Bible Studies/1 Corinthians 11


Are christian women suppose to keep their hair long according to 1 Corinthians chapter 11?

I've read conflicting answers on this - everything from God doesn't care what we do with our hair, to women should never cut their hair even for a trim, to cutting your hair is OK as long as it's kept at a longer length and not cut short as a man's hair.

Can you please give me some insight into this issue? Thanks.

Hi Bethany, thank you for your question.   This teaching is all about being sensitive to traditions and customs.   Paul discussed the proper role of women
In the service of worship. To the surprise of many, Paul had no objection to women praying or prophesying, or preaching , for that matter. It would seem that women had a larger role in the early church.

Paul deals with a problem that's more related to a custom than to a deep theological issue - that of women wearing veils in the service (11:1-16).
*He also dealt with the importance of not bringing differences into the service., and a teaching on the Lord's Supper.

Let me give you a history lesson to help you understand the minds of those gathered there. It had been the custom in the synagogue in and in some pagan temples for women in attendance to cover their heads.  In the Jewish tradition, the covering represented a distinction in dress to acknowledge the difference between men and women. Some of the members in Corinth were from the Jewish background and had unconsciously brought with them much of their tradition.  But Corinth was a Greek town., and there was an emancipation of woman taking place in the Hellenistic culture. They were beginning to be given rights in matters of divorce and marriage that had been unknown before.  Change was in the air! Women were developing their intellectual capacities and were sitting with their husbands at dinners discussing the philosophy of the day.  In fact, many of those women had ADANDONED the traditional veil in their dress and had begun to experiment with different hair styles!   Paul's teachings no doubt contributed to this new behavior. Read: Gal. 3:28.

One of the most natural acts for new converts would have been to look upon the veiled women as the symbol of the old age, and the bare-headed stylish women, as one who had been made free and equal in Christ.   Note: For those with a Jewish background, for a women to speak in the worship service was an innovative thing and indeed a stark contrast to worship in the synagogue . BUT, for her to also be bare-headed and have new hair styles was for many the final
Straw. Point: this evidently was what was going on in the church so Paul addressed it head on.  Paul feels that when the church is dealing with things that relate to 'local customs' or traditions' , it's better to go along with them to the extent that the gospel is not  compromised! In other words, Paul taught that when a church or an individual Christian within the church, goes out of their way. To flout the local customs and be critical of another's personal choices (hair style),
It forgets that the purpose of the church is to win persons to Christ, and not to tell them about how Christians live. Grace did away with conditions.  Jesus says, " Come as you are."

So, my new friend, the answer is NO! Women  don't have to wear there hair long and never cut it! That's a manmade law.  The church is full of manmade
laws. God cares about what's in the heart.  I hope understanding this text ( background)  points out clearly what Paul's teaching is all about.  

Bible Studies

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Reverend Ramona C. Stonecipher


As a Pastor,and Bible scholar, I can help you find answers to questions of faith. We can explore the power of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. I can help you cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ of God. While I alone, can't solve your problems, I can lead you to the One who can. I can't make you believe, or have faith, but I can plant the seeds of faith and introduce you to the One who is the Gardener. I can also tell you, and show you, that God loves you, and our God is a God of second chances. I hope you'll accept my invitation to walk the Damascus Road together__. Welcome.


35 35+ years teaching Biblical Studies 30 years preaching the Word of God 30+ years Public Speaking (Spiritual Retreats & Worship Experiences) Counselor, Suicide Prevention, Kansas City, Missouri

Concerned Women of America

Ordained Minister: United Methodist Graduate: Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri *Masters Degree in Theology *Bible Scholar/Teacher/Speaker CPA Degree, Baptist Medical Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri Graduate: University of Nebraska Graduate Studies: Fairleigh Dickenson University, New Jersey (Psychology)

Awards and Honors
Harry Denman Evangelical Award Who's Who American Colleges and Universities 1982

©2017 All rights reserved.