Pentecostal Women have Long Hair

God numbers every hair on your head (Matt 10:30). That much is agreed upon by all Christian denominations. But Pentecostals have a unique belief about those hairs on your head: we believe that God has some special instructions for them. Specifically, we believe that God asks males have a short, decent haircut; for the females, we teach that they not cut or shorten their hair in any way.

This seems like an odd statement: that The LORD of all creation cares about your hair length. But in this blog, I'm going to tackle what The Bible says on this most interesting subject.

How long is long?

There is a fascinating passage in the New Testament about hair. It is found in the letters of The Apostle Paul. If you did not grow up in the Pentecostal church, you may have never heard this preached or expounded.

"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. 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."
 - 1 Corinthians 11:4-6

At first glance, it is a passage about head-coverings. But then some interesting statements are made by The Apostle Paul:

"Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 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."
 - 1 Corinthians 11:13-15

These three verses change the conversation completely. Verse 13 tells us that ladies of of God must be COVERED while praying. What form is this covering though? Verse 14 tells us that men ought to have short hair distinctive of their gender.

Verse 15 is the crux: "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her ...". So long hair is good for ladies. But it doesn't stop there: "... for her hair is given her for a covering".

So her long hair is given her FOR a covering. If I look up the wording in Greek, "for" could also have been rendered "because of". Her hair is long "because" it is a covering. That is its purpose. A woman of God has long hair for the purpose of it being a covering for her.

I was quoting the King James translation in the above passages, but the original wording in the Greek language of The Bible is even more clear. The Greek word for LONG used in 1 Corinthians 11:15 is komao, which means "to let grow" (according to Strong's concordance). A lady cannot "let her hair grow" if she is artificially shortening it by cutting it, trimming it, or "accidentally" burning off the ends when she has her hair styled.

So, the direct meaning of these verses looks very much to be that New Testament ladies let their hair grow, and not attempt to shorten it. Also, for men to have short hair. Each according to their distinct gender, which is a creation-principle going all the way back to the first chapter of The Bible.

What does it mean?

Long, un-shortened hair on ladies is THERE in the Word of God. 16 verses in The Epistles are devoted to this subject of gender-distinct hair appearance (1 Cor 11:1-16). That much is certain. The next reasonable question that follows is WHY God would broach this subject. I'll tell you now that no answer I give will be satisfactory to you. "Why" is a question we perpetually wrestle with as believers. The why is not always clear.

I can admit that I don't fully comprehend the reason for this passage. I don't understand all of 1 Corinthians chapter 11, as I suspect many of you also struggle to understand it. But that's ok. We don't have to know all of the "why's". Our lives in God are not predicated on our Biblical-reading-comprehension.

As The Apostle James famously wrote, "shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

I reveal my faith - my belief in God and in His plan for me - "BY my works." My actions. My life lived in front of everyone. When I don't have full grasp over the meaning of a passage, I can still do my best to observe it and to do what it asks of me.

Is that easy? Most certainly not! It is never simple to obey without the sense of meaning or knowledge. Your mind wanders into every avenue and side-road of "explaining-away" this verse or "ignoring this chapter until God explains it to me", but I can't give you any Bible for ignoring God's word until you "understand it" or "feel to do it". On the contrary, The Prophets themselves had to be chastened to follow God's directions (like Moses in Exodus, or the young prophet in 1 Kings) just like the rest of us.

The other ones

What about the other requirements of outward appearance that Pentecostal churches preach? Is every dress standard for the last 100 years Biblically defensible? Some are, and some aren't.

There is good scriptural backing that men must appear as men and ladies must dress as ladies (1 Cor 6:9-10 (the "effeminate" - men who dress like ladies - are spoken as 'not inheriting The Kingdom of God'); Deut 22:5; 1 Cor 11:1-16); there is also solid support in The Word for "gold, pearls, and costly array" to be discouraged among believers (1 Timothy 2:8-10; 1 Peter 3:1-4).

However, many issues were also taught for which there was no Bible. I'm still looking for the passage that forbids the wearing of colorful shirts on preachers. I'm also unable to locate any verses requiring women to wear their hair "up" in churchYet teachings like these were promoted as Church doctrines the same as the Oneness of God in years-gone-by. I do not believe such non-Biblical teachings. But when a doctrine or principle is GIVEN in His word for the Church, how can I ignore it? Bottom-line, there ARE standards of dress which are Biblically-grounded and should not be ignored.

So there we have it. Long un-shortened hair on ladies. Short manly hair on men. This is the request of scripture in 1 Corinthians 11. Only 1 question remains: will we obey it?


  1. Thank you for this post of Truth and nothing but the TRUTH

  2. Pastor John Koonce, Gibson City, IL: Thank you for another well written lesson. You are an excellent teacher, my friend. May the Lord continue to bless you in your endeavors for Him.


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