This is a post in response to 2 questions I got back in December. I stalled until now.
Apparently, this is how it's done.
1) Wardrobe question - my dear husband is on the Stake High Council. He's down to one very worn suit and refuses to purchase another because he says the minute he does, he'll get released. What's your position on proper attire for callings requiring suits?
2) Mormons and Beards...?
Hmm...Could I be walking into a trap? *stares into space - scratches chin*
OK. *Deep breath* Here goes.
Q: What's your position on proper attire for callings requiring suits.
A: I am not aware of any directives from the church mandating specific attire.*please note asterisk. I don't have a position - but I do have an opinion. It might not be the same as yours. You can wear what you want to wear. I don't care.
I wear a suit, white shirt and tie to church every Sunday. I also get there early enough to sit on the soft benches. Yes, I am super-duper-righteous. When I was a bishop I wore the same thing. When I was in the High Council, I wore the same thing. When I was Scoutmaster, I wore the same thing. When I did not have a calling, I wore the same thing. I am nothing if not predictable. I'm not really that fond of white shirts. I rarely wear a white shirt or suit outside of church.
Reason #1: Because I don't dress according to my calling. I dress my best regardless of my calling - because I come to the church to present myself before the Lord and participate in sacred ordinances. I figure that is reason enough, but there's more.
Reason #2: I have four sons - three are preparing to serve missions, one already served. As Aaronic Priesthood holders, they have been counseled by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Dalin Oaks & David O. McKay that young men should wear white shirts when participating in the ordinance of the sacrament, if possible. Well, for us it is possible. So I join them in wearing a white shirt. As a father, I am not comfortable asking my children to live up to standards that I am not willing to live up to. (References: Holland, Oaks, McKay: Conference Report, 1956, p. 89)
Reason #3: I get it. Elder Christofferson said,
Some say dress and hair don’t matter—it’s what’s inside that counts. I believe that truly it is what’s inside a person that counts, but that’s what worries me. Casual dress at holy places and events is a message about what is inside a person. It may be pride or rebellion or something else, but at a minimum it says, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand the difference between the sacred and the profane.” In that condition they are easily drawn away from the Lord. They do not appreciate the value of what they have. I worry about them. Unless they can gain some understanding and capture some feeling for sacred things, they are at risk of eventually losing all that matters most. You are Saints of the great latter-day dispensation—look the part. (Link here)
So, for me it's a suit, white shirt and a tie. Easy.
* Oh, did you notice the big red asterisk? While there are no directives about attire for church callings or attendance, the second that your leader (Bishop, Stake President, Seventy, Apostle, Prophet) asks or instructs you to dress a specific way, it instantly ceases to be a fashion issue, and becomes an issue of obedience.
Simply put, it becomes an issue of PRIDE vs. OBEDIENCE. I have no compulsion to "express my individuality" by the way I dress at church on Sunday. I am perfectly content to let the Quorum dictate my decorum.
••• Gonna go get a soda - be right back... K, I'm back.
Question #2: Mormons and Beards.
Q: Mormons and Beards. (That isn't really a question now, is it? It seems more like a statement or a heading.)
A: I am not aware of any directives from the church mandating specific grooming standards.*please note asterisk.
I don't have a position. And I don't have a beard - I do have an opinion. It might not be the same as yours. I am clean shaven. No beard, no mustache. No real desire to have either. You? You can have a beard. Or a mustache. Even a Snidely Whiplash mustache if you feel it necessary to be "you". I have flirted with having a desire for facial hair, but will probably never grow it out. I have also never gotten past the "itchy" stage when I am on vacation.
Reason #1: Elder Russell M. Nelson was speaking in Conference a few years ago and said something that I think flew right by most everyone. It is truly profound, which means you should read it twice. At least.
To bear the priesthood means you have a personal responsibility to magnify your calling. Let each opportunity to serve help to develop your power in the priesthood. In your personal grooming, follow the example of the living prophets. Doing so gives silent expression that you truly comprehend the importance of “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” Russell M. Nelson, October Conference, 2003. "Personal Priesthood Responsibility"
Reason #2: I have four sons - three of which are preparing to serve missions, and I have a ward full of boys that I LOVE and am rooting for. As they are working to become missionaries, I don't want them running around with beards. I also do not want any of them to ever have cause to use me for an excuse for slacking off on their standards. "But mom, I don't wanna shave - brother MMM has a beard, and he used to be the bishop!" Elder Bednar gave a great talk a few years back about not waiting to become a missionary, but to start now. (Link here) Again, I am not comfortable asking my children - or anyone else's children - to live up to standards that I am not willing to live up to.
Reason #3: There are callings in the church that require a priesthood holder to be clean shaven. (Full-time mission, temple worker, etc.) I am not comfortable having personal grooming standards that would need to be modified in order to fulfill a specific calling. I also would not like to put a leader in the position where he would have to ask me to change in order to fulfill that calling. I want to be ready, at a moments notice, to serve wherever, however the Lord wants to use me - without needing to go home and shave, or make any other changes.
Reason #4: Most beards do not look like George Clooney's. Please note picture above. If I looked like this with a beard, it might be a more difficult issue for me.
Reason #5: My wife doesn't like it. Yeah, I know it isn't a very good reason, but I know a few guys who don't really care, but their wives are really obsessed and/or protective of their husband's beards. (Yes, we men are that malleable.)
* Second big red asterisk: While beards and mustaches are not against any church standards or policies, the second that your leader (Bishop, Stake President, Seventy, Apostle, Prophet) asks or instructs you to be clean-shaven, it instantly ceases to be a personal grooming issue, and becomes an issue of obedience. I have been in wards where the request has been made. I also feel that a leader has the right to ask, if so inspired. It is fascinating to see how people grapple with that situation.
Again, it becomes an issue of PRIDE vs. OBEDIENCE.
And for those who employ the lamest reason of all...