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Answering The Atheist
May 27, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 21

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Is it OK for men to have long hair? Some verses encourage men to have long hair (Numbers 6:5; Judges 13:5; 1 Samuel 1:11), but 1 Corinthians 11:14 says that it is shameful for a man to have long hair. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
The verses from Numbers, Judges and 1 Samuel all deal with the Nazirite vow. The vow required that those who took it not cut their hair until the days of their vow were complete. If it were inherently wrong for a man to have long hair, then surely God would not command a man to grow his hair in a vow of devotion to the LORD.

The problem is a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 11:14, not just by opponents of the Bible, but also by many believers. This text and it's context are addressed at length at www.lookinguntojesus.net/20040104.htm. I encourage the reader to read that article. But, for the moment, we shall make a few observations here.

Verse 16 reveals that Paul's instruction about hair length and coverings is not universal, but regional. He indicates that "...we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God." This instruction was exclusive to the Corinthians.

Verse 14 says, "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?" Is he referring to the natural course of creation? NO, else God would not have commanded the Nazirite to grow his hair. The vow was one of devotion to God, not a vow of shame and dishonor. The word nature is used in a limited sense, not of the whole of creation, but of the Corinthians' surroundings (ie. their culture). There are things which are appropriate in one culture, but are not in other cultures. Such was the case (and still is the case) with the length of a man's hair, and whether a woman should wear a covering or not.

Is it wrong for a man to have long hair? Such is a cultural, not a doctrinal issue. The Scriptures neither teach it to be right or wrong. There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible