May 1, 1986 Issue
by Don L. King

During the last few years, as I have taught regarding the hair question, there have been many comments made to me. Some were in agreement, others were not. Many have been in basic agreement, but had honest questions they sought to have an answer for. A few sought arguments. This article will deal with only one of the many questions I have heard.

In explaining the verses found in I Corinthians 11:2-16, which deals with the woman's hair, I point out that Paul does now allow the Christian woman to cut her hair at all while insisting the Christian man must. He reasons in verse 14 that EVEN nature teaches that a man should not have long hair. The word "even" indicates that his teaching prior to this verse is in agreement with what nature itself also teaches. In other words, nature itself also teaches that a man is not to let his hair grow; but the woman is. Paul has been speaking of "hair" all along as he wrote of their being covered or uncovered. If he hadn't, he would not have used nature as a corroborating teacher.

In verse 15 a great lesson is to be found by a closer look at the key words Paul chose. "But if a woman have long hair, (verb-komao: "to let the hair grow, have long hair,..." Thayer, pg. 354, #2863) it is glory (doxa-meaning to call forth praise) to her: for her hair (noun-kome: "hair, head of hair...designating the hair as an ornament..." Thayer, pg. 354, #2864) is given her for (avti: "for, instead of, in place of..." Thayer, pg. 49, #473) a covering. (peribolaion-noun: "a veil" Thayer, pg. 502, #4018).

Notice that Paul uses the word "hair" twice in verse 15. However, the first time he used the verb form; and the second time the noun form. The verb form means to "let the hair grow, have long hair." Virtually all lexicons define the word as having this meaning. So the Christian woman is to actively allow her hair to grow. When she does so, she then will have hair which is ornamental to her. Thayer says the noun form (kome) designates the hair as ornamental. Note that it is this ornamental hair which is given her INSTEAD of a veil! If you look at the meanings of the various key words found in verse 15 and then read the verse using those definitions, the verse is very clear. i.e. "If a woman lets her hair grow, it calls forth praise to her: for her ornamental hair is given her instead of a veil."

A few times I have been asked by someone who had studied Greek (I know only what I read in a lexicon) about the verb form of hair (komao) used in verse 15. They point out that this word does not carry with it the meaning of "uncut." They ask why I insist the Christian woman cannot even trim her hair when Paul says only "let it grow"? He never says she must not cut it.

To use this argument is to miss the point, as I see it. Look at it this way: What is it that is given INSTEAD of a veil? The answer is KOME- the noun form of hair which designates her hair as being ornamental. How may she possess hair which is ornamental and given instead of a veil? The answer: By obeying the command contained in the verb "komao" to let her hair grow and in no other way. No, Paul never said she couldn't cut her hair. But she can never have ornamental hair which is given instead of a veil as long as she does cut it. It is impossible to cut it (or break it off in perms, etc.) and by letting it grow at the same time. In view of this, I must continue to insist that it is wrong for a Christian woman to cut, trim, or remove a part of her covering in any way. This covering is to be her sign that she recognizes the man as having authority over her as per verse 3.

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