Quite a number of ultra-conservative Christians in Africa view the perming of the hair and the attachment of artificial hair like weave-ons, braids, wigs etc, as unnatural and sinful. What does the Bible say about perming of the hair and the attachment of artificial things to the hair for adornment and beautification? Let us turn to Scripture for illumination on these issues.
1 Timothy 2:9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
1 Timothy 2:10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
The Apostle Paul, in his pastoral letter to Timothy, addressed the issue of women’s adornment. In dealing with this issue, Paul focused on three areas: clothing, hairdo and use of jewelry. In all three areas, he advised modesty and self-control. The Apostle did not condemn the wearing of clothes, the making of the hair or the wearing of jewelries by women. Rather, he admonished women to be modest and temperate in their adornment, and to focus more on the beautification of the inner man. The same approach to dressing and adornment was adopted by Apostle Peter in his first general epistle.
1 Peter 3:3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—
1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands,
1 Peter 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, callibraising him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
It is instructive to note that neither Apostle condemned the braiding of hair by women. The word translated as “braiding” refers to elaborate plaiting of the hair, sometimes in locks or tresses. Ancient women were known to have special headgears with artificial attachments added to the hair for beautification. Such hair patterns included “bonnets” or fancy head dresses, headbands (ornamental girdles), well set hair (curl of tresses), etc (Isaiah 3:20, 24). Some of these hair patterns involved the addition of extraneous materials to the natural hair in the weaving and setting process, as well as in the support of the dressed hair.
Scripture does not promote any particular pattern of hairstyles for women. This is not surprising, as the Bible is not expected to be bothered with such mundane matters of personal taste. Apart from the injunction forbidding women to cut their hair (which is the natural covering for their head), little attention is paid to women’s hair. That makes the handling of women’s hair something that shouldn’t bother us much, other than emphasis on the modesty and temperance required in their hairdo and other adornment.
As a broad rule, whatever is not expressly condemned by the Gospels and the Apostolic writings is not a sin for New Testament believers, as sin is a transgression of an extant law. If there is no specific existing law to violate, then there is no sin.
Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but
where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 5:13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
So, if you cannot demonstrate a specific relevant law that has been violated, you cannot prove a practice to be sinful. What can we say then about the perming of the hair as well as the fixing of weave-ons and attachments by African women?
African women in particular have tough hairs that are thick and difficult to manage. Some form of treatment (mechanical or chemical) is required to relax these tough hairs to make them easier to manage. Whatever will make the hair of a woman longer and easier to manage should be encouraged, as it actually works to achieve the Scriptural demand of long hair for women.
A favourite argument of those who insist the fixing of any attachments to the hair is sinful is that weave-ons and attachments are from the marine kingdom and attaching them attracts evil spirits. However, they can’t prove that from Scripture, not even from the Old Testament. Since the source of this information is not the Bible, it is not worth considering further, as anything outside of the Bible is of no value in judging a Christian’s conduct or practice. However, I will just state here that it is dangerous and unbiblical to bring forth “personal revelations” and traditions into the Church that are not based on Scripture, for Scripture alone is the believer’s guide and basis of faith. To add to Scripture or subtract from it is a serious offence with severe consequences.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book:
Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
As a form of assurance to those who use wigs, attachments or weave-ons, we know that they are not underwater products of the marine kingdom. These fashion accessories for women are manufactured in known human industries from non-human raw materials, the same way our clothes and other fashion accessories are produced.
Finally, even if there are concerns about the possible contamination or dedication of these items to evil spirits, they can be sanctified by prayer and the blood of Jesus! Christians have power over Satan and his agents, to bind and cast them out wherever we encounter them. We don’t live in fear of evil spirits, simply because he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world!
On matters of personal likes and dislikes that are not expressly forbidden by Scripture, our attitude to other Christians who believe and act differently from us should be that of non-judgmental acceptance and tolerance, as advised by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
Romans 14:2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
Romans 14:3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
Romans 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Romans 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Romans 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
Romans 14:11 for it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Romans 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
In conclusion, there is no law or injunction in Scripture forbidding the perming of the hair or the attachment of weave-ons by women. Whatever is not expressly forbidden by any relevant scriptural injunction cannot be sinful, for sin is a transgression of a specific, extant law of God. Human traditions or personal likes and dislikes cannot be used to discredit an act or make laws for God’s people. Any such addition to Scripture is null and void and actually sinful! Whatever will allow a woman to grow her hair long should be encouraged, as it helps to promote obedience to the scriptural injunction that requires women to wear their hair long, as that is their glory and the lawful covering for their head.