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Monday, 27 December 2004

"Divorce and Happiness"

Begin quote:

Many marry and fail altogether to find that happiness which they expected. Some find positive misery, while others find nothing more than disappointment and drudgery. This is the common experience of men--so common, indeed, that when the disciples hear the Lord forbidding divorce and remarriage, they immediately respond with, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry."

If the case of the man be so with his wife--if he is bound to her by an indissoluble tie, if he cannot put away an unsatisfying woman and put an end to an unhappy marriage--if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry at all. This response of the disciples indicates that they well knew that a happy marriage was a rarity, while those of the unhappy sort were the common experience of humanity.

And yet, in spite of the common failure of the race to find happiness in marriage, the belief persists, as strong as ever, that it is in marriage that happiness is to be found. The myriads of men and women who fail to find it, or who find misery or drudgery in its place, yet remain firm and unshaken in their belief that marriage is the way to happiness. They never dream of impugning marriage as such: it is only THEIR OWN marriage which is bad, and they universally suppose that if they could but have a different partner, they would find that happiness which their own marriage has failed to give.

But here a great difficulty arises. God FORBIDS us to end a bad marriage in order to seek a good one. What then? Does he care nothing for the happiness of his creatures? So unbelief would suppose. Faith knows better than this, and yet faith itself may often be severely puzzled as to how such prohibitions of the Lord can consist with his care for the happiness of men. How can he desire their happiness, while he denies them the very thing which would make them happy? There is nothing impious in raising such questions, though God yet expects us to trust in him, as well when we cannot understand his ways, as when we can. Here lies the most honorable occupation of faith. Yet it is honorable also to get understanding with all our getting, and nothing is more honorable nor more profitable than to get understanding of GOD.

In the first place, then, it plainly appears that if God in certain cases forbids the very thing which would make his creatures happy, he has something else in view than the present happiness of every individual. It may be he aims at the ultimate happiness of all, or the greater happiness of a greater number, or both. But it is evident that if he aimed at nothing more than the present happiness of all who seek it, he must allow divorce and remarriage in a myriad of cases where he now forbids it.

We must further consider that while the Lord's prohibitions, coupled with the careless manner in which many enter the married state, may debar many from ever attaining marital happiness at all, yet these prohibitions may also contribute to the greater happiness of the greater number over all. In the first place there is probably nothing which could contribute so much to a wholesome caution in uttering the vows of marriage as the certain knowledge that those vows must stand, "for better or for worse."

On the other hand, there is nothing which could contribute so much to the throwing of all caution to the winds as the supposition that those vows may be broken at pleasure. Thus the free license to divorce must work directly to the multiplication of bad marriages, and so far contribute to the greater overall unhappiness of the race--for not all who carelessly enter ill-matched marriages, under the belief that they may end them when they please, will feel free to do so when the occasion calls for it. There are many constraining reasons for maintaining an unsatisfying marriage, even where folks believe themselves free to end it, the good of the children being the most compelling of those reasons.

But more. Love comes in a thousand different degrees, and marriage therefore exists in a thousand degrees of goodness or badness. Every marriage which is not perfect is not therefore miserable. A man may have a good marriage, which is yet less than the epitome of bliss. Yet the supposition that he is free to end that marriage, in order to seek a better, will tend directly to breed dissatisfaction, even with marriages which are essentially good, though less than perfect.But we know that many marriages are not essentially good. Their very existence stands as a bar to the happiness of the parties involved. They are not in love, and never can be, for all their trying. We will not pretend that making the best of an uncongenial mismatch will ever bring marital happiness, or make a bad marriage good, but it may after all be conducive to more happiness in general than a free license to divorce.

Yet in spite of such considerations as these, the belief persists that wherever an uncongenial marriage exists, divorce and remarriage are the way to happiness. It was doubtless on the strength of this belief that God of old granted permission to Israel to divorce and remarry--for who would avail themselves of that permission for any other reason? Some there are who teach that the Bible, New Testament as well as old, condones divorce for mere lack of love. Nor is this doctrine a new one, hatched in the present permissive age. Perhaps the strongest treatise in existence on the subject comes from the pen of old John Milton, a seventeenth-century English Independent, or Congregationalist, and the author of "Paradise Lost." He contends, with a great array of the most compelling reasons, that love itself must compel the separation of spouses who cannot love each other, and that therefore "the true church may unwittingly use as much cruelty in forbidding to divorce, as the church of antichrist doth wilfully in forbidding to marry." With great force of reason, and great powers of eloquence, he describes the hopelessness of an ill-formed marriage, and predicates to marriage without love a great host of great evils. And in fact we quite agree with him. But his reason and eloquence are evidently misapplied. He cannot maintain the strength of his reason when he deals with the prohibitions of Scripture, but must stoop then to strong assertion or weak sophistry. His powerful pleading, though it move us to tears and sobs for the plight of the mismatched, and though it burn into our very souls the truth of the old saw, "Better half hanged than ill wed," yet it leaves us just where we were with regard to the prohibitions of the Lord.

We do not pretend to know everything on this subject. Indeed, we do not pretend to know much. We have many unanswered questions, and we feel most deeply the difficulties involved in the matter. But this much we can say: If those Scriptural prohibitions are to stand, those powerful reasons are evidently not to be used to separate the mismatched but to prevent their ever joining themselves together in the first place. Let us employ all the little powers we have to prevent bad marriages, and we know that we do well. The divine prohibitions of Scripture, coupled with the prevalence of marriages without love, ought by all means to be used to inculcate the utmost caution in marrying, but when parents and pastors, when church and society have failed to cultivate that caution--when the carnal and the hyperspiritual alike have made marriage a blind lottery--it is no remedy to throw to the winds the very thing which will work most powerfully to return men to sanity and to secure that caution.

But modern society has no regard for the prohibitions of Scripture. It needs not labor, as John Milton did, to prove those prohibitions misapplied, or misinterpreted, or inconsistent, as commonly interpreted, with the goodness of God. Modern man has found a shorter way. He simply casts away the cords of the Lord, and breaks his bands in sunder. With one sweep he frees himself from the galling yoke which requires him to eat the fruits of his ignorance or his carelessness, and so paves a broad way for the whole race, to be as careless as it may please in uttering the once-solemn vows of matrimony.

Thus the effects of a free license to divorce are no longer a matter of speculation, but of actual experience. The experiment has been tried. And with what result? Has the happiness of modern man been increased by this freedom? We have no doubt that many individuals have been made happier. So far as this life is concerned, many who would have been locked up in uncongenial and unsatisfying marriages have found love and happiness by divorce and remarriage. No unprejudiced man could deny this. But still we ask, Has the happiness of men in general been increased? And here we can only say, we very much doubt it. To say nothing at all of the confusion and tears which have been thrust upon a myriad of children, the newspapers are full of advertisements from divorced persons who languish for love unsatisfied in a former marriage, burned and stung by a bitter divorce, hoping to love and trust again, yet fearing to do so, and now having--nothing. No husband, no love, no companionship, no security, no father for their children, but only aching and burning and languishing--as firm as ever in their belief that happiness is to be found in a good marriage, but unable to secure even a bad one, lacking now the physical beauties of youth, cumbered with children and debts and cares. The little which they had before was better than the nothing which they have now. Not only so, but the little which they had before may very likely have been made better, if they had committed themselves to so doing, instead of rushing to the divorce court.

We are of course well aware that there has always been a small amount of such unhappiness on the earth. It seems evident, however, that the loose laws of divorce have greatly increased that number, and so greatly increased the unhappiness of the human race. That freedom from the bands and cords of the Lord, by which men promised themselves greater happiness, while it has no doubt secured that happiness for some, has actually wrought in the opposite direction for a far greater number. Such is the wisdom of man.

-End quoted article. Written and published by Glenn Conjurske in "Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks."The original article may be accessed by clicking on the title.

Thursday, 16 December 2004

What is an extra wife?

"Extra wife" is a term I coined myself to depict the woman who is currently married to my children's uncle--the mother of my niece. This was to keep her straight from his "ex wife", who is my nephew's mother.
I find this a very useful term, since most people have, at most, only one ex wife and one extra wife.
So when you hear someone referred to as an "extra wife", remember you first heard it from The White Man.

Tuesday, 7 December 2004

The 2004 Election: another defeat for the Republicans

Constitution Party of Idaho - 2004 Election Results: "Victory in Montana:
Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore has been declared the winner for District 12 of the Montana House of Representatives with a two-vote margin in a three-way race. This is the first legislative win ever for the Constitution Party nationwide. He is also the first third party legislator in Montana since 1929. Jore is a 3-term Republican legislator (1995-2000) who quit the party and joined the Constitution Party during his last term because the Republican Party does not hold to the principles and ideals that Rick believes are the foundation of a responsible government. You can read Rick's political philosophy at "

From the Montana GOP Ebrief 12/2/2004

Democrat litigation upsets democratic process

Contributed by Bob Garner, Bozeman

The votes in House District 12 have been counted, and recounted, and the case of one precinct, recounted again and again. But through it all, Democrat candidate Jeanne Windham has never come out ahead. After the final count, it ended up a tie, so now she's filing a lawsuit to try to steal the election away. Windham is contesting five ballots that were awarded to Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore. On all five ballots, the ovals for both Jore and Republican candidate Jack Cross were marked, but then each of the voters marked the ballots in such a way as to indicate that their preference was for Jore.

These ballots have been independently reviewed by two bi-partisan counting boards - first on election night by a Resolutions Board made up of a Republican and an Independent, and then by a Recount Board made up of two Republicans and a Democrat. Both boards unanimously verified that the voter intent could be determined and awarded the votes to the rightful candidate.

Those five ballots will likely be reviewed by a judge, and possibly by the Montana Supreme Court. Mrs. Windham deserves her day in court to review those ballots, but her actions in the meantime have been despicable.

Only minutes after the election was declared a tie, both Governor Martz and Secretary of State Bob Brown were served with restraining orders preventing the normal tie breaking provisions from taking place. Under normal circumstances, when a tie occurs in a legislative race, the secretary of state convenes the state Canvassing Board (made up of the attorney general, state auditor, and state OPI superintendent, all three are Democrats) to certify the results, and then the governor is notified so she can break the tie.

With the restraining order in place, Governor Martz will not be allowed to break the tie. The Democrats are hoping that they can stall the outcome of the race until at least January 3 when Brian Schweitzer is sworn in as governor. Never before has Montana seen this type of manipulation of the electoral system.


Jore is not a newcomer to the Montana Legislature. He was elected to the Montana House as Republican in 1994, 1996, and 1998.

A leading conservative in the Montana House, Jore left the Republican Party in 2000 and joined the Constitution Party because he did not see the Republicans changing direction to restore Constitutional principles. "My concern is that the Republican Party simply takes conservatives for granted," he said. "The inclination is generally to compromise toward the Democrats. The conservatives are simply left out in the cold."

In the 2000 election, Jore sought to retain his seat as the Constitution Party nominee, but was defeated by 54 votes. In 2002, he ran again as the nominee of the Constitution Party, but was defeated by the Democrat who received 1,539 votes (49 percent) to Jore's 1,339 (43 percent). The Republican candidate cornered only 245 votes (8 percent) and was the spoiler keeping Jore out.

This year, Jore ran again in a highly competitive three way race. When the votes were counted on election night, Jore led by only one vote with 1,556 to the Democrat's 1,555, and the Republican's 1,107.

There were seven provisional ballots to be counted, and they were not opened until the afternoon of Monday, November 8. When the provisional ballots were counted, Jore received 3 votes, the Democrat 2, the Republican 1, and one was unmarked. Thus, Jore was elected by two votes: 1,559 for Jore, 1,557 for the Democrat, and 1,108 for the Republican.

Jore of the Constitution Party returns to the Montana House of Representatives in a powerful position to determine the partisan organization of the House which has 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 1 Constitution Party member, Rick Jore. The newly elected Governor of Montana is a Democrat.

An experienced legislator, Jore will use his leverage for the benefit of conservatives and taxpayers. Meanwhile, both establishment parties are courting him, for it is he who will decide their destinies when the Legislature organizes.

ETA: I should point out that this turned out to be yet another case in proof of the axiom that Democrats never lose a close election: they just keep counting the votes until they have enough to win. The Montana Supreme Court handed the victory to Windham, as reported in Wikipedia:

Initial returns showed Jore winning the election in Montana House District 12, in 2004, defeating his Democratic opponent by a margin of only 1 vote in a three-way race. In a legislature divided between 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and with a Democratic governor, Jore's alignment was expected to determine the partisan alignment of the state house.
However, given the closeness of the race, an automatic recount by the county election board was initiated, which resulted in the board unanimously calling a tie between Jore and Democrat Jeanne Windham. Windham then filed suit, arguing that seven ballots should not have been counted for Jore,[2]but the district court agreed with the county election board on the tie, invoking Montana election law, which states, "If a majority of the counting board members agree that under the rules the voter's intent can be clearly determined, the vote is valid and must be counted according to the voter's intent."[3]
Next, Jore's opponents appealed the case to the State Supreme Court, and with the legislative session soon to begin, on December 28, 2004, the Montana Supreme Court swiftly made a media release, declaring "one or more" Jore votes invalid, handing Windham the election and effectively giving control of the Montana House to the Democrats. At the time, the court failed to publish what is defined by Montana law[4] as a legally binding decision: To wit, its declaration was missing the required "grounds of the decision" by not only failing to list the particular ballots rejected but even failing to give the exact number.
Over two months later, though the legislative session was well under way with Windham casting votes on bills, opposition to the court's decision was mounting,[5] and on March 18, 2005, the court finally issued a decision including official "grounds".[6]
Later though he had already paid his own legal fees with help from (1) people in his own local community, (2) people from across the country, and (3) the Montana Republican Party, the Montana supreme court went further by ordering him to pay his opponents' legal fees.[7][8] To this day, Jore has publicly refused to abide by this last court order, though it has never been rescinded. In the autumn of 2005, his bank accounts were raided and drained of funds by government officials, though the sum obtained was small compared to the total amount sought.
Update: Rick Jore's persistence paid off, to the chagrin of the Democrats who are still waiting for him to pay their legal fees: in 2006 he defeated incumbant Windham with 56.2% of the vote. With Republicans controlling the Montana House by a slim margin of 50-49, Jore obtained an unexpected amount of political leverage and was appointed chairman of the House Education Committee. In the end, what brought him down in 2008 were the term limits under Montana law: his previous service with the Republican Party made him ineligible to serve another term. So, John Fleming re-took the 12th district for the Democrat Party, receiving 2,736 votes.

Thursday, 2 December 2004

Election rambling

I remembered this post I wrote in August when I heard that the Democrat & Constitution party candidates were tied for a seat in the Montana Assembly.

I see several parallels between the Election of 2004 and the Election of 1856.

In 1856, the Whig Party had lost its moral compass and was more concerned with staying in power than in upholding the principles on which it was founded. In 1856, the Whig Party lost the Presidential Election, due in part to a third party which had appeared out of nowhere to energize the anti-slavery vote. That previously unknown third party went on to win the Presidency in the very next election, when it endorsed the most anti-slavery candidate in the field--Abraham Lincoln. Overnight, former Whigs became members of the new Republican Party, and the Whig Party passed from the stage of history.

In 1856, the country was polarized over the issue of slavery: specifically, were all Americans entitled to government protection from evildoers, or only Americans of European descent through legal issue? That question, which had never been settled by the Constitution, refused to remain unanswered, until the conflagration of war brought about an amendment to the Constitution forever settling the issue, at least in regards to that segment of the population.

In 2004, the country is polarized over the Right to Life issue: specifically, are all Americans entitled to government protection from evildoers, or only Americans who are "wanted" by those responsible for their welfare? That question was never even raised in the first century of America's independence, so it appears that the Constitution itself, with all the amendments that anyone can pass, is insufficient to answer that question. The question, however, refuses to remain unsettled. Would the election of a
Constitutional Party candidate in 2008, following another Democratic win with less than 50% of the popular vote, ignite another conflagration sufficient to answer this question for all time, at least in regard to the "unwanted" segments of American society?

Whatever else its aftermath may be, if Michael Peroutka costs Bush re-election this year, it will likely spell the beginning of the end for what was once known as the Republican Party, and the emergence of a new Second Party that will energize the anti-murder vote that is, in greater and greater numbers, looking for a new home.

Postscript: In general (even in Montana), it appears that Constitution voters realized that by voting for Michael Peroutka they would be handing the presidency to John Kerry, and voted for George Bush instead.

They aren't likely to do this again, especially if the next Republican candidate is a liberal like Senator Bill Frist.

ETA: Well, they did do it again (except in Indiana), and it still didn't make any difference (even with Indiana). For the first time since 1964 a Democrat president won a majority of the vote. But not a majority of the white vote.

Wednesday, 1 December 2004

Spell Checker Poem

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye ken knot sea.
Eye strike a key oar type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
Win ever a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite--
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I em shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl thee weigh
My chequer tolled mi sew.

Time out for a little history

I sit here writing this on my Windows 104-key keyboard, connected (along with a 2-button mouse with scroll wheel) to a Pentium PC (the brand--Fountain--I'd never noticed before) and displaying on a 17-inch XFlat color monitor running Windows 98. Coming out of the back of my processor are a phone line, a LAN line, and a broadband line. Only five years ago, I didn't even have a modem on my computer, and I was operating on pre-Windows software. Ten years ago, I'd never seen an e-mail. Fifteen years ago, I was writing a term paper on a home computer with less memory than many of the files I now store in My Documents, and being frustrated by WordWrap. Twenty years ago, I didn't even know how to use a computer. Twenty-five years ago, computers were just entering homes and were being toted as something that you would someday use to organize your banking on & shop for groceries with.

I haven't ever used my computer for either one. But if the computers at my bank and grocery store ever went down, they'd both be closed for business in a heartbeat.

Things tend to change so slowly we don't notice them.
One year ago I had never made a blog entry. Now I have my own blogsite.
Two years ago I had never logged onto an online forum or posted to a discussion group. Now I'm a regular contributor to at least one of each.
Three years ago I had never looked up a phone number or address online. Now I depend on Switchboard and Whitepages, and the Post Office no longer prints Zip Code reference books.
Four years ago I had never used Google. Now it's my home page.
Five years ago I had never watched a video online. Now they pop up unannounced.
Six years ago I had never sent an attachment by email. Now I send multimegabyte photos.
Six years ago I didn't even have an email address. By now I've had ten, and am about to pare the total down to five.
Seven years ago I'd never seen anything on a computer screen but plain text. Now I can't even get plain text without cutting and pasting to an old word processing program.
Eight years ago I had never received an email. Now I get one every couple hours.
Nine years ago I had never sent one. Now I send at least one every time I log on.
Ten years, neither the processing system nor the processor in my present computer had yet been invented; neither had the server on my laser printer, a packet of chips the size of a deck of cards that now does what a whole dedicated computer once did.

I'm putting this in my weblog so that sometime in the distant future, long after I have passed on, when one of my descendants runs a search on my name and finds this site, he will appreciate the present novelty of such technology, at the same time so mundane that we scarcely notice what a marvel it is.

The White Man

I'm revisiting this post on October 22, 2010--nearly another six years after I wrote this. I want to document the many changes that have taken place during that time. In order of their appearance above, I'll update my use of the various technologies that I mention.

Interestingly, nothing has changed in the first paragraph, except that I've updated both my PC and my monitor. I have a new keyboard too. But functionally, nothing has changed except speed. What has changed on another front is that I now own a cell phone over which one can access the internet (I don't--yet. I just got the phone this year).

Ironically, I have, in the past two years, purchased groceries online. And I'm very dependent on my computer to do my banking; I don't get hard copies of my bank statements any more.

Google is no longer my homepage. Now, there's Bing. And not only can I watch videos online, I can tune in to news broadcast, see full-length movies, and watch the Inauguration in real time. I still check five different e-mail accounts, but haven't added any in the past 6 years. And I now get so many emails that I don't even try to read them all. Although I often go days without sending emails per se, there is now something called Facebook, to which I typically post several times in a day. In fact, being on Facebook has even cut down on my contributions to this blog, one-sided as they are. It is even more difficult now to get plain text; the old word-processing program I formerly used is now defunct. I have to use 'note' fields on a database stored on my computer. I still have the same laser printer I had 6 years ago, running on the same server!

One change I hadn't foreseen is that I now can read at least parts of just about any book online. I spend a lot of my online time just reading books.

Certainly the rate of change has slowed dramatically, but dramatic changes continue to occur. The next change for me will probably be getting internet on my cell phone, or a laptop that connects to the cloud. Increasingly, the differences between the two are diminishing.

Wednesday, 24 November 2004


There will be a Turkey-wide thaw in the morning, with oven-like
afternoon temperatures near 190º F. Areas in Turkey's immediate surroundings
will turn hot and humid, with the possibility of a sudden squall as
suppertime approaches and the food still isn't ready.

During the late afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife
will slide through Turkey, causing an accumulation of one to two inches
on plates. Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while
cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other. Expect a downpour of

We can look forward to heavy congestion throughout the entire area
associated with Turkey, with especially crowded conditions around
the Beltway.
During the evening, accumulation will diminish and taper off to
leftovers, dropping to a low of 34º F overnight.

Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, there should be high pressure
on Turkey to be sandwiched between slices of bread.
Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days, with a 50 percent
chance of soupy conditions later in the day, usually in conjunction
with a warming trend if a microwave is available.

The Beltway should experience a long-awaited drop in pressure by
early next week, but this won't last long, as Christmas weather is
just around the corner.

Thursday, 16 September 2004

"Letting your hair down"--what does it mean biblically?

The thought came to me today that I could use Google to research idiom usage in both formal and informal language; something that would have taken thousands of hours in a university library ten years ago can now be done in a couple of minutes at an Internet computer terminal anywhere in the world. I began by asking myself, "What are the social connotations of the idiom "let your hair down"?

This is what I discovered, and it opened a world of understanding to the interpretation of a very difficult passage of Scripture.

1) First of all, the phrase has a base literal meaning of taking long hair that had been artificially confined at the top or back of the head and releasing it to hang freely down the back of the neck and shoulders. Thus, the hair is restored to a natural state of being from a temporary state that was imposed on it for reasons not implicitly utilitarian. This meaning survives, but is only a tiny fraction of the uses. Most uses are idiomatic, but all are based primarily or secondarily on the basic literal meaning.

2) Closely tied to the literal meaning, the secondary usage of this idiom refers to literally changing from professional to casual attire. The idea behind this usage is that long hair is to be confined when in professional mode, but can be released for relaxation. This in turn leads to the third meaning, which is purely symbolic.

3) The tertiary usage of this idiom simply represents a change in demeanor, behavior, or relationship from the forced and professional to the natural and casual. Often the meaning is simply to give way to "being yourself" after struggling to meet someone else's expectations. This is something that can only be done when among friends, who are neither impressed nor fooled by such pretenses.

Now, the question is, how does this all relate to the notion that some people have that any woman without her hair up is, to whatever extent, not fully clothed? Let's look at the threefold implication of this threefold idiom:

1) Confining the hair is done for non-utilitarian reasons: that is, it serves a purpose beyond just that which benefits the hair itself. One must therefore ask, what are these reasons, and are they important? In First Corinthians Eleven, The Bible speaks of a woman's hair as a God-given covering, using the Greek prefix peri- which denotes that which wraps around. Some interpret this to mean that the hair must be wrapped up at the back of the head. If this were so, it would indicate that the natural, God-given purpose for women's hair is to be wrapped up at the back of the head. This idea is antithetical to the basic idiom, and seems to be purely the product of ad hoc reasoning. The logical interpretation of this use of the word seems to require that the usual state of a woman's hair be such that it is allowed to fall both forward and back, enveloping the shoulders as a covering--which, incidentally, is how Eve's hair is typically shown by biblical artists, literally serving as a modesty-covering in conjunction with strategically placed foliage. I don't know of any artist who has ever depicted our First Mother with her hair in a bun--either before or after she adopted clothing!
The Bible speaks elsewhere of a woman who obviously had her hair down--she used it to wipe Jesus' feet. That she was a prostitute and probably wore her hair that way professionally is a given, but the point is that Jesus commended her behavior, something he could not have done had some element of it been sinful. Her loose hair does hearken back to the trial of jealousy in Numbers 5, where something shameful is done to a woman's hair. Precisely what is not certain, as the hair itself is not mentioned, but the passage can be understood to refer to a forced, public uncovering of hair that is already down. Taken en toto, biblical references to woman's hair seem to indicate that there is nothing unnatural about woman's hair being down, thus lending credence to the inherent truism of the idiom. What is specifically noted as being unnatural is SHORT hair on a woman (1 Cor. 11:15), which reinforces the idea that visibly long (i.e., down and flowing) hair is the natural state. In contrast to this, a woman with moderately cropped hair can successfully conceal it by keeping her hair up and confined under an opaque covering, thus circumventing the shame that would otherwise be associated with cropped hair.

2) The above passages do hint at a symbolic reason for confining a woman's hair; the emphasis, however, is on confining it under a covering, rather than in a bun. An uncovered woman is said to be as shameful as a woman with no hair at all, which would seem to indicate that the hair itself, in its full length would be shamefully visible were the covering removed. The idiomatic meaning of "letting your hair down" always connotes casualness, never shame. The shamefulness of an uncovered woman, therefore, has nothing to do with whether her hair is up or down, but whether or not it is covered.

3) The idea of "just being yourself" has interesting implications. I have been in the homes of several women who treat putting up and covering their hair as a natural part of getting dressed. Should you catch them at home in the hour or so after they bathe, however, it becomes clear that they do not consider wearing their hair down as a modesty issue to the extent that they would consider running around the house in their underwear as a modesty issue. They remove their clothing, including the head covering, to bathe themselves, but they typically leave their heads uncovered when they emerge from the bath to dress, and continue to leave it loose while it dries, without any fear that they are exposing their nakedness to their guests.

What conclusions can I draw from this? First of all, while the Bible has nothing to say on the topic of whether or not a woman should wear her hair up or down, it does strongly discourage wearing it braided (I Timothy 2:9, I Peter 3:3), in a context of ostentatious adornment. While I do not understand exactly what Scripture means by such a seemingly senseless prohibition, I find this item interesting because when I joined the military, a decade after the regular military ratings began to open up to women, there was still a distinct difference in the way men and women were expected to dress, which included how they wore their hair. Women were allowed skirts; men weren't. Women were permitted to wear their coverings during prayer; men weren't. Women were even required to wear a distinctive covering which allowed for their volume of hair, a volume which was expected to be considerably greater than a man's. Women with long hair, however, were required to wear it up when in uniform. And braids were forbidden! Despite this item in the grooming standards, women typically braided their long hair, and inspectors were once heard to wonder, during a uniform inspection, why this would not be allowed, as it seemed to be the most sensible way to put hair up under a covering. In the military, then, "letting your hair down" could only be done off duty, out of uniform, whether or not the hair was braided. On a practical note, hair that is braided is not truly 'let down,' as this unnatural state will already have begun to unravel by the end of the day.

One of the principle by which we interpret Scripture is to test any interpretation of application by its universality. Since some women's hair is naturally short, and some naturally long, the shame mentioned in I Corinthians 11:6 must refer, not to the amount of hair that is showing, but to its nature: has it been cut, or allowed to grow to its full length? By wearing a woman's hair up and under a covering, it is impossible to expose one's hair to the scrutiny that would allow for such shame to occur.

It appears, then, that grooming style most fitting with the Scriptures is for a woman to wear her hair loose and down, but available at all times to be covered with a cloth that closely approximates the extent of the hair itself. In fact, the anti-braiding passages associate any arrangement of the hair beyond that which is purely natural with a level of ostentation totally unsuitable for a Christian woman. Having observed the practice of believers from India, I understand that this is how they have lived for centuries, except that they generally braid or otherwise confine their uncut hair which would otherwise become unmanageable at such a length. The major question in my mind is not whether or not they are less conservative then Scripture demands, but whether their practice will influence the rest of Christendom, or vice versa. It is not uncommon in my experience see the pastor's wife as the only woman in an Indian church not following this practice, if her husband has imbibed the draughts of Western Theological Education.

In Summary:

In General, a Christian woman can always feel free to have her hair down; she typically needs enter no situation where professional expectations on her require her to deport herself unnaturally. Her hair is to be covered while prophesying or praying, because then she has an audience of angels; at other times, she needs only to deport herself modestly, whether among friends or strangers. Even her obviously uncut hair, worn unostentatiously, is a constant reminder to her audience of her submission to Christ.

This, the first post, has continued to pull in viewers for a decade, averaging over two a month. I now offer the first update:
The difference between a Muslim woman and a Christian woman: the former can never let her hair down.