Why is it that beards seem to have found a persecution free home in Orthodoxy?
The simplest answer in Christianity is that Christ, the Apostles, nearly all the Saints of the Church, including Saint Patrick and Saint Nicholas, the clergy, all had beards. All throughout the Old Testament, it was the custom for men to have beards. Abraham, Isaac, Esau, Jacob, King David, Solomon. Moses, Aaron, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, Apostle Paul and many more were all bearded.
In most recent history, beards have been taken on somewhat of a negative association, likened to a person hiding behind a mask, creating an illusion of suspicion.
However, wearing a beard in Orthodoxy can and should be interpreted as an outward sign of an inward belief. The Bible makes a strong case that growing a beard is an honor for a man and glory to God.
In the holy orders of the Eastern Orthodox Church for priests or deacons, it is customary to have beards. There is a certain mysticism that embodies those who are in the holy orders with a beard.
The Old Testament Law for Beards:
A law of the Creator given to Israel that had to do with holiness was the requirement for men to be bearded.
Leviticus 19:27 and 21:1-5 exhibit clear instructions concerning beards for Israelite men and the Levitical priesthood.
Israelite males are prohibited from marring the corners of an existing beard.
A Levitical priest is prohibited from shaving off the corners of an existing beard.
What is it about a man’s face that would cause him to reflect on who and what he is and what is required of him? In short, ff he wore a beard in compliance with the holiness code, he would immediately be reminded of his obedience to God and his ways. Modern times reflect something similar.
As an infant, I was baptized as an Eastern Orthodox Christian. However, I would say that becoming a Christian is a work in progress, and I often wonder would there be enough evidence to convict me of becoming a Christian. The Orthodox Church is the ancient Church that Christ and the Apostles established. It is not a religion but rather a way of life. It is not about rules and regulations but rather guide posts to make choices to transition to what we were designed to become. Becoming Orthodox is not a conversion but more so a transformation of self. It’s not about being right: it is about “right being.” In John 14:6, Christ says I am the Way (to love and serve one another), the Truth (there is only one reality), and the Life (that life source is love). I invite you to submit any topics or questions to “Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian” on the website. Join me in finding our way back home to the original teachings of the Church. When you change the way you look at things, things change the way they look.