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LOL! There are many situations where I think the Church actually prefers an unwritten rule, policy or guideline. The unwritten policy towards facial hair is a perfect example. The ambiguity means there's no specific target at which to direct social criticism. And yet, knowng that the church leadership, temple workers and missionaries are asked to keep a cleanshaven appearance is enough to make many of us feel a little bit of guilt or uneasiness if we don't shave before going to church on Sunday. I'm guessing the ambiguity actually helps the policy to stay alive and well -- and occasionally the local ecclesiastical leader can spur it along by personally asking the random beard wearer to alter their appearance.

On another note (sigh) I am in blog limbo right now. The adversary clearly felt very threatened by my post about eating broccoli and has crashed my host server since yesterday. :) I'd like to ask all you Mo bloggers to remember Wump Blog in your prayers. [big silly grin]

"many of us feel a little bit of guilt or uneasiness if we don't shave before going to church on Sunday."

Not me. I'm sporting a goatee right now and every winter, I grow a full beard.

Kim... you bragger! :)

I'm always jealous of those who can grow a good-looking beard. If I could grow a goatee or a beard that I thought looked good, I'd probably go for it. Unfortunately that is not the case. I do tend to let things go for up to 3-4 days at a time... but that's more out of laziness than any illusion of scruffy aesthetic appeal. And I always end up shaving Sunday morning. Sigh.

What really would be fun, just once in the life, would be to grow a really bushy beard... a la Blackbeard or ZZ Top. But at the rate these whiskers grow, that ain't happenin' either.

Count me among the goatee-ed.

The real reason I sport is that my wife likes it.

But also: I work in university public relations. I have a bit of a baby face. I want the faculty members and administrators (and others) I meet to treat me seriously and I certainly don't want to look like at a student. Facial hair helps with this situation.

This is all to say that I'm fine with Dave's #3 for the moment. I know that I'm not doing it to rebel against the Church or something like that. I still wear white shirts and ties on Sunday [with the occassional blue shirt thrown into the mix]. Nobody has mentioned anything about it to me. And I'm pretty sure that this isn't the type of fashion that brands me as being part of some scandalous sub-group ---- that's what the large fleshy sunstone brand on my upper left arm is for.[I'm kidding. I have no body modifications and I don't read Sunstone.].

In fact, considering my tastes and weaknesses, it would be more wordly and sinful for me to wear Armani suits [which, alas, I can't afford].

I'd have a horrible red bear if I grew it out, so I think it's pretty much not an option. But that reminds me of things here at BYU. Mind you, I'm spreading gossip, but . . .

I had a friend who needed a beard for a play. He had to go to the Honor Code office to get permission to have it and still use university services, and while there he asked about the origin of the beard policy. According to my recollection of his recollection of what the office girl thought, she said (after some prodding by the friend) that BYU maintains some policies because of donors. More specifically, certain large donors (and I'm not talking girth). I think a lot of this stuff is less doctrine that politics.

And by the way, about the General Handbook of Instructions. Perhaps my experience is odd, but I had a bishop's first counselor suggest that I come by to look at the Handbook about a question I had (abortion) to see the Church's official policy. I took him up on the offer, but haven't done so since. I do know that the handling of the Handbook in general ruffles some feathers (and gives fodder to "antis"), but basic organizational processes make clear that there are nearly always certain things in an organization that are kept relatively private.

Excuse me, I might have a bear if I attempted to grow one, but I definitely would get a red beard if I attempted to grow one.

Nate,

Are you saying that if rich beard-appreciators made large contributions to BYU, this policy could change? :)

Wow, talk about the best incentive I've heard yet for getting rich!

I am a high school teacher, I own a small business, I am the Varsity Coach in the Young Men’s Organization of our ward in here in Utah and I am a returned missionary. I sport a diligently trimmed goatee. I do so for many reasons. I have a boyish round head and sort of a weak chin. I’m not hideous or anything without my goatee but it does seem to give me a look of maturity, age and strength. It’s not that I worry excessively about my looks but ‘presence’ in a high school setting is important. I work at a very nice, conservative public school and many of my fellow teachers also wear facial hair.

I heard a story today from a fellow teacher who had also sported a goatee for several years until last week. He looked fine without it and I neither congratulated nor harassed him for the change. Other poeple, however, did question his new clean shaven look and his story bothered me enough to look this page up on the internet.

He said that he had attended an EFY or Youth Conference type event with his teen-aged son last week. He told me that the GA present at the meeting called him aside and asked if he were a returned missionary. When the GA heard that the answer was positive, he told my colleague that President Hinckley himself frowns upon facial hair and that he should shave it.

I’m not aware that he received an explanation of why President Hinckley frowns upon facial hair and my friend did what he was told.

I realize that portions of this story are simply hearsay but if the gist of it is true, then I think our chuch has a serious problem.

Unwritten rules coming down the pike from President Hinckley or from a General Authority seems like a very unwise way to run a world wide church. Generally, I don’t tend to ‘kick against the pricks’ and would probably shave my beloved goatee if President Hinckley were to ask me to despite the fact that I feel a nicely groomed goatee does not send any bad messages. Nonetheless, President Hinckley has not asked me or anyone else that I know to shave our goatees, at least openly. This is the kicker. Open information is much more useful than hidden information. Hidden information smacks of hypocrysy and rude, judgemental behavior. Look around our society. There are millions of respectable men wearing facial hair. There are also millions of criminals, perverts and atheists who are clean shaven. If the church has a policy about facial hair, then let it be opened to the light of day. (An explanation might be nice as well although I wouldn’t even expect that to happen.) If the church does not have a policy about facial hair, then men who sport facial hair should not be discriminated against. If I am less likely to be the next elder’s quorum president or bishop despite years of service in the elder’s quorum, scouting and young men’s programs because of a goatee that I have never publically heard a GA speak against, then I am depressed to think that our church might call people based more upon perception than upon inspiration.

In a word, let’s all ignore unwritten rules unless the spirit says or unless a leader tells us that it is so, and I sinerely hope that a leader would never say anything unless the spirit or his leader told him that it is so. In other words, our lame, human opinions should be left out when running the church and micro-managing people’s lives. Let’s leave micro-management to the Taliban.

It is all about the age in which we live. In pre-christ era's, it was taboo to "deal" with a man that was clean shaven. People just did not trust them. If you did not have a beard, you were not considered to be a "man" or a man that has come of age as such. Hence the culturality of the beard condition. In middle ages, beards reduced significantly in size and shape. If one had a long or shaggy beard, it was an indication of poverty or age. Today, people with long beards or bushy beards are seen as either old (not older)or unkept.

Some consider goatees and beards to be a sign of rebeliousness...to be different or uncontent with ones appearance. It is to say...buck the system, I can do whatever I want, and I want everyone to know it. My beard or goatee is a physical sign of my indifference. Similar to that of a tatoo. A tattoo says something about a persons angle. If he has a dragon on his arm, he is to mean perhaps that he is a admirer of mystical things. If he has a picture of a naked woman, he probably has morality issues or did in the past. I do not mean that everyone that sports a goatee is rebellious or absolutely denigrate, but there is this perception.

Anyone that grows a beard or goatee is making some sort of statement about himself. In short, if a Bishop or stake president tells a man who is newly called to a position of responsibility that he would like him to shave his beard, it is most likely not because he thinks they are ugly, but because he feels that removing the beard will accomplish two things: Remove any potential feelings of distrust or contempt from those in the audience who do not trust people with beards or doubt their sincerety, and/or improve that persons feelings about himself. I believe that my Bishop receives revelation in my behalf at times, and that is ok with me. I will trust him even if it is not in line with my personal feeling on the situation, and I know I will be blessed for it. I do not see it as discriminatory, I see it as a test of my willingness to obey God.

One gentleman from this site indicated that he had a round head and with such he had no or very little chin. This is a "reason" to have a goatee. He is not going to be held accountable for it. I know of Bishops who felt that it would be ok for this person to keep his well groomed goatee. If he felt that there were immaturity issues associated with it, he may have felt like it needed to go. It is a small price to pay to be in compliance with the Lord.

My father had a mustache for years before he was called to be a bishop and he was asked to shave it off when he was called. He WAS a rebel. He went through years of inactivity and tough-guyness. When he shaved his mustache, it was as if he went thru a personality change. He bacame a softer more understanding, more trusted individual. I recognized that as his son. It is now 25 years later, and he has never grew it back. I am sure just being called to be a Bishop had lots to do with the change in humility, etc. But the perception was the main thing I was referring to.

[paragraphing added, 6/25]

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