see her heart are tempted to sin; are tempted to commit the sin which such women commit, the sin of rebellion against authority. Because of the angels, every woman should wear long hair and be careful that she does not have a rebellious heart lest she should be a curse to the angels God has sent to be our ministers and guardians.

From this Scripture it becomes evident how hateful is the symbol of bobbed hair to God. And how it reveals the stubborn self-will of the modern woman who is no longer willing to take the place God assigned to godly women. I beseech the reader that if you are a woman you consider how God must feel toward this mark of rebellion, bobbed hair. No wonder that 1 Corinthians 11:5 says that every woman with a bobbed head has a dishonored head. And 1st Corinthians 11:6 says that it is a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven and that she ought to have a covering. And 1 Corinthians 11:15 says that long hair is given her for this covering.


The modern woman wonders why now she must chase a beau down, as her mother never did. The modern woman wonders why men do not rise up on the bus or streetcar to give her a seat. The modern woman wonders why some men feel so free to curse in her presence, and to use language that no respectable woman of the past generation ever heard. Yes, the modern, masculine, pants-wearing, cigarette-smoking, bobbed-haired woman has fallen from her pedestal. She is not reverenced by men as her beautiful and modest mother was.

These days men have come to feel that if a woman will not fill a woman’s place, she shall not have a woman’s protection and respect. Men desert their wives as never before in the world. Very few men nowadays feel reverently about a woman’s body. Boys who have dates with these bobbed- haired, smoking, strong-willed, modern girls, expect to kiss them and fondle them as they please, or to kick them out of the car to walk home. The man who marries a modern woman marries a woman who expects to vote like a man, smoke like a man, have her hair cut like a man, and go without restrictions and without chaperons and obey nobody. A man who marries such a woman, I say, does not expect to support her. The modern girl is very often expected to work and help make a living.

In 1 Pet. 3:7 husbands are commanded to give “honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel.” When women cease to admit that they are the weaker vessels as God’s Word says they are, then they lose this honor that men through the centuries have delighted to give to women. I say, the honor, the deference, the courtesy, the protectiveness that practically all men, good and bad, once offered to good women, has almost disappeared!

Oh, women, what have you lost when you lost your femininity! When you bobbed your hair, you bobbed your character, too. Your rebellion against God’s authority as exercised by husband and father, has a tendency, at least, to lose you all the things that women value most. If you want reverence and respect from good men, if you want protection and a good home and love and steadfast devotion, then I beg you to take a woman’s place! Dress like a woman, not like a man. Have habits like a woman. And if you want God to especially bless you when you pray, then have on your head a symbol of the meek and quiet spirit which in the sight of God is of such great price.


On the matter of submitting to authority, there are frequently those who “seem to be contentious.” Self-will dies hard, even in a Christian. We want our own way. Some of the Christians who were servants and slaves thought that now they were Christians they need not obey their masters. And children felt that now they were saved, they were equal to their parents. Citizens felt that they now need not obey their heathen rulers, and wives naturally felt themselves equal to their husbands. Were they not saved just the same way? Were not all members of the body of Christ alike? But to such people the Lord plainly gave command as you see in Colossians 3:18-25, Ephesians 5:22-6:9, and elsewhere.

No doubt some wives wanted now to cut their hair and act like men. And perhaps some men encouraged it. Some men do now. But to all such Paul said, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” No custom of bobbed hair was allowed for women in New Testament churches. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, who had more to do with founding churches and their control than any other man who lived, plainly said that this custom was never recognized and never allowed. Bobbed hair is unscriptural, and the idea of it was utterly repugnant to New Testament Christianity.

After all, dear woman, if you are a Christian, if you love the Lord Jesus, if you acknowledge Him as the Master of your life, then His command ought to settle the whole question. To please Him, trusting Him to make it worth while, I would start out to be the kind of woman that this Scripture pictures. I would, with a surrendered heart, submit myself to the authority God has placed over me, whether of husband or father. I would have a symbol of my femininity on my head, long hair picturing my submission to the will of God. When I prayed, I would not be a temptation to the angels nor an affront to God. And I would have the glory, the feminine beauty, that every true and godly woman has when she is wholly submitted to the will of God and when that pure heart and meek and lovely spirit are indicated in the way such a woman dresses and speaks and lives and wears her hair.

Is it really hard to decide when you know exactly what the Bible says you ought to do?

Here is a video of the six daughters of John R. Rice singing at  the Sword of the Lord National Soul-Winners Conference, Cobo Hall in Detroit, 1978. I was in attendance at this conference. I was a student at nearby Midwestern Baptist College.

Video Link

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 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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  1. Avatar

    Isn’t there something slimily kinky about the long tiatribe about how women wear their hair? ‘We likes women with long soft tumbling tressles, (slurp). None of those frustrating bobbed styles we can’t run our greasy hands through, (pant).’ And God, as ever, complies.

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    A second post above what people do with their hair.

    Do these pastors not have a life? What’s the obsession with the most trivial of personal matters, and what right do they have even to pass opinion. With all the other problems besetting the world (both then and now) one might think their attention could be better directed.

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      True Christianity is in the details! Real harm cannot be done by generalizing about it. One must have every stitch covered, every thought and deed, every possible leak where the devil gets in or out! The point is to harm while calling it love and this bunch does a good job of it.
      How do you “better direct” these whacko thumpers… They read literature looking for curse words so that they can condemn literature and thank Jesus for his insight! Geoff, you cannot make a mud-puddle deeper than shallow and shallow is what we get with these black book thumpers.

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    And these damn fools are trying to lean our country! They are doing their best to bring about a theocracy.

    Having been taught this crap growing up, it still amazes me that I tried to believe it.

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      “Having been taught this crap growing up, it still amazes me that I tried to believe it.”

      Me too! I could never imagine why it would matter so much to angels if I covered my hair or not. What do they have to do with anything? Unless you go the creepy route with the sons of god wanting the daughters of men kind of crap…

      There was never a really sound explanation, heaven knows why I thought there would be one!

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    I don’t think bobbed hair is un – feminine anyway…

    And why would angels give a shit?
    Also how does a woman having long hair show she is obedient to her husband or father? I have seen many rebelious teenage girls and but not one of them was bald.

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    The Sword’s national conference is here every year now. I was at the very first one & remember thinking: “woww! It’s so awesome that we have the Sword national conference here every year now!” Lol

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    So, did Jack Hyles’ secretary have long or short hair? Just wondering.

    I had never heard that humans could tempt angels to sin. This was a first for me.

    As a previous commenter said, it sounds like he is fighting a 1920’s battle. Women voting, short hair, pants, smoking cigarettes. Next thing you know, they will be asking their husbands for help with cooking dinner.

    As I read these writings, I realized something. It’s not a return to spiritualism/God that the IFB crowd wants. The 2010 IFB crowd wants a return to the 1980’s, the 80’s people wanted a return to the 50’s, and the 60’s and 70’s group wanted a return to the early 1900’s. That is the ultimate goal. That was a time when all people knew their place. Women and minorities had to get out of the way, strong men could be bullies and no one said anything about it and children could be used or dismissed on a whim.

    When you read about the 1900’s Christians, many of them came from “evil” lifestyles and were strong, forceful men. But, quite a few of them had hidden vices and did as they pleased because no one would check them. Drinking, gambling and whoring were common among the circuit riding preachers. Those were abusive men with horrible tempers. I have heard stories about how the preachers treated the church people.

    This is what the original IFB people wanted. Today, the IFB movement has no clue where it came from, they just want back the power that it once had. Give them back that power and you will see exactly what they are all about.

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      “So sayeth the shepherd, so sayeth the flock!” Anyone know what I am referring to or where that came from??

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    True femininity and masculinity come from the heart. Voting and working outside the home are privileges meant to build upon Christian foundations of life, not to replace them. To suggest that women who did not vote were more worthy of respect than women who do vote seems to suggest that women voting, driving, or working, or other freedoms of women caused the problem, when in fact it was the lax in chastity worldwide in both men and women that caused the lack of respect toward women, and it is not fair to blame this on women only. Some Christian conservatives were elected narrowly by the female voters that turned out in greater numbers than the male voters. That is because women are so passionately loving and will go to extremes to prove it. This man wants to blame women for everything.

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      Grammar Gramma

      Rebecca, surely you jest when you state that it was the “lax [sic] in chastity worldwide in both men and women that caused the lack of respect toward women”! Historically, women were not only not respected, but were treated as possessions of men. It is only in the last decades that women have gained true respect as they asserted their humanity, fought for bodily autonomy and refused to be treated like chattel. The lack of chastity had nothing to do with it.

      Voting and working outside the home have nothing to do with Christianity, nor lack of respect for women. Privileges? For many women, working outside the home is a necessity, a matter of survival. It’s pretty clear that you swim in Evangelical waters. Try stepping out of the pool and sampling life in the real world.

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    I remember this, it was something to do with short hair being a sign of rebellion. When angels saw this rebellion as the woman prayed, it could tempt them to rebel as well, like those angels that had rebelled and followed Satan. The shame that I bought into this, but I know men and women who do.

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    John D. Alder

    Their god sure seems to need to get a life and stop being so petty . Maybe he should open a hair salon and barbershop to satisfy his obsession with hairstyles?

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      MJ Lisbeth

      Paul (Saul) was a lawyer who wanted to enter politics. 1 Corinthians 11 was his first attempt at economic policy.

      See, Paulie Boy (as we’d call him in my old neighborhood) was a pure-and-simple misogynist. He couldn’t say it in polite company. So, like any actual or would-be policy-maker, he tried to disguise his prejudices as a necessary policy.

      Who benefits when me are required to cut their hair? Barbers—who, of course, are men. And who loses? Women’s hair salons, which are owned and operated by women and gay (or, in Paul’s parlance, effeminate) men.

      I guess I can look forward to seeing Jamie Lee Curtis, Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Hammil in Hell. Not bad company, if you ask me!

      (I wonder, though: Is a woman with short hair damned only if it’s short because she cut it? I’m asking for a friend whose initials are JPS.)

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    “God is not effeminate. God is not feminine, but masculine.”

    If God is masculine, does he have a penis? If so, what for, if goddesses don’t exist and God isn’t a member of a sexually-reproducing animal species? If not, how is he “masculine”? What would that even mean, when said about a one-of-a-kind entity with no need for sex or reproduction? If Angels can be “sexless beings”, wouldn’t God logically be one as well?

    “the sin which such women commit, the sin of rebellion against authority”

    …..and he manages to stumble out with the main problem with Abrahamic religions, and probably the main reason why they were invented.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Why would anyone take what the two idiots John Rice or Jack Hyles have to say, anyway ? I just saw in my email some podcast about “Dr.” John D. Street, of the Master’s University( Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA.)claim that women must stay with their abusive husbands no matter how violent or perverse they are. People like this are everywhere. I went through too many decades tolerating abusive nitwits and wasting my one life, and like Bruce, i have more years behind me than ahead of me . I personally like long hair, both on myself, and certain guys too, lol ! No one would say Native American guys are “un-masculine’ because THEY may have long hair. And they look pretty good.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    I don’t know about John Rice being the pervert that Hyles was, I don’t have enough info on him for that yet. I CAN say I read he spanked babies though. His wife said so, in her goofy book, “Me, obey him ?” Ew Yuck !! This is why I don’t go to church any more. No more abusive idiots, thank you ! I like having long hair, personally. But that’s just me. Some look good with short hair, and some just don’t. What if a wife is told by the husband he wants only short hairstyles, then what ?

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