Question 25 (ABM) - Is it OK for a woman to cut her hair?
The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This series of Q&A relates to William Branham's doctrine and teaching. The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 25 - Is it OK for a woman to cut her hair?
In our last question, you stated:
- It is only the idolaters who ever took his sayings and interpreted to mean they could not cut their hair at all. It was just his personal desire to see no women cut their hair. The bible does not support an idea like that. If you look into his question and answers series he was asked a question about this. He was very clear that cutting of hair was not completely forbidden, but was acceptable within limits.
I agree with you that the Bible does not forbid women to cut their hair.
You provided a couple of quotes from 1964 that seem to illustrate that William Branham accepted that view.
However, let us look at what William Branham said subsequent to 1964 (emphasis added):
- The Bible said, “It’s wrong (nature teaches you) for a man to have long hair. And it’s a disgrace and a common thing for even a woman to pray with her hair cut.” And how about these? (65-0206 - Doors In Door)
- To cut her hair, makes her a dishonorable woman, a prostitute. (65-0829 - Satan's Eden)
- And that big thing will be laid right before you, every one of them filthy dresses you wore; every time you went to the barber shop, cut that hair that God give you. It’s going to be. You’ll answer for it. (65-0911 - God's Power To Transform)
- Do you think God lies? Does God ever change His mind? Well, people act today like He did. When He said for women not to cut their hair, they say, “We can cut it, Dr. So-and-so said we could. Brother So-and-so said you’re just too narrow-minded.” Uh-huh, uh-huh. See? (65-1127B - Trying To Do God A Service Without It Being God's Will)
- “And it’s an abomination for a woman to wear a garment that pertains to a man.” It’s wrong and sinful, “For her to cut her hair,” the Bible said so, “uncommon thing for her to even pray.” (65-1205 - Things That Are To Be) .
There are more quotes but I think the point is made.
If I understand what you are saying, William Branham didn’t mean what he seemed to have plainly said.
Did he not understand what the word “cut” meant?
Of course, there is another way to interpret this. He was simply a hypocrite. He held one standard out to the general public but when pushed in his own family, he backed down and then had to justify the behaviour of his own family by compromising on his stated view. But then, because he still held that view, he went on to repeat it multiple times.
Regardless, his teaching on the subject of hair was hopelessly confused if I try to take the plain meaning of his words just as his teaching on the subject of divorce was confused.
My question: Was William Branham incorrect when he stated, “To cut her hair, makes her a dishonorable woman, a prostitute”?
Response from ABM
In short, I believe when Bro. Branham spoke of a woman cutting her hair, he had a specific thought in mind. Specifically, he was considering a case where a woman cut her hair into a style that was more like that of a man or into a style that was not in keeping modesty. True, his plain words can be taken to mean no cutting whatsoever, and that is what some have interpreted them to mean. But hundreds of fellowships and thousands of his followers have not interpreted his words in that manner. It would seem he himself did not even interpret his own words that way given the fact that his wife and daughters cut their hair. The context of words is also important, and given the context, I feel quite sure in my interpretation.
I am sure, having been in the message many years, you are aware that Bro. Branham's followers interpret his sayings on this topic differently from sect to sect. It is possible to use his statements to justify either position, which is why it is important to use the bible to fully understand. If he did believe it was wrong for a woman to cut her at all (I truly do not think he did), it was no more than his personal conviction. There is nothing wrong with holding a conviction, but it is a mistake to let your conviction become a stumbling block for others. Those who use his sermons to prevent women from doing even basic maintenance on their hair are at best making a stumbling block out of his convictions and at worst twisting his meaning to enforce their own convictions.
I want to reintroduce the quote from my previous email where he explained he had no scripture for his position, and that women of his family cut their own hair and that he personally found nothing wrong with some cutting of hair.
- And now, but cutting the hair, I--I--I'll tell you this. I can't--I--I ain't got no--no Scripture to say that you can cut so much of it and can't do the other. I--I haven't got no Scripture for that; I--I couldn't tell you that, sister, or brother, ever who it is. I say one thing. I wished... Now, I know my kids has done that too, Rebekah and Sarah, I seen when they cut their hair off here in front, and plait it back here in the back, and make these things across the front, like this. I--I don't, I--I... Now, not holding them. See? No, sir. To me, I wished they didn't even put a scissors on their hair at all. But when they got all long, hanging down like this, and just cut the front of it out of their eyes, little kids maybe. I--I wouldn't know whether that'd be wrong; I wouldn't think so. See? - Questions And Answers #3 (64-0830M)
Later in the same message her refers back
- Is it wrong to trim the ends of woman's hair? I believe we just went through that a few minutes ago (See?), for the little... I guess they call them--them little things that hang down like that.. - Questions And Answers #3 (64-0830M)
I would also like to introduce the fuller context of the quote from which you base your question:
- Notice, bobbed hair, painted faces, sexually dressed (See?), she does that, and don't know that every one of those things is contrary to the Word of God. To cut her hair makes her a dishonorable woman, a prostitute. To wear shorts puts her disgracefully. Put sexy dresses on her makes her a prostitute, and she don't know it, not because of the holiness of God; because the lust of Satan. - Satan's Eden - 65-0829
As with most times he speaks about cutting hair, he does so in connection with a particular style of hair. So when he mentioned "cut hair", he is referencing back to his earlier statement of a specific type of style. I feel statements like this, properly analyzed, show that "cut hair" equals "bobbed hair" in his vernacular.
You ask: Was William Branham incorrect when he stated, “To cut her hair, makes her a dishonorable woman, a prostitute”?"
Answer: In full context, with a ungodly hair style, a painted face, and sexually dressed - yes I would say that makes her look like a dishonorable woman, and like a prostitute, with an appearance designed to seduce someone. But in the context I think you are interpreting it, where she has merely trimmed her hair, no of course that does not make her appear dishonorable.
Follow up from BTS - Can a woman with short hair be saved?
We are to ignore the plain meaning of what William Branham said. I do understand that you have said that in a few instances in our discussion.
So let's go on to the consequences of short hair for a woman.
William Branham stated:
- Let a woman say she’s a Christian, with short hair? Huh-uh! You know better than that, see. Yes, sir. Let her say she’s a Christian, wearing paint and make-up, and shorts, and say she’s a Christian? You know better than that. The Word of God teaches you better than that. The Word says she can’t do it and be a Christian. She is even dishonorable, and everything. How is God going to put a dishonorable thing in His Kingdom? No, sir, not at all. No, sir. Theirselves, they shows their desire. (65-0829 - Satan's Eden, para. 150)
So he is saying that a woman with short hair is not a Christian. Or am I misunderstanding the plain meaning of his words?
- “The woman that liveth in pleasure,” with her bobbed hair and painted face, “is dead while she is alive.” The Bible said so. See? See, she may be religious, but she never was saved. She’s got a outward motion. She might sing in the choir, or she might dance in the Spirit, she might speak in tongues, and have all the manifestations of the Spirit. But unless that soul on the inside is God’s daughter, see, she is gone, no matter what she does. (65-0822E - A Thinking Man's Filter, para. 70)
But that is not what the Bible states. Speaking of widows, Paul says, "But the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives." (1 Tim 5:6). A widow who "lives for pleasure" is not the same as a person who conforms to societal norms for dress, even if William Branham disagreed with them.
William Branham is effectively saying that a woman with short hair who wears makeup cannot be saved.
Do you agree with his position?
Response from ABM
Long hair is relative
I have to give some caveats. There are parts of the world I have ministers that women are genetically incapable of growing long hair. African and Polynesian women cannot grow long hair in the same way European or Asian people can. So short hair is a relative term.
I interpret what Bro. Branham is saying strictly within western society. I would also suggest times have changed since Bro. Branham was alive. When he was living, especially before the 1960s, it was uncommon to see a western woman with short hair. Society frowned on it, and it was indeed viewed with negative connotations. It was such that, in those days, every woman who cut her hair short was knowingly bucking historic societal norms. Bro. Branham's statements were before the sexual revolution, and right up to the start of it.
So this is where eating fifty year old manna gets a person in trouble. Today, most women do not consider it to mean anything to cut their hair short. For most of them, it has been that way their whole life and they think nothing of it.
Sin is in the heart
Short hair itself is not wrong, it is the motive in the heart behind it which truly is the cause of the sin. Why were they cutting their hair short in Bro. Branham's day? For sinful reasons. As a form of rebellion. If we move forward in time to the present day, we find their rebellion was fully successful and what was radical in the 1950s has now become the norm. I am sure as a Christian, you probably do not approve of a majority of the sexual revolution. I suspect you would agree that the changes in women's style of clothing and hair that originated in those days are directly related to it.
Nowadays, no one even thinks about this anymore in society. If I look a average woman in the world who has always had short hair, I would not judge her harshly like Bro. Branham judged the ones who were trailblazing the trend of short hair in his time. I see a difference in now and then. Because there is a different motive in their hearts. One was pushing the limits and advancing immorality, while those today simply do not know any better.. That is why you can pull quotes like this and make modern people gasp - "Bro. Branham was a cave man!" they will say. Because they do not even have an understanding that his views were once pretty close to the mainstream of Wesleyan thought... He was less strict than the holiness movement of the post-civil war years, for example.
Bro. Branham is within the maintstream of Wesleyan thought
John Wesley wrote "Women shall refrain from cutting their hair or curling it either by commercial processes or by home permanent methods." This was mainstream thought throughout the Wesleyan and Pentecostal world. Bro. Branham was merely following in their footsteps on this subject, and ultimately less strict than his predecessors. So while I understand you are rejecting this thought as something Bro. Branham said, I would suggest to you that you are actually rejecting historic Wesleyan thought which Bro. Branham was still holding to. This type of thought was widely accepted in the United States as part of the second great awakening and reached the peak of its popularity in the second half of the 1800s. It was entering decline during the ministry of Bro. Branham.
The present truth
Our reality is different than Bro. Branham's was. I certainly teach that women should wear long hair because the bible stipulates it. The other ministers who fellowship with us teach the same. Long hair though is relative, depending on a person's genetics. Our ministers in Africa adapt the teaching for their circumstances. But a woman in the world who does not know any better can no longer be judged in the same manner as Bro. Branham was able to judge western women during his ministry. Because their short hair is no longer a clear sign of rebellion against God, whereas it was a much clearer sign during his lifetime.
I will say this. I think a woman with short hair and who wears makeup is not living up to what the scriptures asks of us. She could be saved, and if she comes to the knowledge of salvation and is led taught by a righteous minister the truth, I believe she will accept the scripture and grow long hair if it be possible for her to do so.
So you ask: "William Branham is effectively saying that a woman with short hair who wears makeup cannot be saved."
Answer: I believe Bro. Branham did not mean they could never be saved, but merely that the women who were participating in the sexual revolution by cutting their hair short were clearly in a non-saved state. A Christian woman led by the spirit of God would not be participating in such a rebellion against God.
Response from BTS
You really have diverged significantly from what I believe William Branham clearly taught. But obviously, I am fine with that as I think William Branham was clearly outside of scripture on this issue. You think he meant something different from what he clearly stated, and I think he meant what he said and that he was simply wrong.
Was Paul referring to a hairstyle or a physical covering in 1 Cor 11:4-7? What does the Greek word, κατακαλύπτω (katakalypto), which most English translations interpret as “cover,” mean? I could go into the Greek usage of the term but it is clear that modern day scholars virtually all agree that to argue that Paul was speaking of "hairstyle" and not a physical covering is to ignore usage of the word in Greek in the first century.
It is also interesting to note that Irenaeus, along with many other of the church fathers stated that women were required to have “a veil on her head.” John Wesley also interpreted this passage as requiring women to wear a veil on their heads.
Furthermore, modern orthodox Jewish women cover their hair once they are married. Only their husband is allowed to see their uncovered hair. As such, they would appear to be in agreement with Paul’s instructions (where most message women would not).
Personally, I think Paul was arguing that Christians should behave in ways that are honourable within their culture. In Corinth, the temple of Aphrodite overlooked the city. Many think that the temple prostitutes either had short hair or walked through the streets with their hair uncovered. Most statues of women from the first century had their head covered. What Paul was saying was that in the Corinthian culture, Christian women should keep their hair covered. If short or uncovered hair on women was a sign of prostitution, then a Christian woman with short or uncovered hair would not be a good witness for Christ. Paul was encouraging believers to avoid appearances and behavior that would detract from demonstrating their Christian faith.
I don't think we need to go into this any further as I do think your position on this issue is reasonable (as opposed to virtually everyone else in the message that I have had contact with).
I do want to move on to some other of William Branham's legalistic teachings on dress which I will do in my next question.
Final word from ABM
Just to reply to your one question: "Was Paul referring to a hairstyle or a physical covering in 1 Cor 11:4-7?"
The context of Paul's statement is a little ambiguous. He clearly is speaking about hair in verse 6, so it seems reasonable to conclude he was also speaking about hair as a covering throughout. I lean towards that interpretation, which Bro. Branham also taught.
However, to add a bit of historic context, it was actually common in that time for women to wear wigs. Especially among the well-to-do. They actually kept themselves shaved, and wore a wig on their head. So I lean towards the covering being a wig. I personally find that interpretation makes the most sense of any that I have ever heard. Which explains why he goes on to say let the women be shorn - not because they go around bald, but because then they can wear the wig.
I could insert a picture of Vestal Goodman here.. haha.
Ultimately on this topic I believe the bible clearly calls for a woman to have long hair.
You state "You really have diverged significantly from what I believe William Branham clearly taught." That is a nice way of saying the same thing the Ontario street preachers say about us. We would argue we are the true continuation of Bro. Branham's followers.
- Irenaeus of Lyons, “Irenæus against Heresies,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 327.
- John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament, Fourth American Edition (New York: J. Soule and T. Mason, 1818), 444.
- Bruce B. Barton and Grant R. Osborne, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1999), 159.