What does the Bible say about dying your hair?

I was very surprised about a year ago to find out that at least some UPC churches teach against people dying their hair. I do not recall ever hearing anyone preach against people dying their hair until about a year ago, but since then I have come into contact with other people who have heard the same thing preached. It seems to be a fairly common doctrine in UPC churches, even though I cannot find any official UPC position about it.

Since it does seem to be such a common doctrine, I have decided to write a brief article on it.

The first time that I heard anyone preach against people dying their hair was when my last UPC pastor mentioned it in during a church service. He used Mat 5:36 as his argument, which says: "Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black" (Mat 5:36 KJV). Now it is obvious to any casual reader that Jesus is not speaking against people dying their hair. He is saying that people do not have the ability to turn their hair from white to black or from black to white. That is all that He is saying, and nothing more.

I do not know what arguments other UPC pastors use to preach against people dying their hair, but I do know that there is no Scripture in the Bible that says that people should not dye their hair.

Of course, some people might think that the reason the Bible does not say anything about it is because people did not dye their hair during Biblical times. It is a mistake to think that, however, because dying and highlighting the hair was quite common during Paul’s day. Nelson’s Bible Manners and Customs has this to say:

Paul…would have noticed that many men had blond hair. A few of them could have been slaves from Germany, but Italian Roman citizens should have had dark hair. Puzzled, on inquiry he might have found out that a considerable number of men dyed their hair because blond hair was fashionable. He would have seen some brown tints too1.

Of course, just because the Bible does not explicitly teach against something does not make it right. The Bible does not say anything against abortion, even though abortion and the killing of unwanted or deformed children was very common in the Roman Empire2. Just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that you shouldn’t have an abortion does not mean that it is alright to do so. However, the fact that the Bible says nothing for or against women dying their hair–whereas it does say something against murder, by implication making abortion and the killing of newborn children unacceptable–leads me to believe that God has no problem with women or men dying or highlighting their hair.


  1. Nelson’s Bible Manners and Customs: How the People of the Bible Really Lived, "Rome and Italy in the Career of Paul," ed. Howard F. Vos []
  2. Ibid. []

126 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about dying your hair?

  1. Kara

    The following is not really a biblical basis for thought but rather just an observation…. I live in a county with the largest Amish population in the world. I was born and raised Southern Baptist. Have you ever noticed that what one church generation calls sin, the next, or a few down the road, embrace? In this community there are different “orders” of amish and each group has it’s own standards of living and what is considered acceptable or too worldly. Some wont drive buggy’s with rubber on the tires, some wont drive ones with wooden wheels only metal. Some think LED lights on a buggy are wrong… some no phones… some phones but not in the house… Southern Baptists used to be very against Christian lyrics sung in the way that 80’s rock was sung… Independent Baptist don’t think singing should be done from the “newer” hymnals… one should only sing the “old” songs. In almost every situation I can think of… the standards do eventually change… they just seem to be a generation or two or three behind. Because of that,it makes me wonder… how often were these “standards” really based on the Bible and how often were they based instead on man’s preferences and opinions? If some churches believe women shouldn’t wear their hair down, why do the women all have big beehives and buns that are a throwback to the 60’s? If His image meant the outward appearance and only natural…. Why do we wear clothing? Why do we wear polyester and other man-made unnatural fabrics? Why do we eat foods that are genetically modified? Why do we decorate our homes or paint and landscape them? Why do we use hospitals and cars and the list goes on… I am afraid that one day, when we stand before God and answer for our decisions and the rights and wrongs we did, He is going to point out where Satan used these “outward things” these “appearance things” to divide children of God and create enmity between us. I am afraid that one day we will see where our focus on outward things prevented us from seeing the inward hearts and souls of a lost world, lost child, man, woman. There are battles to be won but lets fight WITH Christ against satan rather than with our opinions against each other. Blessings.

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    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Kara, those are some excellent points. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’ll give you a question answer to this question:

      How often were these “standards” really based on the Bible

      The answer is, “pretty much never” :). In my experience “standards” are created for one of two reasons:

      1. A group of people who truly want to draw closer to Christ end up creating a bunch of rules to live by. They’re well meaning, but it never works out too well. The church at Galatia was too, and Paul’s response to them was that they were separating themselves from Christ. Why? Because when we try to work our way to God we’re saying that His work on the Cross wasn’t good enough; we’re trying to add to it. And separation from Christ is exactly what happens: Those groups quickly descend into isolated sects that forget the actual teachings of Jesus and the apostles–caring for the poor, the hungry, etc–and do nothing but sit around and pat themselves on the back for being more holy than everyone else. Paul talked about this type of behavior in Romans 14. It doesn’t mean that you’re not saved, it just means that you’re living your life with a giant barrier between you and Christ. In your desire to make Him happy you are rejecting Him.

      2. Groups who are trying to hold onto the past. I make a point of avoiding politics on this Web site, but I think a lot of groups in America–not just apostolics–are quickly becoming more isolated because they’re attempting to hold on to a particular way of life. They’re trying to shape worldly culture to be like them without understanding that we were called to Christians *IN* whatever culture that we’re a part of; we’re not called to change culture to be like us. If we want to see America become a Christian nation then the way to do that is by seeing people become Christians, not by trying to establish a theocracy that bends everyone to our will. (And yes, trying to put God’s laws above man’s laws makes you a theocracy; Paul told us what he thought of that in Romans 13:1-7.)

      I think the apostolic movement is currently combining both of those points. They’re so focused on trying to hold on to the past that they’ve forgotten the present. To quote pastor Tony Compolo:

      I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.

      That about sums it up :)

      In Christ,

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  2. Jr

    The worldy concept of beauty is wrong. Putting all that makeup on ur face is vanity, its worldly. There’s nothing wrong with a little concealer and what not to look presentable, decent and clean, but putting it on to add more beauty to your self and to get approval from others is wrong. Dying your hair is vanity too. Increasing outward appearance, for who’s approval? Exactly, the World. Would you honestly consider having green, red, orange and pink hair okay? If a Christian did that, do you think someone would be able to distinguish them from the next punk rock goth band?

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    1. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

      Jr, I’m guessing you’ve never done anything to enhance your appearance? Never put on cologne, bought a nice outfit, combed your hair, or took a shower? I’m assuming that you’ve never put on some fancy duds before going on a date. I’m sure that you’ve never done those things, because if you have then you’re a hypocrite. Please stop telling others enhancing their physical appearance when I’m sure you do it every day.

      And yes, I think dying your hair greed, red, orange, pink, or any other color is just fine. I don’t need to add rules to the Word of God because there are more than enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. I’m still working on that whole “loving others as Christ loves me” deal. You know, the thing that Jesus said would show that we’re His disciples (cf. John 15; Matthew 25). :)

      In Christ,

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