Wondering Why United Pentecostal Women Have Long Hair? Get the Facts

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. They wear long dresses, which often extend to their ankles. They also have long hair, which can fall below their waists.

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 instructions about hairstyles 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.

Pentecostal women long hair
What New Testament passage mentions long hair? See below

Why is long hair a woman’s “glory” according to Paul?

Many religious traditions interpret the Bible literally. Some of those traditions make a distinction between instructions that were for the original readers in the first century and those that have universal application in all cultures and eras. When it comes to 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 the roles that people have in worship. Verses 13-16 that 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)

Translation1 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.
NKJVBut if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.
NIVbut that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.
ESVbut 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? United Pentecostals don’t believe that cultural or generational differences affect how people should obey these verses. Paul’s instructions about long hair for women are true for all times and in all places. When a woman wears her hair long, it’s an expression of the way God made her as female, and that 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, which is 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 is living according to God’s intention for her.

In other words, people shouldn’t blur the differences between the genders God created, which are 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).

United Pentecostals braided hair
Can United Pentecostals braid their hair? See below

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 is instructing women to not 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.

Translation1 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?

Hairstyles other than long, unbraided hair aren’t intrinsically evil, but they mimic 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. 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)

Translation1 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;
NKJVDo not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—
NIVYour beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.
ESVDo 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 they 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. 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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Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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