Why does God love beards?

Clement of Alexandria (c.150-211/216).

Good ol' Clement of A, w/ his own quite impressive beard

And if you don’t get the chance to look at all the items from Pietist Schoolman’s blog (see my previous post), you should definitely check this one out, from Slate:

Why Does God Love Beards?

A discussion of facial hair in world religions.


An Amish splinter group has gone on a crime spree, forcibly cutting the beards off of their rivals. Many religions, including Sikhism, Islam, and sects of Judaism, encourage or require their men to keep beards. Jesus Christ is often depicted with a beard. Why does God like facial hair so much?

Because it’s manly. Although beards appear repeatedly in religious texts, God never explicitly tells us why they’re so holy. In the absence of any divine exposition, many theologians have posited that a hairy face is a symbol of masculinity bestowed upon men by God. St. Clement of Alexandria, who was among the most emphatic proponents of this view, argued: “But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly! And, in truth, unless you saw them naked, you would suppose them to be women.”

3 responses to “Why does God love beards?

  1. Pingback: A geek with a hat » Beardvember. DOIT!

  2. Woo hoo! This is my 500th post!

    • Congratulations, Chris! And thanks for the publicity. 🙂

      On the theological import of beards… From my own teaching of a Reformation history course, I know that for numerous Reformers beards not only connoted masculinity, but underscored their rejection of clerical celibacy and embrace of the marital estate. (Count Calvin, Knox, and the later Cranmer on the hirsute side; Zwingli, Bucer, and the mostly clean-shaven former monk who started the uproar are exceptions to the rule.) Were medieval clergy expected to shave unless given permission to do otherwise? Why was this? A complement to the tonsure?

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