Regarding Grooming

♦   Can a person with a well groomed beard serve God with a good conscience?

On April 14, 2015, we received the following inquiry:

“On the use of the beard to the servants of God. What do you think? You really should be considered a cause for stumbling? Can anyone serve God with a clear and quiet conscience with a well groomed beard? Greetings.” 

To the author, thank you for your email. We have been asked this question often, so we decided to publicly post our response this time.

First, facial hair is part of the design of the human male. It is part of their DNA put there by design.  So it is foolish to think that the God who designed the male to grow facial hair would be offended if the male allowed it to grow. Second, it is pretty clear that practically every Israelite male referred to in the Bible and practically every early Christian brother had a beard. Yet there is no indication that it was disapproved. Third, it may be news to you, but Jehovah’s Witnesses in countries other than the United States freely and frequently have beards. So having a beard is clearly not offensive to God. That’s the bottom line.

Nevertheless, the Watchtower organization has the right to set certain rules about grooming, just like any other secular or religious organization. In fact, there are many corporations and governmental agencies in America that discourage beards, and they are all well within their rights to do so. If a person wants to wear a beard and the corporation does not allow it, the person has a choice to make. They can cut the beard and stay a part of the corporation, or they can leave and be a part of another corporation that does not have such strict rules. Those associated with the Watchtower organization have the same choice and the same right. But either way, it has nothing to do with pleasing or displeasing God.

Unfortunately, the Watchtower organization’s rule on facial hair is another example of teaching commands of men as doctrines. (Matthew 15:9) It would be better if the Watchtower organization stopped interfering in the personal decisions of our brothers and sisters, and stopped acting as the masters over their faith. But at the very least, they should explain that the rules on grooming are mere policies, and not the law of God. We believe many brothers are willing to cut their beards to comply with corporate rules. But suggesting that a brother with a beard cannot serve God with a clear conscience is misleading and dishonest. 

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