Pentecostalism is a unique and peculiar denomination of Christianity. As such they follow some unique and peculiar practices, you may have heard about Pentecostals not cutting their hair. But is this true?
Do Pentecostals cut their hair? Pentecostals as a whole have no problem with cutting their hair. However, the most strict of all the Pentecostals generally do not cut their hair. This more strict group of Pentecostals is called Apostolic Pentecostals and they tend to adhere to the most strict standards including no TV, movies, alcohol, tobacco, and the Apostolic Pentecostal women do not use makeup, do not cut their hair and they usually wear long dresses.
So where did this question come from? What are the other groups of Christians who don’t cut their hair and is there any Biblical basis for not cutting your hair? Are men allowed to cut their hair or is it only women? We’ll answer these questions and more down below.
Pentecostals Don’t Cut Their Hair?
Pentecostals may or may not choose to cut their hair, but it has nothing to do with their theology or what they believe about God. Pentecostalism is a movement that came out in the early 1900’s focused on the early gifts that were given to the Apostles on Pentecost. These beliefs focused on the speaking in tongues or other languages and supernatural healing that occurred.
While theology evolves, and people change their belief structure, Pentecostalism has remained relatively the same. The focus of Pentecostals has always been on the gifting of the Holy Spirit. While it did originally have some overlap with the Holiness movement with which it sprung out of, hair has never been a point of conversation. Back in the early days of Pentecostalism, dancing was highly frowned upon because people believed it was a “lustful” activity.
There are however a group that calls themselves Apostolic Pentecostals. This group came about from a very early split from the original Pentecostal movement. The differences between Apostolic Pentecostals (sometimes know as “Jesus Only” Pentecostals) and more traditional Pentecostals are numerous. Traditional Pentecostals would more than likely not consider Apostolic Pentecostals to be Christians in the same way they are, or in the very least, view them as black sheep or misguided.
Apostolic Pentecostals have much stricter living standards and personal holiness practices. One of these include Apostolic Pentecostal women being encouraged not to cut their hair because it is their “glory”. This comes from 1st Corinthians 11:15 which says, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering”. They think that to lose their hair would be to reject the glory that God has given them.
However, this verse has long been interpreted to not have to do with women cutting their hair or not. The verse originally had to do with modesty and worship standards in Corinth. The vast majority of Christianity today does not interpret this verse as meaning that women should not cut their hair.
There is a divide between Apostolic Pentecostals and the rest of the worldwide church because of their strange beliefs. Apostolic Pentecostals also believe that the Father and Holy Spirit are two different names for Jesus. This is a self-admitted heresy called Modalism. Because the Church has largely denied Apostolic Pentecostalism as a legitimate form of the faith, all these beliefs should be rejected (or in the very least, taken with a grain of salt).
Are There Other Christian Groups Who Don’t Cut Their Hair?
There are some more fundamental sects of Christianity where women choose not to cut their hair. However, this practice doesn’t really belong to any specific group or denomination. There are many Christian groups who see keeping long hair as a form of modesty, that their women should keep their hair long to remain modest and proper. There are other more cultural beliefs that have infiltrated people’s mindsets that short hair on a girl is improper and boyish.
Pentecostalism certainly doesn’t outright forbid cutting your hair or have any other of these more superficial holiness standards. Pentecostalism encourages orthodox Christianity and a focus on the movement of God in our lives today.
Does Cutting Hair Only Apply to Women?
Modern interpretations are almost entirely focused around women. Most of the same people who believe women shouldn’t cut their hair think that men should only have short hair. This belief comes from 1 Corinthians 11:14 which says, “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him”. People interpret this verse as meaning that men need to have their hair cut short in order to not be shamed.
Another problem arises with this however, because historical-cultural studies have taught us that to have long hair as a man in Corinth at this time meant that you were a male prostitute. Paul wasn’t forbidding men from having long hair, he was encouraging them not to look like the prostitutes you found on the street.
With all this misinterpretation that’s going around, is there any Biblical basis for someone to not cut their hair? Some would say maybe, it depends on if ancient Jewish traditions and oaths mean anything to you.
Where Did Not Cutting Your Hair Come From?
Nazarites were people in the Old Testament who made a specific vow to God called a Nazarite vow. This vow was made special to promise to be set apart for God. Nazarites promised to not drink any alcohol made from grapes, not to touch any corpses of people or animals, thereby becoming ceremoniously unclean, and yes, to never cut their hair.
Well, I shouldn’t say never. Nazarite vows were typically only made for a specific period of time as determined by the person taking the vow. It could be for a couple months or a few years but was rarely ever for someone’s entire life. The famous Biblical character Samson who is found in the book of Judges was a Nazarite. Traditionally, after the specified time had been fulfilled, the vow taker would make three sacrifices to signify the end of their vow.
Samson had long hair that was a symbol of his commitment to God. God gifted Samson with supernatural strength as long as he never cut his hair. Samson ended up being deceived into having his hair cut and because of his disobedience to God, lost his strength. However, the moral from this story for Christians today in not to never cut ones hair, but to keep our vows and devotion to God.
Should Christians Today Cut Their Hair?
Personally, I would answer a resounding yes. Or rather, do whatever you want to do with your hair. The Christian life should be focused on honoring God and keeping His commandments. While some Christians today, primarily fundamental Christian groups, might encourage women to not cut their hair, it is allowed and accepted by to global church as a whole. Most Biblical evidence points to hair cutting being entirely permissible.
As a Christian, you should seek Gods will for your own life and come to your own conclusions about personal holiness standards. One should also make sure to be careful about which “camp” they listen to. “Christian” movements who are self-admitted heretics probably don’t have great advice for a Christian life.
If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.