Q. I along with my family are members of the church here in Alabama. My question is this. My 18 year old son is a very outstanding moral young man. He attends church and lives to the best of his ability to be a Christian. He is held in the community as such. He likes to wear his hair a little longer than I guess is “considered appropriate.” His hair comes mid of the neck and he keeps it clean and groomed. One, and may I say one man at our congregation is always making comments about his hair, which offends my son and also my family. What does the scriptures say about long hair for men? My son takes part in the church. Lord’s table, singing, events. None of the elders has said anything about this. They said it was fine to them. I just need some information from the scriptures about this matter. If it is a sin for his hair to be this length, he will definitely get it cut. I just want to do what is right in the sight of God. Please email me back about this question soon.
Your question strikes a cord with me. I was not raised in the church. I knew nothing about the Bible until I was in my 20’s. When I was 22 years old I walked into a church with extremely long hair (almost down to my waist). The members of the church parted like the Red Sea to let me pass by. I know I looked a fright to them, and my appearance was a very real hindrance for some at church to be able to talk to me. As I began to study the Bible I became convinced that I needed to cut my hair in order to allow others to feel more comfortable in my presence. I then cut it to shoulder length which was not good enough for some.
Here is what the Bible says:
1 Cor. 11:14-16 (NAS95)
14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,
15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
In this passage the apostle Paul is dealing with an issue in the church at Corinth. It appears that the women in Corinth were taking their “freedom in Christ” to an extreme and were denying that there was to be a clear distinction to be made in the Kingdom between men and women. Some women were ignoring the local custom of wearing a head covering (which demonstrated submission to God’s order) in the assembly, and some were even cutting their hair so short that it was difficult to distinguish some of the women from the men.
Paul appeals to their common sense. When he says “does not even nature itself teach you” I believe he is referring to what we call “second nature.” For instance, we take for granted (second nature) that girls have longer hair than boys. For a girl to cut her hair so short that she looks like a boy is a “dishonor” to God and to nature. Likewise, if a boy wears his hair so long, and is fashioned in such a way as he looks like a woman it is a “dishonor” to him.
In the first century it was the custom among men of both the Greeks and the Jews to cut their hair. The question then becomes, “how short was it?” Most authorities believe that it was MUCH longer than the average hair cut on a man today. The truth is we can not determine what is “too short” (for a woman) or “too long” (for a man) without appealing to common sense. The acceptable length of the hair will be determined by local social customs. Outside of Palestine the custom among many men was long hair. Would Paul have written the same instructions to a church in Nineveh? I doubt it.
What it really boils down to is two things:
1) Does your son wear his hair in such a way as to look feminine?
If the answer is “NO” (as I suspect that it is) then his hair is NOT too long.
2) Are the elders of the church where he attends concerned about the length of his hair?
You have already indicated that they are not. It should therefore be a dead issue.
HOWEVER……some of our brethren are prone to be judgmental about such ancillary issues. Therefore, the leadership needs to be clear on their position. If the negative comments directed toward your son cause him to stumble the leaders should be held accountable. I would suggest that they address this issue with the offending parties (everybody knows who these people are) and let them know that it is of far greater importance to encourage our young men to serve and be faithful to the Lord than to criticize their hair style (which in fact is a temporary style). In fact, if THEY by their criticism of his hair cause him to stumble THEY will be held accountable by God, and THEY have committed a grievous sin in the process.