There is no reason to believe God will call us to account for how we grow our hair out. But that does not mean our hair is inconsequential. If our choices in fashion and personal grooming were entirely irrelevant, Paul would not have brought the topic up in Corinthians.
To be sure, we can go too far the other way. Some people become legalistic on these points and believe that a man who shaves his beard or a woman who cuts her hair short and wears pants is somehow sinning. That is not my view. And we would be wrong to assume that just because Paul brings the topic up that this means we should obsess over it.
Yet we American Christians, and me personally even here, have a long way to go before we must worry about going off the deep end in that direction. Right now, we have more to worry about in supposing anything goes, or that our decisions are entirely a matter of personal preference, and that there are no standards against which to measure. The immediate threat is supposing gender is merely a social construct, arbitrary and subjective, and that men and women are interchangeable.
I believe there are at least two ways to respond to what Paul says about gender. And at most there are three.
The first way is to change the topic from gender expression to legalism. Many do this, dismissing any and all talk of applying Biblical standards as judgmental and self-righteous.
The second way is to look on the bright side. We can choose to embrace the reassuring comfort that God created us male and female. God must, after all, have a plan and purpose for masculinity and femininity.
However, if we are conflicted about these first two and “if the anxiety of either placating or challenging the feminists and legalists is too great,” there is a third way. This third way is to respond with apathy and indecision.
Yet if there are two options here, only one of them really honors God. And if there are three ways to respond, two of them are self-absorbed and give no meaningful consideration to the admonition that we Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit and should honor God with our bodies.
This is not true because of the actions, as if God is honored by our merely checking boxes. Rather, one attitude and frame of mind toward gender honors God by placing a high value on what his Word says. The other only cares about what we and other people want.
True, most things in life are a matter of personal preference.
Yet, the Bible is not silent on gender expression. And maybe we Christians have taken more of the bait than we realized if we suppose gender expression in hairstyles is completely arbitrary.
After all, did the Satanic lie start with lesbian bishops performing gay weddings in churches and marching at pro-choice rallies, or did it start with supposing what we do with our bodies is entirely up to us and none of God’s business?
And, indeed, Paul writes earlier in the same letter something else which should temper our attitude toward personal grooming.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Article republished with gracious permission from On The Rocks.
For Further Discussion:
The Peaceful Wife on: Godly Femininity
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