At the end of a presidency meeting, we were chatting and looking at the the two pictures we have in the office, when one of us noticed that in both pictures, an Apostle doesn’t have a beard !
Now given the often heated internet discussions I have seen, regarding the modern day opinions of priesthood holders and beards, we though this was quite curious. Were these pictures the only ones that show a clean shaven apostle, was it the same one ? I decided to do some digging and found yet more official church artwork with the same…
Even statues !!
It was a discussion with my son that brought some clarity and the clue is in the last picture from the Rome Temple. Notice the 3rd apostle along is both beardless and has an eagle at his feet.
Throughout Christian artwork there is a tradition of depicting John without a beard as a nod to the fact he is believed to be the youngest. In fact historically he is depicted in various forms, including the young Apostle and and the older bearded Apostle banished to Patmos and authoring the book of Revelations. As for the eagle that identifies him, an eagle is often used in early Christian depictions to symbolise John, St Jerome writing “John the Evangelist who, having taken up eagle’s wings and hastening toward higher matters, discusses the Word of God”
So if like us, you have never noticed the clean shaven Apostle before, now you know who he is.
It would seem that the tide has changed, from the majority having beards and one standing out, to the majority being clean shaven and a few having facial hair.
I should say within the stake we don’t enforce a no beard policy, one of our Bishops and two of our high council have beards of various types. Personally I think its a matter for you to decide yourself. You can be well groomed with a tidy beard or neatly trimmed “designer stubble” However, if you grow a beard thinking its a way to rebel or because you just cant be bothered to make an effort to get ready, its probably not the facial hair that’s a problem.