Okay, this post is for fun. You will have to pardon my limiting my recent posting to merely quotations. I am working on a paper.
I know many of my readers are interested in the early church’s attitude about beards. Well, your curiosity is about to be quenched. I myself have recently grown a beard, and have found a great source of inspiration.
So here are some early church meditations on beards. The references at the end of each selection give you where you can find it in the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Though I am being somewhat light-hearted in the presentation here, I really do find these thought-provoking. You may agree with some of the observations more than others:
“How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them! . . . . For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He has adorned man, like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest, a sign of strength and rule.” – Clement of Alexandria (vol. 2, p. 275)
“This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature. . . . It is therefore unholy to descrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” – Clement of Alexandria (vol. 2, p. 276)
“The nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to distinguish the sex, or to contribute to the beauty of manliness and strength.” – Lactantius (vol. 7, p. 288)
“This sex of ours acknowledges to itself deceptive trickeries of form peculiarly its own–such as to cut the beard too sharply, to pluck it out here and there, to shave around the mouth.” – Tertullian (vol. 4, p. 22)
“Let the chin have the hair. . . . For an ample beard suffices it for men. . . . The hair on the chin is not to be disturbed.” – Clement of Alexandria (vol. 2, p. 286)
These selections were taken from David W. Bercot, ed., A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1998), 66-67.