Re: [ustav] re: readers and beards
- True, but the situation is worse than you describe; you may see a priest and even a bishop clean-shaven, although in ROCOR people are spared this.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, holytransf@a... wrote:
> The Clergy are held to a stricter standard, usually, than a layman. A beard
> is nothing particular to a deacon, priest or bishop -- every Orthodox adult
> man should have a beard. Because of the strictness of standard for a clergyman
> that is why you, often, at least in this country, sometimes only see a beard
> on a deacon, priest or bishop.
--- In email@example.com, "Don Hackenberry" <donhackenberry@a...> wrote:
> Amish trim their beards. Car driving ones more so, buggy driving ones
> less. An Amishman will definitely shave his moustache.
In the days when the Amish were forming their culture, soldiers usually shaved the chin but flaunted a moustache, the bigger the better. The Amish wanted to be the opposite of soldiers.
> The Amish justification for the practice is that it is a means to
> immediately tell a man from a woman.
Romance languages have lost the Latin word for a male human being, and pressed the Latin word for a human being in general into doing double duty, bearing both senses. English has followed this example within its Germanic lexical stock, and that has caused grief in recent decades. Romanian has sensibly corrected the deficiency by devising a new word for a male: barbat (breve on the first _a_), which agrees with the Amish position nicely.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, benjaminstell@a... wrote:
> Some scriptural and patristic basis would be appreciated regardingthis issue...
>This entire thread is rather off-topic for Ustav, but some general
> Reader Benjamin the beardless
comments can be made.
Relevant Scriptural passages are Leviticus 19:27 ("Ye shall not round
the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy
beard."), relating to men in general, and Leviticus 21:5 ("They shall
not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the
corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh."),
relating to the Aaronic priesthood in particular. Also, see 2 Samuel
10:4-5, 3 Kings 19:5, and Jeremias 41:5, which describe the forcible
shaving of the beard as a mark of shame.
The standard for old Israel was quite clear. Note that in the
iconography of our Lord and the Apostles, all are shown bearded,
excepting certain apostles in their youth (e.g., John, Thomas).
The iconographic record with respect to the early centuries of the
Church is similar, as are common practices in most historically
The persistence of beardedness among the Orthodox in holy orders, and
the importance attached to it, are evident in the account of the 26
Martyrs of Zographou, who in response to the arguments of the
besieging Latins that their practice of being clean-shaven was
superior, replied "Better that you should trim your tongues, than we
The usual canon cited in this context is No. 96 of the Sixth Council,
although it speaks to fashionable grooming of the hair out of vanity,
rather than to trimming the beard. Those who wish to
read the interpretation and various commentaries can refer to pages
403-405 in the English Rudder.
Historical citations aside, the important virtues here are
modesty, humility, and obedience. All Christians are called to
modesty, both men and women. Any grooming that is done with the
object of making ourselves more impressive, "good-looking", or
fetching, whether by hair styling, jewelry, fashionable clothing, or
the like, is a departure from this. The general illustrations
in Scripture and in the Lives of the Saints are innumerable
(cf: 1 Peter 3:3). It may be more prudent to follow practices
modeled in many Orthodox cultures over the centuries than to rely on
our own judgments, molded by the prejudices of our society. If this
is offensive to you, carefully consider whether vanity,
pride, or self-will may lie at the root of these feelings.
As with so much else in Orthodoxy, we do what we can. The ideal is
an untrimmed beard. Should your work make this impracticable, then a
trimmed beard. If this is impossible, then a mustache. (St. John
Chrysostom would not commune a man who did not have at least a
mustache. Perhaps the practicalities of the 4th century were not so
different from our own.)
As a practical pastoral matter, I have never broached this topic with
anyone, but have simply responded to inquiries. I am more concerned
with whether my flock is saying their prayers, keeping the fasts,
coming to church, and showing kindness to their neighbor. However,
at the same time, I would never belittle the inclination of a man who
wishes to grow a beard from pious intent. The clergy should be a
model for the layfolk, in modesty as in all else, whether or not
they are required to do so out of obedience.
in IC XC,
Priest James Baglien
St. Martin the Merciful Orthodox Church (ROCOR)