The Keys of the Beard

I got a call a week ago from a woman asking me to meet with a member of the temple presidency about possibly becoming an ordinance worker. My Bishop and SP had both suggested my name. I was honored that they had confidence in me, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea; I’m already Executive Secretary, which isn’t a bad gig but it does mean meetings starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sundays, so I wasn’t exactly sure about the possibility of adding another substantial calling on top of that. But I have always enjoyed spending time in the temple, and I have friends from around the stake who serve there, so I resolved to approach this possibility with an open mind. 

This morning I had the interview with the temple president. When he met me he asked if I were the famous Kevin Barney, which surprised me a bit, but I acknowledged that yeah, that was me. He was very warm and nice and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. We got to know each other for awhile, and then turned to the business at hand.

In thinking about the possibility I had several deal breakers in mind. I couldn’t do any evening shift, due both to my commute by train from the city but also due to my glaucoma and trying to limit my driving in the dark. That turned out not to be a problem, I could just do Saturdays. I was hoping for two four-hour shifts a month, but the only four-hour shifts are in the evenings. The first Saturday shift starts at 6:30 a.m. (!) (and I’m over a half-hour drive from the temple), and there was no way I was going to sign up for another weekend meeting starting that early. But there was a later shift from 11:00 ro 4:30, and I decided that one seemed more reasonable. My bad eyesight meant I wouldn’t be able to do initiatories until I could memorize the text, but I can memorize pretty quickly and easily, so again, no problem there. I would have had to buy some temple clothing from the Distribution Center next door (in particular a suit jacket and white shoes); but again, that would have been perfectly fine.

And so it looked like it was maybe going to happen. And then there was one last thing: I would have to shave.

I hadn’t been sure whether that was a requirement, and in preparing for this I had tried to search online and it looked like temple workers being clean shaven maybe was a temple specific policy. But no, it turns out it is a church-wide requirement. So I had to tell him sorry, but that was a deal breaker. (I have often expressed that in the very unlikely event I were called to be a bishop, if shaving were a required part of the deal I would similarly decline the calling.)

I felt he deserved an explanation, so I tried to explain it to him this way: It is true that  President Nelson holds almost all of the keys in the Church, But there is one key he does not possess: my wife holds the keys over whether I wear a beard or not.

There is a very good chance I wouldn’t even wear a beard today had I not attended BYU. Over Christmas break my senior year at the Y, I let my beard grow. The first Sunday back before classes, I was amused to see that over half of the men in my married student ward were similarly wearing vacation beards. I had never in my life grown a beard out before. And as fate would have it, my wife decided she really liked it. So we agreed that I would shave for my last semester and then grow the beard back after graduation. That was in 1982, and I’ve worn the beard ever since.  I am tall and thinnish (6’5″ 230), and so my face is sort of long and thin also. My wife is an artist, and she likes how the beard aesthetically softens the length of my face.

Thankfully for us both, President Nelson doesn’t have to try to find me attractive, but my wife has that difficult task, so if she wants me to wear a beard, I’m going to wear a beard. Period. And she definitely wants me to keep the beard, and I had explicilty promised her I would not shave it if that turned out to be a requisite of the calling.

I keep the beard closely trimmed. Wearing it has nothing to do with being a 60’s hippy or any sort of rebellion, as our general leaders seem to perceive beards. For me it’s purely an aesthetic choice.

The temple president was a good sport about losing a potential worker  (if maybe a touch perplexed that I would bow so completely to my wife’s wishes on this score), and I enjoyed the experience regardless. But there is a cost to the Church continuing to perceive beards as though it were still the sixties or seventies.

 

Comments

  1. Christian Harrison says:

    Him: “Your wife’s wishes about your beard are perplexing.”

    Me: “Not as perplexing as the Church’s wishes about my beard.”

  2. I had an almost identical experience when asked to be a veil worker several years ago. In retrospect, I wish I had expressed my concerns outright like you. Instead I just never shaved and, subsequently, never properly carried out my calling. There was something uncomfortably demanding and controlling about the no-beard rule and how nonchalantly the counselor in the temple presidency informed me about it.

  3. Kent Gibb says:

    I first grew a beard in 1969 when I graduated as a dentist. I looked very young and I felt that it made me look a little more mature. I was wearing a beard when the announcement came out about the advice to be clean shaven, but since I had worn it for some years already, I felt that it didn’t apply to me. Now, at 75, I still have a well trimmed beard and I imagine I will be buried with it.

  4. Kristi Lee Mortensen says:

    Hey, My husband looks best with a trimmed goatee. When He was called to be the Temple Ordinance Worker. They had asked him to shave his goatee off. I was with him. I just sobbed. I said – Family Portrait is next week, it will be a First to have Ronnie with a goatee. They said We will go ahead set him apart, He will not start until after the family portrait. I have decided not to debate with the church. Growing up being the sixth generations member of Latter-Day Saints, I was taught not to discuss anything with the Church. Papa said, “It is more of neatness. Showing reverence. Like Full-time missionaries. My husband was the bishop – he also had his goatee shaved off. Family Portrait every year — he looks like a kid and I look like a little girl, too. Anyhow, just wanted to share my heartfelt with you — I understand your point of views, You are a very good man.

  5. And this, men, is how women feel about nearly every aspect of our dress and physical appearance from the time we are prebuscent children in this church.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Good point, Katie.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    We had a bishop with a beard. He said no one ever said anything to him about it. My husband had to shave his when called to be Elder’s QP, 1978. We had joined the church 18 months previous and no one said anything about his beard so the idea he must shave was a shock. I’m still mad about that. I loved his beard, sigh… He grew another one as bishop when he broke his neck (couldn’t shave with the neck brace) and kept it after he was released. Shaved that one off when it turned white. It is a silly rule and long past time to be gone. There is a quote by Pres. Oaks that in time it would be revoked. Seems like it has been long enough.

  8. John Mansfield says:

    For the last decade or so, whenever I see Bednar or Uchtdorf speak in General Conference, I find myself distracted by their lack of moustaches. Both of those upper lips really look a moustache belongs on them.

  9. The beard prohibition is yet another example of obedience to an arbitrary rule or preference of one in authority–rather than adhering to a doctrinal principle–has become a standard of “worthiness.”

    But even more concerning is that emphasis on the external rather than the internal. A beard, an extra set of earrings, or the length/coverage of a piece of clothing takes precedence over one’s actions or testimony. At BYU, for example, while you cannot check out a book from the library if you have not shaved that day, you get little more than a slap on the wrist for cheating or other instances of academic dishonesty….actions that would preclude you from qualifying for a temple recommend (I have seen this repeatedly as a member of the faculty).

    This policy is a relic of the counter-counterculture promoted by the Church in the 1960s and early 1970s. Interestingly, it was not initiated by Ernest Wilkinson (despite his best efforts to do so; he could never get Salt Lake to sign off on it). Instead, it was Dallin Oaks who announced the policy….although when he did so, he made it clear that it was a reaction to contemporary cultural mores and could change at some point in the future. Yet I would be shocked (thrilled, but shocked) if this changes at BYU–where we must adhere to policies that go well beyond the temple recommend questions*–or with temple workers and “big” priesthood callings. Image is everything.

    * Yes, yes, I know that students and faculty who attend or work at BYU do so willingly and know what they are getting in to….but that does not obviate the fact that many of these “uber-righteous” policies are wholly unnecessary.

  10. It’s pretty absurd. My husband has a goatee and looks better with than without – I hope he never shaves it off! I’m with Katie – too much control over our fashion choices. Ughhhhh!

  11. Sigh. These are the types of nit-picky requirements which drive people away.

    Adults are made to feel unworthy from a harmless choice to wear facial hair. What is the result? Either shave and feel some shame/resentment at the insinuation or forego a leader’s counsel and damage the relationship.

    That popular meme going around where Jesus is embracing a young man at the pearly gates seems applicable here: “Welcome home! I’m so glad you shaved your beard!” Image shown with Jesus wearing a beard, of course.)

    Leaders should be ultra-cautious when issuing counsel which has no bearing on a Christ-like life, but instead speaks of significant control over choices best left to the individual (or couple).

    Leaders, please! Pick your battles! If so many aspects of life are regulated, what role does agency play?

    Wouldn’t leaders rather have you serve in the temple with an attractive beard than engage in a power-trip of such little importance?

    Obedience often straddles a fine line of unrighteous control. I need Jesus’s influence, not Satan’s.

  12. DJ, As to Wilkinson/Oaks responsibility for the “policy, ” are you talking about the temple worker no-facial hair policy or the BYU no-facial hair policy? The latter was very clearly in practice at BYU under Wilkinson even if not signed off on by the board of trustees, and even if not otherwise codified until Oaks addressed dress and grooming standards in his first speech to the student body in September 1971. My comments on practice under Wilkinson (I graduated in August 1971) are a matter of personal experience and observation of bloody-faced students with acne problems that should have excused shaving, but, under the Wilkinson dictatorship, did not. It was a reaction to the counter-culture as early as the mid-60s. We were even told that its motivation was in part the wishes of donors and prospective donors of large sums to BYU. Wilkinson himself could be counted among such donors, given his reputed one-dollar/year salary.

    I have not found any explanation for the persistence of the no-facial-hair rule for temple workers but not for other church callings (except on a local basis at the whim of the stake president).
    After all, the temple films depicted Jehovah and Elohim with facial hair. Are temple workers to be more righteous than they as well as the temple patrons? Some rules are just silly — an unlikely to be changed without more Kevin Barneys.

    BTW, my clean shaven look has nothing to do with righteousness. My beard (when once attempted seriously) simply looked terrible. My sometimes scruffy, unshaven look is a matter of laziness or boredom.

  13. It seems to me that recent changes about who can be an ordinance worker are partly driven by the need for more ordinance workers. I know I would return as an ordinance worker if I could do it without having to shave my beard. I also noticed that in the endowment presentation there are two characters portrayed wearing beards. Hmmm

  14. JR: The BYU policy was sporadically (but with increasing frequency) enforced under the Wilkinson regime starting in the 1960s, but it was not made official until Oaks made the September 1971 announcement you referenced.

    For an interesting overview of the evolution of BYU’s Honor Code in all of its iterations and focal points, see http://signaturebookslibrary.org/standards-the-honor-code/.

  15. Truckers Atlas says:

    You mean, you’re not at home right now doing psychedelic drugs and plotting a communist revolution?

  16. Brian T says:

    Is this a policy that part of “The unwritten order of things?” I was just skimming a CHI and couldn’t find it anywhere. If it is unwritten, how come it seems to be so easily enforced? This is then first time I’ve even heard of someone pushing back on it.

  17. I had a neighbor who never had a calling because our bishop expected everyone to be shaved. For every calling! And our ward needed him, but he refused to yield, bless him. And bless you, Kevin for sticking to your promise to your wife. After all, family first!

  18. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I grew a beard once, but my wife deemed it inadequate and insisted it disappear. She wasn’t wrong. So, I’ve had to draw my own figurative line in the sand. I refuse to buy or own a suit, and won’t wear a necktie. That should give me immunity from certain callings.

  19. J. Stapley says:

    This seems like something that will inevitably soon change. Because seriously.

  20. When I was 5 or 6, my dad was called into the bishopric and was asked to shave his mustache. I’d never known my dad without his mustache, and the sight of him clean-shaven freaked me out. I couldn’t even look at him the rest of the day. Of course, I got used to it. My dad hasn’t worn facial hair since.

    I wonder how many priesthood holders will have to be disqualified from serving in these callings before the church decides this rule isn’t worth it.

  21. lehcarjt says:

    My dad recently was asked to serve in the temple and also turned the opportunity down over his beard. He got a huge amount of pressure over it, but stuck to his guns. The person interviewing him said they needed a total of 40 Male workers and were having a terrible time finding them. I wonder how much longer the beard policy will last.

  22. Christopher Bradford (Grasshopper) says:

    If I recall correctly, the no-beard policy for temple workers was instituted during the early 2000s, at the time when there was a notable fundamentalist movement, particularly in the Manti, Utah area. The fundamentalists placed great importance on beards; quite a few of them were temple ordinance workers and continued to participate in the LDS temple ordinances as a “preparatory” step toward the “higher” truths of fundamentalism. I suspect the no-beard policy was largely in response to this. Prior to this, my great-uncle had been a bearded temple worker for decades and I remember how strange it was for me to see him clean-shaven for the first time in my life.

  23. When non LDS friends ask me about the “rule against beards”, it concerns me. I’m in the South, outside of the Mormon bubble- where little to nothing is known about the Church by nonmembers.

    Funny though, because my husband and I were discussing his beard (which I objected to when he grew it but now wouldn’t part with) and potential “beard blocking” callings. He says he wouldn’t shave for a calling, on the principle that these arbitrary traditions/rules have to change.

  24. I intentionally filled up the piercings in my ears again last year. I had let them lay fallow since my baptism in 2002, until I one day I looked a myself and realized I *liked* that part of who I was. My body is mine and the number of earrings I wear, like your beard, has NOTHING to do with my relationship with God. I know all the arguments; I reject them. I refuse to allow another marker of *obedience* to be elevated to a position of *righteousness* Enough is enough.

  25. “Sigh. These are the types of nit-picky requirements which drive people away.”

    Amen to Anne’s comment above. I’ve started to go sans necktie when I’m not doing my calling as ward co-organist, just because. There’s a YM adviser in our ward who always wears a classy checkered shirt; I’m sure somebody somewhere would like to drop the sartorial hammer on him.

  26. Echoing what Christopher Bradley said, the ‘no beard for temple workers’ policy is relatively recent and is (AFAIK) quite unconnected to the long-standing BYU policy. (Hey, I’m 65; anything in the last 20 years is ‘relatively recent’ for me). I don’t know the reason for the change in temple policy; Christopher’s answer makes sense, though, since the Church was dealing with a lot of fundamentalism/end-timers in southern Utah back then.

    I’ll note, by the way, that I served on the high council of the Provo Utah Married Student Stake from 2015 to 2018. I had a beard that entire time, as did at least two other high counselors, the stake clerk, and at least one bishop.

  27. bfwebster says:

    *Provo Utah Married Student 3rd Stake

  28. Andrew H. says:

    I have had a beard as a temple worker since 2010, in Fukuoka. The temple president asked about it when I started, I said I wanted to keep it, we don’t like how my face gets red/irritated when I shave. They were fine with that, and none of the other three successive temple presidencies have mentioned it.

  29. About 10 years ago then Elder Russell Nelson visited my son’s stake in Ohio. My son’s FIL was/is the stake patriarch. He had always worn a well trimmed beard. The patriarch and EN spoke during the visit and all seemed well. But a day later EN called the stake pres. and told him to tell the patriarch to shave and report back when he did.

  30. If my husband is ever called to a position where beards are forbidden, I plan to use my spousal veto to get him out of it. Not only because I think the control over men’s facial hair is as silly control over underwear or number of earrings, but because I know that the callings that forbid beards are also the callings that are likely to make DH miserable (and by extension the whole family). He’s great as a Gospel Doctrine teacher but he’d hate every moment of being in a bishopric.

  31. Latam Girl says:

    Christopher-that fundamentalist thing in the early 2000s makes sense I guess for the temple worker restriction on beards, meaning it explains it but didn’t justify it. Taking a localized issue in rural Utah and extrapolating it to a church-wide policy is not only weird and bizarre, but smacks of yet another paternalistic imposition of colonialist norms. We already have enough weird imposition of Utah culture throughout the world which is superficial to, yet gets intertwined with, gospel culture. We don’t need any more.

    That link to the history of these and other norms at BYU was fascinating if not a little disconcerting. The dress and grooming standards seem to have been imposed by men without apparent input by women. I would love to see an update of it (the book was written during Pres. Holland’s tenure). I attended BYU in the early 90s and didn’t find the rules all that restrictive (I also am female and thankful I can’t grow a beard) but I also think I was fairly lucky I didn’t have Gestapo-type roommates or RAs reporting when I wore shirts and shorts outside of class that were “not standard.”

  32. Check out the prophets, beards go hand in hand with polygamy.

  33. Hand in hand with polygamy?
    George Albert Smith had a beard, wasn’t a polygamist.
    Joseph Smith didn’t have a beard, was a polygamist.
    The following prophets didn’t have beards and yet were married to more than one woman in this life (albeit not at the same time) and believe they will be married to all their wives in the hereafter:
    Joseph Fielding Smith
    Howard W. Hunter
    Russell M. Nelson

    The current prophet’s likely successor, Dallin H. Oaks, likewise has no beard but has been married twice and believes he will be a polygamist in the hereafter.

  34. The Other Aussie Mormon says:

    I have been wearing a non-white shirt (usually a smart business shirt) to church and have not had a “big” calling since!

    I find it bizarre that white shirts are the only acceptable shirt for church for men.

  35. I think the no-beard rule will be in place as long as President Nelson is the prophet. Back in 2003 in a priesthood session of General Conference he said, “To bear the priesthood means you have a personal responsibility to magnify your calling. Let each opportunity to serve help to develop your power in the priesthood. In your personal grooming, follow the example of the living prophets. Doing so gives silent expression that you truly comprehend the importance of “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.”” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/10/personal-priesthood-responsibility?lang=eng)

    I suppose one could debate what is meant by “personal grooming” but after reading about the fundamentalist movement Christopher commented about, and given this quote is from the early 2000s, it fits with the no-beard rule at least for temple workers.

  36. I work for the State of Florida and just in the last two years they’ve dropped the clean shaven dress code. I would say we’ve gone 50 percent beard wearing. It’s a style not associated with anything negative and it’s nice to see attitudes change.

  37. I wish I’d known some of this stuff 40 years ago. Would have saved me some grief.

  38. So no beards in the temple except those worn by God and Jesus? Hmmm…

  39. Steve C. says:

    I’m a branch president in the South. At one time both my councilors wore beards as did my clerk. I could not have worked with a better, more righteous group of men than those three. Fortunately, my stake is pretty flexible about facial hair. On the other hand, it makes up for it be the white shirt bit.

  40. I had been a veil worker in the DC temple in the early sights. When I was first set apart, I had a goatee. After a few months, they changed the rule and I could no longer cosplay Jesus unless I shaved. I was a little sad, but lot pissed off.

    Grasshopper’s comment is, if true, a decent explanation. I still don’t agree, but I understand.

  41. Early sight=early aughts.

    Stupid autocorrect

  42. When I proposed, my wife said she’d accept on condition that I grow my beard out. I’ve always hated shaving so I had no problem with it. I’m also not good about keeping it neat and trim. My hair-cutting policy tends to be rather like Absalom’s. Having to shave would be a deal-breaker for me, too, entirely as a matter of principle.

    There are some anecdotes I’ve heard about President Nelson and beards which I think would be inappropriate for me to share here. (Sorry, but they’re not my stories to retell.) Bottom line, though, is that I wouldn’t expect this policy to change any time soon. But then again, it’s God’s Church, not his. God may not be as anti-beard as some seem to think.

  43. Youraveragemormon says:

    My brother-in-law has been Branch president for the last 3-4 years and has a full beard. He had to shave 2x a day on his mission because he had a dark 5 o’clock shadow by mid-afternoon. When the SP asked him to serve as BP and told him he would have to shave, my bro-in-law’s response was, “I’d rather be married than be Branch President, and if I shave then I won’t be married.” The SP didn’t make any more comments about the beard.

    While I know my sister in law would not have divorced him if he had shaved, I know she loves his beard and he’s had one since they were married. Personally I hate when my husband is clean-shaven, and a few days growth is perfect on him.

  44. Good grief. I try hard to imagine good reasons for lots of Mormon requirements, but this one is just too absurd to entertain. The bishop in our previous ward required all men with callings beyond home teaching assignments to shave all facial hair. My husband agreed to then, but I hope he won’t if pressured again…and not just because I really like his beard.

  45. Aussie Mormon says:

    I hadn’t heard grasshopper’s ordinance worker beard ban explanation before, the version I got told was that ordinance workers aren’t meant to stand out. Presumably if the worker running the session had epic facial hair (e.g. https://barbarianstyle.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Spiky-long-beard-style.jpg) , it would be very distracting from the ritual. Of course putting a limit on when acceptable facial hair becomes unacceptable will put us in pretty much the same spot we’re in now.

    Given why other polices are in place, I can see grasshopper’s explanation being correct though.

  46. Kristine N says:

    My grandfather (who died 10 years ago, so this is at least 15 or 20 years ago) similarly declined a calling in the temple when it was explained he’d have to shave his moustache.

  47. Benjamin says:

    My one regret at the moment is that I am unable to die on this hill. I’m required to shave by my employer (legitimately. We work with toxic gases, and have to be able to don a respirator at all times. Facial hair disrupts the seal and could result in illness or death in the event of a contamination event). I long for the day that I can stop shaving.

  48. Benjamin -“I’m required to shave by my employer…” My employer is polite enough to say we don’t have to shave if we can pass our respirator fit test. I literally will don my mask from time to time and mark my face with a pen, then shave back to that point. It’s not as full as I would like to wear it, but I don’t look like I’m 12.

  49. closet feminist says:

    In my early 20s I was recruited to participate in a sealing session with an older sister. Her black mustache was fascinating. I think I married her more than 20 times. Should there be a unisex facial hair policy for temple workers?

  50. TataniaAvalon says:

    Church “we fought for agency in the premortal life”
    Also Church ” You can’t wear a beard in the temple!”

    Is it agency or not? Make up your mind

  51. Anon for this says:

    TatianaAvalon,

    FWIW, I think the church’s definition of agency is ‘the choice to do exactly as the church/prophet dictates.’

  52. ooohhhhh! I have an idea for another breathtaking conference revelation!

  53. Benjamin says:

    bobwhid – We are permitted mustaches that do not extend past or below the corner of the lips. Similar to Kevin, however, my wife holds the keys to my facial hair. She has declared full beard or clean shaven. So it is written…so it is done.

  54. This is so bizarre. When is the Church going to leave the 1970s? Apparently the only men allowed to wear beards in the temple are God and Jesus.

  55. My experience is the opposite of Kevin’s. My first wife loved the beard, and I had it for about 20 years when I was called to be an ordinance worker. I was reluctant, but I shaved. I was widowed and not yet remarried at the time, so it wasn’t a big deal.

    I had originally grown the beard to make myself look older. In the meantime, my beard had started to show grey, and I didn’t need to look older any more. I looked much younger now I was clean-shaven, and I was at the age when looking younger was a good thing.

    It wasn’t until after I married my new wife (also widowed) that I learned that a beard would have been a deal-breaker for her. She would not have considered me had I still had a beard, and being called as a temple worker was pretty much the only thing that would have gotten me to shave it.

  56. When I returned from a mission abroad in 1965, the first thing I started was my beard. My dad wore a multicolored beard on occasion and I was fascinated with the notion of trying it out. I was at BYU that year and working for BYU printing services. When my younger brother returned from his foreign mission, he also became employed there, and decided to grow his own beard. As things progressed, we both married, bearded, around 1967. One day an older gentleman walked through the area where brother and I worked. We heard later that he had access to Ernie W. and reported to him that there were hippies at the printing facility.
    Our boss informed us that Ernie had mandated we’d have to shave to keep our jobs. Of course, we were outraged and vowed to fight. I counseled with the Dean of Students and various professors I respected and was assured that – in the words of the Dean – if it should ever happen that a beard would keep me out of BYU, he would follow me out! Seriously, an exact quote. A couple of the profs vowed to protest and fight for me.
    We reported our decision and our support to our boss; he replied that, regardless, we had to shave if we wanted to keep our jobs. Our sources for support on campus became strangely silent. Yep, we caved. The thought of being jobless AND pregnant was too much. Not long after, the no-beard, hair-above-the-ears-and-above-the-collar, no-jeans, moustache-above-the-corner-of-the-mouth, etc., etc. policy became law on campus.
    I claim almost single-handed responsibility for the hair portion of that policy.

  57. your food allergy is fake says:

    Well thanks a lot for ruining the rest of our lives, Ike

  58. Chompers says:

    At a televised meeting in Sydney a few years back, the Australia Pacific area president got up and announced that if you had a beard, you were “of the world”. I kid you not. And that return missionaries who had beards were essentially rejecting what they had just spent two years doing. So that was awesome.
    It was also at this meeting that another area boffin had been asked to *specifically* address the single adults, but instead he got up, announced that he had nothing to say to the SA and then proceeded to give a generic faith-promoting speech. To be fair, there’s a lot of church-related stuff that’s applicable no matter who the audience is, but I was really pleased that our dear leaders were so attuned to the needs of the congregation. This was an meeting specifically convened for the SA< mind you.
    Then an apostle (I think it was Renlund) got up and announced that everything he'd heard was really good, inspired advice.
    Ever since then, I treat all utterances are mere opinion (and often poorly conceived, foot-in-mouth rubbish at that), unless we vote on it as a church as outlined in the D&C.

  59. My father-in-law was a bishop a couple of times in Germany, and a counselor at least one other time in addition to that, every time with a beard. It was never an issue that I know of.

    Here in the U.S. Midwest, the last time anyone passive-aggressively asked me when I was going to shave was when I was a pre-missionary teenager. For the last couple of decades we’ve had a series of wonderful stake presidents, one after the other, and not a one of them has ever mentioned my facial hair, only sincere gratitude and support for the work I do in my calling.

  60. P.S. For clarification, I’ve never had a non-beard calling, but still, nothing but support.

  61. Several of the high councilors in our stake have beards. One was just called as a new bishop 2 months ago, and he hasn’t shaved yet. Had to meet with a 70 as part of the interview process to call a new stake president and didn’t bother to shave.

    I think it’s just the temple that’s a dealbreaker.

  62. I noted with some wry amusement that it was following the death of President Packer that beards began to proliferate among church leadership here in my stake in Britain. Packer seems to have been a big influence on church culture in Britain.

    I wrote about my father’s experience and my musings on that experience in my blog post here:https://wheatandtares.org/2017/02/09/an-exercise-in-humility-or-grooming-to-obey-orders/

  63. I’m just surprised that the temple doesn’t lead with the shaving question. Would save a lot of time.

  64. Don’t lead with the deal-breaker. Get the prospective temple worker on board with sacrificing time, travel, and family before asking, “Brother, are you going to let a little thing like a beard get in the way of fulfilling your priesthood responsibility?”

  65. You should not have to explain why you have a beard. It is a part of who you are. It is a feature of you no different than being bald. I can’t stand my shaven face and I enjoy my beard. I am not me without it. That is all anyone needs to know. The rest is personal information no one else needs to know. That is the problem with the shaming and guilt trip manipulative culture that is pervasive in the church. And because of that culture, you felt compelled to explain. Because part of you felt guilty for your “non-compliance” and the “unimaginable” act of refusing a calling. You felt the need to explain why. You shouldn’t have to. This is not behavior related. It is image related. You didn’t have to refuse, put the ownership of the action back in their hands. Gladly accept it and when they say you have to shave say again: I am not going to shave but I again accept the calling, when do I start? When they say you can’t have it if you have a beard. I would state it’s a shame leadership has such a shallow perspective and are image challenged on membership serving in callings with facial hair because I would serve humbly and gratefully. And it isn’t rebelling. It is a perspective and loving who you are and requiring others to accept you for who you are and not the contents of your facial hair.

  66. I think I shocked a member of my Stake Presidency when I explained that I had been a veil worker until the policy change outlawing those standing in for Christ to have beards. He couldn’t fathom forgoing the blessing of temple service because of a policy.

    Granted, this was the same man who, during a leadership training session, compared the November exclusion policy to the policy that missionaries are not allowed to wear bow ties. So he and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot

  67. I find a thick unibrow way more distracting than a mustache or beard. Does that count as facial hair and disqualify one from being a temple worker? Being a plucker myself, I do fear the resurrection when all those plucked hairs return in all their glory.

  68. From what I can tell, temple attendance is falling. Given another generation, I suspect it will be nearly obsolete. Be vanguard and don’t attend.

    Two stories:
    1. I have a pair of cousins who are identical twins and when young, they looked so much alike they could trade identities and their mother couldn’t tell, unless they opened their mouths. Both were pranksters. One married too young and after the divorce, he became bitter and turned into a real jackass. He liked the clean-cut missionary appearance. The other grew a beard to establish his own identity and distinguish himself from his brother. He married an outstanding lady who loves his beard. She grew to dislike his brother who flirted with her and often made crude/suggestive comments to her.

    The bearded twin was asked to be a temple worker and told to shave his beard. His beardless and tactless brother commented: Great, now I can sleep with your wife and she won’t even know the difference. Do you think the beard disappeared?

    2. My wife has about the thickest hair of anyone I know, probably 2-3 times as much as normal. This genetic feature was multiplied in our son. He has unbelievably thick hair, golden blond and curly, the kind of hair some girls would kill for. He hasn’t cut it for at least 10 years. It looks a little bit more shaggy than this: https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-JBE6OD5LuAY/W_jOw9PfHGI/AAAAAAADXkg/sb1v7VuLNBMOEq2xwxuafMaP-IRNHo9IgCLcBGAs/s1600/80s-very-big-hair-6.jpg

    After high school he grew a thick beard which turned reddish. At his college, movie makers would show up and recruit for bit parts. They chased him down and paid him $500 a day to mostly stand around (and do homework). He has briefly appeared in several “foolish” (his word) movies which he refuses to watch and out of respect for his wishes I won’t say which ones.

    He is about 6’2 and around 200 pounds of pure muscle and loves the outdoors. He often wears hiking boots, cargo pants and muscle shirts. I will never forget him dieseling up a steep hill in snow shoes, sporting 4 inch ice sickles hanging from his hair and beard.

    He is somewhat quiet and very intelligent and active in the church. He has been the Exe.Sec. and GD Sunday school teacher. Other than me joking around about sheep sheers, nobody gives him any grief about his hair. It is like a work of art.

  69. I have the same face structure and my wife likes my beard too. I can’t pass the sacrement in my ward and have turned down many callings due to my beard. Its a strange run that limits the church’s potential. I figure they will figure it out one day.

  70. Michael H. says:

    My (Palmyra) temple president said the grooming policies were, indeed, a matter of discretion from temple president to temple president, and I wore a beard as a worker for years. Where I live now–Las Vegas–no, no beards. >Sigh<

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