Pastoral beards

Pastors these days like to wear beards.  So says Leadership Journal, published by Christianity Today, whose blog shows the various styles preferred by various kinds of pastors.  I reproduce them here, adding also a distinctly Lutheran kind of beard.

From  Out of Ur: The Beards of Ministry:




What I like is the beard of 17th century Lutheran orthodoxy:

I don’t know any pastors today who look like this, but we need to bring this beard–associated also with Buffalo Bill-type frontiersmen–back into fashion.

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  • Pete

    The Matt Harrison/Teddy Roosevelt mustache is reasonably hip, I’d say. (Although, according to my kids, my hipness cred is almost undetectable.)

  • Sharon Philp

    When I was in Lutheran college two decades ago, goatees were becoming popular. None of your soul-patch goatees, just regular, cover-the main chin hair. Our choir director had a strict dress code for choir tours, including a “no-facial-hair-on-choir-tour” rule. That meant all the goatees had to go, for which almost everyone else was grateful. The males who wore them complained, especially when our director made an exception to a second-career choir member who had a well-groomed beard, and had had one for years. Call me biased, but the clean-shaven and the well-groomed men in our choir looked good when compared with the funny stubble one sees these days, especially on seminarians. It looks like the unchecked facial hair of the baseball players who do not shave during the post-season, so as not to break the luck. Then I think of how my choir director would be very sad if he could see how these soon-to-be pastors dressed and shaved. Appearance does not make the man, indeed; however, should not men who are or are preparing to stand “in the stead and by the command” of Christ now wish to groom with that in mind?

  • My wife likes me to have a scruffy face, she doesn’t like the beard, and she doesn’t like clean shaven. She’s happy, I’m happy.

  • Kathy

    Bror @3 – I’m with your wife. I like the scruffy look, seems more masculine than the clean-shaven face. I say, “Let men be men.” They’re emasculated enough in our society. I would prefer that men don’t choose the Orthodox or Angry Whiskers look.

  • I believe that pastoral beards are going out of style in the ELCA, because… well, because they soon won’t have any male pastors left at all.

  • SKPeterson

    My wife determines my facial hair as well. I have a goatee, which I grew about 10 years or so ago and have kept since. I grown it fairly long, almost like the goat pharaoh, but also trimmed neat like the plain guru. However, my wife also likes the scruff , which generally means I shave on Sunday’s and trim the goatee back every few weeks at the same time.

  • SKPeterson

    Lars @ 5 – Just because there won’t be any male pastors, does not mean ELCA clergy will abandon beards!

  • HippoAugustine

    Thanks for this. I almost spit my coffee out on my keyboard.
    When I was in seminary, about 50% had beards. I thought they did it because it made them feel like the apostles. I encouraged them to wear tunics and sandals but there were no takers.

  • Random Lutheran

    I’ve never understood why society wants men to cut off their real faces. Sure, there will be some men who just can’t grow a decent beard (patchy, etc.), but most can and should. The societal preference for the so-called “clean-shaven look” is just a means to continually infantilize men.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I think I want to get one of those retro-doily collars so I can grow out my hair and begin some new purpose-driven winter beard sculpting! Dude! That would be so awesome.

  • Jon

    O, Father Hollywood (Pr. Beane)?! Just sayin’ he could easily coif his mane, sculpt the Buffalo Bill and sport the ruffled collar.

    And I’ve had an LCMS pastor with a ponytail and full beard. Rode a Hog, too. Though he usually went with at least a clerical shirt and collar.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    Been rocking the goatee since college and I have no plans to ever shave it off. Easy to maintain and it helps soften the baby face look. I will be the first to say, I am happy beards have come back into fashion. Kept properly trimmed, they give an air of dignity. Also, they are nice and warm in the winter months.

  • Amen to #7. Who are you, Lars, to discriminate against women and tell them they shouldn’t be growing beards?

    (a friend of mine from college noted that her opinion is that men shouldn’t wear earrings and women shouldn’t wear beards, though–you’re not alone, Lars)

    Lost in the array of beards is a very simple question; can a pastor wear a beard without trying to “prove something” with it? Can my Van Dyck simply be “the beard that lengthens my face and looks OK” rather than trying to prove I’m Calvin, guru, or goat Pharaoh?

    Count me out on the handlebar mustasche and goatee, though. Too much work waxing it to get it there!

  • The history of clerical facial hair in the Church is really quite interesting, in fact, it became a mark of confession between the Eastern and Western Church where. In the East facial hair became mandatory, and, as far as I know, except for some exceptions in Western Rite type of Eastern Church expressions, it is still mandatory that members of their clergy must have a beard. In the West, just the opposite was true. Clean shaven was mandatory throughout the Middle Ages. You’ll note, for example, Martin Luther remained clean shaven throughout his entire life, except for that period of time when he was trying to do incognito after the Diet of Worms in 1521.

    After Luther, however, Lutheran theologians generally sported beards, etc. Here, for example, is the great Martin Chemnitz, the prime mover behind the Book of Concord’s compilation.

  • I look at the “Angry Whiskers” and I see Rasputin!

  • tODD

    I’m sorry, but the picture of the Hawg Preacher clearly depicts U2’s The Edge, not an actual Harley rider.

    I do think the Anabaptist look is poised to go big soon. Personally, I’ve been thinking of shaving off my moustache due to my antipathy towards the English.

    Also, that looks less like a “Puritan” and more like a 17th-Century French Cardinal. Just sayin’.

    Anyhow, as my avatar here makes clear, I’ve been be-bearded since shortly before I became a dad. It started as winter laziness, and now my wife says she likes it, and I’m certain it would traumatize the kids (and possibly the wife) to see my naked chin. After all, they’ve never seen it in all their lives. Also, I remain lazy. The nice thing about a full beard is that (1) what there is to shave isn’t a lot (sorry, neckbeards remain a no), and (2) I can get away with shaving that once a week, on Sundays.

  • I met a Romanian Baptist pastor who was convinced it was sinful for a pastor to grow a beard. I guess he reasoned that if the Orthodox priests have beards, then beards must be of the devil.

  • Trey

    I think pastors ought to be some whaf well groomed and not look like a hobo. I’m okay with a little scruff or clean goatte or sole patch, but some are just unkempt and hideous. Unfortunately we live in a superficial culture where some will avoid such people.

  • Nils

    I’ve had a beard ever since I decided not to shave when doing an excavation summer in Turkey. Now, I have no recollection of what I look like without it.

  • Joanne

    I’m intimidated by my hairdresser. Every time I go, which is maybe a little less than twice a year, I suggest that maybe we could put a little red in, or more blond with highlights. And, every time she says, No, you’d never keep it up and only have long roots in the wrong color. She’s right of course, going only just a little less than twice a year would not be nearly enough to keep the roots in the right color. Still, I resent it when she just refuses with a kurt NO, and then trims my hair the way she always does. I’ve actually hated, all my life, to go get my hair cut/done. Hairdressers are the bain of my life. Still, ah, there was a time in my life when I lived in South Florida when I maintained quite a bit of red fairly well and I liked the lady at Jordan Marshes salon. The root thing got me there at least 4 or 5 times a year, but nothing lasts forever. Sigh. My over-spent youth.
    Now as we all learned in “The Life of Brian,” a beard can be purchased, if one haggles properly. I think I’d just get a utiltarian face coverer for stonings and such like. Light, but of no particular color.

  • helen

    If you only see your hairdresser twice a year, why see her at all?
    When I had my wrist in a cast I couldn’t wash my hair, so I found a salon which does it very reasonably, and I’ve continued the practice. But I trim it myself, from time to time. And that’s all. My red has gone dark over the years, as red does after 25 or so, but hey, better than grey! 🙂 [It does “frost” my silver haired cousin.]

    In a big library, you see everything in the way of facial hair. Or not. And pony tails, too

  • Random Lutheran @9- Right on! I find clean shaven men slightly odd looking.
    Anyone else notice that the Perennial YOuth Pastor lokks just like one of the recurring Lutheran Satire charachters?

  • CRB

    A few years ago, I suggested to my wife that I wanted to grow a full beard as opposed to what could be described as, closer to The Spurgeon” look that I have now. She said, “OK, then you wont mind if I don’t shave my legs?”

  • Becky F.

    My husband is clean-shaven pastor because his facial hair grows in very patchy. He tried a mustache/goatee during 4th year of Seminary, and it looked OK, but he does look better without. I’ve always liked facial hair on men because my father always had at least a mustache after he and my mom were married, and he’s had a beard before and now regularly has a goatee. Nicely kept facial hair can look dignified.

  • Daryl II

    Some years ago, I grew a goatee while on vacation, and kept it. Now that the hair is more gray than blond, I became curious as to how I would look without it, so recently I shaved it off. Immediately, I allowed the goatee to grow back… I decided it was easier to keep it neatly groomed and dyed, than to deal with the lines and wrinkles I hadn’t realized it was hiding.

  • “The Wartburg” really should be represented here, but, unsurprisingly, the Lutherans’ contribution to the game is overlooked again. Sigh.

    Fr. Charles McClean (a septuagenarian Lutheran pastor) informed me that mustaches are against Canon Law. Either a full beard or clean-shaven, but no ‘staches. So, who wants to go on a mustached-Catholic-priest-hunt with me? We can tell on him to his bishop. All we need are some good walking shoes and Instagram.