Beards are a tricky topic to discuss within LDS culture. It’s one of those taboo topics like caffeine and R-rated movies. Other than BYU’s Honor Code and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir standards (which aren't Church doctrine), and the rules for missionaries and temple workers, I’m almost positive there’s no official Church statement on whether or not male members can sport facial hair.
Now, whether or not LDS men in leadership positions can have facial hair is another question. Again, I haven’t been able to find any official Church statement saying leaders must be clean shaven, but I’m pretty sure there’s an unofficial rule encouraging it.
The last prophet to have facial hair was George Albert Smith in 1951, and then David O. McKay changed things by being the first clean shaven prophet (with the exception of Joseph Smith), and the standard has remained for every prophet since. Is this an official requirement, or simply, a change in modern dress and grooming standards?
I know that growing facial hair is really trendy right now, especially on the BYU campuses. The official rule is no facial hair is allowed except for neatly-trimmed mustaches that don't extend beyond the corners of the mouth. The exceptions (known by every man on campus) are those with a doctor's note stating they can't shave for medical reasons, and those who are in theatrical productions that require facial hair.
Ruthann, LDS Living’s circulation coordinator, said her brother even helped start a mustache club at BYU. (Do they really think skinny mustaches look good, or are they just growing them because they can?) And why can they, anyway? Why do BYU and the MoTab allow mustaches but not other types of facial hair? If anyone knows, I’d love to be filled in.
I’m interested to know what LDS Living readers think about facial hair. What do you think is appropriate for Church leaders or members in general? What is your personal preference in a man or for yourself? Take our poll and leave a comment below.