V. THE OUTSIDE: MALE FACIAL HAIR
Before leaving the males and hairstyle altogether, I would like to touch on facial hair. I know this opinion will not find favor with some, but I base Christian standards on Scripture, next logic, and lastly being reasonable according to experience. If there is direct Scripture, then there is no need for logic or being reasonable. But, I have read the Bible from end to end several times and studied Scriptures for hundreds of hours and I do not know of one Scripture directly or indirectly condemning facial hair. Therefore, I will say up front, I find no scriptural argument for or against facial hair.
There are some Scriptures that mention the beard and the act of shaving. One example is Isaiah 7:20 which states, "In the same day shall the Lord shall shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard." But this Scripture doesn't condemn nor condone facial hair. In fact, it is used symbolically. This Scripture is concerning the invasion of Judah by the armies of Assyria and Egypt in which the destruction would be as clean as a man shaving with a razor (Dake's Bible, pg 686).
Another example is that of Joseph in Genesis 41:14 "Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh." According to Finis J. Dake, shaving was a disgrace in Palestine and many other eastern nations, but a very strict custom of the Egyptians who detested long beards. The Egyptians let the hair of their head and beard grow only when they were in mourning, shaving it off at other times (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Dake continues that Joseph conformed to the prevailing custom and did all he could to be accepted by Pharaoh. Hebrews shaved as a sign of mourning. Egyptians let their beards grow only when mourning; and had a custom of using false beards of plaited hair and of different sizes, according to the rank of the wearer (Dake's Bible, pg 40). Therefore, Joseph not wanting to offend the Egyptian Pharaoh shaved before going before him.
All that we can conclude from these Scriptures is that it is a good idea if you are called before the Pharaoh after being in a dungeon for a few years, you might want to shave (especially if the Egyptians detested beards) and put on some nice clothes. If, in God’s eyes, having a beard was wrong for Joseph when coming before Pharaoh, it was wrong to wear it in the dungeon assuming shaving was a privilege allowed in the dungeon. Being that Joseph was in charge of the place, surely he could have shaved in the dungeon and would have if it were wrong to have facial hair.
Several other well know Bible characters had beards. David in First Samuel 21:13 made out as if he was mad and "let his spittle fall down upon his beard." Aaron, the high priest, is spoken of in Psalm 133:2 as having precious ointment running down his beard. It was a disgrace for David's servants in Second Samuel 10:4 when an enemy shaved half of their beards off in an act of defiance. They were very ashamed and David allowed them to "abide at Jericho" until their beards grew back.
In Ezra 9:3, Ezra sat down and plucked off the hair of his head and his beard in disgust when he heard how the Israelites had mingled in marriage with the heathen nations about them. And of course the most famous Scripture concerning the plucking of facial hair is that of the Lord Jesus Himself. Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 50:6 how Christ would give His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I know there are those who might argue that Christ grew this beard while being on trial, but who can grow a beard in a matter of hours which can be plucked out? Please don't accuse me of reverting back to a long hair Jesus with a long flowing beard as depicted in paintings. I am just discussing what is clearly written in Scripture. And, that is, Christ had a beard long enough to be plucked during the time of His trial, mocking, and crucifixion. To produce a beard that could be plucked would take a matter of several days, more like two or three weeks.
Then there is a long list of bearded men who have been instruments of God in great revivals that have influenced cities, states, countries, and even the world. Let’s consider the ministry of Charles G. Finney. Some would refer to him as America’s most powerful revivalist. An estimated 500,000 persons were saved through his ministry. Preachers who have read his book “Lectures on Revival” and applied the principles have experienced revival. Jonathan Goforth, the outstanding pioneer missionary, attributed “the great revival in China (1906) to the application of the principles he found in Finney’s books” (Bernard R. DeRemer, The Greatest Revivalist). I could not imagine myself walking up to Charles G. Finney and telling him that God could use him if he would just shave.
I am unclear as to where the teaching that the male must be clean-shaven originated as a Holiness standard. I fear it came from the same thinking that tells men that they cannot receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost if they part their hair down the middle. It is thinking along these lines that lays the Holiness standard open to ridicule. If we have no Scripture, we must resort to logic, if there is no logic, we must look at being reasonable according to experience. It is not even reasonable to prohibit a preacher from "your pulpit" because he has facial hair, but this is the case in some churches. Are we building our standards on Scripture or on traditions of men?
Now that I have resorted to the use of the phrase "traditions of men," I am sure there are some who would bring up the Scripture II Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." The Greek word for traditions, paradosis (Strong's 3862) is also translated as ordinances in I Corinthians 11:2 "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." By these Scriptures, some would insert numerous standards or actions saying they are among the traditions that we have been taught. I must then ask, "Who taught you?" In this case, it was Paul who was doing the teaching under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. And, he said the traditions that he spoke of were either "by word or our epistle."
Now if the traditions he speaks of are written in an epistle, and we have the epistles that make up much of the New Testament, then we would expect to find something about those traditions that we should keep. I find many things within the epistles which are to be observed and passed on (traditions), some of which I have already entered discussion on and some others I will discuss as I progress in the paragraphs ahead. However, again, I find nothing on males wearing facial hair. Could being clean-shaven then be among the traditions of which Paul spoke? If so, while he elaborated on several traditions, he failed to mention anything about facial hair.
Jesus Himself was accused of transgressing tradition when he and his disciples did not follow a meticulous hand-washing ordinance followed by the Pharisees (Matt. 15:2). This tradition had no doubt been passed down by a group of well meaning Jews, but Jesus contended that the Jews were "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9). This is a mistake we want to avoid if at all possible. It is easy to fall into this trap when we go beyond what God has required.
Please don't get the wrong impression here as I continue to make an attempt to clearly define what God requires of us by using Scripture. This particular discussion of this aspect of the outside has grown much larger than I expected, but I feel as though I have opened a "can of worms." Now that I have, I want to do justice to the discussion on my part. Please bear with me a little longer.
One argument in this case of male facial hair is that the male is exhibiting pride. I think this argument could be used in many situations. Pride can take on many forms. One can be proud of their expensive, leather-bound Bible. I mean, have you seen how some sport their sword? Do we then go leather less on Bible covers? Certainly, pride is to be shunned in all cases. But, if the individual does not have pride in the facial hair, this argument ends. Even if one man expresses pride through the wearing of facial hair, we cannot logically conclude that facial hair on all men is a form of pride.
Another foundation for limiting males with facial hair is the observation that often males with facial hair also may have unseen inner spiritual problems that are some how manifested outwardly by the growing of a beard or mustache. I give witness myself that I have seen men who grow a beard or mustache when they begin to slip in their faithfulness to God and family. I've even said myself that a sporty beard, a gold chain, and a shirt with a couple of the top buttons open seem to indicate someone is having some difficulty with their masculinity and/or spirituality.
But, is this a stereotype? I am personally acquainted with men who have facial hair of whom I have great respect. I have seen more clean-shaven men backslide than those with beards. There was no change in their outward appearance. Something had gone wrong on the inside. Do we unfairly target the men with facial hair? I started out saying, "The outside is the easy part." The outside can be a barometer of the inside, but we must be careful in our judgments. We could be wrong in some situations.
To conclude this matter and move on, there is no direct scriptural basis to condemn facial hair on males. Looking to nature, we must ask, "Why did God create the male with the ability to grow facial hair?" I believe it contributes to the distinction between the sexes. It may even be more proper from this viewpoint that the norm should be for males to have facial hair in order to maintain the distinction of sexes. I addressed distinction of sexes in other arguments concerning dress and hair.
Furthermore, if it is wrong for men to have facial hair and God gave men the ability to grow facial hair, then, wouldn’t God be tempting men to sin by growing facial hair? But, God does not tempt man to sin. James 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” Wouldn’t such a situation be the same as making a brother who is delivered from smoking carry a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket yet dare him to touch them? I don’t think God created a situation that puts the male in the position that he must shave or sin.
However, as one minister pointed out, "What Holiness circle would you be able to effectively minister in with facial hair? You would automatically create a hardship just for the sake of doing it your own way." Justification for falling in line with demands of men can be found indirectly on practically any matter in I Corinthians 10:32-33 when Paul said, "Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."
In this situation, it may be more profitable for an individual to submit to the traditions of men, even if they have no scriptural basis, if they find themselves in such a case. Some of these non-Biblical by-laws are very well entrenched and to resist conforming to the peer pressure, which is often the force being used, may damage one's effectiveness as a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But, I am not trying to define and discuss the outside and the proper appearance by the traditions of men. Adding to that which is scriptural has created enough division in the Church and too much justifiable scorn from the world. My attempt is to adhere to Scripture and as I have said, there is no condemning Scripture on this topic. Therefore, I pray I am not the one who condemns my brother for exercising the right to grow facial hair for which it cannot be argued against that God created that ability in Adam and not one Bible prophet, including Christ himself condemned the practice. And, if I condemn such a brother, where do I stand with God?