Is It Time for

By: Jeff Spector
April 5, 2013

This past week, Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote an excellent article entitled ”How Beards Became Barred Among Top Mormon Leaders.” I encourage you to read it. In the end, I have nothing more to add to it than the personal observations that sre very near and dear to my face.

I grew my beard during a trip to Hawaii in 1976 just because my friend and I decided not to shave during our trip. I think I already had a mustache, which I grew right after high school. I grew it primarily to hide the scar on my lip from the repaired birth defect I was born with. It just made me more comfortable.

Upon my return, with the great tan and the 10 days beard growth, I was able to walk right past my mom who came to pick us up at the airport. She didn’t recognize me. That’s it, I thought, the beard stays. As a Jewish kid, the beard was pretty much part of the tradition and among much more orthodox members, a requirement.

So, since that time, I have had a beard. With one small time period of exception.

I joined the Church with a beard, I was ordained to the Priesthood with a beard and I blessed my first child with a beard.

In late 1983, I was called as the Ward Mission Leader and Seventies Group Leader, a mere year and a half after joining the Church. I was asked to shave off my beard, but not my mustache.  When I enquired as to why, like Peggy’s article, I cited the many Church Presidents with a beard, I was told, “When you become Church President, you can have a beard.”

So, I shaved it off. And left it off for the next 18 months or so. In early 1985, we moved, so I was released and became a Stake Missionary in our new Ward.  After a while, I grew back the beard. No one said a word about it.

I went on to serve as an Elder’s Quorum President, Bishop’s Counselor and, eventually High Councilman, all with a beard.  When one of the Apostles came to Stake Conference and challenged us to become Temple veil workers, I did that too. I served for 5 years in the Oakland Temple with a beard. Again, no one said a word.

When we moved to Colorado, I asked at the Denver Temple about becoming a veil worker since I have been one in Oakland. Sorry, I was told, you’d have to shave your face. Ok, thanks anyway. I was told that President Hinckley made the rule. Sorry, but I kind of doubted it.

Fast forward to last year, one of the Temple Presidency came to speak in our ward and I asked him again. Yes, he said the rule still applies and alluded to the fact it was in the Temple President’s Handbook.

So, here we are more than 30 years later, still with a beard. Most of my kids have never seen me without one and the ones that did were too little to remember. The Church has allowed me to serve in my callings, take my tithing money, give me a Temple Recommend, and allow me to worship in the Temple, but not work there. Sure I guess I could shave it off, if I wanted to do so badly enough. But, for now I have chosen not to.

My wife and I look forward to serving a mission in the next 6 or 7 years, so I suppose I have resigned myself to shave it then.

But, perhaps now is the time to create to get the Church leaders to change their minds about beards.

25 Responses to Is It Time for

  1. DB on April 5, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    Amen! Where do I sign the petition?

    I’ve wondered which we’ll see at a General Conference first, a GA with facial hair, or a GC wearing a colored shirt.

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  2. Sherry on April 5, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    I agree – bring on the beards and mustaches! Why should women have all the fun with pants and praying! Seriously – this certainly points out discrepancies in doctrine (?) and practice. It is absurd that you could serve in one temple and not another. I live in the Denver Temple area and had a huge difference of opinion with the temple pres. on other issues. I was chastised and treated with disrespect – story for another time. My advice for all men who feel impressed to grow their facial hair – just do it!

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  3. 2menot3 on April 5, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    I’m a woman who likes beards and mustaches. I don’t “get” what either one has to do with the church. I see many colors of hair at church, some not in the normal hair color realm. It that a problem that should be addressed in the handbook?

    I was taught that each of us is unique. It seems there is more flexibility and acceptance of that concept where women are concerned. I can understand not presenting a distraction with our appearance. I don’t believe beards and mustaches are distractions. They are one of the few choices men get to make when wanting to present a different face, as it were.

    I’m betting on the colored shirt!

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  4. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Some say it is a sign of rebellion

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  5. Jenn on April 5, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Definitely! My husband always felt like he needed a beard card to be an adult post-BYU bearded mormon man.

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  6. mh on April 5, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    The temple rule against beards is a dopey rule. When is wear beards to church and our temple day?

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  7. Sherry on April 5, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    no rebellion…..just personal preference…just like wearing pants…

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  8. Jeff Spector on April 5, 2013 at 10:04 AM


    I do it every week and sometimes, once a month…… :)

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  9. anon on April 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I’m IN!! – just tell me where to sign

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  10. Llenrad on April 5, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Our temple presidency hands out a list of rules for the workers that references the Presidents Handbook. If I recall it doesn’t say you can’t have a beard, rather it says something like ‘it is recommended that men be clean shaven.’

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  11. LDS Anarchist on April 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    There is no need for Every male that wants to grow a beard, just grow one. If you are asked to shave for any calling in the church, including for missionary work, shave the beard off. After you are sustained by the membership by vote and are ordained and/or set apart for the office and calling, stop shaving and grow the beard back out. If you are again asked to shave, don’t. Let the leadership figure out whether it is worth releasing a man who has been called, ordained and sustained by the membership for simply growing his beard out.

    For the missionaries, wait until the mission field before you start growing your beard out. Again the leadership will have to consider whether it is worth all the expense and training put into the missionary just to send him home for having a beard.

    Using this strategy, the church policy on beards will rapidly change in a matter of months, without needing to ask permission.

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  12. Jace on April 6, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Good grief. At this rate, we are going to have “let men wear dresses in church”

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  13. Richard on April 6, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    I had a mustache for over 46 years. Served on a High Council with it, 2 Bishoprics with it, Veil worker in the Denver temple the first 5 years after it opened with it, Bishop for 7 years with it. Never was asked to shave it.
    My children had never known/seen me without it.
    Served 2 6 month missions in Martin’s Cove and had to shave it then. Before putting in our papers for the mission, my S.P. called the Missionary Dept. They told him it was allowed at Martins Cove. When we received the call, it stated men needed to be clean shaven. I shaved it and served because I have a personal connection thru my G.Gpa and GG.GPa family who were in the Martin Handcart Company. Did it for them. Have now grown it back and have no intention to shave it off again. If I can’t serve with a mustache, I guess they really don’t need me.

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  14. Michelle on April 6, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    Perhaps you are honoring your ancestors by having a beard, like many of the Martin Handcart Company’s men. (page 8)

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  15. Michelle on April 6, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Sorry about the accidental emoticon. I meant Page 8.

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  16. RockiesGma on April 6, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    I’m always puzzled about the rebellion comment. They always say the prophet requested this and it’s such a small request. Are you too prideful to do such a small thing? So if it’s a small thing, why ask him to shave in the first place? It’s so unhealthy to be so domineering. Jesus always has a beard. Why are we hung up on facial hair? Pants? White shirts? Flip-flops? Earrings? It’s like the Jews of old who had rules for rules.

    Seriously……why is our church so controlling about everything? Jesus didn’t run His church like this. Why can’t we use the agency God gave us to make these wardrobe and appearance decisions ourselves? I don’t understand……

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  17. [...] people are analyzing how this change happened and getting big ideas. Hoping this will lead to even more advances. For example, female missionaries now have some leadership positions — yet it looks [...]

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  18. Jeff Spector on April 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM


    “At this rate, we are going to have “let men wear dresses in church”

    See Polynesia and Scotland…..

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  19. Jeff Spector on April 7, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    As I was watching GC today, I was wonder how long ago it might have been that a shaved head would have been classified as a sign of rebellion, much like long hair, and not tolerated. Now, we see it regularly among Church members and some leaders who suffer from “God-given” Mormon-pattern baldness, yet seek to hide it somewhat by a fully shaved head.

    What would or did our leaders say about that a style, not to mention those, both male and female, who lose their hair through medical conditions or treatments?

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  20. Douglas on April 8, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    If you’d been a Byzantine Emperor, you’d have been “Jeff” Pogonatos (the bearded one), like Constans II. When did you serve in the Oakland Temple? Our paths may have crossed!
    I’m in “mourning” because I had a nice wicked goatee going; lightly sprinkled with salt. My lady friend really liked it. However, I’m in a humm-dinger of a custody battle and the attorney that I’ve broken the piggy bank to pay advised me to lose it. Supposedly not only does it age me a tad (not something I need at age 54 when duking it out in family court over custody of an adolescent girl) but I go from looking like I should be tuning up a Fat Boy Harley to at worst a boyish mischievousness. Going naked of face for a higher purpose. The same can be said of having to be pinked-cheeked so you can serve in the Lord’s house. I agree that the rule is moronic and more image conscious. Still, if I were fortunate to be asked to work there, I’d get out the straight razor and get to it.
    Hey, at least you’re being asked to shave your FACE (wink). Ever swam competitively?

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  21. Jeff Spector on April 8, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    “When did you serve in the Oakland Temple? Our paths may have crossed!”

    1997 – 2003

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  22. Jenkins on April 8, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    My 18 month old daughter’s favorite book is a new testament picture book she is convinced is about ‘daddy’. She especially likes the picture of the dove descending on me. She also loves looking at all the pictures of me in the hallways at church.

    It’s time for the church to stop reacting to the sixties. There are much more pernicious things out there to be concerned about.

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  23. Douglas on April 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Jeff, if you worked Sat AM or Wed PM then likely our paths did cross. Our stake in the Sacramento area scheduled a monthly trip (this was prior to 2006 and the dedication of the Sacto temple) on Saturdays and the middle singles for Sacto got Wednesday evenings.
    I like the scene near the end of “Planet of the Apes” where Col. Taylor shaves off his beard. Cornelius remarked that it made him look “less intelligent”

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  24. Jeff Spector on April 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    I didn’t work any assigned shift. I served when I went on our regular trips. They always asked for veil workers after the session was over.

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  25. Hedgehog on April 12, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    As the daughter of a man who has had a beard intermittently and only ever wears a white shirt in the temple, I say go for it!

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