William Branham was of the outspoken opinion that Christian women should not cut their hair, based on I Corinthians 11, and often preached against “bobbed hair”. We got the following comment in an email, and thought it was a good invitation to bring up the topic of whether Christian women should cut their hair.
The Comment: “…it is good to discern between what is dated (bobbed hair, whatever that means, I think my mother had that…) and the principles behind it which are as valid as ever of course (like long hair is godly and nice).”
Bobbed hair is actually a technical term (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_cut). It is typically cut straight around the head just above jaw level. Variations on this include the A-line Bob, which is longer in the front and shorter in the back, and the Buzzcut Bob, which is shoulder length at the front and close to the scalp at the back.
William Branham teachings are based on I Corinthians 11, but practically are a reaction to popular culture defining Christian behavior. I Corinthians 11 teaches that:
1) Hair is a covering (I Corinthians 11:15)
2) Men should not cover their heads when they pray (I Corinthians 11:4)
3) Women should cover their heads when they pray. (I Corinthians 11:5)
4) Covered/uncovered heads (i.e., uncut/cut hair) is not a fashion statement, but is an outward expression of how God relates to people. (I Corinthians 11:3, 7, 10).
Hairstyles can be used to express on the outside what a person feels on the inside. For example, if you saw someone walking down the street with a pink mohawk, you would likely come to a quick conclusion that they care more for 80′s rock than they care about your opinion of them. Likewise, William Branham was increasingly faced with people who cared more for popular culture than they cared about I Corinthians 11.
Here are some short comments on why William Branham’s teachings on hair are scriptural, and practical.
i) The “Wycliffe NT” translation of I Corinthians 11:15 says “if a woman nourish long hair, it is glory to her”. The word “long hair” in this scripture means “to let the hair grow” (i.e., a verb, not a noun).
ii) If the Bible describes hair as “glory” and “power” to a woman, then getting rid of it is the equivalent of saying, “God, I know your scriptures promised me peace, but I don’t need it right now. I’ll have peace later when it comes back in style.” The glory and power in these scriptures become a direct benefit to the wearer that can be attained or abandoned.
ii) The “Amplified” translation of I Corinthians 11:16 says that “we hold to and recognize no other custom [in worship] than this”. As I was not born to a Greek speaking family, the Amplified is a good source of the broader meaning of the original text. Based on the Amplified, this scripture is not saying that the “hair culture” is optional, but rather that it is not optional.
iii) Having uncut hair is not weird. Most people style their hair (and dress nice) before going to see someone important. In I Corinthians 11 Paul is describing how God prefers his children to look when they pray (come before him).
iv) Having long hair is not restrictive. It is simply a covering available to everyone that never leaves the wearer uncovered. The turban (Sikhism) and the hijab (Isalm) are forms of head coverings that are more restrictive than long hair, and may leave an individual uncovered at times. I have friends who adhere to both of these religions, and to the shame of many Christians they are more righteous in keeping the faith.
v) Married Orthodox Jewish women are still required by Halacha (Jewish law) to cover their hair. The rules are slightly different, but their culture continues to be defined by the scriptures rather than their interpretation of the scriptures being defined by their culture.
vi) Bias is a perspective often inherited from society. If God honoured the teachings of Paul enough to perform miraculous signs to support his teachings, the issue is probably not Paul’s bias, but our own bias.
vii) Jesus condemned the Pharisees for tithing while omitting the “weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He did not say that the Pharisees should stop tithing, but that they should attend to the principles of the heart first, and “not to leave the other undone.” I know Christian women with cut hair who have lived solid Christian lives, and others with uncut hair who have led grossly immoral lives. While the topic of hair may not be one of the weightier teachings of the New Testament, it still remains a New Testament teaching. Because of this, I would encourage Christians to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice and his message of love, but not to leave the other teachings (like I Corinthians 11) undone.
This blog was to support William Branham’s teachings on I Corinthians 11, rather than passing it off. Why should anyone rob themselves of a very attainable promise of God? Letting God define our acceptable behaviour is an interesting challenge that I believe was at the heart of William Branham’s teaching.