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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Beards and Worthiness, Why Is It An Issue? » Beards and Worthiness, Why Is It An Issue?

Beards and Worthiness, Why Is It An Issue?

Don - November 27, 2006

I want to be fair and present both sides of this situation, but I really have strong feelings.

My middle son, a returned missionary got the part of Christmas Present in our Stake’s production of Scrooge. He’s a redhead and decided to grow out his beard for the part. The first Sunday after he started the Bishop of his single’s ward stopped him and asked if he had broken his razor. My son explained he was growing out his beard for his part in the play.

The play is now over, he did a fantastic job…considerably better than the one in the movie. After PEC this week, he’s the ward mission leader, the Bishop and 1st counselor had him stay for a talk.

The long and the sort of the “discussion” was his beard was not appropiate for the ward, it is a “small” sign of rebellion, a “small” sign of wordliness and generally not a good example considering his calling. He was asked to shave.

Here are the two sides and I see it and as my son and I have discussed it. The brethern have never made a statement about beards and worthiness, nor demanded that men be shaved except for missionaries and at church schools.

However, the Bishop is the presiding authority in the Ward. When the Bishop sets a standard / goal for his ward he expects that the ward members to follow that standard / goal.

Obedience is the first law of heaven. My son brought up in the discussion that the brethern have said nothing in regards to his type of situation, nor does the handbook say anything, and he pointed out examples of men serving in Bishoprics who have facial hair – including his brother. The Bishop has his standards for his ward and would like my son to shave.

What’s your opinion?

84 Comments »

  1. Maybe this is a good learning experience for the bishop. Your son does not need to shave. The bishop does not have authority to just set up whatever standards / goals for the ward he wants and ask them to blindly follow his will.

    I would seriously beg to differ that facial hair is some sort of sign of rebellion. I don’t even know where that idea would come from. Certainly not our doctrine.

    Comment by Veritas — November 27, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

  2. My opinion is that your son should unapologetically say something like the following: “Thank you for your concern, but I have no intention of shaving.”

    Comment by Anon — November 27, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

  3. FWIW, male temple workers aren’t supposed to have facial hair, either. And I suppose it’s less than desireable in the women as well.

    Other than that, it looks like a bishop who has way too much time on his hands.

    Comment by Mogget — November 27, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

  4. What makes this funny is that your son was probably going to shave eventually(after the play) but now that the bishop has made an issue of it, he might be inclined to keep the beard out of spite. Is spiting your bishop a temple question?

    Comment by cj dougalss — November 27, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  5. I’m not so sure obedience is the first law in heaven. After all, the popular narrative is that Satan would have had us all obey.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 27, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

  6. As the ward mission leader, that is kind of tricky. I mean, the missionaries aren’t allowed to have beards, right? But does the Bishop also expect him to keep his hair super short? What if he shaves the beard but grows out his hair?

    I wonder what my husband would do in that situation. (I can’t imagine it happening in our surfer ward, though.) He’d probably shave the beard and dye his hair pink.

    It’s all a matter of perspective. I have a brother who died of cancer 17 years ago, when he was 34. Do you know what my mother says when she sees pictures of him as a teenager with his long, 70′s stoner/hippy hair? “I wish we hadn’t argued with him so much about his long hair.”

    Comment by Susan M — November 27, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  7. My opinion is that one should follow the counsel of a bishop in most things when that counsel is only trivially wrong or better.

    Comment by gst — November 27, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

  8. Weird.

    The Bishop is the President of the Aaronic priesthood in the ward as well as the common judge. I’d be slow to disregard a suggestion from my bishop, but this does seem outside a bishop’s jurisdiction. On the other hand, how badly does your son want to continue to wear a beard? Is it worth providing the bishop with a “good learning experience”? If so, please tread carefully and humbly, seek the Spirit, and make every effort to keep this out of the ward rumor-mill. The worst fallout from this episode could be done to others who don’t understand the context and only see a Bishop Who Was Wrong.

    Comment by mistaben — November 27, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  9. Veritas: of course it’s a sign of rebellion… the moment the bishop asked for him to shave, not shaving becomes a sign (albeit minute) of rebellion against the admittedly benign request of ones bishop.

    Sure, it’s petty… but it’s not an unreasonable request.

    Comment by Silus Grok — November 27, 2006 @ 3:33 pm

  10. Why are you letting another man take the place of your role as “Father”?

    Comment by Phouchg — November 27, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

  11. I want to be fair and present both sides of this situation, but I really have strong feelings.

    By the way Don, what are your feelings? You don’t say. Do you strongly feel the pain caused by your son’s rebellion? Or do you strongly resent the wrongful implication of rebellion? Or something else?

    Comment by gst — November 27, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  12. Being the brother of the story, you can guess what my opinion on the matter is. I’m just glad we have bigger fish to fry here in NYC than facial hair.

    That being said, since we’ve got a brand new Stake President who is quite a bit more…as we said in Guatemala, “fletch” (short for “fletcha”, straight arrow), I’ve wondered what I would do if he tried to institute some new “no beards for bishoprics” rule. I’m still wondering (and praying he doesn’t).

    Clean-shavenness falls in the same category as business suits being the uniform of the priesthood. It’s a contemporary cultural phenomenon. Those who are in the higher-up positions of authority come from a time when beards represented rebellion (even though they don’t anymore). Comb-overs, unkempt ear/nose hair and molester moustaches are less becoming of the priesthood than a beard (which we can only assume Jesus and pretty much every early prophet had).

    Comment by Rusty — November 27, 2006 @ 4:03 pm

  13. I had a mission companion who had a very heavy beard (shaved daily) and a very deeply cleft chin. Normal shaving methods could not remove the whiskers inside of the cleft, which weren’t visible anyway. He called it his “secret beard.”

    Comment by gst — November 27, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  14. gst, since you asked my opinion here it is. First it’s my son’s opinion and his choice – not mine. He’s been taught, we’ve discussed it and he knows how to pray. Second I served for a Bishop who over stepped his authority on several occasions. He should have been brough to task, he should have been counseled by the Stake President. But the Stake Pres. didn’t do anything, he wanted to protect “his” choice – “his inspiration” and support the Bishop.

    20/20 hindsight says I should have made a big deal out of it. I was too close and liked the Bishop too much and didn’t realize the extent of the events until later.

    Still he was way way out of line. This Bishop is out of line. I personally don’t feel he has the right nor the authority to do this. It smacks of exactly the counsel in D&C 121.

    I suggested my son call the Stake President and let him know of the circumstances – make sure he knows and agrees with the Bishop and supports him in this request – then decide whether to shave or not.

    If it were me, I would have a very difficult time having to shave – even if both told me to. It’s not doctrinal, the brethren haven’t said anything, I have a real problem with the request.

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 27, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

  15. Don- What if this bishop was in fact inspired and this is a question that your son needed asked of him? What if your son has grown and solidified grays areas within his conviction because of this gray area type of circumstance? What if the Spirit knew that and the bishop begrudgingly obeyed?

    I certainly don’t know what the real deal is, but I’m inclined to follow his counsel, and when and if he’s wrong, let it be on him. Then again, obedience to the small stuff has always been easy for me – I even like it spelled out for me. It’s obedience to the big ones and the Be thou’s that I can’t get right.

    J. Stapley-

    #5 I’m not so sure obedience is the first law in heaven. After all, the popular narrative is that Satan would have had us all obey.

    I think the Savior would have us all obey too, just out of a different process.

    Comment by madre — November 27, 2006 @ 8:17 pm

  16. If it were me, first I’d feel terribly offended. Then, I’d probably go ahead and shave, because that’s my personality. I’m Mrs-Don’t-Question-Authority-Except-Behind-Their-Backs-and-Be-Passive-Agressive-About-It. :-) While it’s completely wrong and narrow-minded of your son’s bishop to ask him to shave, sometimes it’s easier just to concede on the small obedience stuff and give in, instead of making it a point of contention and ill feelings. It’s a small thing, and if it makes the bishopric happy, perhaps it’s worth it. Either that or get a doctor’s note saying he has sensitive skin.

    Comment by meems — November 27, 2006 @ 9:13 pm

  17. madre: I think the Savior would have us all obey too, just out of a different process.

    Then it is not obedience that is the first law in heaven, but the process of righteousness. A very big difference.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 27, 2006 @ 9:17 pm

  18. My rule of thumb (about church authority) is that generally the leader has the right/responsibility for the whole, but not the individual:

    The words of the prophet apply to the entire church, but IMO, he doesn’t have the right/responsibility to receive revelation that applies to a single ward/stake. Likewise the SP for the entire stake and the Bishop for the entire ward, but none of them (save for blessing) receive revelation that applies ONLY to my family or to an individual in my family.

    If the Bishop claims revelation that all men in his ward must be clean shaven, I’d check with the H.G. and if confirmed I’d obey. If the Bishop tells me individually to be clean shaved I’d politely remind him that his stewardship doesn’t include my face.

    Of course this rule of thumb has exceptions, but those exceptions can be easily tested via the H.G.

    Comment by ed42 — November 27, 2006 @ 10:29 pm

  19. Ok, so here is what happened in our ward recently. The Bishop stood up one Sunday and told us that there was new counsel from our leaders (didn’t make it clear from who) that ALL the men were to be clean shaven. My brother lives in the neighboring ward and tells me his Bishop stood up and said the same thing (a week apart or so), except his Bishop downplayed it pretty dramatically compared to what my Bishop said. Weeks went by. Some people shaved off facial hair that they had been wearing for many many years. Some of them looked funny.

    Stake conference comes around and we are visited by Robert C. Oaks of the Seventy. A couple of months had gone by at that point. He gave a great talk. While he was down for our Stake conference, he caught wind of the ban on facial hair (I can’t remember for sure, but I think someone mentioned it in one of the talks.)

    About one month later, the Bishop got up in Sacrament meeting and rescinded the ban on facial hair.

    – begin part that I was not a first hand witness of–
    This part I heard from a person serving on the High Council at the time. Elder Oaks was surprised by the ban and asked where it had come from (apparently it originated with a seventy). Elder Oaks brought it up with President Hinkley. Although a direct quote from Pres Hinkley was relayed to me, I wouldn’t want to put words in his mouth here. The gist was that he wasn’t in favor of the ban. The direction from Elder Oaks back to the Stake President was that anywhere the ban had been announced, it needed to be unannounced in the same place by the same person.
    – end part that I was not a first hand witness of–

    Now, this story is a very inspiring story to me. I was so happy to see the system work this out in the way it did. I was totally impressed with Elder Oaks and his ability to lock on to this and resolve it (he was only here for a day or so). I love Pres Hinkley and I have such confidence in his ability to guide the church.

    Comment by Jacob — November 27, 2006 @ 11:17 pm

  20. madre- If it were the bishop’s job to warn members about developing gray areas in their convictions, he would indeed be a very busy man. I for one would hope, however, if this were true he might start with getting inspiration about members of his ward who were dishonest in business, or overly concerned with material possesions, or abusive to friends and or family members before getting inspiration about a faithful mission leader who has facial hair.

    Don-
    My feeling is that this kind of thing is not as isolated as some might think. If none of us say anything the church will become something which doesn’t represent our values. Do we really believe that Christ would support equating such trivial cultural choices with rebellion and worldliness? And if there is a worldly element to cultural choices, do those choices separate us from God more than our desire to be rich, popular, respected? I find the continual harping from leaders, some higher ups as well, to avoid the cultural choices they deem worldly to be hurtful to those who conform and those who choose not to. If none of us respond to our conscience, but quietly obey, leaders will never have the chance to alter their veiw. In the end does it really matter who is going to be held responsible for what the church becomes?

    Comment by riverstone — November 27, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  21. Ok, so this is the first time I got to read this.

    THIS STORY IS ABOUT ME AND HERE ARE MY MOST RECENT THOUGHTS ON THE SITUATION (after much prayer, thought and study, with much more to go with it and probebly a fast to go with it)

    I really wish I could do both. Normally being such a non-confrontational type of person, it would be so much easier to obey, shave, roll my eyes at the ridiculousness of it and go on my way. On the other hand, as riverstone has pointed out, when will things change if we continue to allow such things to perpetuate? On the other hand this may make me lose my calling and possibly cast a shadow over me in the eyes of the ward. I feel like Tevya!

    Can a bishop recieve revelation to make a policy that is for his ward members and no one outside it? If he came to me saying he discerned that I needed to follow some specific guideline from him, I would be more inclined to listen, but this is a glossed over policy for the whole ward, regardless of our personal standing before the Lord. I can almost look at it like he is saying “The last bishops’s policy wasn’t good enough for you. You must follow this higher law. We’re better then that.” Besides D&C 121, Mosiah 18:19 comes to mind regarding teaching nothing but what the holy prophets have taught. But do i have the hutzpuh to come to PEC next Sunday unshaven?

    These are the reasons I was given for why I need to shave: 1) To be obedient
    2) to set an example to those on the fringes who may have a struggling testimony
    3) we want to emulate the “brethren” in everyway we can
    4) beards are worldly

    Based (so far) on these reasons and through my study and prayer, these do NOT qualify as reasons a bishop can ask me to shave. Is this my pride talking? If it really is just a quesiton of obedience then I have absolutely NO problem shaving. But if it IS unrighteous dominion, then I feel it is my duty to help rectify the situation. Am I wrong? Is it more then it’s worth?

    To quote Jean VelJean “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned.”

    Comment by Bret — November 28, 2006 @ 2:19 am

  22. Bret-

    I admire your honesty and character to look into this matter so deeply. I for one would not have done that and told the bishop to “get over it” because the beard is staying. I would see those same points that you made in a different light. 1) To be obedient- how is clean-shaven being obedient and to the Lord? Am I immoral for having a beard? 2) I would think that allowing beards is more welcoming to those who are on the “fringes” then a church of clean shaving men who all look the same. To me this shows our ability to accept others for who they are and how they feel. I am not sure if anyone lost a testimony over a beard. 3) I do not know if I want to emulate the brethren by becoming an old white male. Just like emulating Christ does not mean I dress in robes and sandals. 4) Beard are worldly, well I think wearing business suits, white shirts, and ties, or dressing like I am a banker or working on wall street is very worldly looking. That power suit is a very worldly status.
    Anyway that is my thoughts, and they are just my opinion.

    Comment by adam — November 28, 2006 @ 6:43 am

  23. Bret,

    I noticed the time of your last post. Keeping a beard, staying up late (you know, the HG goes to bed at midnight), what’s next? Before you know it you’ll be at church court.

    Yes, that last paragraph was said with every bit of irony I could muster…

    Seriously, I think the issue hinges on how good you look with facial hair. If you look good and it makes you feel good about yourself then keep it. My wife won’t let me keep facial hair because it highlights my double-chin. Unfortunately I agree.

    I’m actually not joking here. IMO, I wouldn’t let this become an question of obedience/pride. That becomes difficult for functioning in an authoritative organization. To challenge the bishop will only lead to people asking, “Who’s he to question the bishop’s divine inspiration?” But if you keep the beard and respond when people question what you’re doing with, “Well, I honestly believe this makes me look better, and has given me more confidence in my relationship with God,” then people will probably leave you alone.

    You could post a picture of yourself and we could all vote! (I’m kidding again, here).

    And as for the earlier comment that the Savior would want you to obey…. I think the Savior’s mortal ministry can be read as a challenge to the improprieties of authority. He certainly didn’t obey.

    Comment by SmallAxe — November 28, 2006 @ 7:49 am

  24. Bret,
    Did the bishop actually give you “obedience” as a reason to shave or was it just implied? I mean, he’s creating a rule and then saying, “you need to obey me or you’re not in line with God.” That sounds a bit Jim Jonesey. And I agree with Stapley about the fallacy of “obedience is the first law of heaven.”

    2) What Adam said. 3) What Adam said as well. Who ever said we need to emulate the brethren in every way we can? Does that mean I should quit my job because there aren’t any GA designers? Does that mean I shouldn’t wear my green t-shirt to work? Does it mean I should drive a Lincoln? 4) What Adam said again. I just don’t understand what someone means by “worldly” if they’re putting a beard into that category. Does he mean “rebellious”? If that’s the case I’d object to his inclusion of beard as well, but at least it’s a little clearer what he’s talking about.

    Either way, I think you should ask the bishop exactly how he came up with such a policy (opinion? revelation? got it from higher-ups? etc.) and get him to define his terms a little better. Of course I know this conversation won’t happen, but I’d love to be a fly on the wall if it did.

    Comment by Rusty — November 28, 2006 @ 8:03 am

  25. I think a man’s beard is his own business but I’m just going to throw out a segment of a talk by Elder Perry(notorious for dropping words like “white” and “shirt” in the same sentence). I’m curious what you all think of it.

    I call on you returned missionaries to rededicate yourselves, to become reinfused with the desire and spirit of missionary service. I call on you to look the part, to be the part, and to act the part of a servant of our Father in Heaven.

    Though I don’t interpret it as such, many people(like Bret’s bishop) might take Elder Perry’s words as meaning “look like a full-time missionary”.

    Comment by cj dougalss — November 28, 2006 @ 8:40 am

  26. Does that mean I should quit my job because there aren’t any GA designers?

    Maybe

    Does that mean I shouldn’t wear my green t-shirt to work?

    Probably

    Does it mean I should drive a Lincoln?

    Yes

    Comment by gst — November 28, 2006 @ 8:57 am

  27. I’m delurking, because this strikes such a personal cord with me. I once had a bishop that would chastize me absolutely every time he saw me for not having children yet. Every time. Even if we were standing in front of other people. (I’m infertile.)

    My BIL had a bishop who refused to sign his ecclesatical endorsement to get into BYU because he worked on Sundays and therefore was unable to attend his own sacrament meeting. He works at a hospital, giving medications..he made it back to church in time for priesthood, and always attended all of sacrament meeting in a ward that met later in the day.

    Anyhow..the point is, I think sometimes bishops can absolutely overstep their bounds, and when they are stepping on your face, I think you should probalby speak up. Its not a “small rebellion”. Its a non-issue. You are a good person, I would think, and a good example to other ward members. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be in a position of leadership in the ward in the first place. I think it is important that the gospel and the church be associated with good feelings, and doctrines that keep us safe and happy, and that we not get caught up with little things like this.

    I think you should keep the beard. But don’t make it a matter of obeidence or rebellion. If someone reprimands you about it, just smile big and rub your chin and pat them on the back and tell them it reminds you to try to be like Jesus, every time you reach up and feel that beard.

    Comment by csn — November 28, 2006 @ 10:20 am

  28. Quick question for Don and Bret:

    Is there a problem with disobedience/rebellion in your ward–especially with the youth?

    If there is, then I actually do see it as a legitimate request, and one that isn’t that far out of bounds.

    It is somewhat the Bishop’s “jurisdiction”, just like when a new Mission Pres arrives and changes all the rules, so can a bishop.

    Are there other things this bishop has asked of his members that seems “out of bounds”?

    Comment by Tim — November 28, 2006 @ 10:36 am

  29. The beard should be a non-issue; my husband grows his beard out every winter and teaches Sunday School for the 16-17 year olds. Facial hair has nothing to do with righteousness and is not an indicator or a cause of “gray areas” in your testimony. The only gray area here is that your bishop is attempting to assert authority where he has none, and then complaining that your refusal to comply shows that you aren’t obedient to him in areas where he has legitimate authority. Your beard and your testimony aren’t related, even though he has apparently decided they are. Just because he says it, doesn’t make it so.
    Also, one principle of being a successful leader is that you never set up an rule that you cannot actually enforce, as it only undermines your own authority, especially when attempts to enforce it only make you look like an idiot.

    Comment by Space Chick — November 28, 2006 @ 10:58 am

  30. Okay, let me see if I have this straight…

    ~Beards incite rebellion
    ~Beards create barrier through which no Holy Spirit may pass
    ~Beards push faltering testimonies over the edge
    ~Beards are all the rage in outer darkness

    Am I missing anything?

    The idea to pray about the request from the Bishop is a good one, but it is countered by the very idea that the bearded one will not receive revelation in his rebellious whiskered state. First he must cast those demon hairs far from himself, then he shall be ready to hear.

    Comment by Téa — November 28, 2006 @ 11:09 am

  31. Bret, you should pull your bishop aside and say, “I’ve thought a lot about what you said. As you can see, I still have my beard. However, I want you to know that, in the spirit of compromise, I’ve shaved my back.”

    Comment by gst — November 28, 2006 @ 11:10 am

  32. http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/

    Satan’s minions!

    Comment by cj dougalss — November 28, 2006 @ 11:30 am

  33. Space Chick, Well said!

    Tim, It’s not my ward…it’s Bret’s. I really don’t think there is a problem with rebellion. I’ve known this Bishop for 20 years, we were in the same ward together, to me it’s just him.

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 28, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  34. The fact that in so many cases the reasons bishops or stake presidents give in asking people to shave or cut their hair is the same, makes me think local leaders are getting instruction from a central source. My husband was given the same reasons Brett was given for becoming clean cut. Obedience was not mentioned specifically, but a good friend of his who is our former bishop told him, knowing he wasn’t going to change his appearance, that he was finished in this stake. I think it is very sad, but again, I think we are here to learn to follow the light of Christ manifest in our conscience. That is what we teach investigators. I can find no justification in scripture for following men in personal matters of the heart.

    Tim-
    Are you defining rebellious teens as those who might follow some good, honest men and think it is okay to look a little different and still be a good person? What kind of rebellion would the bishop be trying to squelch? The kind that seeks to look the part and cover up sins, or the kind that outwardly displays an appearance that may make some uncomfortable?

    Comment by riverstone — November 28, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  35. Tim,
    I actually think if there are rebellious youth, imposing extra non-canonical rules is a doubly bad idea. It can lead the youth to think, Wow, what a pointless rule. All the others must be pointless, too. (Note that I’m not advocating such fallacious thinking, but was once an adolescent, and can see myself thinking down those lines.)

    I had long hair as a teen, and was always ready to jump down someone’s self-righteous throat when they told me to cut my hair. Except nobody did, and my rebellion (or poor taste, or what have you) ended there.

    Comment by Sam B — November 28, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  36. I attended my nephew’s baptism this week in SLC at which his Bishop with a neatly groomed but full goatee presided. Perhaps he needs a meeting with himself?

    Comment by Rick — November 28, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  37. I love the fact that this discussion follows Susan M’s discussion of her families colorful and crazy hairstyles.

    Comment by Rusty — November 28, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  38. Rick, he probably has a hairlip exemption, a special dispensation. Ask to see his card.

    Comment by gst — November 28, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  39. A bishop telling the men in his ward to shave seems like the same thing as the president of the Church counseling men not to wear earrings.

    Comment by John Mansfield — November 28, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  40. The sooner you shave and forget about the whole thing, the better off you’ll be. And then when this bishop is released and a new bishop called, you can grow your beard again.

    Besides, if it looks like Rusty’s, you should think about Rogaine for the face.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 28, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  41. When I was in a married university ward, I began to grow my beard out again. The second counsellor in the bishopric (a fellow university student) walked right up to me, looked down at me, and said, “My mission president made me promise NEVER to grow a beard, until I saw the general authorities growing beards!”

    I looked up at him, and without hesitation, replied, “Well, then I’d better sell my Toyota and get a BMW, ’cause I’ve NEVER seen a general authority drive anything cheaper!” Then I walked off.

    I don’t think he was amused.

    Comment by Nick Literski — November 28, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

  42. Mark,
    Yeah, I guess mine isn’t a beard as much as it is a fourth-day shadow.

    Comment by Rusty — November 28, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

  43. Rusty, a fourth-day shadow that’s taken years of primping to look like that!!!

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 28, 2006 @ 2:04 pm

  44. I just want to say this thread has entertained me. Especially this comment:

    Bret, you should pull your bishop aside and say, “I’ve thought a lot about what you said. As you can see, I still have my beard. However, I want you to know that, in the spirit of compromise, I’ve shaved my back.”

    Comment by Veritas — November 28, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  45. I was going to say quite a bit on this subject. I consider myself knowledgable about it. (I have a beard) So I’ll keep it short, I don’t think that there is anything I could say that everyone hasn’t thought about. For the record, my wife really likes it when I have a beard.

    Comment by Jared — November 28, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  46. I think it would be a good idea to go ahead and shave in order to show pointedly that having the beard is not an act of rebellion BUT in doing so to be clear to the bishop, either through a discussion at which others can be witnesses or through a written letter that it is his view that having a beard is not against Church standards in any way and that having the beard does not bear on worthiness in any way. Having been obedient and shaved, he can even go so far as to say he finds it pharisaical that the bishop would require this and an abuse of authority, and having shaved and been obedient, he could tell the bishop at this time that he planned on bringing this up with the stake presidency. Having shaved and been obedient, he can pretty much do anything he wants to address it. After all, he was obedient and did what the bishop wanted. That’s what I would do anyway.

    Comment by john f. — November 28, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

  47. john f. speaks wisdom.

    Comment by gst — November 28, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  48. Talk with your bishop about the feelings you expressed in 21! I mean, why not just talk to him? Why not trust him to understand your issue if you only lay it out for him? Why not give him the benefit of the doubt that he can understand what this is, or is not, about?
    And after pointing out some of the ideas expressed here, like in 19 or 27, ask him if he could think about it for a day, pray about it. Then, if he still feels he should ask you to do it: I would do it. Have trust that it will turn out to be a good thing to sustain your bishop, regardless of the quality of this advice. Once again give him the benefit of the doubt of being a person who is where the Lord wants him to be at this time.
    At last: Circumstances change. Other advice might be available. Apply no 40. :)

    Comment by Andre — November 28, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

  49. What an interesting thread to run across — I currently serve as a Bishop, I can’t imagine myself telling someone whether they should shave or not. I shaved my moustache (having had said moustache for most of 25 years) when I had the opportunity to work in the temple. That didn’t seem like a sacrifice at all. I still work at the veil frequently, so I haven’t grown it back — easy choice for me; not so easy for others. I have a friend in my ward who was offerred the opportunity to teach seminary (early morning). He has a goatee, has had a beard of some sort since returning from his mission in the mid-70s. His beard was more important to him than teaching his son’s seminary class — something he had dreamed of. To each their own.

    I have never (in almost 5 years as bishop) heard any counsel from any church leader — stake president or otherwise, regarding being clean shaven. Of the counsellors I have had, one had a goatee, one has full beard. The other 4 counsellors I have had are clean shaven. I guess you could say that 2 out of 3n agree, no beards! Doesn’t matter — I can tell you from own experience, the Lord doesn’t care. In my opinion, neither the bishop nor the ward mission leader should make a big deal about this — I wish the most serious issues I have to deal with were whether my ward mission leader shaved or not.

    Again, in my opinion, an unkind word, or “unrighteous dominion” or an uncharitable act is more likely to cause problems for those who struggle with testimony than someone’s appearance. What’s inside is much more important than what is outside.

    Comment by Doug — November 28, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

  50. Andre, Bret had a long discussion with the Bishop and his counselor. He said some of the things already brought out in the comments.

    I have a difficult time with your advice. You’re suggesting that a Bishop who has made a policy for “his” ward, has openly espoused that policy, has privately brought this policy to Bret’s personal attention, has asked Bret to comply with “his” policy is now going to pray about “his” policy….and maybe change his mind.

    Not a chance in Hell….for any Bishop and especially not from this Bishop.

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 28, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  51. He said some of the things already brought out in the comments

    Like the thing about shaving his back?

    Comment by gst — November 28, 2006 @ 6:31 pm

  52. Like the thing about shaving his back?

    what a weenie.

    Comment by cj douglass — November 28, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

  53. Wow! What a great response to my brother’s dilemma! I had this conversation with Bret on sunday, Dad posted this on monday, today is tuesday and there is already 52 responses! Which tells me two things: #1-many of you have had experiences/opinions about this topic and want to share to help Bret or #2-a lot of you just don’t have lives! :) Just kidding!!

    I find this topic VERY interesting. My husband has a goatee and teaches the priests in the ward. Doesn’t he need to be a good example to those pre-missionaries? Come to find out our bishop loves facial hair but was asked to shave his by the stake president a couple of years ago. I wonder why the rules change from state to state? We live in NC. Rusty lives in NY. Bret in WA. Hmmmmmmmmm….
    Anyway, I agree with most everyone here…keep the beard. You look great! I don’t have much else to say on the matter that hasn’t already been said and in a much better way than I could have said it. I really liked the comment about touching your beard and saying that it helps you to be like Jesus. I also especially LOVED the ‘shaving the back’ comment. I’ll laugh about that one for several days :)

    Comment by Angela — November 28, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  54. The issue does not appear to be “beards and worthiness” at all. As most everyone here agrees, having facial hair does not indicate sinfulness. Beards are not inherently evil. Now that we’ve established that, let’s move on.

    It seems the real issue is “Will Bret follow his leader’s counsel on such a nitpicky thing as shaving?” Yes, facial hair is a very nitpicky thing. But so is the prophet telling women to have no more than one pair of earrings. Granted, the prophet has jurisdiction where a bishop does not. And it seems everyone wants to take issue with where we draw the line on a bishop’s jurisdiction in our personal lives. Do most bishops really try to micromanage their members? I would guess they only want what is truly best for those over whom they have stewardship.

    Most bishops have abundant experience watching their sheep either fall prey to the wolves or stay safely behind their shepherd. A watchman at one tower may see different dangers than a watchman at a different tower in a different location or in a different culture. Until we hear specifics from the apostles, is it not in our best interest to heed the warnings given by the watchman at our own tower?

    Bret is about the least rebellious person I know. For the record, I think his beard looks great on him. I admire him for his sincerity in seeking to do what’s best. I get nervous when I see him paying heed to comments like riverstone’s (#20) that suggest the church is going to become something despicable unless we can invoke change among our leaders’ views. Is Christ not at the head? Who tends to be more in-line with His gospel teachings—the leaders, or the general membership of the Church?

    I think I’d rather be found on the side of heeding the bishop’s counsel, whether he overstepped his authority or not. What bad will really come of shaving the beard?

    Comment by Amy — November 28, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

  55. Ahem. I’m back. I couldn’t help myself. This is a quote by Dallan H. Oaks addressing BYUs dress code which requires men to be clean shaven…I’m assuming that your bishops reasoning is the same described here:

    “…our rules against beards and long hair are contemporary and pragmatic. They are responsive to conditions and attitudes in our own society at this particular point in time. Historical precedents are worthless in this area. The rules are subject to change, and I would be surprised if they were not changed at some time in the future. But the rules are with us now, and it is therefore important to understand the reasoning behind them. 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.”

    I understand this reasoning, but I don’t associate beards with hippies and the drug culture, possibly because I wasn’t even alive at the time. The objection to beards seems…generational, I guess. I’m not entirely sure concluding that men who wear beards are drug lords and hippies is as “reasonable” as the conclusions one might reach about a man holding a liquor bottle.

    If you like the beard, perhaps in the spirit of obeidence/compromise (and because it sounds like you might have already agreed to do it), you can shave it off and grow it back…if he confronts you on it when it returns, explain your feelings and stick to your guns.

    Comment by csn — November 28, 2006 @ 11:38 pm

  56. I apologize for only being able to look at this once a day, usually late at night.

    I very much appreciate everyone’s comments both sincere and light-hearted! I’m sorry I can’t respond to everyone individually but here are my latest thoughts and reactions from everything today.

    First to my sister to make one important thing clear, I was responding to his point that one of my biggest concerns with just shaving, rolling my eyes about it and leave it at that is then these types of problems only perpetuate. When will they stop if no one speaks up?

    That really is the whole issue. I really don’t have any great affinity to my beard. I like the way it looks and would be sad to see all the work of growing it go away for this reason BUT if it really is the Lord wanting me to follow my priesthood leader’s counsel, regardless of how just it is, then I have no problem shaving. The question is which is right and what the Lord wants? It really isn’t about beards, but obedience and/or unrighteous dominion.

    Does a bishop have the authority to institute a policy for only his ward members and no one else? Yes, he has jurisdiction to revelation for the ward, but can that translate into policy? Is this that type of case? Has it ever happened (“legally,” for sure) anywhere? If he cannot, what would the Lord want me to do about it?

    Adam and Rusty,

    I agree with all your points (and no, my beard is a real one of 3+ months) and yes, he did specifically say for obedience’s sake.

    john f,

    Your idea strikes me. I may do just that.

    Thanks for all the thoughts so far, everyone!:)

    Comment by Bret — November 29, 2006 @ 12:00 am

  57. I like the way it looks and would be sad to see all the work of growing it go away

    How much “work” is it really? I mean, if you can do it in a coma, then it’s not that laborious, is it?

    john f.’s advice seems to work perfectly, given that you’re more interested in the principle than in the actual beard. And after you establish this principle once and for all, you and I will join forces to bring the blue dress shirt into Mormon respectability.

    Comment by gst — November 29, 2006 @ 12:21 am

  58. I doubt bishops are incrementally usurping power and dominion over their wards. “I’ll begin by getting absolute obedience relative to beards,” he thinks. “Then, I’ll move on and have them surrender their bank accounts.” What are you guys thinking?

    I’d like to hear the bishop’s side of the story. Likely, a detail or two (along w/ much of his intent and experience) is not present in this discussion. Though I trust Bret is a good kid, I believe much benefit of the doubt should be granted our bishops. How many people in each ward are really eligible to be bishop? Usually, not many. They tend to be some of the members w/ greatest judgment and experience to deal w/ problems nobody else wants. These men care deeply about the ward (in Bret’s case, the singles ward, right?).

    Let’s be honest, what a challenge that would be to shepherd those young people. I know of parents who pray that the bishop will somehow make a difference w/ their kid. Parenting wasn’t completely successful at home, so they hope super-star bishops will get it done and help the kid turn the corner. These same guys (LDS bishops of family or singles wards), now, are the focus of this thread. Can they counsel (many times floundering or stuck-in-neutral) these kids in the small things or not?

    Cut the guy some slack. I wouldn’t use the world policy. You make it sound like he’s introducing new teaching wholesale. He’s providing counsel he believes in. End of story.

    In part, I find it shameful that many of you have taken such delight in your comments and innuendo w/o proper defense of this bishop. Nobody wants this job, and many here imagine intentions (within the bishop) that aren’t there. These LDS blogs get a little wacky at times. This is clearly one of them. Think about it. What would the bishop or President Hinckley think about this scenario if he read this entire thread (and knew all the facts in their full context)?

    Comment by Scholz — November 29, 2006 @ 5:25 am

  59. While I appreciate efforts like Oaks’ to explain the beard policy, the “guilt by association” argument has numerous problems, not the least of which is the fact that all signifiers are ambiguous.

    I’m sure Enron’s execs clocked in every day neatly groomed in pressed suits and starched shirts. The backpack, essential tool of the missionary’s trade, has been used to bomb subways. Italian mobsters stab each other in the eye with conservative-looking glasses frames.

    I think the larger point, however, is that the low-hanging fruit of one’s outer appearance can lead the watchmen referenced above to miss the true danger. While keeping a keen eye out for tie-dyed t-shirts, lambchops and other signs of radicalism, they might miss the members whose “problems” aren’t so obviously worn on their sleeves. As long as you show up clean-shaven in a white shirt and attend your meetings, you will be ignored as the leadership goes after the bigger fish to fry, possibly assuming unconsciously that all is well with that brother.

    Comment by Peter — November 29, 2006 @ 6:03 am

  60. Scholz,

    The bishop’s side of the story would be interesting, but intent is a squishy concept and may or may not be relevant. Samuel Johnson wasn’t the first to suggest hell was paved with good ones.

    Comment by Peter — November 29, 2006 @ 6:18 am

  61. csn,
    I appreciate the quote, BUT IT’S FROM 1971!!! When Elder Oaks says “this particular point in time” and “contemporary” he’s still in the middle of the Vietnam War, there were still actual hippies roaming the earth, he was right that the beard represented rebellion. Problem is that that’s just not true anymore. There is NOTHING in our culture that suggests beards represent rebellion, it only exists in the minds of some older people. Now, if we were talking about tongue piercings then we’d be having a whole different conversation.

    Scholz,
    I would LOVE it if the bishop and President Hinckley would read this thread, then they’d know that their members think their way through their dilemmas rather than blindly obey or blindly reject council. We’re supposed to work these things out in our mind and it can only be to our betterment if we have input from others (on both sides of the argument). Besides, what do you think would happen, that they’d get offended or something?

    Comment by Rusty — November 29, 2006 @ 8:13 am

  62. So my tongue piercing will get me in trouble?

    JK.

    Comment by Susan M — November 29, 2006 @ 8:39 am

  63. Shortly after being called as counselor in our bishopric, I learned from the other counselor that our bishop prefers that his counselors dress in suits, rather than a sports coat and nice slacks. For some reason, a request stated as a preference is easier for me to abide than an order, and I have no problem wearing my suit to church meetings while I serve as his counselor to honor his preference as a matter of friendship, rather than obligation.

    I shaved my beard a number of years ago, in part to honor the preference of my children (who said the beard made me look like Ted Kascinski). I probably would have done the same if a leader had told me it was his preference that I shave while serving in a particular position.

    I notice in the new handbook of instructions that there is a paragraph that while white shirts are recommended on brethren for passing the sacrament, they should not be required as an absolute requirement for doing so. Perhaps this is a reaction to some wards that had instituted such absolute policies.

    Comment by DavidH — November 29, 2006 @ 9:31 am

  64. Decloaking here to make a couple of comments. I realize the thread is largely played out with the most significant points made. However I think there’s a point or two remaining. Bishops are largely extremely desirous to do what is right. Sometimes a bit overzealous, and we can help them with that. (How many of us don’t let the Luciferic spirit of “let’s help them make the right choice” get to us sometimes?) The spirit we have affects the degree to which we can help.

    If I were off in left field I would hope someone would use the Matthew technique and take me aside privately and tell me about it. If I didn’t listen, I hope they would bring someone else to get it through my head. If I still didn’t listen, I’d hope they would bring a church leader responsible for us both into it. But there’s all the difference in the world between beating someone with a doctrine or a person and lovingly desiring resolution.

    I have had as much experience with weird counsel as anyone else. One bishop told me that I was going to have to leave my husband — there was just no other alternative. Another bishop made a pass at me during counseling. One bishop told my oldest daughter that although it wasn’t generally counseled, in her case it was imperative she go on a mission. She met her future companion the first day of classes at BYU (I know, I know, cliche, but they really are quite well matched.) He’s on a mission now, she’s heard the true doctrine, and she still wakes up thinking she’s hell-bent for considering marrying him when he returns.

    The fact is that nobody is going to hijack the church, and that priesthood leaders are largely decent people. So help them out! Don’t let them wallow in their misinformation. Kindly point out the truth. And if it boils down to their apparent irrationality, like Joseph reaming Brigham publicly, do what he did. “What would you have me do?” Few of us are tested that way, but it happens. The real test is when we demonstrate where our heart is, what we’re willing to do to promote truth.

    God wants us to WORK THINGS OUT. People naturally stink at communication where it’s most needed — face to face, with kind thoughtfulness that RESOLVES issues. So we need to apply the Matthew rule, and if it doesn’t work, “let him be as a stranger to you.” Let it go. Put all that useful energy to work solving the problem of world hunger.

    Comment by Bonnie — November 29, 2006 @ 10:30 am

  65. Beards are a sign of homosexuality. Don’t you all remember the ’60s? In the Church, it is always 1965. Ergo, beards are to be avoided. Case closed.

    Comment by Prudence McPrude — November 29, 2006 @ 10:36 am

  66. No, Prudie, beards are a concealer, not indicator, of homosexuality. That’s why we call them “beards.”

    Comment by gst — November 29, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  67. I am also a Bishop of a YSA ward, and I can’t imagine myself ever asking a ward member to shave. But so what–that is hardly helpful in answering this question.

    Obedience is not the first law of heaven. Obedience to what and to whom? If your next door neighbor asked you to shave, would you do so out of obedience? Of course not. We obey God. We obey God’s annointed servants when they are acting as such within the scope of their jurisdiction. A Bishop telling a ward member to shave is no different from your next door telling you to shave.

    Now, it may be that the Bishop says “Look, I know the beard is just fine and does not affect your worthiness at all. However, I am concerned that some people, rightly or wrongly, will not respond to a bearded ward mission leader in the way I would like them to. I think you would be more effective in that calling if you shaved. Woud you mind shaving for that reason?” While I would not do that, that is a reasonable approach. It is within his jurisdiction to make that request for that reason, and I would probably defer to his judgment in that case. If you choose not to, he might then choose to release you, which is his right.

    Comment by Gary — November 29, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  68. Gary, you sound like a wise Bishop…I wish you were Bret’s Bishop.

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 29, 2006 @ 11:58 am

  69. As Space Chick’s husband does, I grow out my beard in he winter. Come spring, it usually is trimmed into a goatee, then a fu manchu, and finally an average moustache. I’m usually clean shaven for the summer.

    Given that background, I think you can guess my position on the story.

    Comment by Kim Siever — November 29, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  70. I dare ANY of you to tell any bishop you’ve shaved your back. Please video if you do!

    For the record, I’ve never heard any discussion about whether women need to shave their legs for church, even though we all “know” exactly what types of women don’t shave their legs. You’d think it would be such at hot topic at standards night. Sigh!

    In the spirit of rebellion, maybe I’ll start wearing a second pair of earrings again. Nah, too ’80s, too much work to find another matched set, and the holes have probably sealed over. But if I visit any wards in Washington, I may make the effort after all.

    Comment by Space Chick — November 29, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

  71. Wow… Allow me to respond to some individual points:

    What makes this funny is that your son was probably going to shave eventually(after the play) but now that the bishop has made an issue of it, he might be inclined to keep the beard out of spite. Is spiting your bishop a temple question?

    As soon as I heard the counsel that Temple Workers should be clean shaven, I immediately decided to grow out a beard, to demonstrate that active members can have beard I also noticed that dozens of grown men, having worn beards for many many years, began coming to church looking absolutely ridiculous by being clean shaven.

    I felt that this was an insult to those kind older brethren, equivalent in mental effect to asking all the young women to wear their hair in a military buzz cut.

    Beards are worldly?

    Give me a break. How many legendary, respected male spiritual leaders can you think of in the history of the world who haven’t worn a beard? It would seem that beards are standard fare for those in the spiritual life, and some even believed that cutting hair was forbidden. Beards are a God given item, shaving of the beard today turns one into a “suit” or a “Business man” which in my opinion is beyond Worldly, and depicts such ideas as greed, sleazy used car salesmen, etc…

    I actually think if there are rebellious youth, imposing extra non-canonical rules is a doubly bad idea. It can lead the youth to think, Wow, what a pointless rule. All the others must be pointless, too.

    Let me share a little Jewish apocryphal tale (From memory, so I’m using my own word here). After Eve was formed in the Garden, Adam decided to share with her the commandment not to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but in order to protect her he decided to embellish the original commandment, and told her “neither shall ye touch it.” When the Serpent came along, he taunted Eve, “Hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” and she said “God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it [the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden], neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (not realizing that Adam had added to the commandment which God had given). The Serpent realized this, and tripped Eve, causing her to fall against the tree. When she realized that she was unaffected by this, she, quite sensibly (and not yet having the knowledge to discern good from evil), determined that the commandment given by God must have been a lie, and that perhaps the Serpent was the one telling the truth; after all, he was right about this, where the other commandment had been in error, and so she partook of the fruit. This slight alteration in God’s word cost Adam and Eve their perfect lives in the Garden.

    Without getting into whether the fall was good (by design) or bad (which was the assumption of the Jews who made this story, ironically itself being an embellishment) it demonstrates a good principle of what happens when we start to present culture norms or cautionary items as though they are commandments requiring obedience in order to remain worthy.

    I doubt bishops are incrementally usurping power and dominion over their wards. “I’ll begin by getting absolute obedience relative to beards,” he thinks. “Then, I’ll move on and have them surrender their bank accounts.” What are you guys thinking?

    I think it isn’t a matter of the Bishop trying to be cunning, but rather that once accepted by the general population of the ward, or stake, or whole church, something like this becomes an assumed standard, and then the next step in that direction is natural enough for any leader or person to expect. It creates a “slippery slope” of dominion.

    How many of us don’t let the Luciferic spirit of “let’s help them make the right choice” get to us sometimes?

    That’s a very succinct way to express a very dangerous attitude. How subtle the difference is between the adversary and the advocate.

    Comment by Jeff Day — November 29, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  72. Jeff,
    I love that story. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Ronan — November 29, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

  73. Scholz back. I am not against members thinking their way through things. For heaven’s sake, that’s what should happen. The bishop or Pres. Hinckley probably wouldn’t be offended. Only disappointed for the tones and stories you guys have shared to make your points. Not enough has been said to protect the collective good name of the vast, vast majority of bishops. The bishop above gave a wonderful explanation of what he would do. I trust virtually all bishops feel as this one does.

    It sounds like Bret’s dad has his own opinion of this bishop in question and wishes Bret had another one (or at least one w/ the stated inclinations of the bishop posting above). If your father makes a comment about one bishop’s wisdom and another’s lack thereof, such comments likely impact the way you (Bret in this case) take counsel. Just a thought.

    I’ll go off topic for a moment. It’s no surprise counsel is given relative to separate scripture study groups (outside of church) at one’s home or other places. Eventually, off-base ideas, a heirarchy of opinion, and lots of other interesting things (real problems to consume vast amounts of bishops’ time) arise. In my opinion, similar phenomena occur on these LDS blog sites from time to time. Lots of stuff is thrown around here which would be mostly simply answered by going to lds.org and searching for the topic. So many of you are splitting hairs and looking for the exception to the rule(s). Not to mention, how much of (y)our time is wasted at this site? As a result, you add more confusion and unneeded examples for Bret whose scenario is quite simple.

    Comment by Scholz — November 29, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

  74. As one who has served in a Bishopric and now is Executive Secretary to a Stake President let me say that most members would be very surprised to see how much of our weekly Stake Presidency meetings and our monthly Bishopric Training meetings have to deal with correcting people in the stake who overstep their authority. I’m not saying it’s constant, but it happens more than you might think.

    I can tell you that in my stake, were the President to hear of Bret’s situation, the high councilor assigned to that ward would be assigned the task of explaining to the Bishop that the Church Handbook of Instructions offers no guidance on the facial hair requirements a Bishop can impose on his Ward members, and as such the Bishop needs to apologize to Bro. Clifton and no longer hold it over his head.

    I received such an assignment not too long ago when it was discovered that one of our Branch Presidents had instructed the Branch that they could only take the Sacrament with their right hands. Some foolishness about only the right hand being authorized to make covenants or something. He’d read it on the internet.

    And Gary, I understand where you are coming from, but it is not strictly the Bishop’s prerogative to release Bret from his calling. The Lord made the calling. Yes, through the Bishop, but it is the Lord’s calling to release, not the Bishop’s. To release Bret because he doesn’t comply with the Bishop’s wishes in an arena where the Bishop has no authority to dictate is exactly what the final verses of Section 121 are getting at.

    Comment by Chad Too — November 29, 2006 @ 7:46 pm

  75. Scholz,

    I appreciate your viewpoint and thoughts on this but let me put your mind at ease a bit, I hope.

    By reading and responding to these comments I am using this as a way to get my thoughts churning and thinking about BOTH sides of this argument; no more than that. This is between me and the Lord and what He wants me to do about it. Honestly, the easier thing to do would to obey “and let God deal with him,” but ever since I was first confronted there’s just been and uneasy feeling surrounding it.

    I truly believe this bishop is trying to do the right thing and help the ward members as best he can and I have been doing all I can since he became bishop last August to help him, even with methods and attitudes I didn’t personally care for. I’m impressed with how much better a bishop he has become in this short time.

    HOWEVER, like it’s been said, good intentions often line the road to hell. Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that all things in the church are to be done by common consent. Despite what many may think, things coming from a prophet, seer and revelator is MUCH different than a local priesthood leader. This “counsel” was never counsel, but policy and it was never announced formally or informally, just gently prodded through passing comments in meetings and, I assume, through interviews like mine.

    Oh, and yes, I have known this man all my life and have never much cared for him or a couple of his children (totally unrelated from reasons my father may not like him.) One of his children was actually a close friend of mine for years, however.

    Unless something changes from what the spirit has told me so far through all my praying, pondering and studying, this policy is NOT inspired. The question then becomes whether the Lord still wants me to obey in order to support a bishop TRYING to do the right thing, obey but give him my thoughts on the policy, or to NOt obey, keep the beard and openly stand up for what I believe to be right.

    Right now, I’m leaning towards obeying but giving my thoughts to him, probebly in letter form.

    Comment by Bret — November 30, 2006 @ 2:11 am

  76. Chad Too: I agree with your point. I was trying to make the best possible case I could for behavior which I find silly, and possibly damaging. My only real point was that it is possible for the Bishop to bring an issue like this under the umbrella of his jurisdiction if it is clearly linked to performance of one’s calling. I think it is possible that some actions that we consider silly might fit there on that basis, because sometimes in order to be effective we have to do things that we would not otherwise do.

    Having said that, I also do not believe that all callings (or releases) are inspired by the Lord, and that he leaves us to make our judgment calls quite often. At least, that seems to be my experience.

    Comment by Gary — November 30, 2006 @ 8:10 am

  77. Fortunately Bret is a better person than his dad. I’m a ready, fire, aim type of person. If I disagree with a Bishop’s counsel or point of view I’ll tell him….and then appologize later (it’s happened before).

    This Bishop is out of line, in my opinion. If it were me I would have told him the first time he talked to me about it and I would have told the Stake President as well. Then later I may have had to go back and appologize for being so forceful and opinionated…(but I’d still be right).

    Bret’s pretty much expressed what he’s going to do. I’m sure he will comfirm that in prayer and do what is right for him.

    I don’t know if he will, but we’ve discussed talking to the Stake President about it. That complicates the matter. Does the S.P. back “his” Bishop, does the S.P. correct the Bishop, does the S.P. care and won’t get involved? If he backs the Bishop where does that leave Bret? If he corrects the Bishop where does that leave Bret and his then altered relationship with the Bishop?

    Bret will do what’s right for himself…not what’s right for the rest of you or for me, but what’s right for him as directed by the spirit….that’s why he’s such a terrific son.

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 30, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  78. The Bishop is a tad over the top but as your moves along in Church assignments he will have many more reproofs and chastisements that will make shaving look like a piece of cake. You know what the scriptures say about those who cannot endure reproof. They all start blogging.

    Comment by GeorgeD — December 5, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

  79. Well, as we all know, Miriam was actually smitten with leprosy and thrown out of the camp of Israel for writing a snarky blogging piece on the appropriateness of removing sand and grit from your mana on the Sabbath.

    Comment by Seth R. — December 5, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

  80. Once upon a time, there were ten virgins. Now there are only five. You all are right, there are two sides to the story!

    Comment by Kwh — December 20, 2006 @ 6:10 am

  81. Here’s a feel good story: A crazy nut-job once-upon-a-time bishop then stake president then temple president in my area who had a “YOU MUST BE CLEAN-SHAVEN TO HOLD A STAKE CALLING” policy resigned his membership last summer. He was one of the biggest a–holes I’ve ever met, so good riddance to him. According to a reputable source, he had a problem with “all the disobedient” church members who couldn’t follow the rules. It drove him batty. Of course the 1960-ish rules were the ones he made up to piss people off.

    Comment by Carlton — December 20, 2006 @ 11:26 am

  82. I’m getting to this post obviously very late, but wanted to share my personal experience with this. Some 5 to 10 years ago, I served as Bishop in a Seattle area stake. At that time, I had a mustache that I had worn for some 25 to 30 years. If I remember correctly, five other bishops in our stake at that time also had mustaches. No one ever said anything to us, ever.

    The interesting side note to this is that some five years later, 3 of those bishops are in the Stake Presidency, and I now serve on the HC. None of us have mustaches, but all of us decided that we were going to shave them for a reason similar to why we grew them in the first place. I started mine at at 19 (I didn’t go on a mission, so some might say it was a sign of rebellion) to look older. All of us shaved now in our 40′s and 50′s so that we no longer looked older. We have all scratched our heads about the “no temple worker with facial hair” ban. I will admit that I refused to shave to become a set-apart veil worker, because I had read the handbook of instructions, and figured that if I could hold a TR with facial hair, then the temple worker ban was somebody’s pet peeve.

    While I would agonize a little (perhaps a lot) over a bishop’s counsel that I needed to shave, I now think I would not do it. I have had a couple of experiences where blind obedience to a trivial request by authorities in the church left me with a nasty taste in my mouth, and an unsettled feeling in my heart that I had done wrong. I would ponder, pray, and probably follow my feelings as well as my intellect, and if I felt that it was trivial, not prompted by principle or doctrine, then I would refuse, politely.

    Comment by Kevin — December 20, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  83. I love my ward. WML has one of those weird patches of hair running in a inch-wide line from his lower lip down to his chin. EQP usually has lambchops, but is now sporting a full beard and (gasp!) wore a red shirt to church yesterday. GD teacher has a goatee. We’re in the west, so it’s not for lack of “worthy” leaders who won’t wear facial hair…

    Comment by hhh — January 1, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

  84. meridian cabana

    Comment by Albina-fh — January 18, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

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