June 23, 2004

Mormons Can't Have Beards

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’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’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—yeah, right, of course I would—would 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?

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