Beards

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Jailminister, Sep 25, 2003.

  1. Jailminister

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    I had an intersting conversation about beards the other night. This fellow said that Christian men should not wear beards. I said that Christian men do have that liberty to do so.
    Anyway I started doing some research on the beard and I have found definite opinions of them by various theologians.
    If you think they are ok, do you have any problem with the mustache only or the "goatee"?
    Ladies fell free to give your opinions also.
     
  2. LarryN

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    See Lev. 19:27- if beards were permisible under the law, why not under grace?
     
  3. Dan Todd

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    I have a booklet at home - written by a Mennonite - stating several reasons why men should wear beards.

    I wear a beard - because I like to - and because I hate to shave - and because I can!!!

    Jan doesn't particularly like the beard - but we have an agreement - I pay for her hair appointments without complaining - I get to keep my beard year-around!

    Dan
     
  4. Jim1999

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    Interesting. I grew my beard in the fifties and have had it ever since. It was a protest from shaving under the worst of circumstances; during a war on the battlefield.

    In the early days we were taken for a member of the hippy movement. Some churches were reluctant to call a pastor with a beard. I never asked the reason. Perhaps they thought we wold be too radical.

    The beard must be trimmed daily and kept clean. It does require more care than simply shaving.

    The beard is no hotter in summer than being clean-shaved, and I am not sure it is warmer in winter, but may very well be.

    I can't shave now because my younger granddaughter loves to take hold and give it a pull. Can't take away a child's pleasure, can we?

    I have never had anyone say it was unChristian except the Oneness movement.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. Gina B

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    I'm all for them, especially now when clothing and hair styles make it hard to tell the difference between male and female! I like to know for sure what I'm looking at, and having a beard definitely lets me know I'm looking at a man!
    I've been in churches where it wasn't allowed for the pastor or deacons, but I've never seen any biblical reasoning for that. If anyone can explain what the logic is I'd be interested in hearing it.
    Gina
     
  6. LarryN

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    In the book Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism (c.1994?) Douglas McLachlan talks about how beards became an issue in fundamental circles in the 1960's as a conservative reaction to the counterculture. He states that as a cultural taboo only, appropriate to the times, it was probably legitimate; but that on the basis of the lack of any Biblical mandate it no longer has any relevance.
     
  7. Gunther

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    Um, Gina, the beard thing isn't always the way to tell men from women. Have you ever seen the cheerleaders from the University of Florida?

    - War the women not buying up all the Gillettes at the store
    - War women stop taking testosterone shots
    - War Gator cheerleaders stop looking like Gimli
    and
    - War the ESV thinline, God bless it
     
  8. swaimj

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    Agreed LarryN. BTW, in American culture beards have an interesting history. Geroge Washington had no beard. Fourteen presidents who followed him had no beard. Then, Lincoln was elected and he had a beard. He turned out to be the greatest president since Washington. The presidents who followed him had beards, some of them quite heavy. The only exception was Lincoln's successor, Johnson (who was impeached)and one other whose name I do not recall. Then in the 1900s with McKinley and with memories of the Civil War fading, beards went out of fashion. All of this to say that fashions come and go and are usually harmless, if not meaningless.

    I started wearing a beard about 10 years ago because I was constantly mistaken for a much younger person. Now that I am nearing 40 (an my hair is turning gray) that mistake is not made so often! However, I find that I occasionally have problems with my complexion, so I plan to keep the beard.
     
  9. donnA

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    There is nothing in the N.T. that prohibits men having facial hair. How can there be a problem with it.
     
  10. Taufgesinnter

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    I was persuaded years ago to wear the beard by all the Anabaptist arguments for it, including the fact that it was expected of Jewish men under the OT, then the NT did not order shaving, that all the early Christian writers who mentioned beards commended them, commanded them, or attacked shaving and plucking of the face as effeminate, and the very out-of-context use of Romans 9. Most argued against the mustache because it was a military symbol, but the book I read defended the mustache as consistent with God's creation of the beard. I shaved my upper lip (which I thought looked terrible bare) until a proper mustache was possible--it didn't come in fully until years after the rest of the beard.

    I agree that the beard is no hotter in summer; it is warmer in winter, though, partly because it protects against wind chill.

    I am no longer persuaded to wear the beard by all the Anabaptist arguments for it. That it was expected of Jewish men under the OT seems little different than the fact that they were not permitted to wear blended fabrics. That the NT did not order shaving means that it is silent on the issue. That all the early Christian writers who mentioned beards commended them, commanded them, or attacked shaving and plucking of the beard as effeminate, reflected their society and culture and times, not mine. The use of Romans 9--who are we to question the way God made us?--is even more out of context than when Calvinists try to cite it as proof for particular election. As for shaving as effeminacy, unless somebody's a transvestite, I think that's sort of a coincidence. It does look more juvenile, it appears less like one is hiding his face, presents more sensitive skin for touching in marriage, but yes, does appeal primarily to vanity. So I now wear the beard because of habit, because everyone expects it of me after all the years I advocated beards, because I detest shaving, and because with time and repeated weight gain and loss I'm afraid to see what the underside of my chin looks like now. But I can see myself in the future going bare-faced again, at least to see whether I look better that way--it'd prob'ly make me look a lot younger--and if I don't look better, the beard'll grow back very fast.
     
  11. Jailminister

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    Here is an interesting article I found about the beard: A BEWHISKERED BELIEVER BEWILDERED
    BY BEARD-HATING BRETHREN
    --Daniel Botkin--

    Several years ago I was interviewed by a pastor for a job as principal of a Christian school. At the end of the interview, the pastor offered me the position, and said he really hoped I would accept it.

    "There's just one more thing," he said rather hesitantly. "If you do decide to take the job, I'll have to ask you to shave your beard."

    The pastor was quick to assure me that he himself had nothing personal against beards. It was just that a few parents from some fundamentalist churches had enrolled their children in the school. These parents wanted good role models for their children, and a fuzzy-faced principal in a Christian school did not fit their definition of a good role model.

    I assured the pastor that if I decided to accept the position as God's will, I would accept shaving my beard as a necessary requirement to doing the will of God.

    As it turned out, I did not take the job. The reasons I turned it down had nothing to do with shaving. However, this incident, along with the fact that many Christian seminaries forbid students to have beards, got me interested in the subject of Christian misopogons--beard-haters.

    I have always been bewildered by the glaring inconsistency of people who literally worship a Man who had a beard, and then say it is wrong (or at least not nice) for a follower of that Man to have a beard. Men of the Amish, old-line Mennonite, and Orthodox Jewish faiths are expected to have a beard, a God-given feature that visibly distinguishes males from females. In contrast, men in some Christian circles are expected to make their faces hair-free and smooth like a woman's. Who is right? You, the reader, may have guessed from my subtle hints which position I take in this raging controversy.

    To better understand the significance of the man's beard, we should go back to man's beginning, when God created Adam and Eve. "Male and female created he them," the Scripture says (Gen.1:27). Distinction of the sexes is a principle upheld throughout the Bible. One of the physical traits that distinguishes men from women is the man's beard. One glance at a bearded face immediately lets us know that we are looking at a man, not a woman.

    Sunday-school and story-book illustrations almost always picture Old Testament Patriarchs and Prophets with full beards. Oddly enough, these same artists often portray Adam without a beard. While I cannot prove beyond a five-o'clock-shadow of a doubt that Adam had a beard, I have a difficult time believing that Adam shaved in the Garden of Eden. I cannot picture Adam strolling down to the stream each morning, lathering up his face, and shaving by his reflection in the water. Even if I picture him using a clam shell or a flint knife, the idea of Adam shaving in the Garden of Eden seems too unnatural to be real.

    The fact that shaving is unnatural is perhaps the strongest argument against it. I remember reading an interview with beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg in Playboy magazine in the mid-1960s. (I was not a believer at that time of course. Besides, I bought the magazine "mainly for the stories and articles," like everyone else did). In the interview, Ginsberg was asked why he had a beard. His reply was that he did not plant it there; it just grew.

    Granted, Allen Ginsberg is not a good role model for Christians, but he does have a point. God planted the beard on man's face; there should be no need to defend its existence. TV critic David Friedman made a similar argument a few years ago in an article expressing the nobility of man's beard. "I'm proud," he wrote, "because, in a world drowning in unnatural fibers and unnatural acts, having a beard is a completely, utterly and incontrovertibly natural thing to do" (Friedman 318).

    Jewish and Christian writers have also appealed to nature when grappling with this subject. The Talmud points out that the beard is one of the physical traits that distinguishes man from woman. To remove it is an offense against nature [Abrabanel to Lev.19:27 (Encyclopedia Judaica, 358)]. The beard is "the adornment of a man's face," (BM 84a) and a man without his beard is compared to a eunuch [Yev.80b; Shabb.152a (Encyclopedia Judaica, 358)]. Some Medieval Jewish commentators considered a man with a shaven face to be tantamount to a man in a woman's garment, an abomination according to Deut.22:5 (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 123).

    Among Christians, Clement of Alexandria probably wrote more against the evils of shaving than all other early Christian writers combined. Like the Jews, Clement called the beard man's "natural adornment" and said it is "never permissible" to remove it (The Fathers of the Church 218). "The hairs of the beard have been numbered," Clement warns his readers. "To seek beauty in hairlessness is sheer effeminacy, if done by men" (The Fathers of the Church 215). "God planned that woman be smooth-skinned, taking pride in her natural tresses, the only hair she has, as the horse in its mane," writes Clement. "But man he adorned like the lion, with a beard. . . ." (The Fathers of the Church 214).

    Clement also refers to Psalm 133:2--"It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard." "By repeating the word," Clement reasons, "he means to sing the nobility of a beard. . . ." (The Fathers of the Church 247).

    Other early Christian writings similarly oppose shaving. Jerome wrote against the removal of the beard (The Jewish Encyclopedia 612). The "Apostolic Constitutions" (i.3) insisted that men should have beards (The Jewish Encyclopedia 612). In 398, the fourth council of Carthage prohibited clergymen from removing the beard (The Jewish Encyclopedia 614). It did little good to try to force the laity to conform to the prohibition against shaving, but for many centuries after this, clergymen were expected to have beards, according to Bingham's "Antiquities of the Christian Church" [I.ii.15,16 (The Jewish Encylopedia 614)].

    As the centuries passed, shaving became more and more acceptable among Christians until finally, by about the year 1000, men in Christendom were almost universally clean-shaven (Krumholz 6). It is worth noting that this period of history is now referred to as "the Dark Ages."

    Since the Dark Ages, there have been a few lonely voices crying in the wilderness on behalf of the beard. In 1528, Tindale pointed out that shaving "is borrowed of the heathen" and proclaimed that "the shaven nation hath put Christ out of his room" (Oxford English Dictionary XV, 194f).

    In 1838, the English poet Southey lamented the bondage of shaving when he wrote, "Oh pitiable condition of human kind! One colour is born to slavery abroad, and one sex to shavery at home!" [Doctor cliii (OED XV, 195)].

    In 1859, another Englishman, James Ward, wrote Defence of the Beard, a pamphlet which listed eighteen reasons why a man was "bound to grow a beard, unless he was indifferent as to offending the Creator and good taste" (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 442). One year later, a longer work was published, entitled Shaving a breach of the Sabbath and a hinderance to the spread of the Gospel. In this book, the author defended the beard on the grounds that it was "a Divinely provided chest-protector." "Were it in any other position," the writer reasoned, "its benefit and purpose might be doubted" (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 442).

    One cannot help but wonder what the Apostle Paul would have written if he had been dealing with beards and shaving, rather than with head coverings and hair, when he wrote to the saints at Corinth. "Doth not nature itself teach you," he might have reasoned, "that if a man have a shaven face, it is a shame unto him?"

    Beard-haters might object at this point by saying, "Women shaving their legs and armpits is also unnatural. Do you want your wife to have hairy legs and armpits?" This is a fair question, and one that deserves an answer: No, I don't.

    There is a difference between men shaving their faces and women shaving their legs, however. A woman shaving, though unnatural, does not blur the distinction of the sexes. As Clement pointed out, "God planned that the woman be smooth-skinned," so shaving only adds to her femininity. When a man shaves, however, he strips away one of the most obvious marks of his masculinity.

    The presence or absence of a beard can also have very real psychological effects on men. A recent study shows that beards cause men to experience an "increase in self-perceived masculinity" (Bozzi 20).

    People in earlier times recognized other psychological benefits of the beard. To the ancient Egyptians, the beard was a symbol of royalty (Friedman 319). Among Greek philosophers, it represented wisdom (Friedman 319). Of course having a beard is not proof of wisdom, as Jewish poet Solomon del Medigo cleverly pointed out:

    "If men be judged wise by their beards and their girth, Then goats were the wisest of creatures on earth." (The Jewish Encyclopedia 613)

    In spite of the many benefits the beard provides, it has had its enemies throughout history. The Tartars made war on the Persians because the Persians refused to shave. During the Norman Conquest of England, Englishmen were forced to choose between shaving and exile. Some chose exile in order to keep their beards. Later in England, men's beards were taxed according to the age and social status of the beardling (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 442f).

    Peter the Great also levied a tax to discourage beards in Russia. Those who refused to comply were punished by having their beards shaved with a dull razor or plucked out with tweezers, and it is reported that "Peter gleefully did some of the shaving himself" (Krumholz 8). Nicolas I of Russia, as well as other rulers in history, ordered Jews to shave their beards (Encyclopedia Judaica 358). Americans have also suffered persecution for their beards. In 1830, Joseph Palmer of Massachusetts was sentenced to one year of solitary confinement for resisting attempts by his fellow-citizens to shave him (World of Knowledge 197).

    Unfortunately, beard-haters are not confined to the past. Some bearded men in America are forced to lose their jobs or take their employers to court. In 1990, firefighters in Atlanta had to fight to keep their beards ("Atlanta Firefighters" 12). That same year, a police officer who had lost his job at the University of Maryland in 1983 went to court, was reinstated, and awarded back pay ("Black Wins Right" 6).

    Even among Moslems, who wear their beards in imitation of Mohammed and swear "by the beard of the prophet," there has been persecution by their own countrymen. In 1987, when Syrian troops entered Beirut, bearded Moslems were ordered to shave. Though most complied with the order, some refused, such as one man who told reporters, "I won't obey the orders of a mortal and reject the instructions of the prophet" (Dickey and Issa 47).

    And in America, there are still some Bible-believing Christians who would like to see all bewhiskered believers shave, in spite of the Biblical commandment in Lev.19:27 that prohibits shaving the edges of the beard. Of course if this verse is shown to these beard-hating Christians, they usually respond by quickly pointing out that they are "not under the law," and thereby, according to modern Christian theology, exempt from this commandment. It is interesting that many Christians so easily dismiss commandments in Lev. 19, but use Lev. 18 to condemn homosexual behavior.

    Granted, Christians are not "under the law" -- salvation is not earned by obeying Old Testament law. But is that a reason to insist that students and principals of Christian schools disobey Old Testament law to prove their Christian commitment? To compel disciples of the Messiah to disobey Lev.19:27 makes no more sense than compelling them to disobey Lev.19:28, and get tattoos.

    It is ironic how many of Christendom's heroes would, because of their beards, be ineligible to study in many of today's Christian schools -- Charles Finney, General Williams Booth, D. L. Moody, the Old Testament Patriarchs and Prophets, and, of course, the Messiah Himself.

    If I am ever again offered a job that requires the removal of my beard, I know what I will say in response to such an offer: "No thanks. Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin."

    Copyright 1995 Gates of Eden
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    Beards are a matter of preference. I prefer one and wear one. My pix here does NOT show it. When teaching in an ifb college 1996-2000 I was asked to shave the beard and go with moustache only. I agreed.

    Grew it back and have one today. But my 2000 pix on the BB shows me semi-clean shaven. I apologize for misleading any.

    And women shaving? Preference. Mine is NOT to have my wife shave her legs or armpits. Health issue for women.
     
  13. Gina B

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    Did I ever tell you you're my hero? [​IMG]
    Gina
     
  14. Doubting Thomas

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    How is it a health issue?
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    Jesus had a beard.

    There is nothing in scripture that forbids beards.

    I have no problem with facial hair on men as a matter of theology.

    Some of us look better with part of our faces covered. [​IMG]

    I’ve had a mustache since high school and I’ve worn a neatly trimmed beard for about 7 years.

    The only group I personally know who discourage beards are Mormons. When researching Mormonism, I attended stake meetings from time to time and I was the only man in the building with facial hair. Everyone knew I was not a Mormon, so they paid quite a bit of attention to what I did and my lack of participation in their “worship” services.
     
  16. Dan Todd

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    On an earlier post - I stated I had a booklet on beards. I am now home - The booklet is entitled "Why I Wear A Beard" by William R. McGrath - copyright by Amish Mennonite Publications.

    McGrath has seven points in his booklet:

    1. Bible teaching on our created nature
    2. Bible teaching on sex distinction
    3. Bible teaching on separation
    4. Bible teaching on Christ as our perfect example
    5. Abundant proof from the history of the early Christian practice
    6. Abundant proof from the history and practice of our faithful Anabaptist forefathers
    7. Abundant proof that generations of active Christian workers have not found the beard to be a hindrance but rather a remarkable asset to an effective witness for Christ.

    I particularly like a sentence or two under #1: "What God created, He called good. Are we then to keep on shaving off our beards and thereby saying that we think God made a mistake?"

    From a bearded one,
    Dan
     
  17. Terry_Herrington

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    I'm jealous. :D

    The public school system I teach at will not allow the men teachers to have beards, mustaches are allowed, but not beards.

    What makes this even worse is that I hate to shave.
     
  18. Dr. Bob

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    Women who shave under their arms destroy the tops of their skin cells every time. They then plaster them with aluminum (main ingredient in every anti-perspirant).

    The arm holes (KJV) are a direct line to the lymph system in the upper quadrant of the breast where breast cancer (in the lymph nodes) is most common.

    Also, hair in every crevice (trying to be discreet) provides natural cooling and keeps skin moving smoothly.

    GOD designed it. What is woman doing messing with it to look "cosmetically" attractive.
     
  19. rsr

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    I have had a moustache, for most of the time, since college. I grew a beard 19 years ago (to make me look older for my job.) Unfortunately, it has worked so well that my beard is now so gray it makes me look older than I want. Oh, well, it's staying.

    Yes, the cultural vagaries of beards is an interesting study. When Peter the Great decided to shake up Russia, one of his first acts was to demand that beards be shaved; he often did it himself if there was was a bearded boyar nearby.

    The Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church were horrified because they believed it heretical to shave. Peter had to relent by allowing them to pay a tax that provided them with a medallion that showed they had paid the tax and were entitled to wear a beard.

    Among presidents, Lincoln was the very first to have a beard. It was all the rage during the era. R.E. Lee, Grant, Jefferson Davis, U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, U.S. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, Sherman, Sheridan, C.S.A. Secretary of State Judah Benjamin, and the list goes on.

    Johnson didn't, but all the succeeding presidents until Arthur did. He wasn't renominated.

    His successor, Cleveland, also was beardless. He was defeated by Harrison (with a beard) at the next election, but won the third election. Harrison was the very last president to sport a beard.

    BTW, TR was the last president to have even a moustache.

    What does this prove? Absolutely nothing, except humans change their minds about fashion.
     
  20. Doubting Thomas

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    Women who shave under their arms destroy the tops of their skin cells every time. They then plaster them with aluminum (main ingredient in every anti-perspirant).

    The arm holes (KJV) are a direct line to the lymph system in the upper quadrant of the breast where breast cancer (in the lymph nodes) is most common.

    Also, hair in every crevice (trying to be discreet) provides natural cooling and keeps skin moving smoothly.

    GOD designed it. What is woman doing messing with it to look "cosmetically" attractive.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Dr.Bob, are you a medical doctor? Just curious.

    You do bring up a good point. We in modern day American put all sorts of chemicals on and in our bodies without, IMHO, a sufficient knowledge of potential longterm health dangers.

    "The arm holes (KJV)"....now that is funny. [​IMG]
     

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