God promises us health in our navel, and marrow in our bone, if we follow Him. He also promises us that not a hair of our head will be lost. These types of promises of health make sense to me. We all ache as we descend into the experience of age. But how does hair fit in? And why does hair play such a prominent role in the scriptures?
For example, why does the Old Testament contain stories of Sampson the Nazarite, who lost his superman like strength when Delilah cut his hair, but regained it when his hair grew back? (Leviticus 21:5, Numbers 6:5, Judges 16:18-22). Why is there a story of Elisha being made fun of by children for being a “bald head” until he directed bears to kill them? (2 Kings 2:23) And why are women told their hair is a glory for them? (1 Corinthians 11:15). Or why does the Lord promise us that not a hair of our heads shall be lost and shall return to us when we rise from the grave in resurrection’s glory? (Luke 21:18)
Hair seems to be a significant symbol of connection with God on Earth.
Various Native American tribes have traditions and beliefs that hair is sacred and gives them special powers, and the cutting of their hair was sinful and destructive to their souls. Likewise, the wicked shaved their heads in open rebellion to God before warring with their brothers and sisters in the Book of Mormon. (Enos 1:20; Mosiah 10:8) Throughout history hair like head coverings have symbolized power, and authority, from Pharaoh’s headdresses in Egypt, to judicial wigs in England and early-American hair seems to be evidence of more than just good fashion. Hair seems to symbolize something to our collective unconscious.
I have wondered at times if this is because our hair is evidence of experience, the longer the hair the longer the life, and thus the more wisdom someone might have. Or if before the Fall, our hair radiated light and holy shekinah, and we yearn for our former glory. I have a physicist professor friend who has grown his own hair and beard out for several years now. He believes – due to epigenetics – that his hair retains memories and has helped him remember the lessons he’s learned; specifically aiding him to not lose his temper.
A member of the council of 50 once declared that true liberty was the ability to wear a bear until it “grows as long as his arm if we wants to [so long as] it does not stick into another man’s face.” (Council of 50 Minutes, p. 39). Hair, especially for those of us who are bald, is a fascinating element of our earthly existence. Whatever the eternal truths and symbols are about hair, one thing is clear, we have forgotten more than we understand about its divine nature, gift and glory.