Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, (I Corinthians 11:14 NASB)
Is your hair too long?
The scripture above seems to indicate that long hair is prohibited for Christian men, but what about Samson and John the Baptist? Samson in the Old Testament and John the Baptist in the New were Nazarites, who by vow never cut their hair. Did God change His mind? How do we reconcile these two seeming inconsistencies? Remember, the Bible always interprets itself. If we compare two scriptures and they seem to contradict one another, there is something that we do not understand about at least one of them. The Bible is totally true from the first page to last one, but there are relative and absolute truths in it. An absolute truth is always true in all periods of time and all cultural situations. For instance, lying is always wrong at any time in any circumstance. A relative truth is right in a specific cultural context, but may not be binding in all instances. I submit to you that the prohibition of long hair that Paul talks about falls into the latter category.
So why put it in the Bible for all to read? The answer is simple; behind all relative truths are absolute ones. Paul uses the issue of hair but he is really getting at rebellion. To ignore a cultural norm that was embraced by the Church was wrong because it represented a lack of submission to authority. Length of hair was the relative truth; attitude toward authority was the absolute. Loren Cunningham, the co-founder of Youth With A Mission, with whom I worked, instructed our youth “you can grow your hair to whatever length you prefer, as long as it doesn’t get into you hearts”. In other words, if you are growing you hair long to get back and Mom and Dad, you had better get it cut. It was a matter of the heart not the hair. Making a relative truth out of something that is absolute leads to liberalism. If we take an absolute truth and interpret it in a relative sense, it produces legalism. Neither of these paths take us where need to go in relation to Biblical truth. As Christians we need to understand that “sum of Your word is truth,” (Psalms 119:160 NASB); not having preference for one scripture at the exclusion of all others. If we allow the Bible to interpret itself we will not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15 NKJV).
Pray with me: Lord, help me to rightly divide Your word. Give me the diligence to study and the humility to accept what I find. In His name I pray. Amen.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing