The Full Gospel Beard
I recently heard somebody state that he doesn’t wear a beard like Jesus did, and neither does he wear sandals or robes like Jesus did. This statement did not sit well with me at the time, and since then I’ve given it some thought and consideration. There are some easily recognizable differences between clothes and facial hair. Some of them seem to be quite important.
Following are some of my observations and questions.These writings are not TRUTH, they are my personal opinions. They may contain truth. I hope so. Run them through your “Berean” (Ac.17:11) filter before you accept any of them.
First of all, one does not “wear” a beard - he possesses it…..he “has” one. He may attempt to hide it by cutting it very close, or using makeup, but he still “has” it. Something “worn” can be taken off or put on, it’s the wearer’s choice. In the case of the beard there is no choice whatsoever. Lots of variation in length, thickness, color, and style, but one thing is constant, as you become a man, you will have a beard.
Second, the beard is not cultural. Culture has no influence in determining whether it’s acceptable for a man to have a beard or not. He “has” one. In some cultures, people choose to wear no clothes.
Third, it is distinctly sexual. Show any adult in any country, religion, or people group in the world a “mug shot” of someone with a visible beard, ask them if it is a man or a woman, (male or female) and the answer will be definite. Show these same people a “mug shot” of someone completely clean-shaven and there could be some equivocation or disagreement.
These first three points are not relative to religion or the lack thereof, they are merely logical conclusions. For the Christian however, there is more, lot’s more.
Most important of all, the beard is God-given. You don’t go to the store and buy one. You don’t go to a surgeon and have him “fix you up” with one. It’s origins are with God. It is inherently male. God originated all species, and determined all male and female traits, characteristics, functions, and instincts. Since the “fall of man”, there are varying degrees of male/female traits in each human being. Some men are feminine in their build (5’6” & 135lbs.) with fine, light hair and higher pitched voices. Should they deny their manhood because of this? Some men can not sing those deep bass notes. Does that mean then that no man should? Does one need to be 6’ & 185lbs. with coarse dark hair and a deep bass voice to be a man? Of course not. We don’t even know what a perfect male looks like. Only God does. If we knew the details of Adam’s physique, we might be able to recognize a perfect male if we ever saw one. I say “if”, because we know about “the fall” and the “curse”. Man is no longer a perfect being, as Adam was. Many changes have occurred since “the fall” and again after the flood, some immediate and some gradual. However, I believe the male/female roles have not changed. I further believe that maintaining distinct differences in appearance between the sexes is important to God. To me, this is a “creation” principle that transcends or surpasses all societal beliefs, or cultural issues and practices.
Since we’re on the subject, let’s think a bit further:
Do you agree that if God’s people (The Christian Churches) fail to lead, (in preaching, position, and practice) society will degenerate, ultimately to perversion? Let’s focus on our society today (American). Has there been a blurring of the distinct male/female roles in our society in the past 35 years? Has the “unisex” movement contributed to the acceptance of homosexual behavior? Has the feminization of the male been a factor? How about women’s lib? Biblical male leadership today is decried as domination and oppression. Families and marriage as defined by God are fading and becoming the exception. Has our society degenerated…..? To perversion….? Where has the Church been in all this?
I’ve heard preachers/prophets in “our” churches waxing eloquent about the evils of the unisex movement, decrying the feminization of today’s man, (“will the real men please stand up, etc” ) and expounding on the impropriety of women in leadership positions. I’ve heard them say that these things are coming from “the pits of hell”. I find it interesting (though saddening) that these very same men apparently spend some time before they get up to preach, in attempting to make their face look like a woman’s. Where are the real men?
Where are God’s men? Where is the Church’s leadership? Is it any wonder that our world is confused as to their proper places in the male/female relationship? The people are hearing an “uncertain sound” (I Cor.14:8). The Church fails in what appears to be a small thing, her light flickers or grows dim and the way becomes dark and the going treacherous. Satan beckons through the murkiness and society rushes downward. There is only trouble, confusion, and certain destruction when man ignores a creation principle.
Has there been a blurring of the distinct differences in the roles of adults and children? Especially between teenage sons and their fathers. The son wants to look and act grownup and establish his own boundaries. At the same time, the father is trying to appear younger. Soon the son rules the father. After all, a 16 year-old with a drivers license has surely reached manhood. What does God say about this? Without even reading or believing the Bible, it is apparent that God disagrees. Men have beards - 16 year olds do not. God says they are still boys/children and therefore subject to the man. Can your teenage son see the difference between himself and you when he looks at your face? Might it be beneficial to let God “speak” on this issue every time your son looks at you?
I’ve heard disparaging remarks made by our people about “pretty boys” and “butch” women, especially those in prison settings. We insist that our women show them a better way, but not our men. It’s extremely difficult for a woman to be “butch” with long hair and a dress. I believe it’s just plain impossible to be a “pretty boy” with lots of hair on your face. The “women’s lib types can cut their hair short like men, they can do men’s jobs, they can dress and act like men, but they can not grow beards. But if they can get men to shave, that problem is solved. Let’s be consistent in our witness. Women with long hair, women’s clothes, and no beards. Men with short hair, men’s clothes, and beards.
We certainly don’t allow our women to get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, ‘God, I don’t like what you’ve done to my face’ and then to go about carefully “fixing” this problem with various chemicals and artificial, man made devices. Yet some men do this very thing every morning as if duty required it, when it’s actually a choice they make each and every time. They must regularly and persistently resist God’s will for their face. Before “going out” in the evening it’s the same thing again: “God I don’t like what you’ve done to my face today, and I will have to “makeup” my face until I like the way it looks.” This can be quite painstaking, time consuming, and costly, but it “must” be done. “And wife, you stay away from that “makeup” stuff, because that wouldn’t be right, and besides I love you just the way God made you, wrinkles and all! As for me, I must look respectable to this present, evil world so that they will think I am someone.” I ask you…. If the men may tediously and artificially makeup their faces, then why not the women also?
Why do some of our churches encourage (or require) our men to keep removing some or all of the visible God-given sign of masculinity, and yet are so concerned about keeping the sexes distinctly separate?
What’s a good way to publicly declare that God has made you a mature man, and that you are ready to completely fulfill your God-given responsibilities? I personally believe there are better ways to do this than to drive a big loud diesel pickup with a gun rack in the back window to a Promise Keepers rally and then rock the stadium with some inspirational sayings and positive declarations (and of course bring home the T-shirt). Could it be that our lack of attention to God’s ways has led us to accept mere platitudes instead of finding real power in holding forth scriptural principles.
Were the patriarchs, Jesus Christ, the apostles, and the early church fathers all wrong? Certainly God incarnate is a reliable example for us all. As Anabaptists we make much of our veracity when it comes to practicing what the Bible teaches and applying scriptural examples in our everyday lives. Have we been misled on this issue? I think we have followed secular society and Protestantism instead of holding forth God’s principles and challenging the pernicious ways of fashion.
A question that should have been asked earlier - Why did God put facial hair on man? Was it a slip-up that was corrected when he got to the woman? Is it a part of the curse? Is it a vestige of evolution? Was it just for certain cultures and times…. Why did He do it? God’s ways are not complicated or difficult. The “whys” may be obscure or veiled, but the “ways” are clear and simple. Sometimes our paths get cluttered and messy when they are strewn about with traditions, prejudices, and false teachings.
Some reasons why a man may want to present himself clean-shaven. Where are you?
•He is ignorant of the fact that he is made in God’s image and likeness. (fearfully and wonderfully made)
•He is ignorant of scriptural principles and examples (sometimes willingly ignorant, sometimes just ignorant)
•He knows how and why God made him, but for various reasons, “prefers” to keep shaving
•He wants to express his “liberty in the Lord” as compared to the way he was taught, he is “enlightened”
•He is ashamed of being a man, and does not like the way God made him
•His job requires it, such as where a full respirator is needed (scuba diving or working in hazardous environments)
•His wife objects to a visible beard (will not be a problem if he is married to a Bible believing, Bible living, woman)
I’m looking to add to this list, because not too many of these are really legitimate for Bible believing, Bible living men. I need some help here, because I have friends who are sincere Christians, and very few have job related problems with their beards, but they continue to shave automatically, faithfully, dutifully, unquestioningly, and some….it seems….religiously.
What about causing an offense? Is this a legitimate reason? Sometimes it’s used as an excuse to support our own traditions and prejudices. Other times it may be a genuine concern. However there has to be a line somewhere, otherwise there could never be any reproving or rebuking (2 Tim.4:2). When am I holding forth the truth as God reveals it, and when am I causing an offense? Surely Jesus offended some when He called them, ‘hypocrites, blind, fools, whited sepulchers, full of iniquity, serpents, and vipers.’ (Matt.23) Surely Stephen offended the religious leaders of his day. (Acts 7:51) Calling someone ‘stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart’ could be very offensive. Was there offense taken when Martin Luther nailed those 95 theses on a door in 1517?
When do I cause someone to be offended or become weak? (Rom.14:21) I pray God for discernment.
Why is this facial hair subject so often taboo or off-limits in our churches? I’m often met with very defensive and ridiculous comments when I broach this subject. Some of the responses I get defy logic and are absolutely unscriptural. Recently a well respected senior bishop from one of our churches told me that he ‘knows that God does not have a beard’. I was stunned!! Does he really believe this? Has he never heard of The Incarnation? What about John 1:1-34, or 2Cor.4:4b, or Is.50:6? This sort of response seems very defensive and appears to be a desperate attempt to justify a personal preference.
Following are some other responses I’ve heard.
•It looks like a hippie or Harley biker
•Certain parts of it are military
•It’s an Amish thing
•It looks sloppy & unkempt
•It’s counter-culture, a sign of a rebel
•It’s a sign of leprosy
•It’s part of the curse
Some of these are true, or may have been true at some point in time. None are worthy of individual scrutiny or discussion. Let me address all of them with this rather lengthy question. Should I subscribe to American Iron, US Army Today, Family Life or The Budget, Homeless Hobo, Rolling Stone or Trampt, American Journal of Medicine, USA Today, and People magazine? That way I can remain aware of the latest trends and be able to react quickly to maintain a clear witness. After all, we know how fast things change.
Fashions and trends change literally overnight, and I can not be caught doing as these people do…. Can I?
(Rom.16:19) (I ask these questions a bit facetiously and definitely tongue-in-cheek). We all know that’s foolish, yet we find ourselves making these types of comparisons. Let’s get the true standard in front of us and “subscribe” to it. (John 7:24) Then we’ll recognize the real thing.
And then there is this response. “Where does it say in the New Testament that I should have a beard”? I ask, where in the Bible is a verse that proves the existence of God? He just Is. (Gen.1:1) It doesn’t say how, when, or where, He just Is. The doctrine of God is assumed. The fool has said….there is no God (Ps.14:1). It is likewise a foolish thing to say, “there is no beard.” At least we know where the beard comes from. God created it and called it very good. Men “have” them. The question really is, “where in the Bible is the command to shave?” It’s not automatic or natural for a man to be clean shaven. Where in the Bible does it say “shave and be clean-shaven?” What about by example? Who in the Bible is clean-shaven? One clean-shaven group was the Egyptians (a type of the world or sin). What does the Bible say about cutting it off? It seems as if it was a sign of judgment and calamity coming upon God’s people. (Ezra 9:3, Job 1:20, Is.7:20, Is.15:2, Jer.41:5, Jer.48:37) and of course the pronouncement of the horrible judgment befalling our Lord (Mt.27:1-53, Is.50:5-6). Also, humiliation and shame was evident (2 Sam.10:1-5). Note that even though their buttocks were showing, the real problem was with their beards. Why not just shave off the rest of it and come on home? So shameful and
humiliating was this act that it led to the Israelites killing tens of thousands of Syrians (2 Sam.10:18).
We object to earrings or other jewelry on men and cite 1Cor.6:9-10. All the unrighteous things listed here are things that a person does. So what could a man do to make himself effeminate (soft and womanlike)?
First of all, put off all signs of maleness as much as possible, and then put on feminine things (jewelry, long hair, makeup, etc). Again I ask, why do some of our churches ‘strain at a gnat and swallow a camel?’ What’s the first and basic step on the road to effeminacy? I think it’s attempting to remove or hide the God given special glory of man and present his face smoothly clean-shaven. What do you tell your young men? How do you explain to them that they need to be clean-shaven?
Even nature shows the special glory that God has put upon the male species. The lion has the mane, the peacock has the tail feathers, the deer has the antlers, and many more. Do these dumb animals attempt to remove their glory? Of course not! There is however, one exception to the male being more glorious. The black widow spider shows us what happens when the female is more glorious and dominating than the male. (the male is often eaten by the female) Is God warning against “women’s lib” through nature? We have seen and know quite well the destructive forces of a dominating female. May God help us to be real Godly men.
Let me clarify one point. When I refer to the beard I’m talking about facial hair. Not just a goatee, not just a mustache, not just long sideburns, and not just chin whiskers. I’m referring to the way God made your face. I do believe it should be kept trimmed and neat just as I believe you should trim the hair on your head, nasal hair and hair coming from your ears. I believe the most scriptural way for a man to present his face is with a “full gospel beard” (a clearly visible one, not a 5 o’clock shadow - a mockery?). As I recall, the first time I heard the phrase “full gospel beard”, I was on the phone with Bill Mullet (Sugarcreek,Ohio) some 12 years ago.
I liked the term then and I still do today….full gospel beard. It’s the way God made me (Gen.1:27).
What about you?