What is the biblical meaning of dreadlocks? Is it a sin to have dreadlocks?
Dreadlocks is a popular hairstyle adopted by different cultures and people for different reasons.
Some wear the hairstyle for spiritual purposes, while others wear it for arts and fashion.
The Bible did not mention the word dreadlocks but made similar references.
Long hair is often associated with a Nazirite vow in the Old Testament.
The Nazirite vow was a temporary vow of separation and dedication to God, during which the person would abstain from certain things, including cutting their hair (Numbers 6:1-21).
One popular Nazarite in the Bible was Samson, whom God chose even before his birth to be Israel’s deliverer from the oppression of the enemy.
One of God’s instructions to his parents was that no razor should touch his head (Judges 13:1-20).
Many people wear dreadlocks today and want to discover the biblical significance of the hairstyle.
This article will derive inspiration from Samson’s story in the Bible to give some spiritual meanings of dreadlocks and the lifestyle of a Nazarite.
The Biblical Meanings of Dreadlocks:
A symbol of consecration to God
“All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.” (Numbers 6:5)
Dreadlocks symbolize one’s vow to dedication to being a Nazarite.
According to Numbers 6:2–5, a man or a woman can wear dreadlocks or take the vow of a Nazarite if willing to commit to certain rules, including avoiding alcoholic drinks and wines, not touching a dead body, and not cutting their hair.
All these are to be done as a sign of consecration to God for a particular service.
Therefore, dreadlocks symbolize one’s decision to separate themselves from the Lord. It is a choice to be holy and useful in God’s hands.
Although the real consecration is in the heart, as God is very much interested in the purity of our spirit, keeping long hair as a Nazarite is an outward and open confession and dedication toward keeping oneself holy.
It also helps people identify their stance with God and spiritual responsibilities.
A sign of supernatural power
“He told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:17)
The story of Samson in the Bible shows how dreadlocks are a source of supernatural power.
The Bible records that Samson was so powerful that he tore a lion into pieces with his bare hands, removed a city’s gate and carried it on his shoulder to the top of a hill, and killed a thousand men alone with a fresh jawbone of a donkey.
Samson became a threat to the Philistines, his sworn enemies, and the oppressors of his people. As such, they sought different ways to kill him but couldn’t.
So, they resorted to finding the secret to his supernatural strength to weaken and catch him.
They approached Delilah, Samson’s love interest, and promised her a fortune if she could discover his source of strength to them.
After many tries, she succeeded. Samson told her about his Nazarite vow and how a razor had not touched his head since birth.
This was a grave mistake that led to his downfall because Delilah “lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him” (Judges 16:19).
Samson’s strength left him as soon as his seven locks were shaved.
Therefore, dreadlocks, coupled with a life of consecration and obedience to God, can be a channel of divine strength and empowerment.
One person’s supernatural power may not be physical strength like Samson’s but manifest in other areas of their lives.
“For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5)
One of God’s purposes for Samson’s separation was for him to be Israel’s deliverer.
His dreadlocks were not just for fancy and fashion but for a divine purpose. Just as Moses delivered Israel from the claws of Egypt’s slavery and Gideon freed Israel from the oppression of the Midianites, Samson was to deliver Israel from the Philistines.
So, his hair and supernatural power were for a much greater cause, bigger than beauty and personal benefits.
Therefore, biblically, keeping dreadlocks comes with a responsibility, usually tilting toward serving God and His people.
In today’s world, wearing dreadlocks as a Christian might not translate to waging a physical war against God’s enemy. Instead, you might focus on the spiritual dimension.
Your dreadlocks and obedience to God should inspire you to deliver the oppressed from the captivity of the enemy and wage war against the kingdom of darkness.
Your focus should be saving people from bad habits and trauma, spreading the good news, and leading people to Christ.
You must look beyond the physical angle of having locks and focus on what will benefit God’s kingdom.
A sign of obedience
Judges 13:1-20 tells how God’s angel appeared to Samson’s parents, listing some criteria they and their unborn child must adhere to for him to maintain his calling and consecration.
The dreadlocks came with certain dos and don’ts, including drinking wine, going after pagan women, and touching dead bodies. Unfortunately, Samson disobeyed all these rules, leading to his untimely death.
One who wears dreadlocks must be willing to abide by the rules surrounding the hairstyle.
You must obey God’s Word and live a righteous and holy life, pleasing to God.
You must avoid sin at all costs, knowing that your enemy, the devil, will send a series of temptations to make you fall out of God’s will and purpose and lose your calling.
Is it a sin to have dreadlocks?
There are debates about whether wearing dreadlocks is a sin and whether believers should avoid it. This is a crucial topic because dressing is a big deal in the Christian faith, especially in a world where people are judged by their physical appearance while paying little attention to their character and value.
It’s just a hairstyle.
Firstly, it must be established that dreadlocks are just a hairstyle, just like the cornrows and ponytail. However, dreadlocks are widely associated with the Rastafari, a religion predominantly in Jamaica.
The Rastafarians believe in Jah, another name for God. But they worship Haile Selassie, who is believed to be a black messiah. They keep dreadlocks as a symbol of their connection.
They also believe in using marijuana, linking it to the Bible. The style of worship and beliefs have created a negative perception of dreadlocks, especially among Christians who believe in God and Jesus and preach against the use of intoxicants.
But aside from this, we know from scripture that the enemy is notorious for creating a counterfeit of God’s work to destroy its original purpose and lead people astray. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
God’s Word makes it clear that dreadlocks originate from the Bible.
According to Numbers 6:2–5, not cutting one’s hair is one of the criteria of being and remaining a Nazarite, those consecrated unto God. Some of the vows of the Nazarites, apart from not keeping their hair, include avoiding alcoholic drinks and wines and not touching a dead body.
A popular Nazarite in the Bible is the legendary Samson, the strongest man in the Bible.
Naturally, the hair locks when not combed and cut for a long time. Therefore, it is mostly natural. So, just as we cannot call keeping long fingernails a sin, we cannot call keeping long hair a sin.
God looks at the heart.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We often focus on issues of less importance while ignoring weightier matters as believers.
This is a strategy of the enemy to hinder us from building our faith through profitable and crucial activities like Bible study and prayers. Instead, he keeps us busy arguing about tattoos, dressing, and other unimportant issues.
Here’s what Jesus calls those who focus on less important things hypocrites.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
When God was about to choose the next king of Israel, he told Samuel to pay no attention to the physique and other physical features of the sons of Jesse. Instead, he should focus on the heart because God is interested in that.
We are just like Samuel today.
We are expending our energies discussing what hairstyle is acceptable and not.
We are fighting on behalf of God. But He does not care about things like that.
He seeks a pure, holy heart, ready to serve and worship Him.
We must become like our heavenly Father, who loves all and takes them just as they are.
Purpose and motive
Another thing that can determine if wearing dreadlocks is a sin is the purpose of the hairstyle.
First, what is the inspiration behind the style? Is it the Rastafari movement or the Nazarites?
Do you want to dedicate your life to God’s service or smoke weed and emulate a false religion? Everything we do must glorify God from the inside out.
Another thing to consider is whether the hairstyle gratifies the flesh or God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Anything short of this scripture is idolatry. Idolatry is not only when we have a graven image we bow our heads to.
We already engage in idol worship if we place anything above God.
Your dreadlocks can replace God in your life if you spend time, including time supposed to be dedicated to God, in nursing it.
Idolatry is a sin that God hates and punishes.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:4-5)
Should a Christian wear dreadlocks?
Instead of giving a direct yes or no answer, let’s flip the question. Should Christians wear cornrows hairstyles? Or should men wear the side comb hairstyle? Our answer will determine if it is a sin. We seem to have forgotten that dreadlocks are only a hairstyle like the ones we boldly go into the barber’s shop or salon to make.
Here’s what Solomon said about his lover having locks in Song of Solomon 4:1 “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.”
Here, locks or dreadlocks are presented as a symbol of extreme beauty.
Solomon is simply saying, “Wow, my darling, your hair is gorgeous.” This is the same thing we would say to our spouse today.
However, believers should understand the place of modesty, decency, and godliness in our dressing, including hairstyles.
According to 1 Timothy 2:9-10, our focus should not be solely on physical adornment but on godliness and good works.
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)