Shorn Hair

I get a lot of inquries about cutting one’s hair, especially from women who have sojourned with or joined sects that follow a strict Biblical interpretation of appearance. What is shorn hair? “Shorn” means it is cut close to the scalp, or very short so that the shape of the head shows. “Shorn” is the past tense of “to shear”, and shearing is what we do to sheep. We take off most of the fleece, not quite to the skin, because poor sheep need some protection from the sun and insects; shearing follows the contours of the sheep’s body.

Do we mean when we interpret the admonition from Paul that women should not cut their hair at all? No. Trimming is not shearing. Paul meant that women should have long hair, as a covering when they are naked, and to appear as women and not to try to pass as men. He called for women to honour their feminity by having long hair, revealed only to their husbands, and that they weren’t to cut it so short that they could dispense with covering. Covering protected the hair as well as protecting the modesty of a woman; her hair was not an object of beauty to be admired by all. (And those who think this is ridiculous, that uncovered hair can’t be immodest – well, what do all the product advertisements tell us? That we should have silky, shiny, sexy hair, that men will be attracted to our beautiful uncovered hair and other women will be envious. That sounds immodest and vain to me.)

Must a woman’s hair be uncut? I don’t think we should treat the teaching as a superstition. Some women will need to cut their hair for health or safety reasons. Some women will find their hair easier to care for if the ends are trimmed neatly. I believe the covering is more important than the state of the natural growth of hair underneath, since that is personal and between a woman and her husband. My own hair is uncut, not even trimmed, and past my waist. It is a goodly length of hair. I find it manageable.

I do not cut my hair because this is my personal sacrifice to God, that my hair will be as natural as possible and without any ornamentation. Most women my age cut their hair above their shoulders and colour it. My hair is completely natural, and I am not concerned about the colour or how good it looks. My husband has always been satisfied with this, and prefers the natural look of my long hair to anything styled or coloured. In this way, I am as God made me, without any anxiety as to how others view me. My air is covered in public, and through most of the day in the home.

In Plain dress, uncut hair and headcovering, I have no anxiety about whether my appearance is pleasing.

19 thoughts on “Shorn Hair

  1. I have struggled mightily with trying to figure out what my motives were/are in desiring to be pleasant to look at by others. I know I am not wanting men to lust after me – that I figured out long ago. I think for me and perhaps some others it is an insecurity issue. And the fact that as a child my looks seemed to be the only thing about me that my parents thought might bring me any success. This was compounded by how I was treated by other men and women. I am never tempted to wear immodest clothes, but I do struggle with not wanting to be quite so plain, due to the fact I want approval. I don’t like to think I want the approval of the world, after all, I have worn a covering and dresses to my ankles for over 10 yrs.

    Good point about those who think it is ridiculous to say hair can be sexy. I never thought of what you said about how the hair products are supposed to make us more sexy. It is true!! Women spend so much on hair stuff. I have to say, though, if I was showing my hair and going to do stuff to it, I would be terribly out of date, as I am horrified at what people think is beautiful now. Chunks of strange colors, more than one on one’s head of strangely styled hair. I would be a fuddy duddy for sure!!!

    This might be a good time to bring up what adds to my confusion and hear a comment or two on it. There is a huge effort out there among christian women now where modesty and other important issues relating to extreme liberality in the church are being dealt with. A common theme is something like “daughters of the King” and then the site will expound on the need for women to be beautiful in modest ways. They tend to gently make it clear that Plain is not what they are advocating ( or the wearing of shapeless and baggy clothing that hides the woman so that her shape is not even detectable) without really saying it clearly. Anyhow, this is quite different to those of us who are convicted ( struggling with the convictions) to be plain. There are many articles about how important it is to dress beautifully every day according to our moods and the importance of our appearance – linking it to depression. This just stumbles me about. I think too much, probably!!


    • I must say that most of the time I don`t worry about how others view me (as attractive or otherwise) but there are days when I wonder if I am being the best witness I can be. Still, my modest (if somewhat shapeless) dress must be a better witness than too much attention to what I see in the mirror. I`m clean, neat and generally as put together as I can be. It`s a bit like being in cassock and collar again, but all the time. People focus more on my face and expression than on my figure and elegance of dress. I hope by this I can convey my sicnerity and interest in others as well as my dedication to the Lord.

      As to `daughters of the King`- I hear this phrase too and I do`t think it means we need to be apparelled in gold, but rather have humble hearts of service. A real princess – raised to serve the people of her father – is open-hearted, kind, attentive to the needs of others, and understanding. She knows she has a place in the Kingdom, but choses to serve in humility. A humble dress and a ready smile are most becoming to a true princess. Queen Elizabeth and her mother were both royalty who have served faithfully and in gracious humility – true daughter and wife of a king.

  2. I do like this post indeed. I plan not to cut my hair again. It has been about two years since I last cut it. Before I was called to stop doing that and to cover.

  3. I have cut my hair off and donated it to locks of love. It was well past my waist, I did so as a tribute to my beloved Aunt who has cancer. I am not ashamed of doing this. My husband is delighted with the new woman.
    He has never known me with short hair.
    I will grow it out again, but feel blessed to have done this.

    • It’s a lovely gesture to make, and useful to someone who needs it. My own very long hair is not suitable – much too fine and thin, and now is all uncut lengths. I had short hair for a couple of years. I liked the way I looked, but it just wasn’t me, so I let it grow out and haven’t cut it short again.

  4. I am growing mine out right now after having short hair for a while. Not extremely short, but a short feminine hair cut. Now I want it to be long enough to wear it up easily and braid my hair but I have no intention to let it grow to terminal length as it is so fine. I really have the typical Scandinavian fine hair times 10… Well, at least it is not too heavy like a friend’s, she is from Sri Lanka and can hardly wear it up at all as most hairpin cannot support it.

    • My terminal length is just past the waist. It might be longer, but it may break off just from sleep and normal wear. French braiding would be a good way to keep your hair neat under a kapp or scarf, but I don’t know how to do it. My mother had her hair french braided from the time she was young until she left high school,a nd hated it, so would never do it for us! (French braiding is what we call braiding against the head, like cornrowing.)

      • I have had French braided hair last time it was long and it looked nice and was comfortable. The looking nice part is perhaps not important but I tend to want a nice hair style even if no one sees it. Right not it is just too short to be French braided but in a month I would quess I can. Now I use pins and make a tiny tiny little roll of hair or just pin it until it is close to my head.

  5. There is definitely a large part of Christianity, the modest/feminine teachings, that is just “anti-plain”. They are modest and feminine, yes, but favour the floral dresses in all different styles, with lace or ruffle trims, and so on. They call solid or dark colors “drab” and depressing and ugly, and consider it our duty to look pretty and cheerful and feminine in their particular way. They also consider the hair to be more of an ornament of the overall feminine/pretty appearance, so usually have it down, curled, styled in a different way each day. These things are taught largely as the female duty to look pretty for men, but in ways that ARE physically modest and not revealing. It is about as far from Plain as can be. They heavily reference lines from the Old Testament that refer to Israel clothed beautifully, as support for their favoured style. Ladies Against Feminism and associated sites are good examples of this, online.

    Some of us are called differently, for reasons most worthy and bringing great growth and blessing in our lives. We who are plain seem to understand this, yet these other conservative Christians will not. If eyes can only see acceptable appearance in printed fabrics or ornamentations of ruffles and lace, numerous different dress styles in one’s wardrobe, and not in the Christian’s plain, this is truly of the world.

    • It does seem worldly to me to be concerned about being ornamental to my husband. My husband finds me beautiful no matter how I am dressed. In fact, he found my appearance when we first met intimidating, before I was Plain. I think he fell in love with the inner woman despite the outward appearance of designer clothes and make-up. I believe true love was nurtured when he came to help with the shearing and I was wearing overalls!

      *SIGH* Israel is clothed beautifully in her obedience and righteousness, NOT in garments upon her women. Honestly, a “literal” understanding of the Bible doesn’t mean you have to ignore the metaphors.I’ve come across some of these online groups and just shrug and move on. But I will write on this topic soon; I’ve come across liberal Christians disparaging what we do, as well. So we are getting it from both sides – anti-feminists as well as feminists.

  6. They do seem to understand the metaphor, but say (when I’ve discussed this with them) that God would not have used such language unless being ornamented in such apparel, in physical actuality, were not also the best way to be. In the past I gave some effort to the women who run and write some of these websites, attempting to get them to understand the Plain calling a little better so that perhaps they might moderate some of their language when writing their guidance about how Christian ladies should dress. It was futile; they are very deeply enmeshed in physical beauty and pretty clothing, and additionally shared with me a number of personal anecdotes of several alleged negative experiences with Plain people or communities.

    Plain is sometimes simply a dramatically different way and understanding of scripture and religion in general; we love these our Christian sisters, but in many ways do not even receive the same message and guidance when we each read scripture. A Christianity that sees all of scripture through the eyes of the New Testament, the profound revelation and understand Jesus has brought, is not going to walk in the various sub- or pre-Christian ways that were appropriate or permitted for ancient Israel. Our identity and our beauty is not in carefully styled long hair which we display for all to see, does not require a collection of varied dresses. This is so basic to us, but we know the eyes of the world see differently, and it is these eyes we see in some of these Christian modest/feminine teachings that are also anti-plain.

    • What grieves me is that they do not see the sin of vanity in it, nor do they cope well when the result of that sin besets them. Just to be anecdotal myself, I’ve known Christian women who could not escape self-doubt and anxiety over their appearance, and fell into dangerous depressions. And where does it end? Plastic surgery? We don’t need to appeal to the world through our appearance, but through the true love of our hearts. We will become more beautiful in others’ eyes when our work speaks for us. An old apple tree, cared for and nurtured, will produce much more fruit than an beautiful espaliered young tree, pruned and pampered. And the old apple tree will become more beautiful in its owner’s eyes as it proves its usefulness year after year.

      We were released from the levitical law by Jesus and in the example of the apostles. We cannot be held acocuntable to a priesthood, the levites of the temple, because they were dispersed and the temple thrown down. That is why we say Jesus Christ is our great high priest. We are still called to Godly behaviour, and we find direction and support for that in the example of Israel, but Christ is our only intercessor.

      More on this in a future post!

  7. I love this post and find the idea of long, covered hair to be beautiful. I lead a modern lifestyle in a huge city and have shoulder length hair. We struggle with maintaining any real privacy and space in this world; I like the idea of being covered.

  8. Still reading through your blog….

    “He called for women to honour their feminity by having long hair, revealed only to their husbands, ”

    Where does Paul say that?

    • Cynthia, I do not proof text. I follow the Orthodox model of reading thoroughly, inwardly reflecting and then writing or speaking. I do not but rarely give chapter and verse. The Bible was written without `placemarkers`as a narrative in its parts. I suggest that thee spend more time with thy Bible and peruse the scriptures to follow the sense of what I am saying here.

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