Can a Christian Woman Dye Her Hair?

Can a Christian woman dye her hair?

Women like to dye their hair, and Christian women are no exception. Yet Christianity is a faith which exalts modesty in one’s appearance, and the dyeing of one’s hair is clearly an act of vanity. So Christians with an aim to dye their hair may go looking for something within the religion which they may use as permission to do the thing they know they ought not do.

You will not find that excuse here.

Christian women are not to dye their hair. Humans are made in God’s image, and they are given the hair color which they are meant to have. To dye one’s hair is to assert that the color given to them by God was poorly chosen and that the dyer knows a better choice. This breaks the First Commandment.

Now, the issue of hair dye is not a modern one. Early Christians writers were addressing this problem even before the Bible was compiled. Yet the collapse of religious knowledge which characterizes the modern world has largely destroyed their efforts to instill moral standards within the Christian populace. We revive one of them below.

On the Apparel of Women – Tertullian – Chapter 6. Of Dyeing the Hair

Tertullian is one of the founders of Christian thought. He ranks up at the top of the religion with others such as st. Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and St. Augustine. This is because of the large volume of work which he produced that described the practical behaviors of right believing Christians.

However, Tertullian is not a saint, and it is for that reason that he is often ignored. He is one of the black sheep of the Christian founders. This is due to his views on the nature of Jesus and how it might be possible for Him to be both man and God. Those views which Tertullian held were in conflict with the Trinity which Christians later produced.

Now, Tertullian had been dead for many years by the time the early church produced its understanding of the Trinity, so he never intentionally violated it. It is for this reason that Tertullian may not be called a heretic. Yet the fact that his own views required him to reject a Trinitarian view of God prevents his canonicity.

Tertullian was… not especially fond of women.

The Shameful Dye their Hair

I see some women turn the color of their hair with saffron.

They are ashamed even of their own nation, (ashamed) that their procreation did not assign them to Germany and to Gaul: thus, as it is, they transfer their hair (there)!

Ill, ay, most ill, do they augur for themselves with their flame-colored head, and think that graceful which (in fact) they are polluting!

Here’s an argument you don’t encounter very often: It is wrong for women to dye their hair because they show contempt for their race when they do so.

Now, in the modern day, we often observe women who dye their hair all kinds of inhuman colors. I cannot help but wonder if this act is secretly done to show contempt for one’s own humanity.

And when you listen to the words spoken by those who dye their hair pink, blue, gree, or something else absurd, it often becomes apparent that they really do hate mankind. That’s why they spend so much time whining about other people.

Against Cosmetics | (Can a Christian Woman Dye Her Hair?)

Nay, moreover, the force of the cosmetics burns ruin into the hair; and the constant application of even any undrugged moisture, lays up a store of harm for the head; while the sun’s warmth, too, so desirable for imparting to the hair at once growth and dryness, is hurtful. What grace is compatible with injury?

What beauty with impurities?

Shall a Christian woman heap saffron on her head, as upon an altar?

So, Tertullian was clearly not a fan of hair dye. Surprisingly, the objections he had against saffron are just as applicable to the hair dyes used in the modern age. Most hair dye contains within it a chemical called hydrogen peroxide, and this one is known to be carcinogenic.

Blonde hair dye tends to contain greater concentrations of this chemical than do others. It is for this reason that women who dye their hair blonde are more likely to develop cancer than others.

Can a Christian Woman Dye Her Hair for Honest Reasons?

For, whatever is wont to be burned to the honour of the unclean spirit, that — unless it is applied for honest, and necessary, and salutary uses, for which God’s creature was provided — may seem to be a sacrifice.

But, however, God says, Which of you can make a white hair black, or out of a black a white?

And so they refute the Lord!

Consider the following argument which may be put to a Christian woman:
You are Christian. You believe that God exists, and you believe that you are made in His image.

And you, being made in God’s image, were chosen to have (insert color here) hair.

But you decided that God made a mistake when He gave you that hair color. Therefore, you needed to correct Him with hair dye.

How is that not a violation of the First Commandment?

You Can’t Rewind the Clock

Behold! say they, instead of white or black, we make it yellow — more winning in grace.

And yet such as repent of having lived to old age do attempt to change it even from white to black!

O temerity!

The age which is the object of our wishes and prayers blushes (for itself)!

A theft is effected! Youth, wherein we have sinned, is sighed after! The opportunity of sobriety is spoiled! Far from Wisdom’s daughters be folly so great!

The more old age tries to conceal itself, the more will it be detected.

Here is a veritable eternity, in the (perennial) youth of your head!

People often like to pretend that to be nice is somehow good. How deluded are they! No, nice and good are not the same things. A nice person is someone who believes so weakly in whatever their moral principles are that they cannot be roused to anger when those morals are violated. The nice people believe the least in anything good; it is for this reason that their attitude is so placid that they tolerate all gross indecency. They thereby designate themselves as wicked people.

Focus on Better Things

Here we have an incorruptibility to put on, with a view to the new house of the Lord which the divine monarchy promises!

Well do you speed toward the Lord; well do you hasten to be quit of this most iniquitous world, to whom it is unsightly to approach (your own) end!

Sometimes an attractive young woman will grow to become an unattractive old woman. When this happens, she discovers that the beauty which she relied upon during her youth may no longer be used. She is then forced to turn to her other virtues in order to live well around others.

Yet the once-attractive woman never produced those virtues during her youth. She never needed to. So she desperately clings to her evaporating looks and resorts to all sorts of silly behaviors in her desperation. The foolish woman shames herself thereby and grows old and alone even more quickly.

Other Augmentations

Hair dye is not the only tool people use to alter their appearance. Other common forms of body alteration include tattoos, piercings, and implants. Catholic and Orthodox Christians reject these alongside hair dye, albeit to different extents, and the rejection for each is fueled by more-or-less the same reasons. A famous Catholic priest gives a defense of this common view in the video below.

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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