Have you ever noticed a Jehovah’s Witness sporting a stylish beard? The chances are slim to none. When you see them out in public, they are always clean-shaven, and they do well to present a very traditional corporate look. So why is it that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have beards? Is it by choice, or is it a requirement? Are Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed to have beards?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are generally not allowed to have beards. By growing a beard, you will be viewed by their community as rebellious. You will be removed from any position of responsibility. The elders will likely have a meeting with you, using coercive persuasion to manipulate you into shaving. While there is little in their publications about beards, there is an “oral law” strongly enforced by the elders.
This rule about beards is nowhere to be found in print. However, it is for a good reason. Jehovah’s Witnesses already have a reputation for being a high control group, and putting this law in print would allow the public to get a glimpse of the level of control that the organization exercises over its members.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering why Jehovah’s Witnesses generally cant have beards, what they teach about beards, and what the Bible says about beards. Being a very personal issue, I decided to dig deep into this one, and what I found was partly interesting and partly shocking.
Why can’t Jehovah’s Witnesses have beards?
According to their publications, Jehovah’s Witnesses in most countries and cultures aren’t allowed to have beards because they say beards are associated with extremism or rebels against society. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, bearded members can be a matter of disturbance to the congregation and can stumble fellow congregants. If congregants are “stumbled” by a member’s beard, they will be expected to shave “for the sake of the conscience of others”.
The real reason Jehovah’s Witnesses cant have beards has a lot more to do with the outward corporate-like appearance of the organization and a way to keep the finger on the pulse of a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ willingness to obey.
ACCORDING TO JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, BEARDS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH EXTREMISM
In 1968, a statement in the Watchtower magazine suggested that a beard would detract from their message because “the majority” of people classify individuals with beards as extremists or rebels against society. They make this statement without backing it up with proof or a study. This is a false cause fallacy, where they “presumed that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other.“.
When it comes to beards, Jehovah’s Witnesses present a false black and white argument, where having a beard means to look like a rebel, but in order to look like a Christian, one has to be clean-shaven, when in fact, other possibilities exist.
|“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. “|
Watchtower 1968 May 12 p.288
The association of beards with extremists and rebels of society is unsupported in the real world, but rather is constructed and perpetuated in the Jehovah’s Witnesses publications by the use of images, anecdotes, and videos where good people are always presented to be cleanly shaven, and bad people have facial hair.
ACCORDING TO JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, BEARDS ARE A MATTER OF DISTURBANCE IN THE CONGREGATION
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that if a fellow “Christian” is stumbled by anything you do, you must stop that behavior. This includes what you eat or drink, how you dress, what hobbies you do, or wearing a beard. They cite 1st Corinthians 8:13 as their source for this so-called “principle”. The Apostle Paul said that he would never eat meat again if eating meat would stumble a fellow Christian.
|“But more helpful than a specific rule in this regard will be application of the principle behind the Biblical statement quoted above: “‘Conscience,’ I say, not your own, but that of the other person.” The same counsel applies when it comes to wearing beards or certain articles of clothing. In some locations people still view beards as identifying rebellious elements in society.”|
Awake! 1979 Apr 22 pp.27-28
What Jehovah’s Witnesses fail to mention is that Paul was referring to meat sacrificed to idols. Paul agrees that food is just food, and eating specific foods, even food offered to idols, is not wrong in and of itself. What Paul was saying is that if a fellow Christian is stumbled by the fact that the food in question was sacrificed to idols, then it would be better not to eat it so that they are not stumbled. He was not saying that he is giving up meat altogether.
|“Paul concludes his first argument about why the Corinthians should not eat food offered to idols. Though it’s not immoral, in and of itself, it might cause weak-conscience believers to sin against their own consciences by eating idol food when they mistakenly think it is wrong.“|
Bibleref.com Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:13
How does meat offered to idols relate to growing a beard? What part of having a beard is pagan? It doesn’t; in fact, the opposite is true. The practice of shaving has pagan roots and is a legitimate cause for “stumbling”. I would also ask, did Paul shave off his beard to avoid stumbling newly baptized Greeks who were cleanly shaven? Or, were newly baptized Greeks required to grow their beards to not stumble the bearded Jewish Christians?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are programmed to believe that beards are rebellious and are associated with extremism. This is done through subliminal messaging in their study articles, images, and videos, as I will explain later in this article.
This creates a stigma against beards among Jehovah’s Witnesses, and growing a beard will undoubtedly offend members of the congregation. A stigma that is not based on the fact that beards have pagan ties to idols (like the meat that Paul was referring to) but rather because they have been convinced by their leaders that beards are not appropriate for Christians.
The truth about why Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t have beards
Controlling the minds of followers is the ultimate goal for cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Mind Control is no myth. It is a well-studied social phenomenon but is a lot more boring than what you might imagine. It does not involve torture, flashing images, captivity, etc., but rather its hours and hours of meetings, exposure to images, talks, and videos that use subliminal messaging to modify members’ thinking. A very subtle process that uses a system of influences to disrupt an individual’s identity.
There are three key elements to cult mind control when it comes to the issue of beards. Behavior Modification, Group Conformity, and Obedience to Authority, all of which play an essential role in the capturing of an individual’s mind.
GROUP CONFORMITY BY SHAVING IN THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
In cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, behavior is often controlled by requiring everyone to look and act uniformly. Every cult has its own set of ritual behaviors that helps to bind its members together. In the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it includes ritualistic shaving.
Like growing a beard, acting independently is viewed as reabellious. It will expose the individual’s doubts about the organization’s leadership, raising a red flag to the elders that you need to be dealt with.
|“…[the] group vigorously reinforces certain behaviors by effusive praise and acknowledgement, while punishing non-group ideas and behaviors with icy silence.”|
Combatting Cult Mind Control, Page 71
BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION THROUGH SHAVING IN THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
The purpose of behavior modification is to disrupt an individual’s identity. This is done by imposing a new set of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. If the leadership can manipulate an individual’s behavior (such as forcing them to shave), the individual will start to bring their thinking in line with their behavior. This is how cults can change the way people think.
At first, the individual will feel uneasy about the change in their behavior. Still, the more they do it, the more in line their thinking becomes with their behavior. Forcing people to shave is part of their behavior modification technique.
|“The leaders cannot command someone’s inner thoughts, but they know that if they command behavior, hearts and minds will follow.”|
Combatting Cult Mind Control, Page 61, Behavior Control
The Stanford Prison Experiment Similarities
In the case of the Stanford Prison Experiment, volunteer prisoners were required to wear dresses and place a stocking cap over their heads to emasculate the men. The men’s behavior immediately became more submissive as they held themselves more like women than men.
|“Our goal was to produce similar effects quickly by putting men in a dress without any underclothes. Indeed, as soon as some of our prisoners were put in these uniforms they began to walk and to sit differently, and to hold themselves differently – more like a woman than like a man.“|
Arrival — Stanford Prison Experiment
Much like Jehovah’s Witnesses being required to shave, these rules were a way of getting people to begin complying with the arbitrary, coercive rules of the organization.
BLIND OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY BY SHAVING IN THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
|“In any group that qualifies as a destructive cult, thinking of oneself or for oneself is wrong. The group comes first. Absolute obedience to superiors is one of the most universal themes in cults. Individuality is bad. Conformity is good.”|
Combatting Cult Mind Control, Page 80, Group Will over Individual Will
Complying with the group’s rigid requirements to shave shows that an individual is blindly obedient to the group’s leaders. An individual who rejects his elder’s counsel to shave fails to display absolute obedience and needs to be dealt with. Usually, they will be “counseled”, and coerced into shaving.
|“…All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive [from the Governing Body], whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.”|
Watchtower 2013 – Seven Shepherds, Eight Dukes—What They Mean for Us Today, Paragraph 17
What do Jehovah’s Witnesses teach about beards?
Jehovah’s Witnesses demonize beards by applying subliminal messaging and undue influence (brainwashing) in their publications. Once beards are successfully demonized, members of the congregation will do all of the policing required. They will confront the bearded individual at meetings and gatherings. Members of the congregation will also complain to the elders about the bearded individual, claiming that it stumbles them.
The use of subliminal messaging to demonize beards is applied in Storytelling, Images, and Unwritten Oral Law that is delivered directly to the individual via social influence and so-called counseling sessions with the elders.
JEHOVAHS WITNESSES USE SUBLIMINAL MESSAGING, AND UNDUE INFLUENCE AGAINST BEARDS
It is essential to realize that the Jehovah’s witnesses are an established cult. We need to understand how cults use subliminal messaging and undue influence (also known as brainwashing) to manipulate their members into conforming. These methods are not as obvious as you might think. Hollywood has really distorted what brainwashing looks like. Mind control and brainwashing don’t necessarily include being handcuffed, tortured, and interrogated under bright lights. Instead, knowing how sensitive humans are to social cues, cults implement subliminal messaging as a much more effective method and one that is difficult to detect.
Today, brainwashing is a well-studied topic by thousands of renowned psychologists worldwide. Many high control groups use the methods today, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses use unwritten oral laws, images, and storytelling to send out subliminal messages that essentially brainwash those who have beards, into shaving, and the members of the congregation to view those who have beards in a negative light. One of many examples of this includes the following statement in the Watchtower study article.
|“Extreme hair styles can easily lead one into a trap of the Devil also, and cause others to stumble… From early youth he had let his beard grow…. He was invited to consider his appearance in relation to what he claimed to be, a servant of God. Not wanting to be responsible for even one person’s being stumbled so as to miss the way to everlasting life, this new Kingdom publisher shaved off his beard.”|
Watchtower 1975 Aug 15 p.500
HOW JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES USE SUBLIMINAL MESSAGING TO DEMONIZE BEARDS IN STORYTELLING AND IN IMAGES
Watchtower study articles are littered with accounts of people “coming into the truth”, and making huge sacrifices such as quitting alcohol, drugs. I seriously doubt the legitimacy of most of these accounts, but I won’t digress. I will point out that these accounts present perfect opportunities for Jehovah’s Witnesses to demonize whatever behavior they do not want, including growing a beard. In this 1989 Watchtower study article, beards are demonized by associating them with the use of drugs.
|“However, after the young man received the book, there was a remarkable transformation in the lad. He shaved off his beard, cut his hair, and stopped using drugs.” |
Watchtower 1989 Sep 15 p.32
The truth is that the young man did not shave because his beard is evil. Instead, he shaved because he was brainwashed to believe that growing a beard was wrong. He would also have been pressured by others who were brainwashed into a negative view of beards. No doubt he would have been “counseled” about his beard by the elders, who would persuade him that he must shave.
Another article in the 1998 Watchtower implied that shaving off your beard is visible “evidence” that a bible student is changing his heart for the better. Such a statement suggests that the reverse is true, that growing a beard means to change for the worse.
|“A Bible study was started with him, and as Bible truth began to affect his heart, the changes he made were visible to all. One of the first evidences of his change was that he cut short his long hair and shaved off his straggly beard.”|
Watchtower 1998 Jan 1 p.4
Another statement made in a 1973 Watchtower article strongly implied that a Jehovah’s Witness does not have the right to grow a beard in a similar way ancient Israelites did not have the right to shave. While they won’t outright put it in print, the message is clear, and make no mistake, this is a firm stance against beards for the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
|“Suppose that you, as a man, lived in Israelite times, under the Law, and did not like a beard. Perhaps you liked the way Egyptians looked, clean shaven. What would you do? Would you exercise your personal right to shave? No, for you would not have such a right. You would have to wear a beard, because the Law commanded all males: “You must not cut your sidelocks short around, and you must not destroy the extremity of your beard.” |
Watchtower 1973 Mar 1, Rights or Duties—Which? [screenshot]
UNWRITTEN ORAL LAW AGAINST BEARDS
On the surface, it seems there are no hard and fast laws about beards among Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, they have published statements that make it look like beards are acceptable for Jehovah’s Witnesses in some countries, but they fail to mention that the pressure to shave still exists.
Jehovah’s witnesses paint a (falsely) reasonable stance on the issue of beards by saying that “In some cultures, a neatly trimmed beard may be acceptable and respectable, and it may not detract at all from the Kingdom message.”, but what they don’t mention is that it’s up to the Elders to decide if beards are respectable in their culture. In reality, in the culture of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, beards are not viewed as acceptable and will not be formally allowed.
Are beards against the Bible?
Contrary to what Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, the Bible portrays a beard as a God-given sign of gender distinction and maturity.
Beards are most definitely NOT against the Bible. In fact, the Bible portrays a beard as evidence of manly dignity. So much so that Israelite men were forbidden from shaving their beards. Today, most people would agree that women are being encouraged to look more manly, and men are being pressured to look more womanly, creating a very negative view of beards.
Despite the claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “no part of this world”, they very much seem to be in agreement with this so-called “worldly” point of view regarding beards.
MEN WERE REQUIRED TO HAVE A BEARD UNDER BIBLICAL LAW
Nowhere in the Bible did God ever command men to remove their beards; in fact, men were commanded the opposite.
|“27 “‘You must not shave the hair on the side of your head or disfigure the edges of your beard. 28 “‘You must not make cuts in your flesh for a dead person, and you must not make tattoo markings on yourselves…”|
Leviticus 19:27, 28 – NWT
It was a requirement for men to have beards under the Mosaic Law. Leviticus 19 verse 27 reads, “You must not shave the hair on the side of your head or disfigure the edges of your beard”. But Jehovah’s Witnesses will say that that “Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, nor are they obliged to observe it.” But if we continue reading on to verse 28, the same scripture reads. “You must not make cuts in your flesh for a dead person, and you must not make tattoo markings on yourselves….”. Do Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain this stance when it comes to tattoos? No…
If Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that shaving is no longer considered forbidden for Christians, then why do Jehovah’s Witnesses use the same scripture to outlaw tattoos?
|“Significantly, the Mosaic Law forbade God’s people to tattoo themselves. Said Leviticus 19:28: “You must not make cuts in your flesh for a deceased soul, and you must not put tattoo marking upon yourselves. I am Jehovah.” … While Christians today are not under the Law of Moses, the prohibition it laid on tattooing is sobering.” |
Awake! 2003 Sep 22 p.26
What about the prohibition laid on shaving? How interesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses view the prohibition on tattooing as “sobering”, but completely ignore the ban applied to shaving. All the while admitting that in those days, shaving was a religious practice among pagans.
Jehovah’s Witnesses strongly view tattoos as taboo and base their view on scripture at Leviticus 19:28. However, they conveniently ignore verse 27 of the same scripture forbids men from shaving off their beards. If the same reasoning for tattoos were applied to beards, then shaving would be taboo.
ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, SHAVING WAS A FORM OF HUMILIATION
|“So Haʹnun took the servants of David and shaved off half their beards and cut their garments in half at their buttocks and sent them away.”|
2 Samuel 10:1-19
In an attempt to humiliate Davids’s soldiers, Ha’nun shaved off their beards. This was taken so seriously that David ordered the men to stay in their place until their beards grew back before returning.
Furthermore, in Jeremiah 41:5, 48:37, and Isaiah 7:20 God’s Judgement is pictured to be something as serious and as humiliating as shaving off their beards.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE
Miska Wilhelmsson from miskawilhelmsson.com puts it this way: “Bible believing Christians certainly know there is much more than just sexual organs that are the difference [between men and women], and that God has called men to appear in a distinctively manly appearance, and women to adorn themselves as women.”
According to the Bible, man and woman are both created by God, each with their own unique features, including men having beards. Beards are also highly esteemed in the Bible.
|“In reply he said: “Have you not read that the one who created them from the beginning made them male and female”|
Matthew 19:4 – NWT
|“A woman must not put on the clothing of a man, nor should a man wear the clothing of a woman. For anyone doing so is detestable to Jehovah your God.”|
Deuteronomy 22:5 – NWT
Evidently, the Bible places a strong emphasis on gender distinction, and a beard is no doubt one of the main differences between men and women. Men grow beards naturally, and it was even a requirement for men to have beards under the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, a man imitating a woman is viewed as detestable in the Bible.
Jehovahs Witnesses admit that there is a requirement for gender distinction but ignore the fact that shaving removes one of the identifying features between a man and woman, his beard. This textbook “double-think” is “a process of indoctrination whereby the subject is expected to simultaneously accept two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct.”
|“To be what God created them to be, men must be masculine, and women feminine. Why? Because in addition to man and woman having been made to complement each other physically, they were to complement each other through masculine and feminine qualities. “|
Watchtower 1997, June, Male and Female He Created Them, Paragraph 2.
SHAVING HAS PAGAN ROOTS
Shaving was forbidden for Israelite men. This was likely due to the pagan rituals of the surrounding nations that included shaving as part of their pagan religious ceremonies. It is also likely that shaving was not allowed because they were not supposed to disfigure what God had created to be the natural state of man.
|“They should not make their heads bald or shave off the fringe of their beard or make cuts on their body.”|
Leviticus 21:1-24 – NWT
Pagan Egyptian priests were required to shave, and shaving was promoted by the Roman Alexander the great. Pontius Pilate was also cleanly shaven while Jesus wore a beard.
JESUS WORE A BEARD
To Christians, the Bible portrays Jesus as the perfect example for Christians to imitate, and Jesus had a beard. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be followers of Jesus but stop dead short of allowing men to have beards.
You will be hard-pressed to find a Jehovah’s Witnesses sporting a stylish beard, and if you do, the chances are that he is not in good standing with his congregation.
While Jehovah’s Witnesses paint a soft and reasonable stance against beards, the truth is that the requirement to shave is heavily enforced. Those who fail to comply will be subjected to so-called “Shepherding visits”, where the elders will coerce the offender into shaving.
This rule is not easily found in print but is deeply engrained as an oral law among the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Make no mistake, growing a beard is considered “worldly” and taboo in the Jehovah’s Witness community.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that their stance on this issue is because beards are associated with extremism and “rebels against society”. However, this view is entirely unsupported in the real world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses also teach that a bearded member can cause stumbling in the congregation but base this on a principle where Paul would not eat meat offered to idols if it would stumble a fellow Christian. They make this link, but fail to demonstrate how a beard is linked to pagan idols like the meat Paul was referring to.
The truth is, the requirement to shave is a form of cult behavior control, one of the elements of mind control presented in Dr. Steven Hassans BITE model of cult mind control.
In cults, group conformity is vital to remove an individual’s independence. This includes ritualistic behaviors such as shaving. Members are not allowed to think for themselves and demonstrate blind obedience to orders they receive from the leadership.
As part of the cult indoctrination, Jehovah’s Witnesses are subjected to hours of exposure to talks, anecdotes, images, and videos where shaven people are associated with the “good guy”, and people with beards always assume the role of the “bad guy”.
Contrary to the stance of the Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding beards, beards are not against the Bible at all. In fact, beards are portrayed in the Bible as God-given signs of gender distinction and maturity. So much so that Israelite men were forbidden from shaving altogether.
Shaving was also seen as humiliating among the Israelites. Having a beard was an essential distinction between men and women. Furthermore, shaving has pagan roots among the Egyptians and Hindus, and lastly, Jesus had a beard.
26 Replies to “Can Jehovah’s Witnesses have beards?”
This is not true at all, there are many in other lands that have beards and privileges!! Get your facts straight before you tell untruths
You present a “Red Herring” argument by diverting attention from the real issue (That beards are in fact strictly governed) by focusing instead on an issue having only a surface relevance (that SOME congregations allow beards, albeit incredibly rare). The red herring is a well-understood logical fallacy that I have found very common among JW reasoning.
You say “many other lands”. I disagree. “SOME other congregations” would be more accurate. Furthermore, who has the right to say which congregations may have beards and which not? There is no scriptural basis to govern shaving at all. Beards are allowed in some lands, only because the Governing Body wouldn’t stand a chance at forcing them to shave, because beards are so deeply ingrained in the culture of those lands.
You say that this is article not true at all, but fail to point out where I have presented “untruths”. What specifically have I said that is not true? I will correct anything that you can prove is not true.
I truly hope you respond, but I understand that you’re forbidden from engaging with so-called apostates. Your beloved Watchtower says, and I quote: “It would be a mistake to think that you need to listen to apostates or to read their writings to refute their arguments. Their twisted, poisonous reasoning can cause spiritual harm and can contaminate your faith like rapidly spreading gangrene.” [Watchtower 2004 Feb 15 p.28]
I also understand the hatred many JW’s have for us so-called “apostates” who speak up against your organization. Your Watchtower magazine makes it clear when it said: “we can take action against apostates only to a certain extent, that is, consistent with both sets of laws. The law of the land and God’s law through Christ forbid us to kill apostates.” [Watchtower 1952 Nov 15 p. 703]
I’m a witness and some do wear beards. However they just have to be clean not dirty . I don’t know where you are getting your information from
This is entirely true. Im a pimo jw and I have some hair on my chin. Literally last tuesday and the following sunday (today) i had elders talk to me about it. They even told me to take my mask off (covid) while we were in the room to see it again. They told me it could stumble others in the hall and to imagine what people would say about me if I knocked on their door with hair on my face. Keep in mind I dont even have a beard, just some hair on my chin. They even asked me what my “motives” were which made me laugh. Its just natural growing hair bro 💀
I’m a JW in good standing and with a beard. It is true that I wouldn’t have any privileges because of it but it is also true that I haven’t been approached or coerced about my beard by any elder, and I enjoy a good relationship with my brothers and sisters! No, we don’t have any Big brother here that is constantly looking over our shoulders to find faults in us. JWs are as mind controlling as the first century Christians were. It would be naïve to think that ancient Christians didn’t have some norms or “oral laws” as you said that didn’t infringe in some disciples personal preferences like grooming or attire. By the way, JW’s in Spain and Greece wear beards and they have privileges (Google pictures) Your reasoning isn’t only faulty but perverse.
The fact that we are even discussing this, is enough to show that there is an issue surrounding beards among Jehovah’s Witnesses. The fact that you ended up on this page, says the same. You agree that a bearded Witness will not have any privileges, and say it without asking, what is the scriptural basis for this?
You say: “Christians were. It would be naïve to think that ancient Christians didn’t have some norms or “oral laws” as you said that didn’t infringe in some disciples personal preferences like grooming or attire.”. Have you really thought about this? I’m not so sure… I’ll ask you, were Greek Christians required to grow beards to become Christians, as not to stumble their fellow Jewish Christians? Were the Jewish Christians required to shave as not to stumble their fellow Greek brothers and sisters? No. Outside of basic modesty, like avoiding provocative dress, there were no such laws. In fact, Jesus was opposed to such “laws of man”. “Do not go beyond the things that are written, so that you may not be puffed up with pride, favoring one against the other.” Jehovah’s Witnesses favour shaven brothers with privileges, by applying oral laws that go beyond what is written.
You say: “JWs are as mind-controlling as the first century Christians were.” I disagree. Give me one example where early Christians employed the use of logical fallacies in the way that Watchtower does. Here is a list of examples of logical fallacies used by Watchtower: https://jwanswers.com/watchtower-quotes-about-propaganda/
You say that you don’t have a “Big Brother” looking for faults in the brothers and sisters, while there is a literal policy in the organization where even minor transgressions must be reported to the elders. Sure, maybe you don’t have a “Big Brother” looking for faults, rather dozens of brothers and sisters that would turn you over to the elders in a heartbeat for virtually any mistake you might make.
Your last statement does little to support your argument. “By the way, JW’s in Spain and Greece wear beards and they have privileges.” How does that prove anything? You’ve only shown that beards are indeed regulated by the organization using rules that “go beyond what is written”.
As a last note, I really am glad that you are able to grow a beard in your congregation, but you need to understand that this is the exception to the rule. In the absolute majority of congregations, beards are heavily frowned upon by brothers and sisters.
PS. Usually, I don’t bother sharing my personal experiences, because readers will just say that I am outright lying, but I will share some with you seeing as you shared yours with me.
When studying to get baptized, I was required to start shaving before I was accepted to be baptized. I was taught by the elder I was studying with, that one way to spot the difference between spiritual brothers and the weak ones, was whether they are shaven or not. When I started to grow out my beard, the brothers, sisters and group overseer were shocked when I pitched up at the field service with a beard. At the very next meeting, I was “invited” to the backroom for heavily counselled about it. I asked the elders what the scriptural reasoning behind beards is, they said they don’t know, and could only say that my beard is offensive to the rest of the Witnesses and that I need to be more submissive to the leadership.
You have went past the point, no privileges based on the organization not on The Bible.
Plain and simple.
You have went past the point, no privileges based on the organization not on The Bible.
Plain and simple.
You said: “Sure, maybe you don’t have a “Big Brother” looking for faults, rather dozens of brothers and sisters that would turn you over to the elders in a heartbeat for virtually any mistake you might make” …You know, in your heart, as former Witness that isn’t true. You use half truth to build up fallacies and spew your bitterness against JW. In my 35 years as JW, and being in several congregations, what you said never happened. Witnesses love each other and they don’t go around trying to find fault in their brothers and sisters. JW’s aren’t tatty tellers. Yes, if they see you doing something really wrong they wouldn’t be quiet but would you?
I ask you: What happened to you when the elders counselled you about your beard wouldn’t be the same if you went to the meetings or field service in faded jeans or sneakers for example? Most likely yes, you’d be counselled. So is there anything wrong about wearing faded jeans or sneakers? Does any scripture prohibit them? No really, JW just find them not proper for worshipping Jehovah.
Several of your reasoning about the subject of JW’s beards are half truth. Be careful; when Satan approached Eve he used also half truth “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” (Ge 3;1) very cunning…
Anyhow, I’m done and I won’t reply any further. You got the last word.
“You use half truth to build up fallacies and spew your bitterness against JW.” That is a lot of accusations in such a short sentence. Let me break it down into three parts:
I understand that based on your belief that they may appear to be “half-truth”, but you’ll need to be more specific so we can address them in a civilized manner. If you can prove without a doubt that any of my statements are untrue, I will gladly retract them.
Speaking of half truths, let’s see if Jehovah’s Witnesses are guilty of the same.
“By applying unselfish love in their marriages, Jehovah’s Witnesses achieve stable relationships. In some countries one marriage out of every two or three ends in divorce. But the above-mentioned survey indicated that presently only 4.9 percent of the Witnesses are divorced or separated from their mates.” – Awake 1997 Sep 8 p.11
This statement is misleading. It compares the number of people who are currently divorced with the number of people who will end up divorced. In reality, the percentage of the general population that is currently divorced is 4%, less than what is claimed by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I am well familiarized with logical fallacies and do my best to avoid them. So please be sure to point them out and I will gladly retract them.
On that note, I will use this opportunity to share with you where Watchtower is had published logical fallacies.
Why not answer the question. What are the claims of so-called apostates, and why are they wrong? Instead, Ad Hominem is employed by questioning the motive or character and completely dismissing the claim.
How can one determine that any reasoning is twisted and poisonous without knowing even what was said? Again, the claims are ignored, and the character or motive is put under the spotlight.
Other logical fallacies employed by Watchtower include
Here is a list of quotes where these tactics have been used: https://jwanswers.com/watchtower-quotes-about-propaganda/
Speaking of logical fallacies. Ever heard of “Ad Hominem”? This is where you question the person’s motive or character, rather than consider the facts. Heres an example of this:
Bearded JW, is it possible that you are projecting your own feelings by calling me bitter because some of what I have said is a “bitter pill to swallow”?
It is not an ethical way to debate a topic. To say I am writing this out of bitterness is a complete assumption, based solely on the fact that you don’t agree with my findings.
“What happened to you when the elders counselled you about your beard wouldn’t be the same if you went to the meetings or field service in faded jeans or sneakers for example? Most likely yes, you’d be counselled. So is there anything wrong about wearing faded jeans or sneakers? Does any scripture prohibit them? No really, JW just find them not proper for worshipping Jehovah.”
What is wrong with faded jeans and sneakers? What about those who can’t afford jackets and trousers? Much less a suit for that matter.
Again, your statement “Does any scripture prohibit them? No really, JW just find them not proper for worshipping Jehovah.”, does nothing to support your stance. There is no scripture that prohibits any dress (other than modesty). How did you come to the conclusion that anything other than corporate dress is not appropriate for worship? Where in the bible is there any talk of dress code at all?
“JW’s aren’t tatty tellers. Yes, if they see you doing something really wrong they wouldn’t be quiet but would you?”
Well, Matthew 18:15-17 – Jesus explains how to deal with a brother who commits a sin, and it does not involve running to any elders. Jesus said “…if your brother commits a sin, go and reveal his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
Jesus does not specify if it is a serious sin or a minor sin, and he doesn’t specify if it is a sin against you or a private sin.
What about going to the elders? There is nothing in the scriptures about becoming an informant. This is strictly a human/organizational directive. This is what the Bible says, that you should go to your brother and try to correct him personally. If he listens to you and stops sinning, you have gained a brother.
After all, isnt that the whole point? To bring him to his senses?
To me, hair on a man’s face, is just as natural as hair on top of his head, and humans are the ones that put judgemental issues on things they want to control. A neatly managed beard is just as presentable as a nice neat haircut. And I believe God has no issues with a man with a well groomed beard, because God created a man in his image, men naturally grow beards, and a woman is not supposed to take male hormones to grow a beard to be like a man because she was born a woman. The rest is easily figured out.
I am now aged 82. I have been a JW for 72 years. During this time, I have been an appointed man in the congregation. Due to sufferring from psororiosis, I grew a full set. The medical condition would come and go. Rather than chop and change, I eventually kept my beard. I was not allowed to give public talks to other congregations, neither could I take part in assemby’s.
Sadly. This is an area where the organisation leaves itself open to critism. The Bible does NOT condemn beards. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society does not condemn beards, provided they are well kept. Sad to say. Over the years. Local elders etc have taken it upon themselves to set forth rules. These elders have the power to decide on a witness’s future. Most sadly. The society fails to intervene. There are several areas where local miss interpretation and misunderstanding of the scriptures has fogged the truth. Nevertheless. I will leave the judgement to Jehovah.
Good morning Mike!
I would like to share something with you and with no disrespect for your faith in Jehovah and Jesus.
The years of your experience puts you in a unique area amongst the JW community.
I’m sure you have seen many “clarifications” or new light changes handed down by the Faithful Slave. I’m sure there were some that may have caught you by surprise, even to the point of possible disbelief, but who are we to question the Spirt guided organization. Proverbs 3:5-6 we can’t rely on our own understanding right?
Anyway, sorry for my digression. Let’s get back on topic. Long story short, I am an unbaptized publisher of two years. I love Jehovah as I’m sure you do too. My JW record (organizational requirements)has been exemplary. I just completed my two meetings of baptism questions over the last 2 weeks. Yes, all 60 questions (via Zoom) that are required these days. My final meeting was to let me know if the elders I met with approved me for baptism. The elders couldn’t be more happy with my understanding of the 60 questions, but instead of giving me the OK to get baptized this Sunday, I got counseled on the fact that my beard would cause “stumbling “ among my Brothers and Sisters. Not sure where you live, but It’s frowned upon in “my” society. Now I work outside everyday, and in extremely cold conditions in the winter. I grow a full and neat beard for about 4-5 months for the winter and trim down to a neat goatee for the rest of the year. They cited the September 2016 “Watchtower “ article “Does your style of dress glorify God?” They directed me to paragraph 17 to the discussion about beards which I would recommend for you to read along with a multitude of other past articles so you may have a better understanding of the “organization’s” view on beards. You are correct about not having “privileges” if you have a beard. I’m not seeking said privileges, but since I’m expected too want to progress towards them, no beards allowed! You ever go to “The World Headquarters “ at Bethel with your beard?
Wow, that was much longer than expected. Sorry for that!
Just to be clear, I’m not mad, angry, or vindictive about my possible baptism.
Only Jesus can judge us and God knows my heart!
Look at the Taliban insisting on beards, or Czarist Russia forbidding them.
If they can control your face, they can control the whole of you.
Sadly, practicing JWs are mind blind to seeing the “truth”. Just as much as someone in an abusive relationship doesn’t see it untill they step away. After I left is when the holy spirit FINALLY hit me and threw me to my knees and opened my eyes. I have sadness for the closed minded JWs who feel the need to argue with you. If nothing else- #1 rule is to be like Jesus. I pray YHWH will open your minds to the real “truth”.
I am an elder with a beard in the United States for many years and have been an active JW my entire life. I have also had a variety of privileges, so I can speak from experience.
First of all, I can see this is an emotionally charged issue. It certainly has emotional consequences for me. But, it’s unfair to make blanket comments regarding love. I believe most JWs are loving people who want to do what is right.
But, if we are being completely honest, it is an extreme rarity to find a brother in good standing with a beard, let alone an elder. I have known many brothers removed singularly on the basis of wearing a beard. Some with no choice because of a skin condition. I myself have such a condition, and I did not give the topic the honest scrutiny it deserves before it affected me.
In any case, many of the points in this article are accurate: there have been many photos and language in the Watchtower depicting before and after photos removing the beard as one progresses to maturity; beards and tattoos are adjacent in the scriptures, yet opposing positions are taken; shaving does have pagan origin and is forbidden in the scriptures and has been seen a sign of feminity; and we see not only Jesus depicted with a beard, but many faithful men of old, yet that is completely ignored.
Again, if we are being honest, there is absolutely a hidden rule against beards. I cannot recount how many times I had to stand trial before a circuit overseer, or a new elder that moved in to defend that I am a spiritual man and that no one in the congregation is stumbled. Still, many times a year for the last decade, I have to be put on trial for nothing more than the way I look. It takes valuable time away from more important activities, like shepherding. I can see it bothers many on my body, but there is not much we can do about it. The organization does not support defending a man’s right to choose, but rather provides enough ammunition against it. For instance, it is in writing in the instructions for district convention parts that a man with a beard cannot be used (in the days where we had dramas, the irony is we had to put fake beards on our faces).
The difficulty arises when a body will not side with the few elders or circuit overseer (in my case, I have been in this congregation for decades and they know the man I am). Still, the unreasonable minority are able to take small “wins” by restricting men from giving certain talks that they deem as special privileges (even though there is no evidence they can provide that it truly is a problem). In any case, I serve Christ, not men, and I will take the beatings to serve the congregation I was appointed to.
One commenter said, “I will leave the judging to Jehovah”. I remember when I was told by my doctor that all I had to do was grow a beard, “what’s the big deal?” he said. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I would have difficulty in my religion over it. That is shameful.
The truth of the matter is that in our culture in the United States, many (if not a majority) of men wear beards. It is not a cultural issue. To say it is a cultural issue within the congregation is to deny that Christ is head of it, and that those who are supposedly the mature christians are the weak ones. I cannot accept that. So, I must accept that it is simply the sin of allowing personal opinion to press on the freedom of others, which is expressly forbidden in scripture. You simply cannot beat your fellow slaves over your own opinion. In fact, Paul said, “do not be debates over personal opinion”. And, if we are honest, as an organization, we are guilty of that. I, too, will leave the judging to Jehovah. This is something we desperately need to change. It’s a serious scriptural infraction for no real reason and we are losing very good men over it.
I am truly sorry that you have had to endure such narrow-mindedness over what is considered in the real world a trivial issue. I can relate to that on a personal level.
You say you will endure the beatings to serve the congregation you were appointed to, but at what point do you ask, from whom do the beatings really come?
In reality, these “beatings” are passed down as “direction” from the Governing Body, down to the rank and file witnesses who carry out the “beatings” by proxy. The direction is sometimes subliminal and sometimes blatant, creating a stigma around the issue at hand.
Witnesses will accept and act on the direction at face value. Actually, they have to. The direction from the Governing Body must be accepted as the literal voice of God. (w57 6/15 pp. 369-375)
Matthew 24 talks about a discreet slave and an evil slave, which one of those brings beatings to his domestics?
I believe that the rule against beards is no mistake. It is an extremely well-designed technique to enforce absolute obedience to authoritarian leadership and highlight those who are thinking independently.
To reduce masculine and unique men down to mundane featureless empty shells, that their personalities shortly reflect. To remove the little bit of dignity and confidence some men have left. Once they strip you of that, you have little to no decision-making ability left.
It is then that they own you, and there’s little chance of escape.
I know this sounds extreme, and in the congregations, this would be labeled “bitter apostasy”, but once you take the time to understand the psychology behind this, you can’t “un-know” it.
I truly hope you dig deeper into this issue, and ask real valid questions about everything that you are taught as a witness. A principle from 1 John 4:1 comes to mind. Test everything.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like some assistance in this matter.
Great article. Every word is true.
It’s super sad. My son is exposed to this absolute cult via his dad. His dad was born and raised in JW. He left “the flock” for some years.
The time he decided to reenter…wouldn’t you know it…that self same day he shaved clean. Gross is what it is.
Well stated sir!
I truly believe many are missing out on talks that you are not allowed to give.
I too love Jehovah!
Where I’m from there are many men, who wear a beard, and they are active in serving Jehovah God. It is a personal choice if a male Jehovah’s witness wants to wear facial hair. Just because society says it is *rebel* doesn’t mean that it is. Just like how the LGBT took the rainbow colors, that is society now judging what you wear, not Jehovah’s witnesses. Also question, why would Jehovah God create man to have facial hair if God didn’t want men to wear it? See how that doesn’t make sense. And even in bible times, men would wear facial hair, that includes beards and mustache or whatever natural grows on a man’s face. If you choose to wear something, focus on why, it’s not just about appearance you know, also the background, and if a man wears a beard because he wants to, and he cleans it, there is nothing wrong with his choice, because it’s not just about the appearance of a man wearing a beard to being a rebel, you would know he is being a rebel by his ACTIONS.
So you can’t just judge someone by how they dress, especially if it is clean and the person takes care of themself.
Also one more thing, I know of many elders who have facial hair, and we don’t focus on that type of thing, we focus on the inside, spiritually speaking. I don’t know where you have went to, what kingdom hall, but I can guarantee that how Jehovah’s witnesses dress from what you have seen, is not how all Jehovah’s witnesses you haven’t seen, dress like also.
I’m a baptized publisher for 33 years now and I am 66yrs. Old and in good standing. I agree that a brother should be able to have facial hair with out being criticized about it !! I see nothing wrong with it as long as it’s neatly groomed ! My son and I will be presently addressing this with the C. O. In June when he visits !! Me & my son worship Jehovah God and NO man !! I can guarantee he WILL keep his facial hair until Jehovah says different !! 🧔
I applaud your position and your integrity Jeannie. What I think you will find out is that the CO will tell you that Jehovah has already decided this matter, and has communicated that through articles and the counsel of himself and the body. I sport a beard, as well as do a couple of my friends. We don’t qualify for ‘special privileges’, but the most special privilege we have is presiding over our households in an exemplary manner and teaching them to follow Jesus. The more of us that exercise our God given freedom to grow our God given beard, the brothers will have to be enlightened as to why their aren’t more young fathers feeling compelled to reach out.
This article is false information;
Jehovah’s Witnesses can have a beard and have privileges..
Not according to Watchtower literature. You did not read the article.
I’ve never encountered this. I have a beard long enough to cover the entire length of my neck so about 8 in. I’ve never been looked down upon, treated differently or told I couldn’t participate in this or that.
You’re the exception, not the rule. Read the article, Watchtower literature paints a different picture.