Sunday, June 26, 2011

Facial Hair

I have a beard.

I don't like having a beard.

Every once in a while I get the idea that I want to grow out my facial hair into a beard. Currently it's just a straight beard, nothing fancy, though I have grown goatees in the past. I never grow them very long, though, because I always pull at and play with the hair, and it is irritating. Invariably I shave before too long.

I like facial hair on other guys. Not all the time. Plenty of guys look great without hair. Some facial hair just doesn't look good. But there are a lot of guys with a lot of beards and other that look great.

Last week in church we had a high councilor come to speak. He came in sporting a nice looking beard, and as I've been letting mine grow out I felt some kinship with him. We were the only two with facial hair in the room. Just a short way into his talk he stopped and said he should apologize for his beard, that the stake presidency was not in the habit of sending high councilors on speaking assignments with facial hair, and that he only had it to get in the spirit of a planned pioneer reenactment trek he was going to participate in soon.


Why did he feel he needed to apologize for his beard? What's wrong with having a beard? It was neatly trimmed, and looked just fine on him. And what did the stake presidency have to do with his beard?

I've heard from several people that people in some callings, such as bishop, or temple worker, are asked to be clean shaven. I don't understand the policy. I don't even know if it's a policy, or just some guy's opinion. And I'm saddened by it.

Some people like to say, "Well, Jesus had long hair.", or, "Brother Brigham had a beard." It's a fun argument, but I think this misses the point. The point is not that so-and-so looked a certain way and so I can too. The real point is that I am the one who can choose how I want to groom my body. When I groom myself in a modest way, in a clean way, in a neat way, and in a non-prideful way, why should anyone think there is a problem with that? And why should that person tell me to change -- or revoke privileges if I don't?

Today at church the bishop (who is a great guy and a great bishop!) came up to me to say hi, and asked about my beard. I like the attention of people asking about my beard. But now I'm starting to wonder what people really think. They smile, but I wonder. Two years ago when I grew a beard someone asked my wife if I was OK.

(Could have asked me, by the way. Beards don't make people bite.)

I was going to shave last week. My beard is long enough that I've been annoying myself by pulling and stroking the hair. Now I don't want to shave it. I think I want to grow it a while longer to let my kids know that it's OK to have a beard.


  1. I have always thought that, had I been born male, I would definitely grow a beard. I knew a guy in college who claimed that scratching your beard was better than making out with a girl.

  2. Amen. For similar reasons I make a point of not wearing white shirts to church.

  3. I am reminded of this TED talk about tradition vs. religion in Islam.

    I think some of what the guy says can be applied to Mormonism as well.