7 March 2022  |

Dear Aunty,

Please help me. I am confused about hair plaiting (braiding). I am an African woman, and here some preachers preach strongly against plaited hair. If I leave my hair without plaiting, maintenance becomes a problem. I don’t know whether plaiting is really prohibited in the Bible or not. 

Signed, Trying to save time and look nice


Dear Trying:

Here is something that Bible students have long struggled with: confusing universal principles with culturally specific examples

In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4 the apostles talk about Christians cultivating a kind, modest, and humble character. A fine thing to aspire to, right? Jesus was humble and self-effacing, and we do want to be like him. 

The apostles included examples from their own culture of women who apparently went overboard in vanity and adornment, drawing attention to themselves.

In the centuries since, churchmen have taken these examples out of context and made them into rules. They say God disapproved of women wearing jewelry or plaiting (another word for braiding) their hair—ignoring entirely the principle of the text, which is not to let an obsession with one’s own appearance obscure good character.

Talk about missing the point! How you fix yourself up could indicate pride of appearance, but the real problem is in the heart—and that’s hardly just a women’s problem. Often the very men who criticize women for their appearance are extremely attention-seeking, if not in dress and appearance or the cars they drive, at least in being proud and bossy and competitive.

In short, as long as you’re not intending to draw attention to yourself in a way that puts others down, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with braiding your hair. Hair braiding is a simple and efficient way to arrange one’s hair. Aunty likes to do sometimes, too. 

God wants you to look nice and be practical, and if braiding is the best way to achieve both goals, then don’t let anyone deprive you of the “liberty which we have in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 2:4).

Aunt Sevvy


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