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Braiding in Vain

Yes, you read the title correctly, “Braiding In Vain”. Yes, it’s about the hairstyle braiding. No, it is not entirely what you think though. This topic came to me one morning as I was brushing my hair to keep it out of my face, and out of my daughter’s mouth! I decided that I wanted to braid my hair to keep it tucked out of the way, but was unsure if this was okay to do so, as a Christian, as the Bible talks about women braiding their hair(among other things too). I asked the question, “is it okay to braid one’s hair?” to my friends on Facebook, and received the obvious reply, “yes!” For a long time, I had believed that it was not okay to braid your hair because I misunderstood the scriptures (1 Peter 3:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:9-10). However, after reading back over the scriptures, speaking to fellow Christian friends, and praying to God about it, I ended up practically face palming myself thinking why did I believe it wasn’t right to do so in the first place? After all God says that “if a women have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering (1 Corinthians 11:15), so we must be careful with what we do regarding our appearance.

(Photos of my friend Hannah Strahan Wilder:
When we read the scriptures, in particular these verses from 1 Peter and 1 Timothy, we have to understand the context of how, when and why it was written. In the First Book of Peter, we understand that Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, wrote to believers who were living in Asia Minor as a means of encouragement to faithfully endure the persecution through their faith in Jesus Christ, as Christ suffered for us all, and thus, their suffering is a normal part of their faith and daily walk in God. More specifically, in chapter three, Peter focuses on women, wives in particular, about how they conduct themselves to their husbands, as well as how they present themselves. The Bible reads in 1 Peter 3:3-4, “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.” To put simply, Peter is not condemning a woman for dressing nicely, but he makes a strong point whereby women should not be using their looks as a means of showing their total worth. He emphasizes those who focus on external beauty versus those who focus on inner beauty, the inner attitude of the believer. By understanding this scripture alone demonstrates that there are people out there that focus too much on how they look and want to present themselves towards others, and not enough on what is most important, which comes from within.

The foundation of our faith in Jesus does not stem from how we dress, what we wear in terms of jewellery and other apparel, or how our hair looks. As women of God, we should be adorned with a meek, gentle and quiet spirit, and not focus on our outward appearances. In 1 Timothy 2:9-1, the Bible reads, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy who was ministering at the church in Ephesus. During this time, Paganism was rampant among the people. People were more interested in their self worth and appearances, rather than worshiping God. That is why Paul said that women should dress modestly, and not to focus too much on the outward appearance with hairstyling, jewellery and such. This doesn’t mean to say that we cannot braid our hair, or wear gold or pearls; it simply means that everything is in moderation, and not for prideful, worldly gains.

Unfortunately, in modern times now, there are so many lukewarm Christians that rely on their looks as a means to get by, rather than directing their focus on their faith in God. When we have faith in God, it is no longer about our pride, or our own desires, it is about what God’s will is for us, in all ways of life.

In addition to this, so many women are into caking their face with makeup. There are women who focus on wearing very immodest clothing and shoes. There are women that wear all kinds of different fancy jewellery. The list goes on. I am not completely condemning certain choices that people go ahead with in relations to their hair (such as weaving, hair dying), their face (makeup), their clothing (dresses and heeled shoes), or other apparel (jewellery), but rather, I am emphasizing the fact that people can go to extreme lengths as to present themselves in such a way that draws the wrong kind of attention towards them.

We need to come together as Christians and work on studying, and preaching the correct understanding of the scriptures to be able to positively influence others. I hate to hear so many Christian women get caught up in the worldly, prideful elements of lifestyle choices, rather than meditating on The Word.

The best example in the Bible of how a woman should be, in particular a wife, is Proverbs 31. The virtuous woman mentioned in Proverbs 31 is selfless and generous. She understands that caring for the poor is the desire of God. Thereby, she does so with all her heart. Her strength and dignity are what others look at in her, rather than on how she is dressed. She walks with integrity, and has confidence in the future no matter what happens, as her faith in God, guides her, and her family. Her husband praises her, and her children honor her hardworking, loving and caring attributes. Her Godly wisdom is the strength to her fearing God. It is not about her looks, although she may be physically beautiful. “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). All of the virtues inscribed in Proverbs 31 can be used as a lesson for women and men too: working hard, using money wisely and one’s time moderately, caring for the poor and needy and fearing God.

Overall, we must continue to study and meditate on The Word of God. Everything that we misunderstand or are unsure about should be taken to God in prayer. Most importantly though is to not fall into the idea of legalism where we do not consider the scriptures in full context, and thus believe that braiding one’s hair for example should not be done, period. I fell into this trap of legalism, simply because I was so unsure, and so conscientious of doing the right thing. But when we pray and have the Holy Spirit to guide us to the truth of the scriptures, that is when we become more at peace with understanding these kinds of matters. In regards to our appearances, everything is to be in moderation, however, it is what is on the inside that matters the most, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 (c)).

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