NIV 1 Corinthians 11:6 - For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

With reference to the context of this verse,

Can a woman cut her hair (not shave her head) and not cover her head?

As she has two options, to cut her hair or shave her head. In verses, or is used as below:

her hair cut off or her head shaved

She can opt any one of them(her hair cut off or head shaved), right?


1 Answer 1


No, the context does not state any such alternative that if she wishes to keep her hair uncovered then she may do that by keeping them short or shaving completely. He is not suggesting an alternative between cutting hair or shaving bald; he says that for a woman to cut her hair short, or to shave bald, is very disgraceful. Having short hair or shaved hair are both disgraceful among Israelites of that period, although that is less disgraceful than displaying uncovered hair.

Frederick Louis Godet's commentary says

To impress the revolting character of such a course, the apostle supposes it pushed to extremity. There is something of indignation in his words: “If this woman has effrontery enough to do the first of these acts, well and good, better also do the second!” The repulsive character of the one should make that of the other felt. The word ξυρασθαι is usually accented, as if it were the present infinitive passive of ξυράω (ξυρᾶσθαι). But why should it not be regarded as the aorist infinitive middle, like κείρασθαι, of the form ξύρω (ξύρασθαι)? See Passow. There is a gradation from the one of these verbs to the other: To cut the hair or even to shave the head. The word αἰσχρόν, shameful, includes the two notions of physical ugliness and moral indecency. (italics added)

Charles Ellicott's commentary says

(6) Let her also be shorn. —The force of this argument depends on the fact that a woman’s head being uncovered would be regarded by others as implying the same shame as was indicated by a woman’s hair being cut short (i.e., shorn), or altogether removed (i.e., shaven). It is as if the Apostle said —If a woman insists on her right to pray and speak in an assembly with uncovered head, let her carry out this principle to its logical result; let her insist on her right to have her hair cut short, so as to show her equality with man —and what would be thought of her then! No woman with a spark of shame in her would think of doing that. Accordingly you admit that this principle of sexual equality does not apply in all such matters; and it is illogical to argue in favour of any general principle as if it were of universal obligation, when you yourselves admit that it is not applicable in some cases.

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