The no beard or facial hair rule

by Soldier77 47 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Soldier77

    Okay, something that has always been a side point but still a rather ridiculous rule is that brothers cannot "serve" if they have a beard/goatee/anything more than just a moustache. At least in the states, I've heard of some congregations in some countries allow this, but they are the exception? Your experience?

    Where the hell did that come from? All of the publications pictures of Jesus, apostles, any bible scene has the males with beards or with facial hair (for the most part, I'm sure one can find a picture with a clean shaven male).

    I just don't get it. I mean there is a lot I don't get with the WBTS's rules and regulations, but this one? WTF?! A brother told me that in his congregation years ago, most of the elder body had beards (cong in Colorado) and had no problems with it. Then one day the CO comes strolling into town and told them they had to shave or they would all be removed by the next meeting. They all conformed, this brother being a MS, had a beard, but refused to shave, asking to be shown the biblical principle behind the rule. Yup, you can guess it, he was removed.

    If anyone has done the research on it can you send me a link or post it here? This is one of those rules that just begs the question, why?

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    There is no Biblical principle behind it. It comes from the fact that Judge "Babyface" Rutherford couldn't grow a decent looking beard and was jealous of guys that could.

  • Soldier77

    It just goes to show the level of control they exert over the R&F. I'd love to read the letters to elders on this, because I can't remember any publication printed to the R&F that covers this. I am probably mistaken and in fact, there is probably a QFR on it...

    <sigh> Guess I got homework to do when I get home from work.

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    QFR about Jesus wearing a beard, (5/1/68 WT):

    Nevertheless, as already shown, it is apparent that Jesus did wear a beard, and so artistic representations of him in future Watch Tower publications will harmonize with the Scriptural evidence to that effect.

    Doubtless the early Christians followed the custom of the time and locality in which they lived, with regard to the wearing of a beard. The Roman custom was beardlessness. Romans converted to Christianity would very likely continue in the Roman custom, while converts from the Jewish community would continue in the Jewish custom of wearing a beard.

    Today Christian ministers, like the early Christians, are concerned with neatness and cleanness, but they strive to dress inconspicuously, so that their appearance does not in any way detract from the dignity or the effectiveness of the message they bear. (2 Cor. 6:3, 4) In recent years in many lands a beard or long hair on a man attracts immediate notice and may, in the minds of the majority, classify such a person undesirably with extremists or as rebels against society. God’s ministers want to avoid making any impression that would take attention away from their ministry or hinder anyone from listening to the truth. They know that people are watching true Christians very critically and that to a great extent they judge the entire congregation and the good news by the minister’s appearance as a representative of the congregation.

    In paradise restored on earth it would not be out of order if men returned to wearing beards, in perfect fashion, like Adam in Eden.

  • Girlie

    There is no scripture or any watchtower/awake article I have ever read to support this rule. From what I was told, it depends on the social norms of the land you live in.

  • Heaven

    Okay, something that has always been a side point but still a rather ridiculous rule is that brothers cannot "serve" if they have a beard/goatee/anything more than just a moustache.

    Ok, see, this is how my mind works. If I was a guy I'd be sayin' "Sweet! I'll grow a beard and then I can't serve. Thanks for the out F&DS!" (or whomever)

  • St George of England
    St George of England

    I think it could vary between countries. Here in the UK it doesn't seem to be such a big deal, I had a beard on two occasions without any problems though I was not an appointed man. However I know of at least one MS who has a beard and an elder who has had a beard all the years I have known him.

    I once read somewhere that Rutherford put the ban on beards as brothers were growing them in the style of the late C T Russell and the ban has stuck ever since.

    Just a man made rule like having to wear a suit. Then again I rarely do that either!


  • Soldier77

    Mad Sweeney - thanks for looking that up and posting it. I've never once looked at a bearded man and thought how extreme or unclean he is for having one. They trying to associate wearing a beard with those radical terrorists? I guess we all know that wearing a beard means you're going to blow shit up?

    Heaven - lol! I like the way you think.

    St George - I know several brothers from the UK that have mentioned it is okay to wear a beard there. I thought WBTS was in "unity" all over the world? Oh yeah, uniformity and conformity does not = unity. Thanks for your experience, that confirms what I heard as well.

  • neverendingjourney

    This rule goes back to the very early days of this religion. CT Russell had a beard, as we all know. Joseph Rutherford did not. Many of CT Russell's disciples wore beards, perhaps as a matter of personal choice or perhaps as a way to emulate their pastor. After Pastor Russell died, Rutherford managed to gain control of the legal institutions of the Bible Students group. A significant schism ensued resulting in most of Russell's followers either leaving the Rutherford-led Bible Student group and/or forming their own splinter group.

    There was a tremendous amount of pressure at the time to demonstrate your loyalty. You were either with Rutherford or you were against him. Russell's followers who broke away mostly continued to wear beards. Since Rutherford was clean-shaven, one way to demonstrate your loyalty to Rutherford was to be clean-shaven. Wearing a beard became associated with Russell's followers who broke off. Being clean-shaven was a way to demonstrate loyalty to Rutherford's Bible Student group. From that point forward, wearing a beard was discouraged, if not banned outright.

    Once the beatnik movement of the 1950s and the Hippie movement of the 1960s came around, beards became associated with counter-culture movements, and the rule became further cemented into the JW canon of unwritten law. The JWs are about rules, laws and traditions, so a rule that was unofficially set in place nearly 100 years ago continues to be enforced to this very day.

    For more information on this topic see Crisis of Conscience and Apocalypse Delayed

  • Quirky1

    This is what prompted me thinking and the reason for my departure. I asked them to show me proof scripturally. There was none. However, I did show them a scripture in Leviticus that says that you should not shave your beard, or sumthin' like that. They said we are not bound by those scriptures anymore..WTF!! They keep throwing Leviticus when it comes to tattoos.

    Face it..this is not a religion it is a mens club gone wild, er, crazy.. They are all power trippin'..

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