KJV I Corinthians 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

I have not seen many people actually answer this question, but instead take it as a doctrine.

  • Nature shows me that it is a male lion that has long hair.

  • A beautiful stallion has long majestic hair.

  • Also in the animal kingdom it is the male with the beautiful and bright colors.

Did Paul give the answer 2 verses later saying "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God"?

  • Women (usually) wear long hair and no beard; see verse 15. Ancient Greek-Roman paganism ran rampant with effeminate men, pedophilia, hebephilia, and ephebophilia, since young children and teenagers do not quite possess distinctly male-like characteristics to their fullest extent. Lions and stallions are (obviously) not men. At any rate, there is little contradiction there, since the mane you mentioned could be regarded as the equivalent of the male beard (Leviticus 19:27, 21:5).
    – Lucian
    Dec 22, 2018 at 2:30
  • Women couldn't have a beard if they wanted, just as men can't bear children.***Long hair is not a big trait with the effeminate, ultra short hair is. Of course lions and stallions are not men, did you miss the question? "What does NATURE teach you? A mane is nothing like a beard, otherwise it would be located on their chin, not on their head and below. I ask again "What does nature teach you?" I am looking for examples in nature to teach us as Paul said. Dec 22, 2018 at 2:57
  • (1). Women obviously don't grow beards, which is why the hair on their head is their main adornment, as is man's distinctly facial hair an adornment for him. (2). The mane's location is beside the point; notice that, for both humans and lions, males possess extra hair. (3). The nature of men, and the nature of beasts, are different natures. (The term comes from Greek Philosophy, and it refers to that which things -in this case, men- have in common, as opposed to hypo-stasis, which points to personal marks or traits, differentiating the individual from the rest of its group).
    – Lucian
    Dec 22, 2018 at 3:14
  • Men have hair on their head, same as women. My beard is not my main adornment and we are not even commanded to have one. Nature IS the point. He asked what does nature teach, but nobody thus far have answered me in that direction. I gave 2 examples. Y'shua said "Consider the lillies, or the sparrows, it says go to the ant. This is the line of questioning that Paul is asking. Dec 22, 2018 at 3:27
  • (1). Probably, but it is not their main adornment; indeed, many men go bald. (2). We are, in Scripture. Was I speaking to the walls earlier, when I provided the two biblical references ? (3). Paul was speaking Greek, not inventing it, and nature, in Greek, did not refer to the environment. Again, was I speaking to the air when I explained the meaning of the term in Greek philosophical thought ?
    – Lucian
    Dec 22, 2018 at 3:44

4 Answers 4


1 Corinthians 11:13-15 (DRB) You yourselves judge: doth it become a woman, to pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

The Vulgate translates the Greek anēr koma ("a man [fancy u]p his hair") by the equivalent Latin vir comam nutriat ("nourshes/looks after his hair"). The Greek verb κομα comes from the Greek for hair (the notion of it as a covering, as opposed to trix referring to hair itself), and basically means to "Hairize" (i.e. 'to [fuss over your] hair'). It has nothing to do with length except by contextual implication.

He means men tying up their hair into lovely little braids or a ponytail, and other such 'hairing' It's seen as 'fancying' oneself up, which is repugnant to the male sex over and against it being natural for the female sex as one of their adornments (e.g. a man doesn't lose masculinity by being long or short-haired, wheras a woman in some respect loses her femininity if she is bald or very short-haired, for example); invoking examples of animals would lead of pederasty or homosexuality or murder being 'natural' for men, so let's not go that route.

The logic of this passage is about women dressing up their hair as it is a natural ornament to their body. Whereas men are not to treat their hair this way, as it is not intended for such in men. It's the reason that women are to wear a head-covering as a means not to walk around in church, wielding what is a symbol of their glory in the presence of God (and even "the angels"), before whom they should rather show humility, etc.

One wonders if Paul thought longer-than-short hair was bad why he was seen shaving it for a voluntary vow in Acts, before which time he had long hair was (we can presume) was not tressing it.

Acts 18:18 (DRB) But Paul, when he had stayed yet many days, taking his leave of the brethren, sailed thence into Syria (and with him Priscilla and Aquila), having shorn his head in Cenchrae: for he had a vow.

It seems to be more about attitude towards (having long) hair, rather than long hair, which isn't specifically mentioned. A man can have long hair as long as he doesn't do so to be, shall we say, 'fabulous.'

It's not likely that St. Paul asked the rhetorical question "does not even nature itself tell you that if a man have long hair" in an era when people invented their gods to have long hair, like Zeus.

enter image description here

It was seen as virility, might, etc. not 'dishonor.' So he must mean something more obviously anti-nature, like man fiddling with his hair very morning into nice plats—tressing his hair like a woman is wont to. Not simply having longer hair. Indeed, some of the oldest depictions of Christ depict Him with long hair and a beard.

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The mosaic of St. Pudenziana, circa 410.

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Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, 300s

Etc. Clearly early Christians didn't view long hair as 'shameful to have by nature,' if they gave it to Jesus Christ.

Moreover, "the greatest prophet" John the Baptist was a Nazarite ("shall drink no wine nor strong drink" was a token and key component of the Nazarite vow), and had long hair.

Numbers 6:3-5 (DRB) They [Nazarites] shall abstain from wine, and from every thing that may make a man drunk. They shall not drink vinegar of wine, or of any other drink, nor any thing that is pressed out of the grape: nor shall they eat grapes either fresh or dried. 4 All the days that they are consecrated to the Lord by vow: they shall eat nothing that cometh of the vineyard, from the raisin even to the kernel. 5 All the time of his separation no razor shall pass over his head, until the day be fulfilled of his consecration to the Lord. He shall be holy, and shall let the hair of his head grow.

This actually makes long hair a "holy" thing. A special thing.

This might be the same vow from which St. Paul only 'got around' to completing, thus shaving his hair. Before that, he probably had long hair..

Besides all these, we can infer that long hair was commonplace among Jews from several lines of evidence from the Old Testament, including Scripture:

Ezekiel 8:3 (DRB) And the likeness of a hand was put forth and took me by a lock [בציצת] of my head: and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the vision of God into Jerusalem, near the inner gate, that looked toward the north, where was set the idol of jealousy to provoke to jealousy.

Moreover, the one of the oldest discovered Synagogues in the world (Dura-Europos) depicts on its walls men accompanying Aaron the highpriest who clearly have long hair:

enter image description here

So 'long' hair is not meant, but 'fancy hair-keeping like a woman on a man'—in Judasim and Christianity, the sexes aren't interchangable identical things, but complimentary, sometimes quite opposite things.


I understand completely where you're coming from. And I would agree.

We see in the old Testament that God commanded both men and women to leave their hair uncut during Nazarite vows. (Numbers 6) This was a HOLY thing, for a man to have long hair!

Also, God commanded the High Priest to wear a special linen head covering during worship in the Temple. (Exodus 28:4, & 39:48) Therefore, for a man to worship God with his head covered is not in itself an unholy thing.

God also commanded priests to wear linen bonnets in Temple service,"for glory and for beauty." (Exodus 28:40, 39:48, and Ezekiel 44:18) Again, not an unholy thing in itself.

To take 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 as a stand-alone dissertation from Paul, as a directive to all Christians... that seems to me to not jive with the rest of Scripture, nor to make sense.

After all, Jews would not have thought it natural. It would have been a BIG change from Old Testament practice... in which case Jesus and all the apostles would have made a big deal about it.

I was raised Mennonite, with uncut hair to my knees... dutifully wrapped up in a bun every day, and hidden under a head covering.

But then I studied the Scriptures. The truth will make you free.

  • Hi Mary, welcome to the site - good examples, upvoted +1. Please be sure to take the site tour, and thanks for contributing! Apr 9, 2022 at 4:51

The context is not talking of animals it is talking about Head covering for the Christians but in general terms but can reflect on grooming:-

NWT 1 Corinthians 11:15 "but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? . . ."

In short the gender gap is not to be blurred in dress and grooming by Christians, this reflects on a principle form:-

NWT Deuteronomy 22:5 "No garb of an able-bodied man should be put upon a woman, neither should an able-bodied man wear the mantle of a woman; for anybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah your God."

  • You have not addressed the main question which is "What does nature teach you?" Dec 8, 2018 at 20:38
  • That is quite obvious I think men are inclined to have short hair re the text
    – user26950
    Dec 8, 2018 at 23:19
  • It is not obvious as Nazarites had long hair and past customs had men with longer hair. You are deflecting the question which is "What does nature teach you?" Please give some examples in nature. Dec 8, 2018 at 23:26
  • @Think on these things The exception by Law not the rule then for a short time in most cases unless God said like samson
    – user26950
    Dec 9, 2018 at 11:13
  • I am under the New Covenant and not the Old. I am saying again, I am looking for examples in nature, as Paul asked of you, and I am wanting an answer to what he was referring to when he said "We have no such custom, neither the churches of God". Dec 9, 2018 at 11:16

To make a pot of coffee, one places coffee grounds into a filter and pours 211 degree Fahrenheit water through the grounds, the water draws out the flavor and the filter prevents the dregs from continuing through. In this metaphor, the water is inspiration, the coffee grounds are all things Judean and the flavorful water is the NT message, which is the Christ and the People of God fused into one in a New, profoundly different Covenant.

Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, the coffee grounds in question is the tradition that was apparently coming from 2nd Temple Judaism and influencing the Body of Christ. How can Paul teach about the New Covenant union of the saints with Christ and "filter out" Judean orthopraxy?

Paul first uses the of God being the one making the coffee, which he pours through Christ, then through the wife, then through the children, the dog, the cat and finally the canary! He's going to take us back to the account of the making of the woman as an accessory to the man, as found in Genesis 2:18ff.

He wants us to see the flow of 211F degree water as going from Top to bottom.

This establishes the coffee principle. Water flows down. From God to Christ, from Christ to the Husband and from the Husband to the Wife.

However, he has to admit that biologically, since Adam and Eve, no man comes into this world except from a woman. So now you have a flow from God through Christ through a woman to a man-baby. So he knows his coffee metaphor is a little insipid.

So his next argument is that in Jewish culture, men shamed uppity women by messing with their hair. They'd mess it up, or cut it off.

He then moves to moves his appeal to nature. I know this isn't in the Torah or anything else, but I'm just not turned on by a bald head. I can't even bear to look at this cat:

Bald cat

Ew. Disgusting.

If you take off its skin also, and expose the mechanisms of the physical body, a normal person would puke.

So in that sense, nature tells us that we should all have skin, and women look better with gorgeous hair:

Sexy Hair

Paul is being entirely subjective, but I venture to say that the overwhelming percentage of men find a woman with gorgeous hair way more desirable the "bald women porn." "Bald women porn" is not a thing.

The real dilemma only comes into play when he speaks of "shame." To me, I think that some people like their coffee a little weaker. I do. I don't always want strong brew. I think was being overly binary to make a point. Not about hair, but about the inappropriateness of requiring head covering for men in the arena of public prayers.

There's more to the story (including a reference to the Watchers from Enoch) but I hope I've made the point already and will not go any further.

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