Michelle Fox's UPC Experience

(The following is printed with permission and was taken from a written questionnaire as well as a recorded conversation done around 1995.)

It was in May 1988 when I first attended a nearby United Pentecostal Church.  I had been witnessed to at my work place by a member of the church.  He never told me before attending that the church taught it was wrong for a woman to ever cut her hair.

Before attending a United Pentecostal Church, I had never heard this teaching.  It was about one to two months after I started going to the church when I was first told that I wasn't supposed to cut my hair.  I found out about this when I was up at the altar during an altar call and I was praying to get the Holy Ghost.  A female member told me that the women in the church didn't believe in cutting their hair.  I asked "Not even to just cut the ends off of it?"  I was told no, that they didn't cut it at all.

I was kind of shocked, but at the same time I was going to their church and felt that the Lord wanted me to be there and I was baptized the first night I was there.  I prayed on that very strongly before I came to that first service.  You know, that if it was in the Lord's will that this was the church I was going to go to, that I was going to be baptized that night and I was. So it was because of this that I stopped cutting my hair.  I believed it because it was what I was told and it was always preached against.  Also, I guess I followed what most of the members thought, especially those who I thought studied the Bible and knew more than I did.

I had doubts about this teaching at first and tried to study it, but never got anywhere but in I Corinthians where it says a woman's hair is her glory and she should have long hair.  I wanted to believe it because I put trust in my pastor and didn't want to question it because of this. I don't know if I was ever 100% sure.  I was shown that one scripture in the Bible in Corinthians where a woman was to have long hair and I just automatically assumed.  I never went into checking on it or anything. I always went by that one scripture and when I talked to my friends and they wondered why I didn't cut my hair, I always referred to that one scripture.  I never went in depth and studied any other scriptures to see if it was any different, so I would say that I kind of just felt that said that a woman should have long hair and I didn't think anything of it.  I just went by it because that was what they believed.

In sermons at the church, it was preached that it was wrong for a woman to cut her hair and that God wouldn't take one UPC Apostolic woman if she cut her hair.  It was also taught that most women who cut their hair weren't in submission to their spouse and would backslide.

Backslidden meant that she's falling away from the Lord, that she's starting to do worldly things.  That once you cut your hair, there's going to be other things that are going to happen and eventually she's going to be back in the world and away from the church.  

In the beginning I guess it was a hard thing for me cause I always had my bangs short and would curl them back.  My hair always looked nice.  It started getting to the point where it was unmanageable.  I couldn't handle it as it would go flat all the time and I'd spend hours in front of the mirror just trying to get the top of my hair to go right from being so long.  I'd get to the point where I wanted to cut it so bad, but then I felt sick when I wanted to cut it.  It finally got to a point I guess after a couple years of managing with it and teasing it that it didn't bother me anymore.  Everybody saw how it was and it started to look all right the way it was and I could play with it more and do different things with it and I just got used to it.  

Another thing, you'd always look at pictures of these women in the later years and you'd see how long their hair was and how their bangs- you know they're real long how they have it. And I just felt when you looked at me, everybody noticed that there was something different. I felt I stood out and that people probably thought, you know she looks like a Christian cause she's so plain.   I didn't really make myself up.  I was content, I guess.  I later developed pride in the fact that I hadn't cut my hair.

Many times I had thoughts about cutting my hair and would not tell anyone.  I never did cut my hair while I was attending this church.  I would look in the mirror when I would want to cut it and I would feel sick to my stomach, like should I or shouldn't I?  Another reason was I was afraid what everyone might think by looking at me, that I had cut my hair, worrying about what everyone else thought.  A couple times I felt that if I cut my hair that I could have been backslidden and I wouldn't have had another chance to serve the Lord and that I might not make it in the rapture. Just for cutting my hair.  I would sit there and look in the mirror and I'd have the scissors in my hand ready to cut and it's like, no, don't do it- you might not get a chance again.  I just couldn't do it.

It didn't really bother me if someone outside the church cut their hair.  However, I reacted differently when a member of the church did so.  It hurt because seeing a member of your own church, after believing so long that it wasn't right to cut your hair, you'd see them turn around and they cut their hair. You always hear that they're backslidden when they cut their hair and it just made you wonder, here's a person that you thought loved the Lord and was a faithful Christian and here she cut her hair.  And you think, "Is she really backslidden?"  It kind of makes you feel sick.  It hurt.  

Experiences With The Hair Issue

I did have my first experience with one particular woman and I remember taking it very hard and not understanding when this person always believed it was wrong to do and now did this.  She also had a little bit of makeup on, too, so just by what was being said over the pulpit and actually seeing someone cut their hair and then go from cutting their hair to wearing makeup, you really feel like they are fallen by the way you are taught. I had looked up to this person and I was hurt that she had cut her hair.  I wanted to tell this person how I felt, but another woman in the church stopped me.  She told me to talk to the pastor.  I cried and was questioning the pastor.  He more or less said the same thing that you don't want to go and talk to that person because you don't know what kind of spirit they might have and they might lash out at you or something.  The only thing that I could do was to pray for her and see what happened. She would have a rebellious spirit because she cut her hair. The pastor said she was backslidden.  I never confronted anyone in the church who had cut their hair.

Another woman in the church who was related to the pastor did the song services for Sunday School.  Because she allowed her daughter to cut her hair, though she hadn't cut her own, the pastor stopped allowing her to lead in the songs.  In a conversation with him, this woman said she didn't see anything wrong with it.  Then the pastor sent this woman's sister to do the song service and here her sister cuts her hair.  She got hurt.  She got up and walked out of the service. The pastor's wife even said to me she felt that it wasn't right what the pastor did.     

Sometime between 1988 and 1989 I was out lighting a barbecue grill and dumped a bunch of fluid on it to get it to burn because it was charcoals.  I had the lid on it, and not thinking I lifted the lid up and the flame singed my hair- the whole one side, my eyebrow and my eye lashes.  It looked pretty gross and it smelled pretty bad.  I went into the house and quick washed it and I wanted to cut it.  I talked to a woman in the church who advised me to speak to the pastor, that maybe he would let that go.  I did go to my pastor and he told me not to cut it, to let it grow as it would grow out.  What happened was something that happened, but I was not to cut it.

Serious Questioning Starts

I later started to question this teaching and was unsure of what to believe.  I wondered just how I could find out for sure because I really didn't know how to do in depth research on this.  I had just listened to other members and what they thought until I finally did my own studying by reading the Bible and using a Strong's Concordance.

I always had the thought in the back of my mind, is it wrong or is it right?  It wasn't until things were happening with Lois that I began feeling a little more comfortable being able to talk to her.  You're afraid to go to people, not knowing how they're going to feel and what they're going to say to you at the time.  When you go up to one of the people in the church and say you really don't understand this it's like, "Well just do it.  It's the standard." It's hard to know who you can talk to without anybody getting mad at you for bringing up the subject. And it just so happened to be that Lois was going through other problems when the subject was brought up and we got into talking about it and it took a burden away. You always have something heavy on you and you just can't understand why.  

I went and studied it myself and started looking up a lot of the scriptures and I looked up every scripture (on hair) and there was nothing there.  It didn't make sense and it was a lot of studying looking up every scripture.  I now have no question in my mind that the Bible does not teach this doctrine.  

I feel though that a woman should have long hair.  But long, who's saying how long is long? If a guy goes without cutting his hair and it's to his shoulders, that's long.  His hair is long. But then if he just cuts it a quarter of an inch and it's still almost touching his shoulders, his hair is considered still long.  So what is it if a woman is to just trim the ends of her hair, her hair is still long, it's not short.  It's not like a man's look up to their ears.  I feel myself that women should have long hair, but long is not saying you can't cut it or trim it.

Leaving The Church

I later left the church and did cut my hair.  I could feel people look at me and I don't know if that's why nobody there talks to me or anything because a lot of them have seen that I cut my hair.  But I have noticed being around a couple of the people, like when my dad was buried there were quite a few people from the church there and that was the first time that a lot of them noticed that my hair was cut.  I could feel the eyes.  But nobody came up to me and spoke to me about my hair.

At the time, my mother, sister and brother still attended my former church.  My sister and I got on the subject quite a few times.  Her opinion was more or less that if I believed it at one time, how could I not believe it now and for the longest time I believed.  I had given testimony and witnessed to a lot of people and she just feels that I went back on it and ruined my testimony with a lot of people.  It was going to be harder for her, especially where we worked, as she had to face the people at work seeing me with my hair cut.  She said something to the fact that I was crucifying Christ all over.  That it was the same thing because I believed it at one time and now all of a sudden I don't believe in it and I'm ruining my testimony.  She feels that way about it.

We also had a conversation because I had put on mild makeup (it was just light powder rouge and light mascara). Before I left the church, during one service I had worn light makeup. One woman came up to me at the end of the service and pulled me over to the side as she wanted to talk to me.  Before the service she had noticed something different about me but wasn't sure what.  I guess it took her through the service and after service when she realized  what it was, she acted as though she wanted me to come out and tell her what I had done.  I didn't offer it.  She said she knew what was different and she could tell that I had a little rouge on my face and mascara.  She said that my countenance was hidden from God.  I asked how and she said for me not to talk to her that way in the presence of God or something like, like she was God herself.  That I can't talk to her how I feel about it.  Also, with saying that my countenance was hidden, I said that she then needed to talk to a lot of other women in the church cause there's a lot besides myself that wear foundation, like my mom. She said that she wasn't talking about them, she was talking to me.  She was pretty much upset with me.  

At first I felt kind of hurt.  I wanted to cry because of the way she approached me.  It really hurt.  Right after that I had walked outside and I just didn't know what to think or what to say.  That next Sunday the pastor announced that he didn't want anyone telling anybody in the church what they should and shouldn't do.  She did come up and apologize to me after this. Her attitude toward me changed from then on.  She backed away a lot.  A couple times after that when I was still going to church she'd come over and say 'hi', but there were no hugs and kisses like previously.  Before there was a big hug and 'I love you,' and it kind of went away.  

Afterward I was talking to my sister and mentioned what this person said.  She responded that the Bible said we're supposed to be able to come to the Lord shamefaced (her meaning meant to be without makeup). She really didn't know what the scripture was because I had looked it up and had called her back and explained to her what it meant.  This scripture she referred to had absolutely nothing to do with makeup.  Some time later she came to realize this as she had just been going by what she'd been taught.

Now that I haven't attended the church for almost a year, I haven't heard from really anybody and the one woman was my daughter's godmother and she doesn't even call to talk to her.  I feel like I'm contaminated or something, that everybody needs to stay away from me.  I'm like causing trouble or something, I don't know.  I do feel a difference not being there and how I'm treated.  I wouldn't feel welcome to go back and attend there again and continue to feel the way I do now about standards.  Because no matter how I feel now, it's not going to change their mind.  They're set on what they're doing and on how they are toward people and there's not going to be any change there.

I just feel that if I went there and I continued to keep my hair trimmed I know everybody would be different toward me or maybe eventually they might start saying, "So, are you going to stop cutting your hair again?"  It would come out.  I would be questioned.  I could never go back to that church again.

Some Thoughts

I just feel that every woman, and I believe even the pastors, instead of just going by what has always been and what their fathers and their father's pastors passed down- that every pastor, instead of just going on what every other pastor believes, they need to search it themselves.  I believe a lot of pastors just follow what other pastors believe or what the organization believes because they want to be in the organization and as long as they're in the organization they've got to abide by their standards. I just believe women need to really look it up and study it themselves and not take anybody's word.

There are just too many standards in the UPC and you notice that in some churches you're allowed to wear jewelry, some churches you're not.  Some churches you're allowed to wear open toed shoes- I mean all the UPCs are different.  I believe that everyone needs to look into it more instead of going by one scripture because many times my former pastor preached to us that you can't go on one scripture and interpret it your own way. There should be two or three scriptures to say the exact same thing. And there is only one passage saying that a woman should have long hair.  There's one passage in the whole Bible and that is it. There's no other scripture backing that passage up.  And I just believe that people need to see that.

I don't feel anything towards someone who wants to believe this doctrine.  If that's what they feel, if that's what they have a conviction of, that's up to them.  That's their own personal thing.  My mother does not go to church there any longer and she doesn't cut her hair.  She herself still doesn't feel to cut her hair.  If she sees someone else cut their hair she's not going to say they are backslidden because she doesn't feel that way.  But her, in her own personal walk, she prefers to leave her hair alone.  

If you don't want to cut your hair, don't cut it.  But at the same time I don't believe that somebody that cuts their hair, that you should feel any different toward them and give them looks.  I don't give them looks that they don't cut their hair.  They shouldn't give you looks or shun you because you cut your hair.  

I believe it's to everyone's own individual walk with God and their own conviction. And they have to see if that's the way they really feel because even with their own conviction you can almost be led to feel convicted not to cut your hair because you're told for so long not to- but at the same time it may not be.  If you don't want to cut your hair, don't cut your hair. But don't get on me because I do.  Don't shun me.  

Posted June 30, 1999


August 23, 1997
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