1 Corinthians 11:2-16 – Bad Hair Day

Read 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

hair flowing in the wind with read leaves in the background

My hair has grown longer in the last two years than it has EVER been! I look in the mirror and still marvel at how it almost touches my rear end! I’ve always dreamed of having long hair, but for one reason or another, I’ve never let it grow like this. Imagine the thrill at reading today’s text!

Just when I was wondering what cover my head needed in worship, I read this. “And isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering.” But what about women who have short hair. In the hot season we’ve been enduring here in Mexico, I would have LOVED short hair. But long hair can easily be put up into a ponytail or braid or bun to help us keep cool. I still had to ponder, what does all of this hair business have to do with worship?

The next few chapters will deal with Paul’s counsel on worship practices. It will be interesting for us to see if any of these practices or suggestions are still in place today. Interestingly, Paul felt it necessary to include the reference to covering our heads, and, in some religious groups today, women still wear some sort of head covering. Let’s see what customs of the day would have been and why this is important enough to have been included in God’s word to us.

Understanding the context would reveal that in Paul’s day, women were expected to keep their hair bound. Those that had their hair loose in public were likely prostitutes. Loose hair would certainly bring shame to the church. Women were “required” have head coverings, and bound hair was considered covering and best practice, according to Paul. Paul’s prior warnings to be cognizant of your image within the community and focus on building up rather than distracting or tearing down are consistent here.

When perplexed over a passage of Scripture, what do you do first? Many people will just close their Bibles and say, “this doesn’t apply to me” and give it no more thought or reflection. I am spending more time doing just the opposite. I want to dig in and find out what God’s message is for me. Sometimes I’m a little clueless, like with this passage.

I have been going back and forth with the notion of cutting my hair or keeping it long. Mexican women tend to have very long hair, but then they keep it tied up. That would seem to be a very Biblical approach according to what Paul is teaching. If I cut my hair, I probably won’t bind it up in a bun or braid like I have been. Maybe I should listen to this text and just keep my hair the way it is.

Is that my message today? I’m listening for God’s voice to know if that is what he wants me to take from this reading today. What is he saying to you?

Perhaps the women’s empowerment movement, present for decades, comes to mind. I think of the days when we called it “women’s lib”, and now it’s known as gender equality. Considering these verses, it doesn’t appear God intended for men and women to be the same. There are significant differences between the sexes, but those differences are beautiful and should be cherished.

The bigger picture would simply be that honoring God with our worship should be done in a respectful way, not drawing attention to ourselves in any way. When our hair is bound up, it is under control, while loose hair is more disorderly. Does this give us a clue about our worship practices?

I don’t have the answers. I’m grappling with this, too. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what you should take away from this passage. Don’t be surprised if the answer is, “this passage isn’t for you today.”

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray …
Father God, I am thrilled that my long hair, when bound, can be seen as a head covering. While I’m not sure why you wanted women’s heads to be covered, I’m glad to keep it bound so that it’s not a disorderly distraction. I want to be obedient to you and your desires. I trust your word you’re your wisdom is always what’s best for me. Continue to speak to my heart and direct my path. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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