The Rocky Shore

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To Shave Or Not To Shave...

Up where my parents live, an interesting phenomenon has taken place: it seems that the stake presidency has taken it upon themselves (or perhaps it came from higher up) to insist upon all men in the stake be clean-shaven.

How can they insist, I hear you ask…

From what I have been able to gather, a year and a half ago the stake presidency announced in a stake priesthood meeting their desire to have a clean-shaven male (and female I presume) stake membership. Since that time, the local hierarchy has specifically taken the temple recommend interview as an opportunity to pressure men with facial hair to expunge their faces of it. It is not that they are denying temple recommends, but at the end of the standard questioning they then council the man to shave.

One friend of my father stated that when he shaved, the bishop approached him and thanked him for his sacrifice. Another very good friend of my mother was quite upset about the new policy, and when her husband was counseled to shave his mustache she gave the bishop quite a tongue-lashing. Obviously these are just two examples of current reactions to the policy, so they are anecdotal at best. From what I have heard most have simply chosen to shave.

I have four initial reactions to hearing about this:

1) I was considering moving to their stake. Since I have a beard and absolutely no desire to confront such silliness, I will choose a different residence.

2) Aren’t there more important things to be worrying about besides facial hair?

3) If the church wants to promote a clean image of itself, how about expanding the WOW to include obesity?

4) What the hell kind of sacrifice is shaving?

Is this an isolated instance of silliness, or have others of you out there been confronted with this travesty in your stake?


  • I think it's a silly idea--there are a lot more things to worry about. That said, I do think there is an element of sacrifice and blessings involved for someone who shaves his beard on the advice of his presiding officers. I think we are blessed when we follow the counsel of our bishop (or stake president, etc). I would never advocate someone following EVIL counsel, but I don't think shaving your beard rises to that level. When it is essential (or even when it's silly) counsel, I think we are blessed for our obedience.

    By Blogger Keryn, at Tuesday, August 15, 2006 5:27:00 PM  

  • Keryn,
    One must wonder, though the request itself is not evil, is the motive behind it evil? In other words, could their request be an example of unrighteous dominion? I think it sounds really off for them to be pushing the issue during temple recommend interviews.
    Jared, you make a great point. If we want to make ourselves different from the world, why not look at the WOW more closely and acknowledge an obesity problem that is growing in the church. We could really set ourselves apart by being active, healthy, and fit. Afterall, no one has ever died of having a beard.

    By Blogger Jilopa, at Tuesday, August 15, 2006 6:08:00 PM  

  • So where do we draw the line? When the stake Prez decides women can only sit in the last three rows of the church? Will we be blessed if we don’t question and just “obey”? Or when everyone is asked to wear gloves to church? Will we be blessed if we don’t question and just “obey’?
    How about if we are asked to stamp the sign of the cross on our left hands? Will we be blessed if we just “obey” to obey?
    It seems to me that there comes a point somewhere….(again, where do we draw the line)…when we have to speak up when things just aren’t kosher.
    I don’t think it is any ones business if men have facial hair or not. It isn’t a sign of how righteous you are.
    Jared, it is sad that you have decided not to move into your parent’s Stake just because of this dumb policy. You might have brought with you a spirit of change. Don’t under estimate how much good one person can bring about for the betterment of all.

    By Anonymous ladyinthehat, at Tuesday, August 15, 2006 7:25:00 PM  

  • Sounds like the Pharisees are alive and well!

    By Anonymous Dallas Robbins, at Tuesday, August 15, 2006 9:20:00 PM  

  • I don't know where this policy comes from, but it reminds me of my freshman year at BYU when our Bishop was teaching our priesthood class how to perform a minor ordinance and kept insisting that we add a certain phrase that doesn't exist in the official instructions about this ordinance. It wasn't a big deal---the phrase sounded nice. But it bothered me that this preference would be taught as though doctrine.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 7:33:00 AM  

  • anonymous,
    Was the phrase "in the household of faith?"

    By Blogger jime, at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 4:56:00 PM  

  • Indeed! How did you know that? Scary....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 6:11:00 PM  

  • anonymous,
    I went to BYU in the late 70s. I remember this being discussed in priesthood. Seems it was a prevailing phrase in blessings in Utah for years. It apparently took on a kind of permanence and many were convinced it was an essential phrasiology in consecrating oil for blessings.
    If you think about the words though, what do they mean or say?
    Why is it necessary to say those particular words? I never did get it.

    By Blogger jime, at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 6:38:00 PM  

  • Sometimes stake presidents are inspired. That might actually be from the Lord to that Stake President just as a "test." Perhaps an Abrahamic sacrifice: "just because God said so." It is in the realm of possibility.

    "3) If the church wants to promote a clean image of itself, how about expanding the WOW to include obesity?"

    Rumor has it that something like that is in the works.

    Not all obese people are gluttons. Stephen, over at Ethesis, has links to articles that refer to studies about how some obese people just extract more calories from the same amount of food that "normal" people do. And some obese people can walk just as far or as long/fast as others and burn up fewer calories. Their bodies are just more "efficient" in extracting calories from food, and "stingy" when burning off calories. Studies point to both genetics and bacteria/viruses in the intestines as the culprits.

    However, the counter-point is that those "calorie efficient" and "calorie stingy" people who have a propensity to obesity just have to EAT LESS and EXERCISE MORE then "normal" people. Duh.

    Gluttony is being a slave to physical appetite for pure pleasure. It's somewhat akin to masturbation. To see how some obese people eat sweets, and their facial expressions, it looks like they're having sex with desserts. Even if they are "calorie efficient/stingy", they are not giving their body a chance because they're eating 4000 calories a day when they should be eating 1500 to 2000.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:00:00 AM  

  • Ya mean I have to give up sweets AND masterbation now???!
    Whats left?

    By Anonymous badmormongirl, at Thursday, August 17, 2006 10:14:00 AM  

  • Hey Anonymous,

    Stake Presidents can set policy for their stake out of inspiration? My stake president in the Las Vegas North Stake called a special meeting for our stake. He told everybody in attendance that they were not to go to blogs on the Internet and participate in them.
    So I’m doing wrong because I’m exchanging ideas with you at “The Rocky Shore?”

    By Anonymous ladyinthehat, at Thursday, August 17, 2006 12:20:00 PM  

  • Anon,
    I understand very well that there are some out there that really can't help being overweight. However, have you ever attended an enrichment or YW activity that didn't serve food? These activities are few and far between. It would be very beneficial if the church really enforced a health code that enforced healthy and proportioned eating.

    What an ironic story! I wonder how much is inspiration, and how much is observation. In other words, I've been thinking about how much leaders of the church are guided by their opinion and perception. If your Stake pres.'s only experience with blogs are bad ones, I could understand why he felt the need to council against it. With more information, he probably would have made a more specific recommendation or none at all. Perhaps what he was receiving was "filtered inspiration."

    By Blogger Jilopa, at Thursday, August 17, 2006 1:26:00 PM  

  • How funny! I remember back in the mid 90's getting ready to go on my mission. I had had facial hair since my junior yr in high school. When I went thru the Seattle temple for the first time I shaved to have a more spiritual experience. HA! It of course made no difference. After my mission the beard came back. There have been people who could not believe that I would go to the temple unshaven. I am know to the age when people will mostly leave me alone and I can enjoy the beard. (I also wear a blue shirt to church from time to time...just because I can!)

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, August 22, 2006 12:47:00 PM  

  • Jared,
    I checked out your profile, awesome beard. I too wore a blue shirt to church this week; apparently my trip to apostasy is complete.

    By Blogger Jared E., at Tuesday, August 22, 2006 1:10:00 PM  

  • jared e.

    Your apostacy is not complete until you wear a red shirt to church. Blue is merely the color of the rebellious cur, not the true apostate.

    By Anonymous endlessnegotiation, at Thursday, August 24, 2006 12:48:00 PM  

  • endlessnegotiation,
    Right you are, wearing a red shirt to church would be downright evil. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that degree of nose-thumbing yet...

    By Blogger Jared E., at Thursday, August 24, 2006 1:07:00 PM  

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