|The ultimate Civil War hero with facial hair...|
For years, I worked at a grocery store that prohibited facial hair on its male employees (some of the older ladies had some rockin' mustaches though!), and until recently, I had not availed myself of the freedom of a public employee in regards to personal appearance. But a few months ago, my wife mentioned her preference of whiskers, so I finally buckled down and committed to giving it a try. Other reactions have mixed, and I discovered an interesting trend which is my main point today: the younger a person was, the more likely they were to disdain my beard. The more female a person was, the more likely they were to instinctively object to hair on a man (other than the Fabio/Brad Pitt mane which God has ordained me never to have). The perfect example are 2 of my darling nieces... they come over periodically for the weekend, but there had been a brief hiatus, so my growth had gone from the trimmed, 6 day sprout common on boy-band stars to the bold declaration of manhood that it is now.
So I came home late Friday night to their beaming faces, only to behold their instant recoil. "Ewww! It's so long! It's so grey! You look so old!" I wasn't shocked, but slightly puzzled would be closer to my reaction. I pondered as I took advantage of their disgust, as any good uncle should: rubbing their hand on my face, experimenting with a new twist on butterfly kisses ("beardfly kisses"?), etc. Then it hit me, and it should be clear to you as well... look at the images of so-called masculinity our culture flaunts. Shaved, trimmed, waxed little boys who couldn't find a chest hair with a magnifying glass!
So the best correction I can think of is to highlight a couple realities of a holistic biblical perspective:
1. Men and women are made differently! Much of what our society dictates as attractive is formulated from a worldview that elevates so-called feminine equality (opposed to a biblical complementarianism) and denigrates masculine physicality and distinctiveness. But my physical appearance is a perfect example of the grace of God in His creation of our genders... when God taketh away the hair on a man's head, He giveth extra hair on his face! That's probably not what Job meant, but seriously, in biblical times, a man without a beard was a disgraced spectacle (2 Sam 10:5, Ezr 9:3, Isa 7:20, 15:2, Jer 41:5). Even in our country, when viewing old photos or portraits, you are met with long flowing mustaches and beards grown to almost comical lengths... until about 45-50 years ago, when the ripples of the "sexual revolution" began altering our society.
2. This point is not exclusive to men, but neither are men immune to it: we have built a huge, idolatrous monument to the false god of youth. Anything that smacks of an age past 25 is vilified and fought tooth and nail. I don't have the figures, but if you calculated the money spent per year on surgery, dye, Rogaine and the latest laser foolishness, it must be in the billions. But God says "Gray hair is a crown of glory; (if of course...) it is gained in a righteous life." (Prov 16:31) Respect for the wisdom of age is spurned today, but Israel was commanded "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD." (Lev 19:32)
Feel free to add your own points (especially if you're older and wiser than me!) and for you guys out there... grow it if you got it!