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Sherri Richards, Published December 02 2011

Lengthy locks a way to give glory to God

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series exploring the power of hair in women’s lives.

MOORHEAD – For Leah Paulson, hair is a matter of faith.

This 28-year-old mom of two hasn’t cut or trimmed her hair since 2001, when as a teenager she started to explore her spirituality and study the Bible. She now identifies herself as apostolic Pentecostal and attends church at Changing Lives Tabernacle in West Fargo.

Like many other women in the church, including all those in leadership positions, Paulson doesn’t cut, dye or otherwise alter her hair, which now falls to her shins when let loose. Paulson says she does this because the Bible says a woman’s hair is her glory to God.

Practices related to hair are found across world religions. Hasidic Jewish men wear beards and uncut sidecurls, known as payot. Many Muslim women cover their heads as a sign of modesty. One of five outward symbols of Sikhism is “kesh,” the wearing of long, uncut hair, often wrapped in a turban.

Paulson typically wears her hair up in a bun or braid for convenience as she cares for her 4-year-old daughter Izzy and 2-year-old son Zeke. “They’re still learning it’s attached to my head,” she jokes.

Izzy has never had her hair cut. Her fine blond locks land just past her shoulder.

Raised Lutheran, Paulson says she had the typical haircuts as a child, a perm in elementary school and “one attempt at strawberry blond hair.” But having always been low-key about her appearance, letting her hair go uncut has been an easy change, she says.

Strangers typically express amazement at the length of her hair, she says, and curiosity. She’s often asked how much shampoo and conditioner she uses (a quarter-size dollop of shampoo daily and a little more conditioner, for the record). Her sister threatens to cut her hair every now and then, she says. And, she says, some people feel her hair is an affront to their beliefs.

“It’s not against them. It’s what the Bible says,” says Paulson, who lives with her family in Moorhead.

Her beliefs are based on 1 Corinthians 11, which reads in verses 5-6, “And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.”

And in verses 14-15: “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.”

Paulson says that “long” in this context means “not altering what God has given us.” Based on this Scripture, she believes God has given her hair as a covering, and it is for his glory. She says angels reside in his glory, and provide protection for her and her family.

Like all women, she says she has bad hair days when her hair doesn’t cooperate, but not to the point where she’s tempted to cut it. Her relationship with her hair extends far beyond root to tip.

“I know, bad hair day or not, it’s still glorifying God,” she says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556