Balderdash (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.

Is the tonsure done to make monks look sexier?

Bald Bruce Willis might look sexy to some people, but a monk with a shaved head is hardly a pin-up

It's said that bald men are more virile. Both Hippocrates and Aristotle observed this and we now know they were on the right track, but it's due to genetics rather than head-shaving. Several genes are thought to be involved in natural baldness, which cause hair follicles to become sensitive to tiny amounts of circulating testosterone.

Genes are not affected by head-shaving.

So why?

The shaven head sported by monks and clerics of certain religious orders for hundreds of years has a simple origin.

Pagans, such as the ancient Celtic Druids, had a transverse tonsure – shaving the hair in front of a line drawn over the top of the head from ear to ear. Both Egyptians and Romans shaved all the hair from the heads of slaves as a mark of subservience. To proclaim themselves slaves of Christ, early monks began to shave their heads.

The favoured style of monastic tonsure forms a circular crown of thorns, markedly different from the Pagan's transverse style. The practice is thinning out now (the Roman Catholic Church abolished the practice in 1972) but still used by some orthodox followers.

Hair is a curious part of the body. With the exception of ear lobes and lunula, hair is perhaps the only part of the body that has completely lost its original function. No longer is it a head protector, but simply a fashion accessory. Lose control of your hairstyle, and you lose a considerable amount of your desired image. Hence the uniform haircut used today in prisons, boot camps, and anywhere else where a master's authority over a slave is to be indicated.

A balding habit that is thinning out

Singing antiphon during tonsure ceremony. (Barbershop Choir?)

For the Christian Church, the tonsure has been both a way to control ringworm, which was rife in the monks' grotty living conditions, and also an indication of subservience.

Bachelorhood and celibacy prevented legitimate heirs to church property, and like celibacy, the tonsure was instituted by the Church as a means to wield power over its priests.

Abstinence from drink and tobacco have been used for similar authoritative reasons, although in these more enlightened times, we recognise that such abstinence has proved to be incredibly wise.

One other reason was to comply with the old-fashioned idea that women should be veiled in a church (with long hair or a cloth) and men should expose their heads. 

Bridegrooms: Don't worry; you are not required to have a tonsure before your wedding! (See Isa. 61:10)

The function of lunula (the pale half-moon shaped area at the bottom of finger nails): The thumb has the largest lunula and the little finger the smallest. So if your fingers drop off one day, you can easily work out the correct order to stick them back.

The function of ear lobes:

  1. For nibbling
  2. For parents to grab
  3. Or if you have another theory, please email us

Tonsure: 1 Cor. 11:12-16


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