Does Faith Shave?

Bartholomew, Patriach of Constantinople

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 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. — St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275

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 desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness. — St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.276

Pope Benedict XVI

…length of hair is symbolical of the multitude of sins. Hence clerics are directed to shave their beards; for the cutting of the hair of the beard, which is said to be nourished by the superfluous humours of the stomach, denotes that we ought to cut away the vices and sins which are a superfluous growth in us. Hence we shave our beards that we may seem purified by innocence and humility and that we may be like the angels who remain always in the bloom of youth. — William Durandus (Rationale, II, lib. XXXII.)

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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6 Responses to Does Faith Shave?

  1. Michael Canaris says:

    Could the story of Samson and Delilah be of some relevance here?

  2. Byron says:

    Perhaps this post could have benefitted from Ockham’s razor…

  3. Barb says:

    I’m partial to beards myself and my husband has a very fine white one, but if he ever decided to grow it so long that he looked like a goat, I’d be tempted to pull a Delilah on him.

    But what’s this baloney about male superiority? If Adam hadn’t been so busy admiring his beard, he might have noticed that Eve needed a bit of help! If anything, a beard is a sign of male preoccupation.

  4. oldfatslow says:

    Three thoughts:

    (1) Since I grew a beard, I haven’t sacrificed any blood shaving.

    (2) Phil Robertson (The Duck Commander) is my life exemplar.

    (3) Though my beard is thin and puny, I’m on this side of it.


  5. The one at the top. Grow it Ally.

  6. John says:

    this is absolutely brilliant.

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