This is pretty much how my husband looked when we first got together 15 years ago. At that time, he was a biker, but he was very, very few of the things on the above list.
When we began to serve Christ 13 years ago, we “cleaned up”. He did get rid of his bike at the time but it was because we had a child and needed our money to go into better transportation options. For several years, he became a clean-shaven, suit and tie wearing, minivan driving Christian. And there was nothing wrong with that. He looks good either way. 🙂
After having worked for several years in the Texas prison system as a guard, he became a prison chaplain. For those of you who do not know how “the other side” works, men who are clean shaven are viewed as “untrustworthy” by the offenders. Slickfaces belong to cops.
When my husband decided to grow out his beard in order to grow his ministry within the prison, amazing things happened.
And I say amazing in both the good and the bad sense of the word.
I was amazed at the increase in numbers at his services and classes that he taught in prison. I was amazed at how quickly the number of his counseling sessions grew. I was amazed at the number of offenders who suddenly started reaching out to him, all because he grew out his beard.
Now for the bad part. I was amazed at how members of our church community treated him–a church community that we had been a part of for 13 years. A church community that we had ministered within for 13 years. A church community that we had worked within for 13 years. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have not believed it. It was ridiculous. Thankfully, our home church was not so quick to jump on the anti-beard wagon, although you will always have the “chosen few” who feel it is their responsibility to override the pastor’s judgment and to send you counsel through private messaging to let you know that your husband is headed at top speed into the gates of hell.
In some church communities, beards are seen as rebellion. This is rooted in the Vietnam era. Before Vietnam, men regularly had beards. But you are not allowed to have beards in the military or in the police force. You are also not allowed to have long hair. So when the hippies chose these physical signs as a means to represent their dissatisfaction with the war, well, then, you sure didn’t want to be associated with them.
And that mentality has stuck. At least down here in East Texas within the confines of some church structures. It is purely a lack of education on their parts. People choose to just do what they’ve always done, and that means no beards for the last several generations. Forget the fact the church founders had beards. Now, beards are rebellion.
So you can see how this would create a deep emotion within me and send me into Photoshop to create a campaign like this. My husband is a better man than most of the ones I know who sit on church pews, and when those pewsitters set out to be fingerwaggers, well, we weren’t very happy at all. We tried to stick it out. We persevered. We overlooked certain ones. But, eventually, it was time to go.
We still go to church each week. We just go to a church that is not concerned about whether or not my husband chooses to wear a beard. Our beliefs are still the same. We are still the same. A beard didn’t change that.
But it did change the way that we were treated by the organization at large. Sadly.
Now, some of them might say, “Yep, he grew his beard out and left the church. I knew it was going to happen.” And then blame our leaving on my husband’s “rebellion” instead of the true reason that we left.
When you see a biker, talk to him about his bike. Talk to him about his family. Talk to him about his college education. He may just be the one that leads you to a real revelation of Christ.
Interested in more beard talk?
Interested in more talk from men with beards? (I read this book and loved it!)