Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses - Are Wearing Beards Discouraged?

It may be noticeable that the wearing of beards by Jehovah's Witnesses in certain territories is not common. Thus, some have made the incorrect conclusion that the wearing of beards is forbidden if you are one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jehovah's Witnesses understand that there is nothing in the Bible that says that wearing a beard displeases God or Christ. In fact, during Jesus' time on earth it was customary to wear beards. Christians came first from a Jewish background, and Jewish men wore beards. Beards were a sign of maturity, wisdom, and piety.

Like all other Jews, Jesus was under obligation to keep the whole law. One of the commandments of the Law was: “You must not cut your side locks short around, and you must not destroy the extremity of your beard.” (Lev. 19:27) God doubtless gave Israel this law because among some pagans it was the practice to cut the beard in a certain fashion in worship of their gods. (Jer. 9:26; 25:23) Nevertheless, that law did not mean that a beard was not to be well kept, for in the Near East a well-groomed beard was considered a symbol of dignity and respectability. (2 Sam. 19:24)

Today however, Jehovah's Witnesses, like the early Christians, are concerned with neatness and cleanness, and they strive to dress inconspicuously so that their appearance does not in any way detract from the dignity or the effectiveness of the message they bear. (2 Cor. 6:3, 4) In recent years in many lands a beard or long hair on a man attracts immediate notice and may, in the minds of the majority, classify such a person undesirably with extremists or as rebels against society. God’s ministers want to avoid making any impression that would take attention away from their ministry or hinder anyone from listening to the truth. They know that people are watching true Christians very critically and that to a great extent they judge the entire congregation and the good news by the minister’s appearance as a representative of the congregation.

Local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses must weigh community sensibilities in determining whether a man with a beard would tend to cause apprehension in the area. Like the apostle Paul, Jehovah's Witnesses certainly have a tradition of yielding their personal preferences "for the sake of the good news". (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) Modern Christian men might reflect on the principle first-century Christian men set who might have preferred to keep their foreskins (with similar justifications), yet yielded to circumcision once they understood that uncircumcision might be an obstacle to those who would hear "the good news". (Acts 16:1-3)

Additional Reading:

BEARD (Insight; pp. 266-267; Watchtower Online Library)

"Would it be proper for Christian men to wear a neatly trimed beard? We all know in biblical times Christian men had them including Jesus." (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

Appearance (Physical) (Search For Bible Truths)

(To those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), please remember that if you are looking for the authoritative information about the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's (WTBTS) Bible-based beliefs and practices, you should look to our OFFICIAL WEBSITE at http://www.jw.org/en. Numerous publications as well as the New World Translation Bible (NWT) and the very useful Watchtower Online Library can be found there.)

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