Bible Contradiction: Is Long Hair Right or Wrong?

It’s time to address another Bible contradiction from This time on the issue of long hair.

A contradiction has been offered by skeptics regarding Paul’s condemnation of long hair and God’s approval of it elsewhere. The verses are Judges 13:5 and Numbers 6:5. Since both of these examples share the same prophecy, we’ll hold the verse in Judges as our main source.

“For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

The contradiction lies in 1 Corinthians 11:14, where Paul appears to condemn the practice.

“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?”

Even at first glance, it’s hard to see where a contradiction lies. Paul is addressing the division among the Corinthian church regarding issues of sexual purity. In ancient antiquity, a woman’s hair was an object of lust and was commanded to be covered in public areas. Paul’s arguments were an attempt to cease the division between the upper-class fashion that disregarded Corinthian purity laws and those who modestly obeyed them (this wasn’t true for all cultures as even Paul seems to warn against misapplying his arguments here in verses 11-12).

Regarding the verse at hand, it was a common argumentative tactic in these times to appeal to nature. Nature told us, for example, that men grow beards, women do not. Nature, in this context, being the commonly held position (the same way that ice cream is naturally tasty). And so Paul, rather than condemn the long hair on a man, stated a natural position that men have short hair, women have long hair, in order to cease division. If a man goes against what is held by the majority there’s every chance he would be shamed by others at this time (Paul never says that it is God who shames them, that has always been merely assumed).

Of course, there would be exceptions, such as cultural differences and times where God explicitly commands otherwise (i.e. the verse about Samson in Judges). Paul would have known this. Furthermore, even the command to leave Samson’s hair unshaven proves long hair on a man wasn’t a natural occurrence.

With this in mind, there is no contradiction to be found in Paul’s statement and God’s command.