United Pentecostals, sometimes called Oneness Pentecostals or Apostolic Pentecostals, have unique beliefs which affect their physical appearance. Women in the United Pentecostal tradition commonly don’t wear jewelry or makeup. Instead, they wear long dresses, which often extend to their ankles. They also have long hair, which can fall below their waist.
United Pentecostal women have long hair because the Apostle Paul speaks favorably of it in his New Testament letters. Most Bible readers understand that Paul’s hairstyle instructions were for his first-century readers, but United Pentecostals believe it’s still applicable today.
Why is long hair a woman’s “glory,” according to Paul? How do other Bible readers understand Paul’s instruction? Can United Pentecostal women braid their hair? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also, see Pentecostal vs United Pentecostal: What’s the Difference? to learn more.
Why Does Paul Say Long Hair Is a Woman’s “Glory”?
Many religious traditions interpret the Bible literally. Some of those traditions distinguish between instructions for the original readers in the first century and those that have universal application in all cultures and eras. Regarding outward appearances, United Pentecostals don’t make such a distinction.
What is the key New Testament passage that mentions long hair? In 1 Corinthians 11-14, Paul teaches about worship. In 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, he addresses people’s roles in worship. Verses 13-16 mention women with long hair.
“Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone is inclined to dispute this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:13-16, KJV)
|Translation||1 Corinthians 11:15|
|KJV||But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.|
|NKJV||But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.|
|NIV||but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.|
|ESV||but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.|
Also, see Do United Pentecostals Believe in the Trinity? to learn more.
How do United Pentecostals interpret these verses? First, United Pentecostals don’t believe that cultural or generational differences affect how people should obey these verses.
For example, Paul’s instructions about long hair for women are valid for all times and in all places. When a woman wears her hair long, it expresses how God made her female, which should be her identity, i.e., her glory.
How do other Bible readers interpret these verses? Many Bible readers obey the principle of what Paul is saying: that men should look like men and women should look like women. When women look like women, whether their hair is long or not, it’s her glory because she lives according to God’s intention.
In other words, people shouldn’t blur the differences between the genders God created, male and female. The principle of gender differentiation is rooted in God’s creation of people as men and women.
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
Can United Pentecostal Women Braid Their Hair?
United Pentecostal women are forbidden from braiding their hair because Paul criticizes the hairstyle in his letter, 1 Timothy.
Many Bible scholars believe that prostitutes in the first century braided their hair, so Paul instructs women not to mimic their appearance. Since this association isn’t a concern in most places in the world today, many Bible readers seek to apply the principle of Paul’s instructions.
|Translation||1 Timothy 2:9|
|KJV||In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;|
|NKJV||“In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.”|
|NIV||“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,”|
|ESV||“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”|
Also, see Why Don’t United Pentecostals Wear Makeup or Jewelry? to learn more.
Is Short or Braided Hair Inherently Evil?
Though long, unbraided hair isn’t intrinsically evil, it mimics the ways of the fallen world. Being holy, i.e., being set apart from the world, is a central conviction for United Pentecostals.
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
The passage continues, “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:3-5)
|Translation||1 Peter 3:3|
|KJV||Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;|
|NKJV||Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—|
|NIV||Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.|
|ESV||Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—|
How do other Bible readers obey these verses? Other Bible readers also adhere to the instruction to live holy but don’t associate the set-apart lifestyle with hairstyles.
Most readers understand that associations, connotations, and stereotypes regarding physical appearance vary depending on time and culture.
Nevertheless, the principle of not building one’s identity on external beauty, but focusing on internal beauty, is the universal principle.
Also, see Why Do United Pentecostals Wear Long Skirts and Dresses? to learn more.
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