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New Testament

Paul’s Letters

What did Paul say about personal appearance?

Paul wrote about hairstyles. He said, “Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head.” Paul went into more detail for women. He continued, “but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil.” (NRSV, I Corinthians 11:4, 5–6) There is no consensus for what Paul meant by these lines. Some people think that Paul meant women—then and now—should cover their hair in church, and men should not. Others think that Paul was making a distinction between men and women, but that the distinction applied to his day only.



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