1 Corinthians 11:14

Photo via Matthew Paul Turner on Facebook. I added the text.

For those who may not know the original version, 1 Corinthians 11:14-15a reads: “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?”

All jokes aside, it is an important text for illustrating that what Paul meant by “nature” and “natural” isn’t what we mean by those terms. If there is one thing that isn’t natural in the modern sense of the word, it is cutting one’s hair to keep it artificially short!

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  • $14834813

    That is a very confusing passage when you consider that Jesus and his apostles are always depicted with long hair. The artist’s depictions I guess came much later, in an era where long hair was considered manly.
    Anyway, it is a good example of how we can’t just blindly follow everything that Paul said on anything. He claims here that his opinion is a part of “the nature of things.” Oops, sorry Paul, you struck out on that one!

  • Leum

    My NT prof thought the passage was a coded reference to homosexuality, apparently it was a fashion for people interested in m/m sex at the time to grow their hair long. Do you know if that’s a valid theory?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      I’ve not encountered any evidence for that. And in fact, one could perhaps interpret it as a statement rather than a question: Nature does not teach you that it is a shame for a man to have long hair, but rather that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory. For a really interesting attempt to untangle Paul’s meaning, see Alan Padgett, “Paul on Women in the Church: The Contradictions of Coiffure in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 20 (1984): 69-86.

  • jay

    Obviously, something else than just long hair is being implied in this passage since Paul the Jew was certainly not against a person taking a Nazirite vow, as did he is said to have at least nomonally participated in Acts 21.