Saturday, May 3, 2008

Almost Cut My Hair

When I was a child, I used to love my father's Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young albums. I must have listened to Deja Vu thousands of times. My favorite tracks on that album were "Everybody I Love You," "Carry On," "Helpless," "Four and Twenty," "Teach Your Children," "Woodstock" -- I must confess, the entire album is just a masterpiece. Even though I am a Christian, it remains one of my guilty pleasures to this day.

There is one song from that album though that runs through my head without fail every single time I think about cutting my hair. It's hypnotic. It's addicting. It's an anthem. (Click here for the lyrics).

Obviously, this is a song about rebellion, a favorite of every long-haired hippy and flower child of the Woodstock generation. Ironically, it also appeals to me as a "Reformed SHEologian." For me, growing my hair is an act of counter-rebellion. The Bible says:

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God (1 Corinthians 11:14-16, ESV.)

Now before anyone accuses me of legalism, let me just make it clear that having long hair or short hair does not affect one's status in the Kingdom of God. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, period. But even as Christians, there are certain practices that are familiar to us which symbolize our regeneration. Baptism is one. The Lord's Supper is another. And I happen to believe that another way we demonstrate that we have embraced God's order in creation is that we present ourselves as male or female by our physical appearance. Our physical appearance is an outward symbol of what's going on in our hearts.

Historically, cutting off one's hair has been a symbol of feminine rebellion for years. Countless movies and television shows will always show a woman cutting her hair after some falling out with a man. For example, the man leaves her for someone half her age, and what is the very next thing we see? The woman going out on the town, charging up all the man's credit cards to get a new wardrobe, a manicure, and of course a drastic haircut. Cutting the hair, especially in an act of "revenge" against a man communicates "I am taking charge of my life!" It is such a powerful image because the woman is taking control of something that she feels belongs to her and her alone: her body.

You might be saying, "So? What's the big deal? It's only hair." Well, here is why I think this is a very subtle, but crucial offense to a Holy God. In a prior post, I wrote the following:

We are in rebellion when we make any decree for ourselves that is against God's design. We are saying that we are in control of our situation, not God. We deny Him of His sovereignty and usurp His place as Most High . . . Whenever we make statements that disagree with Scripture, we are in rebellion. At best, we are insinuating that God's decree could use some fine-tuning. At worst, we allow ourselves to alter God's design completely to suit our own needs. This manifests itself in a wide spectrum of ways, from a simple matter of shirking responsibility or refusing to submit, to declaring oneself to be homosexual or a transgender individual. All of these attitudes are equally sinful because they all stem from the same argument of "I can't help it . . . that's how I was created".
In the above article, I draw a parallel between a simple refusal to submit and a homosexual lifestyle. Both come from the same mindset. If I insist that I have an outspoken personality and "that's how I was created," I will naturally toss aside any commands in God's Word which require me to submit. This is the same argument many homosexuals use to justify their lifestyle: "That's just how I was created." Likewise, when our drastic haircut is accompanied by the phrase, "This is my body and I'll do what I want with it," where is the boundary? Truly an attitude such as this is really no different from the woman who says, "This is my body and I'll fornicate with whomever I want to," or, "This is my body and I have a right to an abortion."

Again, please do not misunderstand where I am coming from. I am not saying cutting one's hair is a sin on par with fornication and murder. I am not saying that cutting one's hair is a sin at all. What I am saying is that the mentality behind some of our motives for cutting our hair is what displeases God. Cutting one's hair is often simply a matter of better hygiene. If your hair is dry or has tattered ends, it can look quite beautiful if it is shorter. In fact, many women wear their hair short and are absolutely stunning.

But cutting one's hair can be construed as sinful when it is done in an effort to undermine, rebel against, or equate oneself with male leadership or God's design. For example, in Splendor in the Grass, our film of the month, Deenie Loomis (Natalie Wood) is seen cutting off her hair after the infamous "bathtub scene." (See it here at 6:50.) Deenie has chosen to preserve her virginity as her mother advises. But when her boyfriend fornicates with another girl, she rages at her mother, saying, "I'm not spoiled! I'm just as fresh and as virginal as the day I was born! I'm a good little girl, mom! A good little, good little, good little girl! I always did everything daddy and mommy told me! I obeyed every word!" In the next scene we see Deenie hacking away at her hair with a pair of scissors. Deenie cuts her hair in a fit of anger, pain, and desperation. She tries to drop her "good girl" image in an effort to win back her boyfriend. This is the type of mentality that rejects God's prescription for holiness.

Although not every woman cuts her hair for these reasons, an overwhelming majority of us have cut our hair at least once in our lifetimes in an effort to "shed" our femininity. Cutting one's hair has become so synonymous with rebellion against traditional womanhood, I have chosen to counter-rebel against this practice by growing mine.


Truly, the only reason I cut my hair short was because I didn't have time to take care of it. I always said that I was too busy to worry about something as trivial as my hair. I wanted my morning routine to be easy, and eliminating an extra twenty minutes on my hair seemed like a good idea. But I thought to myself, if growing my hair is something that would show God that I have fully submitted to Him, shouldn't I make time for it? If the only reason I am not wearing my hair long is because it's a nuisance, what else will I cut short? Will I also sacrifice my daily study of God's Word, assuming I don't have time for that either? I know God doesn't love me any more with longer hair than with shorter hair. But this Jesus Freak feels like letting her freak flag fly. Let's just say, "I feel like I owe it to Someone."

10 comments:

Roger said...

I commend you that you have such a heart to desire to submit to Him in that way Jen! I must say that your hair looks better long sister.

Grace & Peace,

Roger

thief on a cross said...

Hi,
I came across your blog through Deliver Detroit, my friend James' site. I was reading this post and got so excited. My sister and I were just talking about/studying this. We've been growing our hair out for a few months now, coming to the same conclusion that you have reached. It's very edifying to find other sisters who are also coming to knowledge of the same thing.
God bless you as you press into Him more and more!
Lindsay

Jennifer said...

Lindsay, God bless you and your sister! I am so glad you were blessed by this post. I am grateful to both you and Roger for your comments. Later this week, I hope to write about the practice of headcovering (I just started covering in February). I hope it will be a blessing to you as well! Thank you for stopping by and God bless.

Kurt said...

Let it grow Jen, let it grow!!!! Your hair in the last photo looks beautiful!

Jennifer said...

Kurt, how funny -- I almost titled this post, "Let it Grow! Let it Grow! Let it Grow!" My hair is naturally curly, so it does take some extra effort to make it look smoother as it does in the updated photo, but like I said in the post, if it pleases God, I should make time for it. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! You have all made my day!

Geraldine said...

Amen, let it grow! You do have very beautiful hair Jen!

Rita Martinez said...

Jen! great post!! I too cut my hair once out of rebellion, my dad wouldn't speak to me for a bout a week...but I've been letting it grow ever since I became a Christian!...I also thought of the head covering once, I'd love to read your take on it.

Sammybunny said...

Your hair is beautiful! Wow! I am doing the same thing and am posting my progress pics as well on my blog! Hooray for women growing their hair for God! Woohoo!

Natasa said...

I would like to have long hair but my hair is very thin so I cut it (hardly touch my shoulders..

Jennifer said...

Welcome, Natasa! I'll bet your hair is gorgeous! I used to keep mine about chin length for the very same (but opposite) reason: my hair is very thick.

The weight of the hair made a long style hard to manage. After a while a ponytail would give me a headache. Now when I get a headache I just put on a snood. It keeps my hair out of my face without the tight elastic.