In an August 31 article for the ever-increasingly irrelevant online group blog, The Gospel Coalition, columnist Laura Baxter answers a reader’s question, “Can I get my hair cut under a rainbow flag?” The reader’s full question to the author is as follows:
“The place where I get my haircut has a sign out side that says ‘We don’t serve people who are unmasked, racist, or homophobic.’ They also fly a rainbow flag all year long. I believe in a biblical definition of marriage, which I’m pretty sure would fit their definition of homophobic. So can I still get my haircut there?”
Before getting into a critique of Baxter’s response, let me just say this: Good on the barbershop. And to the commenter, there is no such thing as a biblical definition of marriage. In the Bible, there are a wide variety of types of marriages. In Genesis 2, you have the so-called “traditional marriage.” In Genesis 38, however, you have a Levirate marriage, where a man marries his brother’s widow. All throughout the Hebrew scriptures, men have wives and concubines (300 if you’re Solomon). In Deuteronomy 22, a r*pe victim has to marry her abuser after he pays her father 50 shekels of silver. In Numbers 31, a male soldier can marry a prisoner of war. I could continue, but I think you understand the point.
There are some interesting marriages in the Good Book.
Anyway, on to Baxter’s response . . .
She starts with the following: “Hostility toward biblical marriage is increasing, so it is no surprise your hairdresser is flying the rainbow flag.”
This is ridiculous. If, by “biblical marriage,” Baxter means “one man and one woman,” then there is no evidence that there is an increase in hostility. Men and women are marrying all the time, and no one is demanding they stop. We are only demanding those who choose not to marry someone of the opposite gender are celebrated.
This is the issue with many Christians these days. They see others gaining rights as synonymous with them losing rights. It’s like when they retort with “All lives matter” any time they hear “Black lives matter.” It’s like, “Duh! That’s why we are reminding folks that they need to include Black people.” Sorry white dude, but demanding racial equality for Black folks doesn’t mean you are losing your rights. It’s not a zero-sum game. This isn’t the honor/shame culture of the first century.
Baxter then goes on to feebly attempt to make three key points. The first is that the Bible allows the commenter to get her hair cut at the barber, because being “unequally yoked” only applies to long-term partnerships. She writes, “The Bible does not require us to only purchase goods and services from Christians.” Okay, I actually can’t disagree with that.
The second point the author makes is that we need to be on guard against bad company ruining good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). What she obviously means is that if the commenter continues to use this particular barber, she could – gasp – start dressing in a more masculine way. No joke! This is her example:
“God created men and women to be complements to each other. Our sex differences should be acknowledged and celebrated in the way we dress. The Bible teaches that men should dress in a masculine way, and women should dress in a feminine way, in accordance to cultural norms […] God calls women, in particular, to dress modestly. Yet today, androgynous and extreme hairstyles are increasingly popular. If you go to a secular hairdresser, you must be able to resist ungodly fashion trends.”
So, this is obviously a case of yet another Christian cherry-picking the Scriptures. Fifty bucks says she doesn’t apply all the cultural norms of the Bible to her life. Does she eat shrimp? She better not. Or bacon? Definitely not. Is the purple top or grey hoodie in her blog’s profile pic made of mixed fabrics? They better be 100% cotton. Oh, and might I say, a grey hoodie is not all that feminine, Laura. You may want to put on a skirt. Leave the hoodies for the men. Because the Bible.
Also, what in the actual f*ck is an “ungodly fashion trend” or “extreme hairstyle?” Dyed hair? A mohawk? Jeans? BLM shaved into the side of your fade? Again, this is just another case of playing fast and loose with the Bible, and trying to turn it into some rulebook for life. When you do this, you end up looking ridiculous.
The last point Baxter makes is that she wants the commenter to know that going to this “secular” barber is a chance to proselytize about “God’s design for marriage,” even going so far as telling her to “offer a pamphlet from your church or a link to an article of interest.”
First off, ugh. Please don’t do this. But if you must, send the barber my way. My blog is patheos.com/blogs/allsetfree. I’ve got a ton of articles on why I’m pro LGBTQ+. I’d love to chat with this barber about why it’s okay to be Christian and LGBTQ+. I’m sure that’s not what Baxter has in mind, but who cares? At the end of the day, this article is just one more reason why The Gospel Coalition is becoming increasingly irrelevant and harmful. They give bad advice. They have harmful beliefs. And I’m secondhand embarrassed by and for them.
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