Question: Why does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have rules for facial hair?

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Question: Why does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have rules for facial hair?

Introduction to Question

Beginning in the 1960s and 70s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has imposed certain restrictions on facial hair for male students at church schools like BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, Ensign College, and elsewhere. There are also restrictions imposed on general leaders of the Church such as bishops, stake presidents, area presidents, seventies, apostles, the prophet, and all their counselors. Why do they do this? This article seeks to answer this question.

Response to Question

The Only Reason: The Prophets Have Asked Us To So That We Can Create A Shared Identity

The only real reason that this has happened is because the prophets have asked us to. Why do the prophets ask us to? Mainly because they want to create a shared identity and be a peculiar people from the rest of the world. Making the absence of facial hair normative for Church members gets a lot of attention and this, in turn, can spark interest in the Church for potential investigators. There’s scriptural mandate to support becoming a peculiar people, unspotted from the world.[1] There’s also scriptural injunctions to practice meekness/lowliness of heart/humility/easiness to be entreated before the prophets who have implored us to follow this counsel,[2] to receive all the words and commandments of the prophet as if from the mouth of God in all patience and faith,[3] and be anxiously engaged in a good cause without God compelling you to do something by explicit revelation.[4] The effectiveness of this standard is manifested in the numerous movements that have been organized and publicized in places like the New York Times to change it.[5]

Conclusion

These types of little rules have delayed consequences that can be beneficial for us as a people. We should be patient and humble as we submit to these standards humbly and see Zion be built over time. Jesus cared about the little rules. Prior to his doing away with the law of Moses with his Atonement, the Savior said that “[w]hosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”[6] If Jesus can care about the little rules and can show us how they can help us grow as a people as we follow them, then we, as disciples of Christ, can follow them humbly in all faith.

Notes

  1. Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Psalms 135:4; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9; James 1:27; Doctrine and Covenants 59:9
  2. Moroni 7:44
  3. Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–5
  4. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–29
  5. For example, Anna P. Kambhampaty, “Beard Crusader,” New York Times, August 16, 2021; Julie Turkewitz, "At Brigham Young, Students Push to Lift Ban on Beards," New York Times, November 17, 2014.
  6. Matthew 5:19