November 23rd, 2014

Mormon Pharisees and Phylacteries

It’s not uncommon for my Facebook posts to receive hundreds of comments; the more controversial the topic, the more comments are usually generated. A few issues, without fail, rank near the top: military intervention, breastfeeding, and vaccinations. But these threads were recently overshadowed by an unexpected tidal wave of opinion on an absurd issue: BYU-Idaho students being admonished for exposing ankle flesh.

Individuals who attend one of the LDS church-owned educational institutions agree, as part of enrollment, to abide by the school’s “Honor Code”—a code of conduct governing things such as drug and alcohol consumption, interactions with the opposite gender, and dress and grooming standards. It is part of the price of admission to study at the tithing-subsidized church colleges.

As many critics have (correctly) pointed out, however, the minutia of these mandates can sometimes be borderline (if not outright) ludicrous.

For the past several years, the LDS Church has invested substantial time and money in the creation of video vignettes of popular New Testament stories. The production cost and attention to detail have been significant; as the Mormon Newsroom wrote, “The creators were careful to reflect the stories of the King James Version of the New Testament as faithfully as possible, paying meticulous attention to scriptural details.” This careful detail especially included wardrobe and grooming, ensuring that the actors appeared like the individuals they were portraying, to create fidelity to the original story.

This detail, of course, includes facial hair—a popular style for Israelite men during the time of Christ. Because some potential actors are generally prohibited from growing facial hair while attending one of the Church’s schools, the casting department addressed the issue on their “Frequently Asked Questions” page: “I go to BYU and they do not allow beards. Can I still participate?” The page clarifies that it is possible to obtain an exemption to the section of the honor code that prohibits facial hair for men.

One man in this situation, a student at the LDS Business College, obtained the exemption earlier this month after signing a lengthy and detailed agreement. Noting that the student had provided evidence that he was filming in the Church’s New Testament videos, the letter states, among other requirements, that he “is required to dress professionally (in a shirt and tie) as a way to compensate for not shaving” and “is required to wear a lanyard stating [he has] official authorization to wear a beard.”

Here is the student, with “professional dress” (“to compensate”) and his lanyard:

Let’s sum up: here we have a guy who has sought out an opportunity to participate in the Church’s videos recreating important and spiritual scenes from the scriptures. Assuming that he will be representing a “believer,” he will be trying to place himself spiritually, emotionally, and mentally in the place of one of Christ’s early followers. Despite this affiliation—potentially representing one of Christ’s early representatives—the student must be chastened, contractually constricted, and made to caution others as to his supposedly unclean and unkempt state.

Lest critics assume otherwise, let me clarify emphatically that I strongly believe in the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, its restoration to the earth, and modern revelation. Unlike many Mormons, however, I am completely comfortable in recognizing that the Church’s leaders are not always perfect, that individuals who are at times inspired are not necessarily inspired all the time, and that a leader’s virtue and wisdom does not automatically trickle down to subordinate staffers who implement and execute the various policies overseen by that leader.

I’ll say it simply: I believe that the no-beard policy at Church schools is stupid. The presence of facial hair is not an indicator of spirituality, intellect, or fidelity to God’s commandments; saints and sinners span wide swaths of society, including a variety of dress, grooming, cultural, and behavioral standards. Modesty and cleanliness can be easily achieved even with a beard. And as we all know, men in early Church leadership often had beards, and only in past decades has an apparent desire for cultural conformity developed into an institutional inquisition against an aspect of male bodies that God himself saw fit to include in His design.

Of course, Jesus himself is exclusively portrayed in LDS art as being bearded, and is never once thought of as being spiritually lazy, culturally rebellious, or any of the other stigmas assigned to beards by some Saints. It’s humorous, on that note, to ponder what a popular depiction of Christ would look like after undergoing the Honor Code requirements, as is shown here:

Like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, many people realize that there is no rational foundation upon which to construct an argument against facial hair that has to do with the spirituality of the bearded individual. Thus, most people who object to criticisms against these policies reduce the entire conversation to the requirement and agreement: Church leaders have decided to only admit clean-shaven men to Church-owned schools, and therefore anybody who has agreed to this provision must unquestioningly abide by it. It is, they say, nothing more than a contractual obligation—one which gives them no right to complain.

This trivial position entirely misses the point. Nobody is suggesting that students burn their beard exemption cards in protest like the draft dodgers of the 60s, or show up to the testing center with two day’s growth, or otherwise engage in defiance of the commitment they’ve made. The point is that the requirement is apparently arbitrary and asinine. The fact that many have agreed to abide by it does not automatically assign to it any relevance, reverence, or respect.

It’s hard not to draw parallels to the very scriptures in which this LDS Business College student will be immersed in his role recreating them. The Church’s depiction of the story of the leper being healed by Jesus accurately shows the man ringing a bell to identify his presence to passersby, somewhat akin to the lanyard-hung alert required of the bearded actor shown above. And the Pharisees, as we have been taught since our youth, were far more concerned with fanatical obedience to unimportant rules than the underlying principles and truths of the gospel—proudly enlarging the borders of their robes and sizes of their phylacteries to outwardly fake what they inwardly lacked.

Hugh Nibley, eloquent as always, emphasized this point thusly:

The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism… the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.

This is not so much a condemnation of Church leaders as it is of Church culture—a widespread attention towards, and reliance upon, external factors as a basis of judging inward belief and motivation. Pretentious policies predicated on false presumptions should be discarded; if “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,” should we Saints not work towards the latter rather than stubbornly focusing on the former?

129 Responses to “Mormon Pharisees and Phylacteries”

  1. Joshua Malan
    November 23, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    You have hit the nail on the head my friend. I constantly get the unaccepting/judgement “looks” from family and leaders of the church because I choose to have facial hair at times. It is like I disgrace their presence or place by showing up different. It was interesting last week I showed up to church in gloves that don’t have fingers (in a 3 piece suit and tie) and I was surprised to see so many unfavorable comments such as, “Are your hands ok?”, “Why are you wearing those?” and the frowns and glances of “You shouldn’t be wearing those to church”. It was almost as if I had forgotten to wear my pants to church! Not to worry though, I won’t be staging a protest like the ladies who want to wear pants to church, that is just silly. I’ll just be me, my wife likes it and that is all that matters.

  2. Steve Reed
    November 23, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Slam dunk, Conner.

  3. Dave P.
    November 23, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    It just sickens me how much the church culture is still clinging to the Law of Moses/letter of the law mentality because the Honor Code is complete proof of that.

  4. Steve Reed
    November 23, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    I’m not a big beard guy myself, in that I find them uncomfortable. However, I grew a nice goatee as Elders quorum president 2 or 3 years ago from Movember to Christmas and nobody batted an eye. Our current EQP has a full, nicely trimmed beard as well. I do live in Babylon (Las Vegas) though, I grew up in Texas and haven’t ever lived in Utah so I’m sure it’s a cultural thing.

    That’s not to say that we were immune from these kinds of things. We care about the spiritual status of others and unfortunately we try to help discern this with physical indicators rather than the spirit. This creates an environment where the wrong things are emphasized and where people may even find themselves as outcasts for pointless things like their clothing.

    Conformity isn’t a bad thing, but conformity about non-essential things leads to the kinds of environments and attitudes we see in the New Testament and among the Zoramites.

    The way we dress CAN be a form of communication, but I don’t believe that it has to be. If you are poor or have a different definition of what constitutes “Sunday best” then that doesn’t make you a bad person. Clothing can express humility as well as pride.

    While the typical “Sunday dress” is typically a little more formal than our normal clothing, I see it as almost a kind of standard neutral. A white shirt is pretty easy to come by, women have a lot more options. But if the Bishop shows up in a T-Shirt with Mr. T punching a shark on it then I dunno, that does seem a little out of place. So where is that fine line? Should there be some kind of grooming standard or guidelines?

    Or are judgmental attitudes just a given?

  5. Sam Madsen
    November 23, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    As one who has always preferred longer hair , and sporadic facial hair, I can give many examples of discrimination towards me by church members ov error my 60 plus years. We’re it not for my testimony of the restored gospel I would have separated myself from these people years ago.
    January of 1972 I was given a “standards violation” for not trmiming my side burns while registering for classes at BYU. When reporting to the Dean, it was discovered I wore a short hair wig to cover my long hair. I was allowed to wear the wig if done so while attending classes, university events , and eating in the dorm cafeteria. Later in the term this arrangement was terminated for not being “in keeping with the spirit” of the dress code.
    I could write my own dissertation on this subject. But, the gospel is true! The people are sometimes messed up. And the culture can be offensive and judgemental.

  6. Angela
    November 23, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I know this is controversial. I grew up in Utah and personally don’t care about beards or scruff when it comes to CHURCH. Honestly not every guy can make it look good, but it doesn’t phase me, doesn’t even register if you have shaved or not. Sidenote, I also don’t care if women want to wear pants. I choose to wear dresses and skirts on Sunday because I feel it makes the day a little different than other days. That’s my PERSONAL feeling and likely not the case with women that may feel pants strengthen their connection to the spirit. I say that with a bit of sarcasm because the point is when it comes to matters of spirituality, of course the length of your hair does not dictate your spirituality. I DO care, however, when the issue is imposed on everyone as a protest. (Get your husband to wear a purple tie to show he supports our movement! I am going to grow a nasty ugly mustache because that’s not a beard! Stick it to the man!)

    To go so far as to say “arbitrary and asinine” seems to show a ridiculous lack of effort in undersranding the purpose of the policy. I feel like the real complaint is based on guys not wanting to have to stress whether or not they shave before going to class or going to take a test. I attended BYU for both my undergrad and graduate degrees and never once did I feel the policy was meant to imply one’s spiritual value. It’s the same reason missionaries shave. It’s about how you represent yourself. BYU wants to be represented by clean-cut, serious professioal looking students. Does that mean that beards aren’t professional? NO. But can anyone honestly argue that if the beard policy were removed it would not lead to the majority (not all because speaking in absolutes is just naive) of guys getting a little lazier in maintaining their appearance? Many companies impose a dresscode. How is a policy to wear a suit and tie every day so different? It’s about how you present yourself and how an institution wants to be represented, not whether or not you have a testimony. I want to wear jeans to work but that’s not happening. The president doesn’t run the country in his pajamas…come to think of it, he doesn’t have a beard either. Not many presidents have been represented with a beard…unless you’re the president in a middle eastern country where it is a matter of CULTURE, not spirituality.

    If someone is throwing a fit about this in CHURCH, your statement is completely valid and I will support your argument. But to try to turn a dresscode policy at a private institution into a matter of spirituality and then condemn the bretheren for being “arbitrary and asinine” by having such a policy….I will have to politely disagree. Feel free to go to Berkley where you can where nothing but a diaper. Or maybe start a nudist University… then the protesters will wear clothes in protest.

  7. Brett
    November 23, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Another person driven to save the Church from its leaders.

  8. Stuart
    November 23, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    It may be accurate that the policy is outdated. Let’s consider why it was put in place in the first place, however.

    There was a time when growing facial hair was a sign of being part of the counterculture, or of participating in things that were not in accordance with the commandments. This was a few decades ago, but the policy has never been lifted because the stigma has generally remained in the world until fairly recently.

    In the interest of presenting a professional, clear image to the world of what kind of students attend the BYUs, the policy was put in place.

    It would seem at this point, though, that the policy is backfiring. It’s starting to make us look very unprofessional as both rebellious students and equally idiotic administrators quarrel passionately over such a small issue.

    “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” -Matthew 23:24

  9. Connor
    November 23, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Angela, the policy is carried over into church leadership, temple work, missionary work, etc. This isn’t just limited to the Honor Code.

  10. Connor
    November 23, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    Brett — not trying to “save” anything, just offering an opinion.

    And let me preface this next comment by saying that in no way am I comparing myself to Him, but it’s also instructive to note that your snide comment, if applied to Christ’s teachings and actions, would have found you upholding the Pharisees in opposition to Christ encouraging focus on doctrine, love, etc. etc.

  11. Allen
    November 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Is it helpful to compare different times and seasons with each other and with equal weight? Leveraging past policy against the present needs seems flawed.

  12. Log
    November 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Connor,

    The policy was set in place by prophets, seers, and revelators, was it not? If so, doesn’t criticizing the policy as both asinine and arbitrary come perilously close to apostasy?

  13. Amie
    November 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    It’s not a matter of “beard or no beard.” The church and their educational programs are known world-wide and as such, if you attend one of these institutions of HIGHER learning, you need to represent yourself in a professional manner. Beards can often be untrimmed and look unprofessional. So, to keep that from ever happening, the church has requires that there be no beards. It has nothing to do with the fact that beards are back in style or that Moses and Jesus had beards. We live in a different time. And if you would like your education compensated by the faithful members of the church, then you have to abide by the rules that are set. Even if you don’t agree with them or see why they are important. Did the people in the time of Moses know why they needed to look to the serpent to be healed? No, but those that were obedient and didn’t put up a fight about it were blessed. This whole beard revolution reminds me of something similar a few months ago with women wanting the priesthood………

  14. Breville
    November 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Dude I am seriously embarrassed for you on this post. Beards or having facial hair have a very symbolic meaning in the old testament. So you are either willfully ignorant of the scriptures or you just don’t care to understand them. There was a reason Jesus had a beard and there is a reason we don’t wear them today. Dude read your scriptures before you seek to counsel The Lord and his anointed. But hey congratulations on getting all your little followers to put you on your little pedal stool. You seriously sound like a fool.

  15. Lee
    November 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Maybe I am missing something, but I’ve assumed it’s a matter of professionalism and culture. And I don’t see why there should be backlash against harmless societal or cultural changes. If the ever-changing culture is absolutely always bad, then no more Halloween, Christmas, etc. because most Western holidays are Christianity mixed with Paganism… No longer are beards and facial hair seen on leaders, or the presidents of companies. Presentation is important if we LDS members want to be an example. If an adult speaks to me like a gangster or teenager, I have a hard time taking anything seriously because they don’t portray themselves in an acceptable or intelligent way. Of course, that’s just me.

    I’ve personally never seen backlash against a member with facial hair. Of course, I feel that a simple thing like clothing or grooming is not that big of a deal. Is shaving or (for ladies) wearing business-appropriate really that hard? For every commandment there is a temporal and a spiritual reasoning. It’s like Naaman refusing to wash seven times in the river because it was too simple. Yeah, it may be a bit silly, but at the same time shaving isn’t going to hurt most men. It shouldn’t be a detractor. I’d prefer to focus on my spirituality rather than my beard or lack thereof

  16. Clarissa
    November 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Consider me old fashion but I tend to abide by the standards or “pretentious policies” set forth by the General Authorities. The same General Authorities that sit on the board for BYU and other church schools. Should those same General Authorities over look the outward appearance of those attending the temple? Or the outward appearance standards dictated in For The Strength of Youth? Why were those standards set in place? If we believe in modern revelation and that we supposedly sustain those General Authorities (or risk the revocation of our temple recommends) then why are we addressing this as a cry for repentance? Maybe instead of finding fault with policies set forth by ordained leaders (that we rose our hands to sustain) we could search the scriptures to bring us closer to Christ.
    Just a thought.

  17. L.J.
    November 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    TLDR. Shave or go home.

  18. Mario
    November 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    This post makes me want to scream! It is absolutely FALSE doctrine to proclaim the Jesus wore a beard as a form a defiance against social norms or culture! Facial hair is deeply symbolic for the Jews! Please read and study your scriptures before making false claims!

  19. Connor
    November 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Mario, where exactly did I write or insinuate that “Jesus wore a beard as a form a defiance against social norms or culture”?

    Hint: I didn’t.

  20. Connor
    November 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Clarissa, the fact that Church leaders sit on governing boards of Church schools doesn’t, in my mind, imbue every school policy with divine approbation.

    It’s one thing to require adherence to reasonable dress and grooming standards to encourage attitudes and dress that reflects our belief in bodies being gifts from God to be used properly, etc.

    It’s another thing to make a kid acting in a Church video hang a lanyard around his neck advertising his “exception” to the policy and making him dress up “to compensate” for having facial hair.

  21. Connor
    November 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Breville, I’m not counseling anybody, nor am I ignorant of the Mosaic law’s references to growing and grooming beards.

    I suggest you read the post again. Perhaps then you’ll realize that there is no “reason we don’t wear them today.” People may choose to wear them if they wish, and those who do should not be perceived as spiritually inferior, culturally rebellious, sloppy, lazy, etc. etc.

  22. Connor
    November 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Amie, I don’t think your answer sticks. The same kind of policy holds for church leaders, temple workers, missionaries, etc. etc. It’s not just a school policy thing.

  23. Mario
    November 23, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I would also suggest that you study the words of the Lord’s annoited who have proclaimed that the reason for the no beard policy is just as symbolic for us today as it was symbolic in Jesus’s day to wear a beard. For members of the church whose faith is based on the fact that symbols are an integral part of our faith ( hello sacred symbols in the temple) you are very much showing your Ignorance on this subject and frankly it is rather disturbing and you are making a mockery of sacred things. It is akin to you saying that you don’t believe endowed members of the church should wear garments! It is that serious in nature. Connor this is a subject you clearly don’t have any spiritual understanding on so I suggest you seek, ponder, and prayer lest you lead others astray like Kate Kelly!

  24. Jeremy Hardman
    November 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Connor, the premise of your argument lies on the rhetoric of an outspoken scholar. Hugh Nibley was not an Apostle and therefore has no official authority regarding church matters. I would be careful with using comments like that to discount the counsel given by our church leaders.

    The students who attend church funded institutions act as representatives for the church. As representatives we are asked to follow certain standards. These standards might be stupid but we must not forget that the standards are ultimately issued by our prophet and should be treated as such.

    The question isn’t if the rule is stupid because with no doubt I agree that it is. The issue is that if you are given the privilege of attending a church funded institution you are expected to act as a representative for the church and must follow the guidelines that the prophet deems acceptable.

  25. Kevin J
    November 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Coming from someone who was a BYU student and got a beard exemption to participate in the Bible video productions, I never had any “judgmental” reactions from people (unless you count occasionally being asked to show my beard card when I went to the testing center or gym judgmental). No one at the Honor Code office ever asked me to dress “more professionally” and my beard exemption card was carried in my wallet – not around my neck. Sounds like LDS Business College has stricter standards than BYU in this case, and as a private university, that’s on them to decide how they want to deal with something like this.

  26. Austin Barkdull
    November 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Here’s the thing you’re all forgetting. BYU is a private university as is every other church owned university. So you may take issue with their policy. You may think its wrong but at the end of the day those universities can make whatever rules they want and when a student applies to that university and accepts the admission they agree to those rules.

    So far the only reason I can see for this rule is pure and simple professionalism. They want people to look a cut above, they are fostering an environment geared towards getting students ready for a professional career where people judge a lot on how you look.

    Long story short, it has little to do with religion, a lot to do with success in the job field and in the end the public don’t really have a say.

  27. Jamie
    November 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Why must people complicate such simple and beautiful things?
    Have you and are you reading the BOM? Do you believe it is true? if you believe it is true, then you believe Joseph Smith truly saw God, the Son, and by the spirit translated this great book that testifies that God is the same – meaning he is aware of each of our times and concern during those periods.
    If you know Joseph Smith is true, then you know as well that the prophets that have followed him are called of God as well. Even till this day as they watch over the church, the churches school,and mostly watch over us.
    Have faith as Moses and his people did, with the serpents. As the early saints about the word of wisdom. Sometimes understanding comes as we are obedient. That’s what is, the first step of this Gospel.
    Please, just have faith. Read the scriptures, pray about it, and see its beautiful simplicity. As we obey, we will understand. Trust the brethren. For, even you do not trust the brethren, then you question their authority. If you question their authority, you do as well that that power came from God through Joseph Smith. If that is the case, what do you believe? Have faith, and obey. Understanding will follow, not on you time, but the Lords.

  28. Chris
    November 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    I’m noticing quite a few posts from people who disagree (which isn’t bad, necessarily) is that criticizing a policy (which has no basis in doctrine, whether in the scriptures or out) brings out comments that suggest Connor is an apostate, or is “dangerously close” to it.

    I think that’s not only a sad state of affairs generally, but also systemic and culturally idiotic concept to hold. There is nothing in the scriptures that suggests that having a beard is bad, nor were even the reasons for instituting the policy in the first place indicative of such things.

    No, it was because beards were seen as communist, or “counter-culture” (Bob forbid people realize our entire religion is founded on the idea of being “counter-culture”) back in the 50’s-60’s.

    That is not an issue anymore, period. And I’m not “apostate” for suggesting such. And it’s ridiculous to even suggest that.

  29. Jeremy
    November 23, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    You lost me at “stupid.” Your usage of language was great until then. I agree with your position to an extent, but I can’t read something that’s written with such ridiculous words.

  30. Stephen
    November 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    What is funny about this, is that if we for some reason were the better for being shaved and clean cut in Gods eyes, we would have been born with a razor in our hand. (men I mean) If a school, should it be BYU or any other, requires a certain appearance to attend, that is their right to make that rule. Live by it or go elsewhere. Personally I think that Walmart should make it a rule that no men are allowed in the store that came in an old teeshirt and nylon basketball shorts (that look more like a skirt than shorts) with plastic flip flops that they have slept and lived in for the last week. You get my point no rules and it could get really ugly.

  31. David Wade
    November 23, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    This is a cute article, and a timely one. I was just having a conversation the other day about how beards are popular now. It’s not metrosexual now; it’s lumberjacksexual. That said, you can’t criticize the honor code because it’s an honor code. It’s not supposed to be a democratic document. If it becomes a democratic document, it undermines the honor code so severely that it should no longer exist. We stand by it or we don’t. It’s fun to have a blog, right? It’s fun to be logical about something that isn’t logical, but there’s a reason why this isn’t logical–it’s religion. We don’t make up the rules. We just believe or we don’t believe, and I don’t want to be part of a religion that changes its mind. Do you? God is not up there thinking, “Hmmm, sure hate those hippies, but prostate cancer is bad. Hmmmm. Okay. Nevermind. You can stop shaving now.”

  32. Austin
    November 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    I just wanted to set something straight real quick, those who are given permission to grow a beard at BYU Provo are neither required to where a lanyard nor a shirt and tie while on campus. Since you seemed to intentionally make an over generalization of that particular part of the policy pertaining to all the BYU institutions I thought I would clear that up for you.
    Also, why do missionaries not grow beards? They are held to a higher standard of cleanliness. The same aspect or point goes to those on BYU campus. I don’t see the point in railing on such a trivial thing. You use scripture to get across your point… Well… I thought I’d share one too.
    Jarom 1:4-5
    Really it’s these little things and stupid arguments that drive apart members of the church. We are all entitled to our opinions of course, but there comes a point in time when voicing an opinion against set policies of the church and its organizations does a lot more harm than it does good.
    Connor, as a brother, I would invite you to pray about it and go straight to the source, casting out all other opinions or external influences and ask our Heavenly Father what he thinks about the situation. Sometimes we won’t always understand why we are meant to do something, but at least we’ll know what God wants and expects of us.

  33. Tasha L.
    November 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    It is amazing how obedience to small things like the honor code can define our lives in the long run. Our church leaders have chosen to create a campus that is quite different than many other Universities, thank goodness. (Google the Imprimis article “Man, Sex, God, and Yale” by Nathan Harden ) So, they create a code of conduct and a dress code. They have to draw the line somewhere. Do social norms factor in to the code? Certainly, and for good reason. They are asking students to avoid extreme styles, as well as asking them to avoid seemingly “little things”. Kim Clark says it well: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/2006_01_10_clark.htm

  34. Doug Merrell
    November 23, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    Sounds like all this article has done is stir up contention, and as we know “contention is of the devil”, should it really matter if the religious owned institutes of education have a dress code? I don’t know, and really don’t care, but if I sign up to go to that institution, I agree to follow ALL the rules. Remember obedience is the first law of heaven. I don’t think the lord really has an issue with who has a beard and who doesn’t, but he does have an issue with who is obedient and who isn’t. And you can always grow one once you graduate, heck you can even go get a tattoo of you really want one.

  35. Jenny
    November 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    I get why BYU has this restriction of beards to a degree. What i don’t get is Why can’t bishops or men in higher callings have beards? My husband is so handsome with his beard. He has a beard trimmer he uses every day. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

  36. Collin
    November 23, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    After reading through these comments, I have found myself feeling very sad for much of the culture that surrounds the church. I feel a lot of hate and criticism. I feel a lot of anger. Why can’t we see each other eye to eye? We judge too quickly, and don’t take the time to understand and look at other peoples perspectives enough. We are quick to make up our minds on subjects, and not consider alternative options. That’s how the church started, and how much revelation was received. People question things and get answers to those questions. So I don’t understand why people feel it is bad to question things.

    First of all, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with having a beard. If we think there is, maybe we should read about judging others. I have read a few comments about how being clean shaven is somehow more professional than wearing a beard. I would disagree with this comment. I don’t believe that having a beard says anything about professionalism, and believe that we should judge people by their works, rather than their appearance.

    I also want to point out, that while BYU is a private university and they may do what they like with the honor code, IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO ATTEND BYU THAN IT IS TO ATTEND THE TEMPLE. I find something very wrong about that. I think the honor code should be the same as the temple recommend. I don’t think that is asking too much.

  37. Tyler
    November 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Great article. I attend BYU-Idaho. Honestly I hate shaving, but I do it because I am supposed to. I feel like there is a HUGE problem with how people treat others that don’t follow the honor code to a perfect T, but there are also worse things than not following the dress and grooming standards. For example, judging people because they don’t follow the honor code. It is so annoying.

  38. Matt
    November 23, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    The fact of the matter is, everyone who has CHOSEN to attend a Church university also CHOSE to sign the Honor Code. Just because they decide, after having attended for some time, that they want to grow a beard, doesn’t mean that the policy is any different. If you don’t like what YOU SIGNED then you shouldn’t have signed it. It’s part of the real world. There are agreements everywhere. There’s no avoiding them. A contract is a contract.

  39. Scott
    November 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    the honor code wasn’t written by church leadership. it is not considered revelation or scripture. it was composed by students in the 70’s. for years it has been followed without questioning the nature or origin (something that is very common among lds people). it’s an outdated set of rules that have zero bearing on anyone’s worthiness or standing within the church.

  40. Brandt Hurley
    November 23, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    I am writing this comment more as a way to think about where I really stand on the issue and not to criticize anyone in the comments or the author of the article:

    Also it should be noted that I went to BYUI and was subject to the honor code.

    I think the article is well written with points to consider. ultimately, I do honestly think that this topic has been reviewed and considered by many leaders of the church, not just one or several but many, I think it’s safe to say the 12 and the prophet are well aware of this debate (though I admittedly have no actual proof). I honestly feel that these leaders, whom I also assume have prayed for inspiration on this, have felt it unnecessary to change the honor code at this time. I believe that if the Lord wanted it changed he would have made it happen through inspired leaders. This to me was a good enough reason to personally keep the honor code, as it hearkens to the scriptural doctrine that the Lords ways are not our ways, and I do believe the honor code is divinely inspired by God. There are just too many instances of the Lord doing seemly abstract, absurd or strange methods to accomplish his work for me to be very concerned about not shaving which is admittedly abstract in some ways.

  41. Cameron
    November 24, 2014 at 1:56 am #

    Ya Connor, like “log” said, by actually having the nerve to publicly post an original, well thought out opinion, you are coming “perilously close to aposticy”. I can’t believe that you haven’t had that free thinking intellect beaten out of you yet. I do however find it rather amusing that the fact that you are able to have an unbiased, rational opinion and express it with such an air of comfort ability that it prompts such uncomfortable feelings and emotions in people. I truly enjoyed reading your post. Thank you.

  42. Sam Batt
    November 24, 2014 at 2:33 am #

    Surely it would be fair to assume that the policy at BYU has grown from the policy for temple workers and missionaries. These would certainly have been prayed over and agreed with the Lord before being implemented. That the brother was asked to wear something that stated he had permission makes perfect sense so as to reduce others thinking ‘why is it okay for him and not for me’. It also increases the awareness of what he was doing which can only be a good thing. This article smacks of ‘there’s a church policy that i do not like because it isn’t the social accepted norm at present’. Well living church policy and yes even just plain old church customs gives a great degree of protection in life. It is obvious that people shouldn’t be stigmatised for having a beard. that is wrong but where is the issue, persons judging others on their appearance aren’t exactly living the gospel fully are they. If there is a standard we are asked to live then we are asked to live it. It is up to us to live it or not. Further we set an example to the young men and children in our ward who will be asked to be clean shaven on their missions. I can hear the cries already about adhering to church policies and customs being a form of protection – if there is anyone wondering about that just go read a few general conference talks from the past few years, especially by Elders Nelson and Oaks who are incidentally members of the Quorum of the Twelve. (MIGHT BE WORTH TRUSTING WHAT THEY SAY – JUST A THOUGHT)

  43. Sam Batt
    November 24, 2014 at 2:37 am #

    And aside all that, women are asked to dress modestly, men are asked to not wear a beard – wheres the issue?

  44. Angie
    November 24, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    I am amazed at the negativity flowing in response to your post. I’m quite the pessimist, and it even surprised me. I love debate, questioning and searching for the answers that are right to me. While reading I agreed with much of your position. I decided to twist my perspective and try to see it from a “faithful” view.

    As you wake each day and lather your face with soap, stripping it of the new growth, you are taking time to prepare yourself to be viewed by the world. It’s a daily reminder that can prepare you to be diciplined and obedient, ready to follow the direction and guidance that may be given. Learning to follow direction as arbitrary as shaving your face can prepare you for something unseen and substantial. As you prepare your exterior you are preparing your spirit but only if you choose to see it that way.

    I object to many things the church puts out or enforces. I may think that things shouldn’t be applied to me. I continue to struggle with faith, especially when it comes to organized religion. As I read thru this I noticed the some of negativity in response to your “opinion.” Negativity never ceases to surface in our opinions of others views however the delivery can be given in positive ways. The ability to deliver your rebuttal is a sign of maturity, and respect and love for the growing mind/spirit. I appreciate your willingness to address this issue. It’s important to question all things and discover the reasoning through our struggles.

    For all those who are responding to Connor, it may be appreciated by those lacking faith, understanding and motivation to see things delivered in positive ways as to smooth the cultural view of the church. For as easy as it may seem for some to have the ability to understand why clean shaven faces are requested, kindness and understanding seem to be a distant ability for many. I hope the questioning will continue and the responses will uplift us all and help to grow our foundations.

  45. Connor Xu
    November 24, 2014 at 5:08 am #

    So… nobody here has ever read 1 Corinthians 11:

    3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

    4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

    5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

    6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

    7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

  46. Heidi
    November 24, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    Wait wait wait… You’re telling me that at a school with a strict code of conduct it is an insult that he have to wear the lanyard. It sounds as if your saying he’s wearing the scarlet letter. To me, the lanyard says, at this school with a strict code of conduct, let’s find a way to make sure that he doesn’t constantly get stopped by faculty and get in trouble. It also says to me, let’s find a way to let the other students know that he got an exemption so either they don’t rat on him or that others don’t start following what he’s doing and get in trouble themselves. The suit I think is stretching it but you’re focusing so much on this lanyard and I think the lanyard safeguards him from possible issues.

  47. Mato
    November 24, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    Nibley Quote is golden.

    Some of you on here need to chill out, were talking about beards!
    I imagine Brigham Young would be lol-ing right now at some of this.

    There is nothing wrong with questioning a policy. Connor can have his opinions.

    Careful to place you faith in man. Our faith is secure in Christ. Our God is light and truth, intelligence radiates from his presence. Just use what ever you can your head your soul get a little piece of that light when we all think things through.

    There is no harm in information about policy or ideas about beards.

    It’s pretty simple problem and solution.
    1. Your school has rules to follow, they are not without reason in someones point of view,
    2. You can follow or not.
    3. If you don’t like that, try to change it in the right way.
    4. If that doesn’t work, it’s all good, just keep doing what’s within the spirit.

    You should find out the reasons why they have the code in the first place. Honestly look at it from the others point of view. Take into account the thousands of students your policy’s would effect. Where would that lead them to in the future?

    Maybe a good reason is professional image.
    Image does matter in a world that judges by appearances. Kind of stupid world out there sometimes, but we are working to try to do the best we can to be a light to the world. It’s only smart to factor in those variables.

    Look at Christs example, he was social. He did the weddings and other traditions to an extent. He enjoyed the good aspects of culture and social involvement. Why is that?
    It’s about communication to other people.

    Things to remember:
    Breads are human hair and normal
    maybe BYU policy was made by the students
    BYU policy is not doctrine of the whole church
    Who said all of BYU policy is direct revelation? Don’t assume that unless you have good reason to know that.
    Not everyone has to agree with you, and you have to deal with them to solve problems
    The breathern disagree about things as well, it’s ok. When the final word is had they can see that, it’s nothing personal
    Together we all come together and harmonize, different ideas are valuable to organizations
    In policy, think about what is best for everyone, not just personal bias or preference.

  48. jared
    November 24, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Jesus looses his super powers when you cut his beard off. I couldn’t ever follow a clean shaven Jesus–that would just be too ordinary (think superman without his cape). Or maybe instead the artist should paint a “beard exemption” tag on the original painting and leave it at that. Perhaps that would drive home the point more.

  49. Christiaan
    November 24, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    Good article Connor. It’s a good thing policies like these are not known throughout the rest of the world. I live in The Netherlands. I never attented a school or held a job where I wasn’t the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I live in a country where religion is looked down on because hundreds of years of unexplained and unhealthy Catholic rituals, rites and policies have left an enourmess stigma on people. Our culture doesn’t trust religious organizations because of the believe that religious people follow leaders blindly who make up rules and regulations that don’t make any sense. In other words; every religion is seen as a cult.

    I have worked hard for many years trying to get my friends enthusiastic about- and involved with the gospel. Just imagine what would happen if my friends got to hear about BYU grooming policies and unmistakenly (I wouldn’t entirely blame them) associate these with the church I am a member off. I will garantee that would be the last time they ever showed interest. I wish and hope members (including myself) will learn to start using the Holy Ghost more often in the future.

  50. Saxoclese
    November 24, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    As an observer outside the “faith” in Utah the past 48 years I have concluded that the priorities of both the LDS Church and BYU are about “keeping up appearances”.

  51. Noor
    November 24, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    There is a temple recommend question that asks if you sustain church leaders. Calling their policies “asenine” iver such a trivial concept is not in the spirit of sustaining them. They are not Pharisees. They are chosen. Church policy says nothing of beards.

    Private school policy does, which they have every right to without being dragged into an argument. There is wisdom in the policy if you do your research into the why’s (even if you don’t agree).

    To disagree with a school policy is fine; to relate it to the church and purposefully make controversy just to get comments is not.

    To hint that the church’s mission standards are also “asenine” is to “kick against the pricks”, demanding the church conform to you.

    There are plenty enough who “strain at a knat” without having something else to encourage anger in them. No need to be so controversial for worldly popularity.

  52. Chuck
    November 24, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    Why can I go into the House of God; but I’m excluded from a college that bullies Savannah State? I’ve been a beard wearing member of the Church for about a decade now. I shave my head and at times have grown a mohawk. Why do I have to look like everyone else to kneel down at night and talk to my Father? Why do I have to be clean shaven to open the Book of Mormon and study with the help of the Spirit.

    The biggest cultural problem in the Church from my POV is too much emphasis being placed on appearance and church attendance. People don’t care to get to know the heart of the motorcycle riding, beard growing temple attending members. I’ve been facially profiled in the past by an EQ president who, at the same time as he admitted this to me, told me I was the best home teacher he had ever had. And as a current member of the EQ presidency in the UT ward I live in, the few guys with facial hair are the ones that were signed up yesterday to help with the snow removal assignment while the clean shaven guys let it pass by (w/ the exception of the EQ Pres). Male members should be required to have beards if that’s the standard that is set.

  53. John Fronk
    November 24, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    This is an actual conundrum. On one hand, the Church schools want to show an image of conservatism and wholesomeness. On the other, they want to show love and inclusiveness. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong about going for an image. Our basketball coach believes in having an image of conformity and toughness. He believes that images is represented by a clean shaven close crop hair cut. All his players conform to that standard or they are not on the team. This is a public school and no one seems to have a problem with it. I’m sure most people don’t have a problem with the standards set by Church schools and they are very reasonable and understandable if you consider their objective of image. Where I have a problem is when administrators connect some kind of morality to these standards beyond the intent of image. If the school has a visitor with a beard or a special circumstance calling for a beard. These people shouldn’t be treated like they have broken some moral code. A student shouldn’t have to walk around with a sign around his neck saying his lack of virtue is only temporary. The problem with standards is when people take them to the extreme. If a standard takes away from the primary values of the institution, perhaps those standards should be reevaluated.

  54. Aaron F
    November 24, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Careful: a rational approach to church rules, doctrines, or culture typically does not end well. For the church, that is.

  55. Gena
    November 24, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Great topic. I totally agree that a church school policy shouldn’t be confused with doctrine, that happens way too often. I disagree that the BYU policy is arbitrary. As others have mentioned, BYU is a professional institution with a valid reason for a dress code. I’m a BYU grad and I knew plenty of guys who had “beard cards” allowing them to grow a beard for whatever reason, medical I’m guessing. They didn’t have to wear a lanyard or anything. That appears to be something they did especially for the actors. You have responded that the same policy holds for missionaries, temple workers and other church leaders. Not true. Missionaries yes, and for the obvious reason, they are full time representatives of the church, its like part of the uniform. They also wear suits and ties and badges, all totally appropriate for what they do. Temple workers and other church leaders have this requirement sometimes, it depends on the temple or stake president. I think they can have a valid case for asking it as well, as they are leading and representing the church. Some leaders may see a need for the leaders in their area to be clean shaven. Others no. It isn’t a churchwide policy. My ward a year ago had two bishopric members and the Elders Quorum president with beards/goatees. In Utah. I know bearded temple workers too. Anyway, like I said I think the church culture discussion is more warranted than BYU’s beard policy.

  56. Zach Leifson
    November 24, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    While I think that a private University has the right, and should have the right, to create whatever rules/honor code they so desire, I wish the leadership at the LDS Universities would consider how the culture within the school has the potential to impact thoughts and perceptions outside of the school as well. I was a bearded University of Utah student living in Provo (gasp), and am laughing right now as I remember a young couple behind me in line at a grocery store, making sure that I counted all of the 2-liters in my cart correctly. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why they would feel comfortable being so flagrant while making sure that I gave the correct number to the employee working the register. Then I realized that I was the only one in the store who had a good month’s worth of growth on his face.

    Yes, the student in the photo above agreed to abide by the “honor code,” but how can the administrators not expect the students of these Universities to judge their peers, as well as the general public due to these same rules? “The guy with the beard isn’t being honest, let’s make sure he counted his 2-liters correctly,” “that girl with those leggings is immodest, and needs to be told by a hand-written letter (if she only knew the thoughts which are going to take control of my mind throughout the rest of the day…).” I could be completely wrong in assuming that my beard was the cause for that couple to be so vigilant in their duties as honest BYU students, but if the dude with the beard obviously doesn’t follow the “honor” code when it comes to grooming, then it’s safe to assume that he doesn’t follow it when purchasing his caffeinated beverages, right?

    It’s interesting that students of these Universities are so quick to quote what Elder Oaks “once said” about beards, especially when considering that he gave that address during the hippy revolution, ABOUT the hippy revolution. Using the words of an Apostle to judge other members, or anyone for that matter, reeks of irony.

  57. Brittany Williams
    November 24, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    its a common misconception that it’s the church leaders that came up with the dress code at BYU Idaho and the other Church schools. In reality, it was the students who first attended BYUI when it was first transitioned from Ricks college that came up with the dress code.
    When a student decides to attends BYUI, they sign an agreement that they will abide the dress code, among other rules and expectations. Again, it is the student’s choice.
    I don’t think it’s so ridiculous that a student be asked to dress nicer while going unshaven. When you dress nicer, you act nicer and are treated with more respect. When you dress slobby, you act slobby and are treated like a slob.
    I now live by a college that doesn’t have a dress code and I really miss the BYUI dress code. I miss the modesty and comeliness of the students at BYUI and the self respect that comes with holding yourself and others to a higher standard. I personally don’t think it’s a punishment to ask a Student to dress a little nicer while sporting a beard just to show respect for the dress code they agreed to in the first place. But that’s just my opinion

  58. Geoffrey
    November 24, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Some of the dissenting comments that mystify me the most are the ones that say, “They’re a private institution! They can do what they want!”

    Of course they can. No one is disputing that. But at some point, each of these institutions had to sit down and say, “All right. We want to have an honor code. What should be in it?” Connor is belatedly joining that discussion and saying, “Beards? No, beards should not be in it.”

    Also, requiring every student to own a goldfish? Should not be in it. Mandating only red ties be worn to church? Should not be in it. There are lots of things that these institutions have chosen NOT to put into their honor codes, for good reasons. There is nothing wrong with stepping in and pointing out that there are similar reasons not to restrict beards.

  59. Matt Brewster
    November 24, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    I am amazed that there are people here who want to “scream” because of this article. It IS looking beyond the mark and it IS pharasaical. Specifics should never be enforced or preached. Leaders have forgotten that Joseph taught correct principles and let members govern themselves.

  60. John W
    November 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Many of the comments are precisely why I have left the church. A religion that teaches to blindly ACCEPT without thinking for yourself is not something I want to be a part of.
    Kudos to you Connor, for thinking for yourself. The church would be a better institution if there were more like you, AND if the rest of the church, who doesn’t think for themselves, wouldn’t attack those who do.

  61. Dan
    November 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I don’t want to sound anti (because apparently anything you say is anti nowadays), but we all discuss these issues with a complete assumption that the Chucrh is true. With all the stuff that has been coming out, like the essays, CES letter or mormon stories podcasts. Is there a possibility that the. Church isn’t true and we just waste so much energy in things that are just absurd?

    I’ve been struggling with this thought lately and it makes me thing of so many instances where I wasted my time focusing in things that are just made up?

    I hope I’m not offending anybody, but it’s something I’m sterling with and all the response I have is fast and pray, like if I haven’t done so.

    Thanks!

  62. Parker
    November 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I feel like one way to honestly settle the issue, is to find and define the line with absolute clarity. If the Church Education System wants to maintain a specific appearance, that is more than within their right. I would simply suggest that they make it a definitive stance without any room for argument. With the exception of medical issues:
    Clean shaven. None of this mustache business. They look nasty and most men(Women, please don’t grow a ‘stache; though you may if you truly wish…) with them look like pedophiles. If you don’t want to shave every day: don’t attend BYU; go elsewhere. It’s not a big deal. You can still be an upstanding member of the church without shaving every day and you can still be an upstanding member of the church without attending a CES school.

  63. Valerie
    November 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I have seen men in church with facial hair and not thought anything of it. I am a woman and have worn slacks to church when it was cold out side or coming to a week day meeting from another event. The web site for the church here in New Zealand states that you may come dressed in your best, what ever that may be. Women sometimes wear dress slacks and I have seen men in skirts (men in skirts is not uncommon in a pacific island country largely settled by the Scottish.) However most stick to the standard dress code of dresses for women and white shirts, suits for men. No one passes judgement on anyone if they do not follow the standard dress code.

  64. Jacob
    November 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    My opinions are neither here nor there regarding this matter, but I do want to point out one thing in the article:
    I was also issued a BYU beard exemption for New Testament Filming. That exemption had to be obtained by the LDS Casting Office and not myself. I also didn’t have to dress nicer nor wear a lanyard. All I had to do was make sure my beard was well maintained.

  65. Mom of 10
    November 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    I remember a story recently of a Bishop who dressed himself like a homeless man and went to his ward to see their reaction to an unkempt homeless man in the midst. The ward members failed.
    So yeah that’s pretty judgmental etc… on all fronts.
    So perhaps the best thing would be “teach a man correct principals and let him govern himself “.

  66. Rachel
    November 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    News flash for those suggesting that the beard policy is inspired by the Lord’s Annointed: the prophets and apostles don’t create every single policy in force at LDS church schools. Consider the fact that it is perfectly within keeping with the Honor Code at BYU for a student to openly acknowledge that he/she is gay. While at BYU-I, it is against the Honor Code for a student to openly acknowledge that he/she is gay. If the prophet is authoring these policies, they would be the same across the board.

    Seeing these self righteous comments reminds me of how awful it is to be LDS. Needless to say, I’m glad I escaped it.

  67. B-rad
    November 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Presidents and (most) c-suite executives don’t wear beards because it is not the professional standard in today’s world. The Church works hard to present a professional, clean cut image which will always follow professional standards. You don’t shave to get into heaven, and you’re not required to shave to show your spirituality. You shave to appear professional. The Church has its reasons, and the reasons, or the people behind those decisions, are not stupid.

  68. Dave
    November 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    When I came home from a mission in 1974 I grew a mustache, it has not been off my face since. I have had a beard at different times in the 40 years since. I was told that I could not split with the missionaries, couldn’t do work with the seventies quorum and encouraged to shave so I could do so. I said no thanks. I did not grow it out of rebellion, I grew it because I felt I looked better, and felt better about myself by having one.

    and LOL at Parker above “most men with them look like pedophiles” Hahahahahahah I can only wonder what he bases that inane and uninformed comment on. but then his entire post smacks of the very attitude this article is about.

    well said and well put Connor

  69. LLP
    November 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Connor,

    Wow, I wish this many people would post comments on your political offerings. Arguably a lot more relevant to our salvation and exaltation than BYU’s Honor Code and its influence on Mormon culture.

  70. Jerry
    November 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Interesting piece. Personally, I’d support the policy regardless of whether it’s inspired or not. Private school can makes it’s own rules as long as it doesn’t break laws, and I can’t tell you how many “non-member” business associates that have commented to me about how refreshing the student body at the Y is, judging solely on their first impressions by their “appearance”. There are plenty of universities that offer an alternative. I’d prefer my children attend the Y, even if I have to buy them razors.
    J

  71. Taunya
    November 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Reading a lot of these comments, it makes me more certain than ever that joining the LDS church would be the very worst mistake someone could make. If disagreeing with a dress policy is considered equal to apostasy, that’s a level of frightening control that religions leaders have over their unquestioning, fanatical zealot subjects. If nothing in the church can ever be questioned, that makes it no different than radical Islam, early Catholicism or Jim Jones unquestioning cult followers.

  72. Reed
    November 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    This Comment is for Log, though he probably won’t see it. The answer to your question is “no,” having an open discussion about non-doctrinal issues is not Apostasy. Connor addressed this issue when he stated that he believes that Prophets are men and do err at times when deciding issues of policy (i.e. see Church’s recent article on Brigham Young’s “policy” decisions regarding African Americans and the priesthood). No Prophet that I know of has claimed infallibility. I suggest that you read “The Crucible of Doubt,” by Terryl and Fiona Givens, published by Deseret Book. Particularly Chapter 5, “On Prophecy and Prophets, The Perils of Hero Worship.” I don’t believe that it was ever God’s intention that the intellect and agency granted to us were intended to remain suppressed under threat of accusations of Apostasy. Free discussion without fear of indictments of heresy, I believe, are the seeds of true and vibrant faith and discipleship. I believe the leadership of the Church would agree with me, particularly Elder Holland, who often speaks of doubt and debate as a part of decision-making among Church leaders and of individual members’faith. I hope that you will see Taunya’s comment and the affect that the “get in line” approach has on those looking at our Church. I only hope that she is eventually exposed to the softer, more accepting side of the Church, as emulated in Elder Uchtdorff’s October Conference talk.

  73. Ben C
    November 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    To those who are lambasting Connor for disagreeing with the opinions of Church leaders, what will your reaction be when a Lehi, Abinidi or Samuel the Lamanite comes along? These individuals not only didn’t fit into the leadership hierarchy, but were given authority from the Lord to publicly criticize those leaders in the interest of preaching truth and repentance.

    What if Connor was inspired to write this? What if Connor had been commanded to write this (he probably would have stated as much in this article if he had been)? Would you ignore truth and the promptings of the Spirit because you’re convinced that anything but blindly obeying fallible men (the Brethren) constitutes apostasy?

    Furthermore, if you had lived in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, would you have had the spiritual clairvoyance to have recognized Christ as the Savior or would you have listened to the Rabbis and the rest of the Sanhedrin (Church leaders) who besmirched the Lord because they didn’t believe His claims of true authority?

    “And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:23)

    Some food for thought…

  74. Aurelio
    November 24, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    I love the beardless Jesus.

  75. Tap
    November 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Valid points. Listen to all the self righteous pharisees making ‘inspired’ comments. Pffft. Pull your heads out of your butts and focus on living instead of judging.

  76. Ty
    November 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    I have attended BYU-I for the past 3.5 years and still do attend it currently. I have a great desire to grow facial hair. I ride my motorcycle whenever I get the chance to, and I like the image of the motorcycle-riding, facial-hair-growing, carrying my concealed weapon (I have a permit) man.

    I have taken the time to ponder and observe what’s going on at the school, and with those who do not attend the school. For a long time, I would skip the occasional day or two of shaving and rarely, if ever, was asked about it. I certainly was not mistreated. The same man who gives me my ecclesiastical endorsement sees me during breaks growing facial hair, and loves me all the same.

    Then a thought occurred to me: Right, wrong, or indifferent, the policy of being clean-shaven has been instituted for those who sign up to attend BYU-I. That is my decision. I decided to make myself an honest man and shave every day. Guess what? I feel more focused, and better about myself. I have gained a blessing by following a guideline that I agreed to. Sounds kind of like a covenant to me. Perhaps not an eternal, ever-binding one that could get me in trouble if broken, but a promise with a blessing.

    I have a testimony that entering into and following inspired (NOT CHURCH DOCTRINE OR COMMANDMENTS) contracts can bring blessings. They may seem silly, but, hey, Why not?

    When I am done here, I will grow facial hair how I decide to. But if my friends or family were to attend here in the future, I’d share my simple testimony that if they’ll follow the honor code, they will receive blessings for doing so.

    I mean what I have said here. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

  77. Ben Williams
    November 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    nearly 42 years ago I left my non Mormon family behind boarded a greyhound bus and took a circuous 16 hour trip to Provo clutching only my admission slip to BYU, a suit case, and a pillow. I arrived early in the morning in pitch black darkness, stored my things in a locker and began my trek to campus. I had no idea where it was. It was January and snow on the ground and I mostly had on California clothes. As people came out of their homes to pick up newspapers I would ask is this the way to BYU? They would nod and point north trudging along to keep warm I finally saw the escarpment and began the climb up the side of the hill and found the Wilkinson center where late registration was taking place…then the sun came up and I saw for the first time Y Mount and I gasped at the majesty of it. I had no idea… No idea… I said a grateful prayer…grateful to be among the Saints after the ridicule and rejection I had from family and friends…I had such a glow in my heart then as I was standing in line two young men in suits came over and looked me up and down…I was puzzled. Then one spoke to me sharply…you are broader line…. They other confirmed …boarder line… I was stunned what did they mean? Then seeing the panic on my face they said Your hair is touching your ears… Go get a haircut…that was my introduction to standards…I quickly complied…I did not want to offend…but years later this espisode became symptomatic to me showing that no one cared about what was in my heart what I went through to come to Zion. It only matter what my facade was… Later I learned I could do anything I wanted as long as the facade was in place….

  78. James D
    November 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    I think a lot of people are missing the main point of this article and it seems some haven’t read it at all. The main point that I took from this is that we are being pharasaical when we view the codification of culture with the same weight as the laws and principles of the gospel (repentance & charity).

    Some of you bring up good points but aren’t rebutalling the message. Yes, BYU is private and can make whatever rules they want. Yes, they probably do it to get students ready for the “professional world”. But this letter-of-the-law paradigm has permiated our culture to the point that both loving our neighbor and being clean shaven is being taught or at least perceived with equal emphasis. The fact that Connor is being called to repentance for pointing this out only further proves how true it is.

  79. Andy Frank
    November 25, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    If you want to agree to live the honor code at a church institution, good for you. Personally I think making and keeping sacred covenants under proper priesthood authority is quite enough. I’ve never been asked about my facial hair in a temple recommend interview. To my knowledge there are no special privileges in the after life by virtue of one’s cleanly shaven face or white shirt. I was under the impression that what mattered was the Savior’s Atonement and our covenants. The Honor Code pertains to schools, and they just don’t have any direct bearing on matters of salvation. Following it is all well and good, but it won’t get you into heaven. We don’t covenant to live the honor code. I’m much more concerned about whether or not I have faith, hope and charity.

  80. Aaron
    November 25, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    BYU’s no-beard policy makes perfect sense.

    Most of the bearded individuals I’ve known are… well, there’s no way to say this politely… I’m pretty sure they’re in communion with the devil.

    Beards pose a very real spiritual threat, and such a threat definitely needs to be monitored and regulated. It’s not like beards are completely harmless, like frisbees, sneakers or firearms…

  81. The Absent Minded Housewife
    November 25, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    I’m just amused that whenever I see the practice of removing Jesus’s beard in that portrait, he’s always been left with the chin of a God…uh…that is, a strong often cleft chin. Jesus wouldn’t have ever had a rounded chin or a weak chin, would he? His jawline would have commanded respect!

  82. Cheyenne
    November 25, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    The author isn’t saying, “Lets rebel against the church.” However, I do not agree with this article. The fact is that the first presidency did approve of the Honor Code. I don’t go to BYU and I don’t have a problem with beards… It is your face do what you want with it. However BYU students have agreed to many rules one of which is that they will have a clean shaven face. I have no idea what it is like at BYUI but in Provo I feel like there is a pretty wide spread acceptance of people with beards, I think it makes men look more manlier (which is definitely a good thing) but if these guys are growing a beard just to prove a point, then they are rebelling against the standards set by the church, why on earth would you want to be a rebel? And when you say things like “… the requirement [the no-beard rule] is apparently arbitrary and asinine. The fact that many have agreed to abide by it does not automatically assign to it any relevance, reverence, or respect.” Is completely true, just because people have agreed to live a certain way doesn’t make it correct, what makes it correct is that the leaders of our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which I believe to be the true church. A church with a modern day prophet, who does receive modern day revelation) have said that, that is what the standards will be.

    To those who say it is out dated what would you like them to say? “Hey students, we prayed about it and feel that the no-beard rule is still the right way to go.” I think you would all still take issue with it. And more to that affect, what would you all think if missionaries started coming out and complaining about having to shave while on the mission? Yes, those are two different things but they are under the same idea of having a beard.

    One last thing, the honor code has been updated. At one point women were required to wear skirts on campus, as styles changed the honor code did as well, however the style today is short shorts and low cut tanks, this is still against the standards set by BYU, even to the point that if a girl is wearing too short of shorts at an intramural game, she cannot play. So we see by this that the honor code is not out of date, do you think those who made the honor code totally skipped over the no-beard section? I highly doubt it since this has been an issue for members of the church since it was put in place at the start.

    Beards are not a sign of disobedience, unworthiness, or a need of chastisement. The style has changed and there are ways to make them look very professional, but as I said before, if a BYU student is growing a beard just to prove the point that the honor code is out of date, then this student is taking action in rebelling, which is a contentious behavior. I would strongly urge the brethren who think like this, to re-think why they are doing what they are doing. As an unmarried girl who lives in the Provo area, if I see a beard I don’t run and hide, it doesn’t affect me, I’ve dated guys with beards and I’ve dated guys without them. One of the things I look for when dating a guy, bearded or not, is their desire to follow the prophet. Pride to the point of Cockiness is one of the biggest turn off I come across. Even though I like the bearded look, I would much rather date a humble man then a prideful one.

  83. Savanah
    November 25, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    My biggest question to everyone who has a problem with the honor code standards is this: have you prayed about it? When I read this article, I see lots of philosophies of men mingled with scripture. But what I would like to see from those complaining about the rules is a pure testimony that they have prayed about the honor code and whether it is an inspired rule which they should live while attending the school. I want to hear love.

    Sadly, I see discord. I see anger and frustration. Those are not the feelings of the spirit.
    The Bible Dictionary says “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God.”

    Maybe you truly have been inspired that the honor code needs to change to fit the prevailing standards of business-like attire. But I don’t think writing this type of blog is the way to try to achieve it.

    I have had my own issues with rules I felt were arbitrary and unfair. I did what I could to see if there could be a change or exception, and in most cases, I was turned down. I felt rebellion rise up in me – there were other ways I could get what I wanted. But when I went to the Lord and pleaded for understanding and help, I was enabled to accept the rule – unfair as it may be – and not fight against my leaders. It is hard. I know it. But it has enabled me to move on and to not let these issues be a stumbling block for me. The only person I was going to hold back was myself.

    There is so much going on in the world these days. Can’t we add to the goodness instead of trying to incite anger and rebellion. As I read this article, I don’t see love and reverence. I see willful rebellion. You want beards to be allowed. But guess what, this school is not a school created by a democracy. It’s a theocracy. Yes, the rules are applied and even sometimes made by simple men and women who make mistakes. But throwing the equivalent of a temper tantrum on social media is not the way to change things. Go to the Lord. Ask for his help and guidance. First, should it be changed, and secondly, how to go about getting it changed, if it is God’s will.

    Good luck.

  84. rellian
    November 25, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    I remember reading once, that the larger an entity grows, the crazier its executive level becomes. Because with the increase of people to manage, only the fanatical and insane are willing to do what it takes to stand out… hence, over time, the upper management become more insulated and fanatical. (The writings of C. Northcote Parkinson bear this out) A vicious cycle really. If this hold true in this case, then you have some pretty zelotic people who still remember haight-ashburry running the show… I have a feeling that has as much to do with the eerily-pharasutical stipulations as anything.

  85. IA Libertarian
    November 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Can we all at least agree that women shouldn’t wear beards?

  86. LDS of Arabia
    November 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Thanks Connor for sharing your article. I rarely comment on articles anywhere anymore but this is one I’d like to reply to since it’s a topic that I’ve thought about since my days as a BYU student. But before sharing my thoughts on the topic, let me share a little of my background. I’m an American member of the church. I’ve lived in various countries because my employment and interest involves cross-cultural communications. My most recent experiences living and working abroad were in Saudi Arabia, where my neighbors were literally Saudis, which is unlike most Americans who live in little Americas throughout the country. That said, let me respond something Angela posted.

    Angela begins her second paragraph by telling Connor that “[t]o go so far as to say ‘arbitrary and asinine’ seems to show a ridiculous lack of effort in understanding the purpose of the policy.” She then concludes that paragraph by stating that “not many presidents have been represented by a beard. . . . unless you’re the president in a middle eastern country where it is a matter of CULTURE, not spirituality.” As someone who’s lived among the Muslim people of a Middle Eastern country I found her concluding remarks showed, in her words, “a ridiculous lack of effort in understanding the purpose” for why Muslims in the ME wear beards. The reality is that regardless of where one lives, our culture almost always informs our religion, even in our policies, rather than the other way around. It’s difficult for most people to separate the two. Example, Muslims are encouraged to make the pilgrimage, if possible, to Mecca during their lifetime (hajj). During hajj, women are supposed to be unveiled. Saudi clerics tell their people that the veil is not Islam but tradition. Yet even on hajj, most Saudi women veil, despite the clerics’ efforts to get them to unveil. BUT as for the beards worn by Muslims in the ME, which Angela states is “a matter of CULTURE, not spirituality,” most Muslims in the ME would disagree with her assertion and assumption and lack of an effort to understand. In fact, if you ask Middle Eastern Muslims why they wear beards, they reply sounds like a reply we’d offer hear from Mormons should similar questions be asked of us. They reply that they wear beards “to follow the prophet” [their words, not mine]. It’s interesting that they wear beards to follow their prophet (Mohammed and, incidentally, even Jesus) while we dress and groom like our prophet (President Monson). So is their and our desire to follow the prophet based on “CULTURE” and “not spirituality”?

    *NOTE in the margin: Jesus is a very important prophet for Muslims and an entire “chapter” in the Qur’an is on the Mary Virgin. But they are like the Jews in that neither believe he is the Christ.

  87. LDS of Arabia
    November 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I’m back with a reply to Connor’s article itself. Connor’s correct in referencing the 1960’s as the beginning of the policy found in the church schools. While most of us likely know what was happening during the 60s that led to the policy, we might not remember that at the time, the church was still pretty much an American church in that most members were American citizens. It certainly wasn’t the international church of today. As Connor and others have mentioned, “dress and grooming” code extended to those going to the temple, where during the 1960’s male members could not attend the temple if they had a beard or long hair. However, what’s interesting is that the leadership were sensitive to cultural differences. Hence, while American members in general could not attend the temple If they had long hair, Navajo men could because they came from a culture where it was the norm and had a different meaning at the time.

    One of the interesting things I experienced in Saudi was the flip-flop of this. In my branch/ward, the church leadership read a letter once a year to the members of our branch/ward. The letter specifically directed the members to dress down when we attended church, so as not to call attention to ourselves. Dressing down meant wearing street clothes. Yet what I found interesting was that while almost all the members dressed down for church, as per the instructions, the leadership all dressed up in white shirts, ties, and suits. But there was what I perceived as an even more interesting inconsistency. Once I was asked by the Elders’ Quorum president to help with the sacrament. But just as he asked he caught himself and said, “No, you can’t do it. You don’t have a white shirt and tie.” Of course, neither did he, but he knew better than I what the leadership wanted. Later, the leaders brought ties to church so that those of us dressing down could put a tie on to administer the sacrament. A related story involved one of our members who “went native” after being their several years. He came to church dressed in a really nice thobe, which is the white “robe” you see Saudi men wearing on TV. Soon, however, he was asked by the leadership to stop wearing the thobe (equivalent of a dress) and dress down like the rest of us. Only much later did I realize that wearing that thobe was not much different than what the men in the South Pacific wear in attending church and administering the sacrament, i.e., a white shirt, tie, and a lava lava (equivalent of a dress or skirt).

    There is another “problem” we American males who live and work in the ME faced. Since wearing a beard in the ME is the norm for men, as it was for American men before Gillette’s marketing efforts so successfully changed American culture, I and many of my American colleagues let our beards grow. But soon we found that we had problems returning to the US on vacation because any man with a beard, especially one from the ME, was consistency viewed and treated with suspicion and delay when passing through US Customs. Eventually, those of us who had beards found it more convenient to shave our beards before returning to the US and then letting them grow again after our arrival. I’ve often mused that if Christ were trying to pass through US Customs dressed and groomed as he would have been during his time on earth, he just might end up in Gitmo!

  88. scott roskelley
    November 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    1) Are T-shirts which show the prophets since Joseph Smith and the name of the beard style for each allowed to be worn at BYU? 2) Are T-shirts which depict human evolution from crawling ape to walking bi-pedal hominid – to King Follet style glorified God floating in the air allowed? 3) Is a T-shirt which shows the history of seer stone use by Joseph Smith in the footnote 20 of the Book of Mormon translation gospel topics essay allowed? 4) Or – how about a T-shirt with the names and drawings of all 34 wives of Joseph Smith?

  89. Mayan Fox
    November 25, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    A friend who wears blue shirts to church was, while being set apart for a new calling, told with hands on his head, to wear a white shirt. Go figure.

    I guess that will make him a better ward clerk?

  90. Phil
    November 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    No beard Jesus looks like Bruce Jenner.

  91. William Roberts
    November 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Why does this matter?
    Are you hurt by this?
    Why should you care If you have facial hair or not. I click the little box that says do you abide by the honor code and if I miss a day or two of shaving bfd. My wife likes it which is way more important than the hair NAZIS at school. Look some other school will take my money, BYU schools don’t need it.

  92. Ken
    November 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    An opinion on quite possibly the most inane topic I’ve ever read anything about. Those 5 minutes of my life are gone forever.

  93. Alasdair Wright
    November 25, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    I like having short hair, as, this is easy to keep clean.
    And if someone has long hair/dreads/ or short hair , that is their business. Not mine.

    I well recall an ex-Railwayman – Member who has since Graduated this life – having a bit of a go. This came about because he felt got at, by members of the High Priests Group.

    I apologised on the behalf of others who have these ideas. His hair length was long; but tidy. So what? Yet, some thought to get at him, because of this.

    We remained Friends; regardless.

  94. KPReynolds
    November 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    BYU sends humanitarian groups to Africa. The pamphlet encourages them to grow beards while over there because they will earn more respect and thus stay safer. But, the beards must go upon return to BYU!

  95. Chris kenney
    November 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    Wow Conner…courageous write up. Beards have nothing to do with worthiness, God is the same forever, he does not change, right? So if Lorenzo, Moses, Christ and our depiction of Elohim in the first vision all had beards why could we not today? As for the comment on presidents of companies don’t have beards, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Richard Bransen all have beards and the are major visionaries. They run or have run the most thought and avant guard companies in the world so silly comment by Lee. No correlation with garments or doctrine. This is crazy some of the hateful comments I have seen!! I was written up by standards in 1987 at BYU for having to long of hair and no socks with my topsiders. I agree this is silly nonsense. So let’s move on to more significant issues, like:

    Finding out the book of Abraham was really inappropriately translated from Egyptian funeral scrolls is a topic we should over look. Read the essay on LDS.org

    Peace love and dogmatism….the Mormon way

  96. Juan Magana
    November 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    You have nailed it. I am no longer a member of the church but I did attend BYU-Idaho and agree that growing a beard is not related at all with being a better Mormon!

  97. Shane Cunningham
    November 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    As a 35 year convert of the Church, and as a BYU Graduate, facial hair is not important to me. I love the Church, but I have never become accustomed to our culteral proclivity to create standards for the sake of standards. There is a higher law, and it is born entirely out of a willingness to obey. It is our cultural pharisaical tendancies that still, after 35 years of church membership, demonstrate to me our “humanness” and “imperfect” preoccupations with “the letter of the law”. If our Heavenly Father requires me to come to Heaven with a white shirt and tie, I may actually have to pray about it, as I, by nature, hate wearing ties :-)

  98. David
    November 25, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    BYU is not the Church. It is a “private” institution and it has its own culture, history and stupid rules apart from the Church. The beard rule is stupid. It was stupid when it was made and it is stupid now. If that shakes your testimony, or makes you mad at anyone who would dare point out that it is stupid, then you have some serious problems understanding what is really important in life. BYU was taken over by a bunch of nut jobs in the 60’s. I’m not joking. The leadership made up arbitrary rules, spied on professors and acted like they were in charge of enforcing morality. They used to follow people around and write them tickets! For having long hair, short skirts, or facial hair. What ever happened to “teaching people correct principals and letting them govern themselves?” When did telling adults how to dress and groom become necessary? Face it, the rules are stupid. And anyone who thinks the rule is smart, better justify the rule! Not make some lame argument that appeals to fear and shame. Because that just proves the point that rules made by heartless Pharisees are defended by heartless Pharisees.

  99. Melissa
    November 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    When I was in college, I wanted to return to the church I fell away from when my parents divorced during my teen years. I went to see the bishop right after class, and he chastised me for not wearing church clothes. I couldn’t have felt more humiliated. I needed to bare my soul to this man, confess all of my sins, and he was already acting so unchristian by judging my appearance. Jesus and I are doing just fine now, and when I pray, he’s not concerned with whether or not I’m in a dress. My point is that the church would do well to look more closely at a person’s heart and not judge the outward appearance.

  100. Mickey Finn
    November 26, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    I always thought that we were required to be clean shaven so that there would be no margin of error,
    when the saviour returns

  101. brandon
    November 26, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Dallin H Oaks:

    There is nothing inherently wrong about long hair or beards, any more than there is anything inherently wrong with possessing an empty liquor bottle. But a person with a beard or an empty liquor bottle is susceptible of being misunderstood. Either of these articles may reduce a person’s effectiveness and promote misunderstanding because of what people may reasonably conclude when they view them in proximity to what these articles stand for in our society today.
    In the minds of most people at this time, the beard and long hair are associated with protest, revolution, and rebellion against authority. They are also symbols of the hippie and drug culture. Persons who wear beards or long hair, whether they desire it or not, may identify themselves with or emulate and honor the drug culture or the extreme practices of those who have made slovenly appearance a badge of protest and dissent. In addition, unkemptness—which is often (though not always) associated with beards and long hair—is a mark of indifference toward the best in life. As Elder Sterling W. Sill has observed:
    “A let-down in personal appearance has far more than physical significance, for when ugliness gets its roots into one part of our lives it may soon spread to every other part.”

  102. Brady
    November 26, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    People continue to amaze me!!! So many individuals have been institutionalized. Most of the devout members I know that are looked at as model members are the biggest hypocrites and most judgemental A$$holes!! But we are so quick to base our impression and judgement on physical appearance. Didn’t Christ say to love, not judge, be as a little child. You people are all tools! I get so sick of your holier than thou attitudes! It’s disgusting! No wonder the church gets such a bad rap! It’s because of the PEOPLE!!!! Notice how none of my beef is about church doctrine or scripture. It’s about the hypocritical individuals that are so full of themselves that they live such a righteous life. I have had to many experiences with life, my mission, members of the church my family for any one of you to say a damn word to me about it!!! Ye without sin cast the first stone! I sin and do my best to be forgiven by god everday!!!! So all you robots enjoy life! I need to go pray for forgiveness because of my post :) I love my beard and will rock it everday!!!!!

  103. Greg
    November 26, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    On an other level, the honor code does serve a beneficial purpose. As displayed by this conversation it most obviously does serve as a people-filter.

    Every student attending has to be okay with complying to some rule that could be easily regarded as silly, or outrageous. If a person makes it to silly or too outrageous to be complied with… poof – the student population is instantly made of *more* flexible (willing to purposelessly conform) and *more* reasonable (not prone to outrage) people.
    I think that’d go a long way in maintaining a university’s ability guide the global atmosphere of its campus. At church schools, I think the top things on their agenda are spirituality and education (not listed in a particular order).

    Given this filtering, what agendas would the policies most likely preclude… pretty much all of the hot-topic debates, isssue-handling, and activism going on at the most ‘prestigious’ universities throughout the country.

    I propose that church universities nearly completely govern the campus atmosphere -on the back of the silly and outrageous honor code.
    Brilliant.

  104. Bader
    November 26, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Hi to all, I’ve never attended to BYU nor BYU-I, but I’m a mormon and the best thing I learned over the years is that “Obedience without complaint is a better way to happiness”. Connor you said you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ was restored and if that happened was because the Lord chose right people to lead it, and if they can lead a worldwide organization, don’t you think they can put right people to lead an University also? Maybe we’ll never understand the fully purpose of the rules but one thing we can be sure of is that it will be THE BEST thing for us to do. I hope nobody feels harmed because of my words but that’s what I’ve learned through my tiny experience in this beautiful Earth, is not about being a better mormon, it’s just to be obedient.

  105. saxoclese
    November 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Listening to Bader, no wonder the LDS folks in Utah are called “sheeple”.

  106. Jeff
    November 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    I attended BYU from ’97 to ’03 and I was glad that we had dress and grooming standards. It gives the campus a totally different feel from other college campuses where the students wear sloppy clothes and extreme hairstyles. Friends who visited me on campus often noticed the same thing, and commented positively about it. The vast majority of students also support the policies and take a serious view of the fact that BYU and its students are worldwide ambassadors of the Savior and his work. I do not appreciate the fact that some current students and Internet bloggers such as yourself are making these arguments and are attempting to put BYU, the church, and church leaders in a negative light. Other news outlets such as The New York Times are picking up on this story and running articles that damage the church and attempt to make our leaders seem out of touch. If I were you, I would consider the harm you are doing to the Lord’s work and remove this post. The leaders of the church are not out of touch. You are.

  107. Iimx
    November 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Question then, are Sihks allowed to attend BYU?(and be fully Sihk?) Their standards are kind of the opposite on the outward appearance. Long hair and beards are a sign of devotion, I think it takes more effort to maintain very long hair and beards. Also the extra time to iron a turban. But many of the inner values are similiar. They do not drink alcohol or smoke, or do drugs. But they do drink tea and coffee…also have sacred underwear.

  108. Iimx
    November 26, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Jeff,
    Its purely image consciousness and superficial at that. I believe that the start of short hair for men was so that they would not get their hair caught in machinery. This was during the industrial revolution. I don’t know if men routinely got short haircuts before that. It makes sense that the LDS church would choose this image, because of the work ethic.

    But unless your job involves being near a lot of moving parts, its just a look. One can be a CEO or lawyer without short hair. Actually most jobs today do not need short hair for physical reasons. One might argue hygiene, but that doesn’t quite make sense as women are permitted to work with hairnets, hair ties etc… In the hospital I see Sikh doctors with the turban and a net for their beard, that apparently meets those questions enough to permit them to work as a doctor.

  109. Annalea
    November 27, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Joshua Malan commented: “Not to worry though, I won’t be staging a protest like the ladies who want to wear pants to church, that is just silly.”

    I find your agreement with Connor’s post at odds with this statement, Joshua. How do you rationalize saying beards can’t possibly be a reliable indicator of worthiness, while in the same breath saying women wearing pants to church is a solid indicator of a woman’s heart?

    Just, wow.

    Here’s an example of what has happened to many, many women who simply prefer the warmth and comfort of slacks:

    http://www.anewdaydawns.com/2014/02/what-pants-cost.html

    You can’t judge a woman by her church attire any more than you can judge a man by his facial hair. ‘Nough said.

  110. Noah
    November 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    this is a late reply to Log. here is what Log wrote:

    “Log
    November 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm #
    Connor,

    The policy was set in place by prophets, seers, and revelators, was it not? If so, doesn’t criticizing the policy as both asinine and arbitrary come perilously close to apostasy?”

    there’s a couple of things wrong with this rhetorical question. First, there is a difference between policy and doctrine. doctrine comes from god. policy is man made (albeit, it may be inspired). doctrine is based on eternal principles (i.e. love one another), policy is institutional and may change, as it has no effect on your immortal state (i.e. growing a beard).

    Second, i don’t think you understand what apostasy really means. Apostasy is living and/or advocating for behavior and ideas that are contrary to THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. the growth of a beard, or anything that involves outward appearance, has nothing to do with the gospel. the gospel is all about your spiritual state. growing a beard doesn’t represent a heightened or lack of spirituality. it’s neutral.

    Only until recently has the idea that everything general authorities say is in accordance with god’s will, and critizising them is bad, has been promoted. joseph smith said “a prophet is only a prophet when he speaks as one.” and we can see that this is true by the multiple examples of general authorities following man’s will over god’s will.

    As an example, take the banning of the priesthood and temple ordinances for black members. when you take away ordinances that are supposed to be for your eternal salvation, and the only reason you can come up with years later is that it was based on racism and not doctrine, that sounds like apostasy to me.

  111. Robbie Smythe
    November 28, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    I would say that this is peripheral, except that the dress and grooming standards appear to have been encouraged by our leaders in order to create a mainstream image to counteract some of the less flattering features of our doctrines and history. Some of the more challenging ones have recently been acknowledged by church officials in essays published on lds.org (https://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=essays). There you will find essays in which the church acknowledges participation in polygamy by Joseph Smith, including marriage to teen age girls and other living men’s wives, falsified translation of the Book of Abraham, Native American DNA tests showing that they are from Asia, not the Middle East, etc. Take a look if you haven’t, then you will have something real to talk about.

  112. LH
    November 28, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Good job with finding something that you and many people are passionate about and that is fun to debate, don’t worry this topic too shall pass. I am one who likes a good goat but facial hair is just one more fad that will fade with time. Many of the rules in the honor codes are at the mercy of the school president rather than the First Presidency. As an alumni of BYU-I, I had my opportunity to piss and moan about the honor code in that we could not wear shorts or flip flops to class. There were many attempts to change the dress code but to no avail. And, in retrospect, I don’t think it really mattered or impacted my ability to learn either way.

    I too have a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and his church and gospel. I was not raised in the citadel of the Church or its surrounding major pockets of members. I was raised that if you question a part of the gospel or church teachings that you present your questions to the Lord to receive your own answer to that question. There are many things that change with time, especially fashion. This topic will most likely die and have a new one spring up, it is just part of the cycle. With everything the leaders are trying to do to combat Satan and his attempts to draw away the hearts of men I don’t think they truly are concerned with who has facial hair.

    What it comes down to is will this desire to have a beard play a part in your salvation? Probably not. Will it keep you from receiving a temple recommend or passing the sacrament, no. Will it keep you from getting an education from a church school? Yes, and if you choose to attend a church school you won’t be allowed to don a beard among other things and after you graduate you can grow your beard to your hearts content.

    Fun debate, don’t let it shake your faith in the gospel. Jesus is still the Christ whether he has a beard or not.

  113. Ramdas
    November 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    1) The beard policy at BYU was student initiated.
    2) Being clean shaven is supposed to make the church fit in with the professional look of businessmen in the US.
    3) The current missionary look was re-instituted among temple workers in 2001 because, clearly, missionaries are the true standard of the pure in heart.

    1) It’s a policy and not a doctrine. No where in the scripture are beards ever condemned; rather, NOT cutting beards at all was commanded as part of the Law of Moses. Nazarenes covenanted to not cut any of their hair.

    2) Being a “peculiar people” is no longer acceptable. Apparently, we are all supposed to emulate the fashion of the business world where greed is king. If you look like Kenneth Lay, Jamie Dimon, Joe Adonis, Lucky Luciano or Johnny Torrio then you are clearly one of the spiritually chosen. If you sport beard styles favored by Abraham Lincoln, George Clooney, or seven of the sixteen prophets then you are clearly a rebel and in need of serious repentance.

    3) “When LDS apostle Heber J. Grant arrived in England in 1903 to oversee the Utah-based faith’s evangelizing abroad, his predecessor had required missionaries to grow beards as symbols of their maturity and dignity. A few days into Grant’s assignment, a timid missionary inquired as to whether he might be allowed to shave and Grant, a future Mormon prophet, readily agreed.”
    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56042739-78/beard-beards-byu-church.html.csp

  114. Lee Irons
    November 28, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    I think we can trace the anti-beard policies back to when the Church was fighting against the hippy generation. It did not want its young men and missionaries looking like hippies, nor being hippies, for that matter. Since then, the Church has been pounding into young women’s heads the need to marry return missionaries. After all, new and young families are the only way the Church will maintain its growth and continue to pay for and maintain its real estate. Now that the majority of the young women (and their mothers) have been brain washed to think that “clean-shaven” means missionary, and vice versa, men with beards probably have less of a chance of attracting a young women, and therefore failing to fulfill the only real mission of the Church, stop loss. So, young men need to look the role of a return missionary, whether they are one or not. The signage the young adult above is required to wear is only to emphasize, “I am still a good option for a mate.”

  115. Stephanie
    November 28, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    I just want to point out that as a female in the church, I find facial hair extremely attractive. I’m often criticized for this, but so what? To each his own.

    However, regarding the issue of facial hair at church schools, I would like to point out that these men signed the honor code (or whatever it is you do… I attended a state school). They pledged obedience to this honor code, including the part about no facial hair. So whether the honor code is wrong or right, or antiquated or not, these men agreed to follow it and should therefore live accordingly. I would add without criticism or complaint, but I know that I complain a lot about rules… Just sayin’.

    And if you want to attack this statement, go for it.

  116. iimx
    November 28, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    “Problems Associated with Shaving

    We know that the simple act of shaving imposes constant stress on the skin. Shaving is a form of physical exfoliation that can impact the health of the skin. Razor bumps, ingrown hairs, razor burn and inflammation are just some of the visible signs of trauma that the skin endures when a razor is used on the beard. Shaving triggers a high level of visible irritation and can lead to over-exfoliation, as well as a compromised lipid barrier.

    Our epidermis relies upon the lipid barrier layer that is part of the Stratum Corneum for protection. This layer of lipids keeps moisture in the tissues and controls the entry of external chemicals from entering the deeper layers of the skin. During shaving, the barrier lipid layer can be compromised, especially if the man is in the habit of using alcohol-laden aftershaves, which can remove the lipids comprising this integral part of the Stratum Corneum. Once the barrier lipid layer is compromised, water readily escapes from the underlying tissues, creating a dehydrated skin condition. Chemicals from the environment can now penetrate into the skin, causing irritation and a sensitized skin condition. Once inflamed, anything can irritate the skin, including daily shaving.

    In addition to all of the symptoms that sensitized skin may experience, we now know that inflammation leads to premature skin aging, which will undoubtedly also be a concern for the client.”
    http://www.dermalinstitute.com/us/library/16_article_When_Razor_Meets_Skin_A_Scientific_Approach_to_Shaving.html

  117. iimx
    November 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Interesting on spiritual effects of cutting hair…

    “Often, when people were conquered or enslaved, their hair was cut as a recognized sign of slavery. It was also understood that this would serve as punishment and decrease the power of those enslaved.”

    http://www.zengardner.com/the-spiritual-nature-of-hair/

    Maybe LDS leaders understand that a clean shaven population is easier to control. However, they cut their own hair…who are controlling them?

  118. Dave
    November 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    “One diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness” (Mark 7:22). What a waste of my energy.

  119. Greg
    November 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Since I believe in property rights I think the Church leaders can make any rules they want regarding their property.
    Since I believe in the right for individuals to make contracts with other people or groups this ban is acceptable.
    But since I don’t believe this policy came from God I believe the leaders who are implying it did are guilty of taking His name in vain.
    The more I see the actions of the LDS corporate leaders the more I think they are modern day Pharisees.

  120. doug
    December 2, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    In the Book of Mormon, when the Lamanites went to war they saved their heads. In this time, we have a group of people that have particularly offensive ideals. They are called skinheads because they shave their heads. We also have honorable, upright, righteous men that shave their heads. Go figure.
    My facial hair did not grow until well after High School. I have shaved less than 6 times in my life. It seemed to me that first thing in the morning was not the time to be putting sharp instruments to my face. I am now 60. The discrimination and hypocrisy does not escape my notice. But I, too, am a hypocrite. I wear a tie to church, but I do not discriminate against anyone else that does!

  121. jpv
    December 4, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    I’m especially uncomfortable with the fact the religious belief such as Sikhism is not an allowable exception.

    However, it sounds like an awful lot like you’re becoming a ‘thick libertarian’?

  122. Iimx
    December 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    JVP,
    I don’t know what that label means. Please explain what you mean by that. What I am questioning is that I thought I heard that someone doesn’t have to be LDS to attend BYU. Yet, one has to live the LDS lifestyle, look and dress like one. So, in reality, one really has to effectively be LDS. The double speak doesn’t make any sense to me. As a private institution I guess they can do whatever, but if one has to do all those things, effectively its a commitment to mormonism by agreeing to all the limits.

  123. Nona
    January 1, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    As a member of the church and someone who attended a private business college in California I want to clarify the following. BYU is NOT the only college to have a no beard policy. If you look at it like many do here it is to get a student in the habit of looking career ready. I have worked at executive level in human resources and they basically were the same policy of no beard in the company.

    So if you feel like picking an argument about an issue as petty as a beard than don’t just zero in on the church. A person who brings a good argument will look outside of just one college, business, and so on. Because in the world outside of the church the requirements that the church has are also the same as other institutions. To many times I have seen such petty arguments about BYU or church standards when many companies have some of the same.

    If you look at some news head lines that the US Navy is being sued over a beard and religious discrimination. Please, everyone knows the Navy has a strick no beard policy. My thoughts if you want to have a beard seek employment or education else where.

    Would you want a guy in a restaurant cooking or serving you your food with a beard. Or a women with her hair down. No! Though complete different types of organizations. The same thoughts are widely accept in society because it is company policy throughout most companies.

    So again make sure you cover all the basics of an argument before you try to make it just a BYU or church issue.

  124. Iimx
    January 4, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    Nona,
    Perhaps one could make hygiene an issue around hair being down or a beard without a net. But religion? I don’t understand the rationale. Sikhs actually have long hair and beards an ideal, along with NOT removing any hair from the body. Most male religious figures in history had beards. Many LDS historical figures had very prominent beards. This includes the Nazarene.

  125. nbrussard
    February 26, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    The policy at Church schools if not having beards came when beards were used by many as a sign of rebellion against government/society etc. Not wanting to be associated with that group makes sense to me. I have a beard and have for many years, during that time I have served in a Branch Presidency and as Elders Quorum president. On none of these occasions was it ever mentioned or suggested to me to remove my beard. Some don’t care for any type of facial hair, and that’s their view to which they are entitled. If I am not called to some particular position because of my beard, I’m not worried – my returning to live with Heavenly Father is not dependent in my holding a particular calling, just on my following the Savior to my best ability – which is not affected by facial hair or a lack of. It us unfortunate that people judge each other on anything, just because we do something different from someone else does not make us wrong or make us right just different and we are all different from each other in various ways. A saying I heard “don’t judge me because I sin differently from you”. We all make mistakes, growing a beard or some other thing we do does not define us as righteous or unrighteous.

  126. 1e'Unga
    April 13, 2015 at 12:44 am #

    Everybody is missing the whole point of this article! (MyCredentials lol).. I am a RM, BYU Grad and current NFL player! I believe we (lds members), need to stop thinking that the Prophets and Apostles are infallible! We tend to live by the, “what they say, is divine” policy! Well stop cuz its not true! Like all Christians, we believe Christ is the only one whos perfect! Well that would mean the Prophets and Apostles make mistakes! Imo I believe the whole grooming standard church wide (church callings, missionaries, honor code, etc.) were standards influenced more by society rather than by divine inspiration!

    The whole thing with members being offended by the article and think its all ignorance, look into the mirror! Ur faithfulness is ignorance! U only believe because it is coming from someone u hold to be infallible! Connor makes good points about faithfulness shouldnt be messured by looks and appearances! Yaw needa wake up and know that u can still be a strong member of this church and still not agree with EVERYTHING the prophet says to be divine inspiration! Just as the whole Blaccs and the Priesthood rule in the early church! God never withheld his Priesthood from any man.. It was the influence of society that influenced the early church leaders to withhold Gods power from African descents!

    So basically to fit in American Society, the church conforms to its rules and regulations, not divine rules and regulations! Believe it or not, it doesnt make u a bad member.. It just makes u an ignorant/blind believer if u refuse to accept that truth! I have a testimony, yet I know mistakes will always be made by men… Even men of God!

    And thats the truth!

  127. Vince
    May 4, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    I know this post is from late last year but I HAD to comment. It is astounding how people think that the beard policy was an actual prophetic utterance by God. Because a GA says this or that doesn’t mean it is God’s will. The bearded man can commune with God just AS FAST as the clean shaven man. We have allowed a Pharisaical culture to exist within the Church honestly because it is typical of mankind. Continuing revelation does not trump Joseph Smith. This is a very dangerous false teaching that has permeated the Church. Joseph Smith, who stood in God’s presence, was vouched for by God. He was the mouth piece for our generation and no pretender has any right to destroy what God revealed through Joseph and he does so at his own peril.

    For example, this is the Lord’s doctrine:

    31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.

    32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

    33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

    35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

    Yet we have “Mormon Doctrine” and other various volumes about Christ’s doctrine. There is no other doctrine besides what Christ, Himself, declared to the Nephites.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bearded Busters | lionboxx - November 25, 2014

    […] Frankly, the more I read about the cultural history and evolutionary psychology of facial hair, the more uncomfortable (or amused?) I am with the current (though contested) LDS bias against it. Having worn a mustache for nearly a year, I found myself in frequent conversation on the subject and those who defend imposed cleanshavenness generally do so on the grounds that 1) it looks more professional in most contemporary cultures and 2) it shows obedience to an unspoken (and sometimes outspoken) standards set by priesthood leaders. On the one hand, I find the first to be an acceptably pragmatic means of mitigating resistance to the spread of the gospel. On the other hand, I chafe under the fact that in bowing to corporate culture, Zion inadvertently espouses modern Babylon’s socio-economic superstructure. But maybe that’s going too far, and I’m all for diplomacy. Anyway, as for the second defense, I wouldn’t have a problem with the unspoken half if it weren’t for the many instances I’ve witnessed or heard of where the beardless publicly shamed the bearded, calling them to repentance for follicular transgression. But I’ll leave that rant to Conor Boyack. […]

  2. Peculiar Treasures: Brains, Barriers, Beards and Building | Segullah - November 30, 2014

    […] while the article and comments get quite riled up about Dress Codes, the image of Christ clean-shaven and in a suit is well worth the visit and appreciation, and this buoyant and encouraging devotional address is […]

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