Why Does God Love Beards?
A discussion (excerpts) of facial hair in world religions by Brian Palmer on Slate.com on October 18, 2011
Many of the world's religions, including Sikhism, Islam, and sects of Christianity and Judaism, encourage or require their men to keep beards. Jesus Christ is typically 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." St. Augustine seconded Clement’s characterization, noting, “The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man.” In today’s world, Protestants and Catholics are more likely to follow prevailing facial hair fashions, while Orthodox Christians tend to stick to the biblical, pro-beard view.