One question addressed was "How exactly does nature teach that long hair is a woman's glory and on a man it is a shame?" (in reference to 1 Corinthians 11). The majority of the answers, not surprisingly, claimed that the Bible was wrong and even "silly." They pointed out that a man's hair will continue to grow and therefore nature does not teach any such thing.
It often puzzles me how it is so commonly believed that people in Bible days were so stupid they couldn't observe nature. After all, most of our knowledge today was built off of what they already knew. We even borrow from ancient Latin words when we talk about scientific things. Does anyone actually think that Paul didn't know when he wrote that text to the church at Corinth that a man is able to have long hair?
In fact, on one occasion, Paul himself took a vow in which he didn't cut his hair for a period of time, following the custom of the Nazarites. God was the one who defined such Nazarites laws, and so it would be ridiculous for Paul to claim that there is no circumstance where a man would be accepted before God if he had long hair.
So then, what was Paul saying, and how exactly does "nature" teach us anything about long hair on a man? I certainly don't claim to understand all the intricacies of 1 Corinthians 11, but here are some of my thoughts:
1. "Nature" does not mean the plant and animal world.
Some claim, in an attempt to defend the Bible, that if you look at animals you can learn that men should have short hair. I have a hard time seeing that, but the closest anyone has come to making sense out of that to me is by explaining that male animals tend to have their glory on their head in the form of horns, antlers, etc. Whereas a female is covered by hair, the male exposes his power on his head. I believe that is quite a stretch, especially since many of those horned or antlered, male animals also have long hair.
Every instance I can find in the Bible where the word "nature" is used, it isn't as our modern usage which denotes the plant and animal world, separate from "human nature." The word simply refers to something that is typical, or commonly understood about something. Something that is in it's natural state is simply something that is not changed by an unnatural or supernatural force. So, if it is natural for men to have short hair and women longer hair, then the opposite should be the exception...and I would agree that it is.
2. Short hair is masculine.
So, to say "nature teaches us" probably just means that it is "naturally understood" within us by looking around and observing others of our gender. We just tend to feel within us that it is a shame for a man to have long hair but a glory for a woman. As Wesley says, " For a man to have long hair, carefully adjusted, is such a mark of effeminacy as is a disgrace to him."
Soldiers, farmers, factory workers, etc. have historically found short hair to be much more convenient, and so they have just embraced it. Many military leaders throughout history have made it a rule that hair is kept under a certain length. Since these tend to be male-dominated occupations, it should be expected that we would see more men with shorter hair than women.
Obviously, there have been times in our history where long hair was a sign of nobility or wealth, and shorter hair was more of a sign of slavery or "lower class." But even during those times in history, the "noble" and rich men sometimes just wore long wigs over their shorter hair). Many men can't grow long hair if they try, and many just go bald. Something like 80 percent of men will experience baldness to some degree, and although women will often experience some hair loss as well, it isn't typically the same as men. So, if a man is to look masculine and a woman is to look feminine it seems normal that a guy will embrace his shorter hair and keep it trimmed.
3. Long hair is feminine.
Long hair has always been a sign of good health, youthfulness, and femininity to women. Many men (I would say most) are attracted to it, and it is thought of as feminine for a woman to wear it long, and brush it, and care for it. Let's just face it, long hair is a feminine thing!
In a world of "feminists" and "women's libbers," it is interesting to see the type of women who often embrace shorter hair (obviously, definitions on what is considered "short" will vary). According to the passage mentioned above, a woman's covering of the head is a sign of her submission and being "under" the authority of someone else. Interestingly, I have watched movies and heard stories of women shaving their hair off as a sign of their "liberation." Women shaving their head is also common in the lesbian and bisexual communities. And, whereas it has more recently become a sign of sympathy toward cancer patients, many cancer patients themselves will wear wigs. It is increasingly popular for those with long hair to donate locks of it to companies that will make wigs for cancer patients.
Bottom line is, the Bible does have something to say about hair length on men and women. Maybe it isn't much, and maybe it isn't our place to judge the motives and practices of others who wear their hair various lengths, but it is clear in the Bible that we should embrace the gender God has made us.
Nature also teaches us about hair length by what we naturally know within us and by what we observe to be normal among our gender around us. Our society may be blurring the genders more and more each year, and it may be getting harder to spot the obvious distinctions, but as Christians I believe we should do our part to show the world how men and women should behave in their God-given roles. One way to consider doing this is by how we wear our hair.