I researched this and have found no "official" rule against beards in the publications. Sometimes, though, beards would be spoken of in a negative fashion, such as commenting about their association with youth rebellion movements, workplace safety, and corporate appearance standards.
The no beard or facial hair rule
I jokingly mentioned to an elder last year that I was going to grow a beard ... his comment was that the brothers would have me in the back room real quick ... I asked what scriptures would they use?
... nothing more was said (I didn't grow one - I've often wanted to give it a shot, but my wife doesn't want me to make the family look bad)
I asked for a Biblical principle on which the unwritten 'no beard' rule was derived from and it was explained to me that since we were representing the organization in spreading the Kingdom Good news in the "preaching" work that it was to ensure that we were not bringing attention to ourselves. We were to do nothing, whether grooming, dress or actions, to distract from the message.
The elder compared the organization to a large US company that at the time, forbid its male employees from having facial hair and had very strict dress codes for all employees as these people represented the company.
As the elder tried to justify the 'no beard' rule using the worldly company's policy, that's when I realized that we weren't Christian ministers... we were door to door sales people for a publishing company.
Spot on Undercover,
It struck me years before I left that they used the methods and adopted the values of corporate America. It is not only us that notice it, a client of mine that knows I have left said to me the other day "it is so like Amway, just a sales driven cult".
In the early seventies I got my wife to write to Brooklyn regarding the "no beard" thing, as I wanted to grow one, and she wanted me to be an Appointed man.
The reply said they could not lay down rules on dress or grooming, and just referred to the " principles " in various scriptures.
I grew a beard, was appointed MS, gave P Talks, even away ones, and then was asked to appear on an assembly item to recount a F.S experience, an experience I had enjoyed whilst wearing a beard.
They then proceeded to show me the instructions for who may be used on an Assembly platform, "no beards" . so basically the Brooklyn reply was a lie, they do lay down rules on dress and grooming, they just won't put it out in writing for the public to see.
They are having this same discussion today at a JW board,
Look what one person has to say
I remember in the late 70s nearly ALL the bros had long sideburns - that was the style. The style in CT Russell's day was for some to have beards. In the 50s to 70s that style was associated with beatniks and radicals. Now you see corporate execs, politicians and religious leaders with them. In the 1st century and thereafter, you can be pretty sure that many of the anointed christians had beards, even long after gentiles were allowed into the cong. Probably most of them would have been of Jewish heritage, but the point is that it was an acceptable style with absolutely no scriptural signifigance yea or nay. It has no scriptural signifigance today either - it is totally dictated by what is an acceptable style, and whether or not people are offended by it. So if some are offended, why is that? Is it because of a decades-old idea that doesn't apply anymore?
Apart from the moldy idea that some would associate beards with student radical activism, the thought has been put forth that if beards were more tolerated, some bros would wear sloppy hill-billy beards. So should we shave our heads to prevent sloppy hair? Should we go naked to prevent some from wearing unkempt dirty clothing? What is the real reason for the beard stigma??? Is there any?
I have facial hair now and have for some years...They will not use me for anything but i can go out in service and gived the bible reading and #4. But i am a marked man by most, but if i keep my service time up there is less of a problem. I think they are hoping I will shave but again it is not a real big problem as long as service time is up. I keep it very neat and trimmed close. The common sense "rule" is if the people in the area that you live are not offended by facial hair or whatever then it should be ok as long as there is no scriptural law or principal against it. They said it's up to your body of elders...I say it's up to me and my trained conscience...I'll just leave it at that.
When I first became associated at the Kingdom Hall the publications depicted Jesus as clean-shaven.
The older books and magazines are filled with fresh-from-the-barber-chair Christ.
In fact, the JW's liked to rub their bald-faced Jesus in at every opportunity.
It is a contrarian religion from start to finish!
Anything a mainstream christian did would push Jehovah's Witnesses to do just the opposite.
No cross, no hell, no soul, no christmas, no birthdays, no steeples, no stainglass windows, blah blah blah, no beard on Jesus.
When the rebellious, hippie, freak-head 60's came along and those outrageous Beatles became popular beards and long-hair became
a counter-culture message young people sent to older, strait-laced, conservative folks.
The Watchtower Society seized upon this cultural phenomenon.
It became a red flag signal to the Congregation if they saw a brother growing hair.
Hair/Bear=out of control.
The Organization is run by old men. Why would these old men ever change their mind about anything?
And we all know they cannot admit being wrong without popping a lightbulb into the New Light machine.
A small moustache is about all you can get away with these days.
Small-minded people who call themselves christian need small-minded issues as a wedge to create differences of contrast between themselves and others.
Hair has ever been just such an issue.
A JW in good standing must always look like he sells life insurance for Allstate.
It comes from a passage in the Book of Elmer, which was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. "And in that day when the mountain of the Lord's House shall be established in the new city, it shall publish peace unto the nations. And behold, Jehovah's witnesses shall go into [the world] in twos, and they shall go without purse [nor script], and [they] shall not go forth with beards or facial [hair], save it shall be for the women -- neither shall men wear long hair, for it is a shame [unto] men to wear long hair." Elmer 6:4-5
The "new city" is obviously New York and the references saying his people would "publish" peace obviously means a publishing company. Paul also most likely had a copy of the Book of Elmer because of what he said about long hair being "a shame" for men.
It's all there, man.