Mormons Can’t Have Beards

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I have a beard.

Well, ok. It is a goatee. However, this past winter, I let all my facial hair free to grow, as it desired. With all the talk in the Bloggernacle about beard growing, I thought I’d chime in with an experience.

In my stake, there is an unwritten, vague, widely interpreted rule regarding beards. Some bishops have interpreted it to mean a man cannot hold a calling if he has a beard. Some has have interpreted into to mean a man cannot hold a priesthood leadership position (e.g. elders quorum president, high priest group leader) if he has a beard.

Nevertheless, at the beginning of the year, the ward clerk in one of the wards asked about my beard in the context of this non-specific rule. I told him no one has asked me to shave it, so I see no reason to. He then asked me if I would shave upon being requested to do so.

I sit here thinking now about the whole issue. I can understand how drinking coffee, having casual extra-marital sex, stealing a car or promoting the pleasantries of plural marriage might bring to mind disobedience to God?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s laws. However, how does not shaving a beard when a local policy suggests to amounts to the same thing?

One might suggest that not doing so is not being obedient to the words of the leaders. Supposedly, this is the same thing as God?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s laws since that is how church members interpret D&C 1:38. I have to wonder then if the brethren asked me to pick my nose regularly and I did not, if I would be considered a heretic. If the brethren asked me to exchange my black, wingtip oxfords for a pair of oxblood, cap-toes and I did not?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùyeah, right, of course I would?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùwould I be considered disobedient?

Honestly, what is the big deal? How did having a beard come to be so controversial as to be outlawed in the temple and the cause of dismissal from callings?

36 thoughts on “Mormons Can’t Have Beards

  1. The face of polygamy has a long beard and more than one wife. The Non-Beard thing started as a breaking away from polygamy.

    There is a leader in our church that just shaved his beard from yeas of having a beard. . . . and his face really looks strange. (He’ll need sun screen when he goes in the outside and we don’t get much sun this time of year.)

    If this policy was the case in the early latter days (that seems like an oxy moron), most leaders would not be leaders of this Church.

  2. The current leaders of the LDS church became men during the 50s and early 60s when business men and women where supposed to dress a certain way. White shirts and close cut hair were signs that you were obedient. Wild clothing and long hair of the latter 60s were signs of the disobedient. This mindset has followed with their rise to leadership positions.

    Current business clothing for many is business casual and as the younger generation takes over, the requirement for all men to dress like they are from the early 60s will disappear. There really is no reason to dress like they did in the 60s except old men like that look since it is their look.

    Be glad your not FLDS and have to dress like you live in the 1890s.

  3. You might want to study up on your ages, Pew Sitter. For example, in the 1950s, President Hinckley was 40–49. Unless of course you consider being men as not happening until one becomes 40.

  4. I just got released from the Young Men’s program in my ward which I suppose means I’m free to grow my beard back. I like having a beard and really don’t like shaving. Its such a small thing though, that when they asked I shaved, for two years. Now my face is happy again and I plan on keeping my beard. Pew Sitter I have always thought your opinion is correct. These men (and great men they are) are products of the post WWII era where conformity and acceptance by the mainstream were valued and a common goal. I don’t think theres any sin in having a beard, but I’ll humor those that do fo the time being.

  5. I missed the page in the handbook where it says that you need to be clean shaven to be in the young men’s program in a ward.

    It’s probably right next to the page where it says you need to take / pass the sacrament with your right hand…

  6. Revisited this page again today after having read it a long time ago. There’s a question you asked that was never really addressed:

    If the brethren asked me to exchange my black, wingtip oxfords for a pair of oxblood, cap-toes and I did not—yeah, right, of course I would—would I be considered disobedient?

    I think the self-evident answer is yes, isn’t it? If they tell you to do something and you do another, isn’t that disobedience by definition?

  7. Oops. That was awkwardly phrased because I didn’t finish editing my comment from “tell you to do one thing and you do another” to “tell you to do somethng and you don’t.” Oh well.

  8. I’m a young men’s president who’s had a beard for the past year. Took some heat for it early on, but not from anyone in an authority position. I take that to mean that my ward/stake leaders aren’t the twits that are often found in the general membership.

    Also, two members of my bishopric (yes, one of them is the bishop) wear mustaches. I know and have known many high councilors, Bishops and even members of stake presidencies with all manner of facial hair from mustaches to full beards and goatees.

    I think the position on this stuff is really starting to change, as it should. One of the fringe benefits (besides having a warm face in the winter) is that my beard doubles as a very excellent Pharisee detector.

  9. “One of the fringe benefits (besides having a warm face in the winter) is that my beard doubles as a very excellent Pharisee detector.”

    Lol, good one! Yes it does. I mean, it’s facial hair for pete’s sake, it’s not a sin!!

  10. jjackson,

    I wore a beard the two winters I was in the YM programme. A counsellor in the bishopric gave me some slack the first year, but the bishop never said anything and neither did the stake presidency.

    Later this month, I will start my fourth winter beard as EQP. No one has said anything while I have been EQP.

  11. Church leaders have a desire for all men to look like missionaries. Missionaries do not wear beards.

  12. in my stake (Warrensburg Missouri), it is the official policy. the stake president came to our ward and read the policy from the pulpit. my bishop specifically told me that the stake president’s policy is that men with beards cannot have callings.

    when i asked why i can’t find any conference talks where general authorities have stated this as church wide doctrine, i was told that our area authority supports the policy as well.

    however, my brother lives in Oklahoma and is the executive secretary and has a beard. my uncle in the stake just north of us, is the branch clerk and has a beard. my brother in law lives in georgia and was 2nd councilor of his ward and wears a beard

    it is really really bothering me that this issue is left up to local leaders. it should either be a church wide doctrine/policy issued by the first presidency or it should be left to the individual to decide

  13. “There is nothing inherently wrong about long hair or beards, any more than there is anything inherently wrong with possessing an empty liquor bottle. But a person with a beard or an empty liquor bottle is susceptible of being misunderstood. Either of these articles may reduce a person’s effectiveness and promote misunderstanding because of what people may reasonably conclude when they view them in proximity to what these articles stand for in our society today.

    In the minds of most people at this time, the beard and long hair are associated with protest, revolution, and rebellion against authority. They are also symbols of the hippie and drug culture. Persons who wear beards or long hair, whether they desire it or not, may identify themselves with or emulate and honor the drug culture or the extreme practices of those who have made slovenly appearance a badge of protest and dissent. In addition, unkemptness—which is often (though not always) associated with beards and long hair—is a mark of indifference toward the best in life.”

    Dallin H. Oaks

  14. That was from an address given at BYU by their then president in 1971. That was nearly 40 years ago. I don’t think there are very many people left in our society that interpret things the same way they did 37 years ago. I don’t personally know anyone that associates facial hair with protest, revolution, and rebellion against authority. Advice given to college students 37 years ago seems less than pertinent to the general church population today.

  15. During the years that I’ve worn beards I can’t remember ever being asked to do anything with it by a church leader. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have happened, if I’d been up for some high-visibility calling. I just don’t know.

  16. Look at the mormon prophets throughout history. Don’t most of them have beards. Seriously, people.

  17. As to whether it is a sin to not follow the request of the priesthood local leaders, I think that God would bless you for your loyalty and obedience to that leader. If you do not, it may be a sin. Consider it a test, something for which there is scriptural and church history precedent, some examples requesting seemingly unreasonable and unnecessary sacrifices. Why make a stand with facial hair? or penny-loafers? I think local leaders should have the prerogative and right to make such local policies as it may be revelation to test someone or many people of the area.

  18. Actually, the majority of the latter-day prophets have been beardless (9, compared to 7 with beards).

    On the other hand, the Church’s presidents with beards led the Church from 1844 to 1951, about 107 years (not counting any time that Brigham Young may have spent clean-shaven); beardless presidents led the Church from 1830 to 1844, and since 1951, adding up to only about 74 years.

    Not important–just another way to look at it.

  19. In response to the comments on the dallin h oaks talk given 40 years ago, or whenever it was. Just because a talk/direction was given that long ago does not make it less valid. It was spoken by a Prophet. The end. (p.s. I am also bearded)

  20. I didn’t know that mormons have policy about the facial hair or beards. Maybe that’s why my neighbor didn’t is always clean-shaven as far as I could remember. Anyway, I have seen Brigham Young, who is American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement, with a beard. I wonder if he is exempted with no beard policy.

  21. Wow. Wouldn’t it be nice if there simply were no stigma, i.e. as long as people kept their hair neatly trimmed and groomed, no issue — regardless of calling. After all, that’s what everyone’s talking about — most likely a desire to have facial hair and not feel guilty or misjudged. I can understand and relate to that. I’ve grown and shaved within 7 days so many times I can’t count — or grown and borne through Sundays all to last maybe a month at best. It’s crazy.

  22. I really wish I knew who “BeardGuy” is. We moved to his same stake this year and are now fighting this issue on the principle of the matter. We have seen abuse of authority go much farther and serious than this, so we don’t stand for it. Our local leader questions it and we have a new area authority I believe since 2008, so maybe it’ll go differently for us. There is no rule against facial hair for callings, and we are able to attend the temple just fine with it -did last week. Local leaders are not allowed to make up their own policies. Recommendations and suggestions from inspiration, yes, but not rules.

    In our old stake, the bishop suggested my husband shave his goatee after being called to the YM pres. He said he would take it into consideration, but didn’t. They then called a Pres with one too. He served in EQ there too, which is where we are now having the issue here.

    It is our family decision for him to have it. He shaved it temporarily for a job change. He looks better with it, I like it better and he doesn’t cut my face after work every day.

  23. I don’t even think they shaved very much 2000 years ago. With the advent of tools and technology, our progression it has become the norm to shave. Now I think it should be left up to individual consideration. Respectfully I don’t believe facial hair makes one moral or non moral.

  24. Been out of the church for all this stupid new rules and reasons. They can’t blame someone for having a bearded face when historicly they were the first with one. I have a bearded face and for me seems ridiculous and inmature from an organization. Shame to bring the issue as a faith issue… (having a bearded face and a mormon calling has nothing to do with being faithfull)…
    I am glad I am out of that brainwash..

    1. And Jesus had a full beard… who is going to tell him that he is in the wrong path?…. oh boy..

    2. I have grown a beard multiple times, and have never been asked to shave. I grew one while YM president, EQP, and Executive Secretary, so having a beard has never prevented me from getting callings.

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