November 20, 2016


On the Benefits of Beards (Dwight Longenecker, 11/20/16, Imaginative Conservative)

I first grew a beard when I was an Anglican priest. The Church of England was going through its interminable round of debates concerning the ordination of women, and when a female parishioner asked why I was growing a  beard I retorted, "To show that there are certain things a woman cannot do." It was meant as a jocular jest, but the woman was inclined toward the feminist ideology, and she stomped off in a harrumph.

Since then I have had facial hair of one sort or another. Recently, I have adopted a full beard trimmed in the style of the tragic Tsar Nicholas. Such a beard takes some grooming and I have found two products that affirm both my ancestry and new-found faith. Honest Amish beard balm reminds me of my Mennonite and Amish heritage, while Barbatus Catholic Beard Balm sustains my Catholic identity.

What are the benefits of a beard? Firstly, it is common knowledge that to be "successful" in the establishment a man should be clean-shaven. Men of power do not grow beards. Therefore, to grow a beard is to display a sign of contradiction. A beard says, "I am not so ambitious and eager to succeed that I will shave my face every morning." A beard is a sign of defiance which says silently, "You quislings may shave your face to conform to society's expectations. But I march to a different drum."

In a society that is increasingly feminized, a beard also makes a statement about masculinity. Without being aggressive or overly assertive, a beard still makes a positive statement about sex. I was semi-serious when I joked that my beard reminds people that there are some things a woman cannot do. This is not to be misogynistic. To state that there are some things a woman cannot do is to also affirm all the things that women do that men cannot do. Women can have babies. How amazing is that?

Women cannot grow beards, and neither can boys. It is arguable that to grow a beard is to grow up. Speaking of women and boys, all the surveys show that women prefer unshaven men. They not only want a man, they want a bearded man.

If a beard is a sign of masculinity to the world, it is also a sign of proper masculinity to the man himself. What I mean is that when you look in the mirror you see a man, and this man makes you think again of the ideal man. That ideal man is one who is strong but tender. He is pure but not puritanical. He is prayerful without being pious, chaste without being scrupulous, and virtuous without being self-righteous.

They say manners make the man, but I contend that the beard makes the manners which make the man. 

Posted by at November 20, 2016 8:11 AM