A couple sit anxiously in the ER, where their only child is being frantically attended to. As they fall to their knees in desperate prayer, the husband pulls out what he believes to be his biggest bargaining chip with God:
“Heal our child, Lord. Work a miracle. My wife, this child’s mother, has never cut her hair.”
If you’re not a current or former member of the United Pentecostal Church or other Apostolic organization, this may sound crazy. But not only is it a prayer that is actually prayed, it’s a concept that’s regularly preached over the pulpits. Women should not cut their hair. Having uncut hair is a sign of submission to God, and gives them “power.”
This concept is tied together with a whole litany of “holiness standards” that women have to meet in order to be considered saved, and members in good standing in these churches. Things like:
- Not wearing pants, or “that which pertaineth to a man”
- Not wearing makeup
- Not wearing jewelry, other than (in some churches) a watch, and wedding or class ring, and sometimes brooches on clothing.
- Dressing modestly – no cleavage, no clothing too tight, no exposing too much skin. This of course makes it the woman’s fault when a man has lustful thoughts, and by extension when and if he acts upon those thoughts in an inappropriate way.
All of the above are supposed to be outward signs of her inner submission to God and the (male) authority figures in her life. (Father, Pastor, Husband.) And in a society that primarily judges women based upon appearance, this has a profound – even if subtle at times – psychological effect.
So how do these churches sell women on this concept? How do they convince us (especially those who are converts, and who haven’t been indoctrinated with the concept their whole lives) to forego self expression on this level?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Holy Magic Hair, Batman!
Our old friend Rev. Lee Stoneking has a rather famous sermon on this topic. Many have named it, “Holy Magic Hair.” I’ve embedded the full video at the bottom of this post so you can see everything in context if you so desire. But for those that don’t want to sit through 45 minutes of crazy, I’ve pulled out a few relevant excerpts.
The most important thing here is that women will “miss out on the promises of God” if they get this teaching about hair wrong. Notice that he doesn’t say women who get this wrong will be punished per se… but you will miss out on the good things you could get for being obedient.
This is a very slick psychological trick. We’re not beating you up with condemnation… we just don’t want you to miss out on something special. It’s a well known fact of human psychology that we will do more to avoid missing out on or losing something than we will ever do to obtain a benefit.
OK, see if you can follow along on this clip:
He gets a little convoluted, repeating the “expanded” interpretation of the Greek over and over. But notice where he’s going with this: you women have power and authority, granted to you by a higher court, by your uncut hair. Further – and we’ll delve into this a bit more below – this doesn’t just apply to you, but affects your whole community.
This next clip is the crux of how these churches convince women to participate in their own subjugation.
I swear this makes me think of the snake in the Garden of Eden. “Do this. It will make you wise. It will give you power.”
So, women. When you DO obey God and keep those scissors away from your hair, you have power and authority. Your community has freedom. You can do something a man can’t do! You can hinder revival, block a move of God, and quite possibly condemn your neighbors to Hell for all eternity when they don’t come to God all because YOU TRIMMED YOUR SPLIT ENDS!!
Of course, you do not have “power” of your own. It is the gift of this “higher court” – an outside entity – and it can be revoked at any time if you’re in any way rebellious or disobedient.
This is some seriously high level brainwashing. You are not to cut your hair, not even trim it. But doing so doesn’t make you a second-class citizen (neither does not being allowed to wear pants, makeup or jewelry, or have the final say in decisions made concerning your family, or the fact that you’re not supposed to hold leadership positions… ) to the contrary, this makes you special. MORE powerful. It certainly makes you better than (more holy than) those run-of-the-mill women out there who get to chop off their glory and dress like harlots, painting their faces like Tammy Faye Bakker.
See how that works?
The contempt! The disgust dripping from Stoneking here… clearly he’s talking about some serious perversion. And of course, while he doesn’t come out and say it, what he means is clear when he uses the code word, “Lifestyle.” And just in case you weren’t shaking in your skirt, he mentions Roman Caesars.
So yes, it’s clear: If you’re secretly trimming your hair, or wearing some kind of subtle makeup that may not be obviously noticed… you may be subtle, but your son and his children will be bold. Not only will they not “live for God” they’ll very likely be perverts of some kind. So yeah, if you want your precious little boy to grow up and decide to be gay, just keep trimming those ends.
Here, Stoneking really admits the crux of the issue:
Short hair is the symbol of a woman’s freedom. And we just can’t have that.
On that note, I’m going to move on from Rev. Stoneking, although I do suggest if you’re bored and want to hear some craziness, go ahead and watch the whole sermon below. He gets into the “holy magic” part where women’s uncut hair is good for some awesome party tricks in the second half.
Is Not Cutting Your Hair Really Subjugation?
So this is a legitimate question. Lots of women enjoy wearing their hair long – does that mean they’re subjugating themselves? No, of course not. One, because SHE CHOOSES to wear her hair long. And two, she’s still allowed to take care of said hair by trimming the ends.
Let me give you some personal experience. It had been over a decade between trims for me – so yeah, I had some moments during my 20 years that I did the sneaky trim the ends thing Stoneking talks about above. (No gay sons, tho. Despite having been exposed to gay friends of mine, both are straight males. I guess it just hasn’t come back to bite me yet lol). But as I was starting to make my way out of the UPC, I started trimming again.
And I will never forget what happened when I first took a pair of scissors and cut off a few inches of scraggly, frizzy, messed up split ends from my hair. It looked as though I’d gone out and invested in some kind of expensive conditioning treatment. My whole hair was shinier, bouncier – it looked 100 times healthier.
Of course, that was nothing compared to my first trip to the salon when I actually got a good professional cut and color. Talk about life changing!
Subjugation On A Deep, Psychological Level
I don’t know if men can fully understand this. But as I mentioned above, we live in a society that judges women based upon our appearance. This causes an awful lot of women’s self esteem – for better or for worse – to be tied up in how we look. And that is reinforced day in and day out by our society. Not saying any of that is right or wrong, just that it IS.
Now, take a woman and forbid her to trim her hair. For a while, it may look really nice and she may be happy that she’s finally having the long hair she’s always dreamed of. Because yeah, all of us have wanted that gorgeous flowing mane at some point or another. But then it keeps growing. And the ends start to frizzle and fray, and it stops looking healthy.
Meanwhile, tell this woman she is forbidden to wear makeup of any kind. She can’t cover up age spots or dark circles under her eyes. She can’t do anything to maximize good features or minimize bad ones. People may tell her (as they told me) she looks under the weather. I can tell you from experience, going without makeup makes you feel exposed if you’ve never done it before. More vulnerable. It can be subtle… then again sometimes not. One thing I never felt when I stopped wearing makeup was “free.”
At the same time our woman will have removed all jewelry except for maybe a wedding ring. This is another area of self expression she can no longer participate in. The message is that she is not to be adorned in any way. She is to be meek, quiet and modest:
“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.” — 1 Peter 3:3-4, KJV
And don’t forget, she must cover up her nasty, sinful flesh because it will be HER FAULT if a man in her vicinity sees some cleavage or the outline of a rear end and had lustful thoughts.
All of this has a profound psychological impact on a woman and her self esteem. There’s no way it can’t. She’s not free, she’s not in control, she’s not capable and strong. She’s the “weaker vessel” that must be “honored” with all of these restrictions. But she silences that feeling, telling herself instead that she’s got power (not her OWN power, but power gifted to her by another Being, and that Being may decide at ANY TIME to revoke this “power” if she messes up). She’s been placed on a pedestal because of her specialness and submission.
And all the while she doesn’t realize she’s locked herself into a cage.
Full Sermon By Rev. Stoneking: