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Is Shaving Your Beard a Sin According to the Bible?

Is Shaving Your Beard a Sin According to the Bible

Beards and facial hair are often associated with wisdom and masculinity. Many devout religious men grow beards as a sign of faith. This raises questions around shaving – is it considered sinful to shave your beard according to biblical scripture? This article examines what the Bible says about shaving beards.

What Does the Bible Say About Shaving and Cutting Hair?

There are a few Old Testament verses that relate to shaving and cutting hair:

  • Leviticus 19:27 states “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard”. This suggests men should not shave parts of their beards.
  • Leviticus 21:5 says “They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh”. This applies to priests, suggesting shaving beards is unacceptable.
  • In 2 Samuel 10:4-5, men shave off half the beards of David’s servants as an insult, indicating the cultural importance of beards.
  • Isaiah 15:2 and Jeremiah 41:5 associate shaving beards and heads with mourning and distress.

So several Old Testament verses imply shaving beards is forbidden or shameful. But do these laws still apply?

Does the Old Testament Law Apply Today?

Many Christians believe Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law. Verses like Galatians 3:23-25 and Romans 10:4 say Christians are no longer under the law.

The New Testament does not repeat the Old Testament beard restrictions. So most Christians believe the beard trimming laws do not directly apply today. Growing a beard is seen as a personal choice, not a biblical command.

However, some Christians still argue shaving goes against God’s created natural order. What are the counter arguments?

What are Common Counter Arguments?

Here are some responses to the verse in Leviticus against trimming beards:

  • It was an Old Covenant law specifically for Israeli priests, not modern Christians.
  • The New Testament frees Christians from following OT grooming regulations.
  • It refers to specific pagan mourning rituals, not routine shaving.
  • The essence is about avoiding disfigurement, not general grooming.
  • The church apostles did not teach this restriction in the New Testament.

So while the Old Testament implies growing a full beard is God’s ideal, most Christians believe shaving today is not inherently sinful but a matter of personal choice.

Did Jesus and Early Church Leaders Have Beards?

Most depictions of Jesus show him with a beard. Being Jewish, Jesus likely grew a beard according to cultural norms of the time.

The apostle Paul also took a Nazarite vow in Acts 18:18 which entailed not cutting his hair. So early church leaders likely had beards.

However, the Bible does not explicitly command all men must wear beards. The New Testament emphasis is on inward holiness rather than outward appearance.

What Matters More – Outward Appearance or Inner Devotion?

While the Old Testament implies God’s preference is for men not to shave their beards, the New Testament is more concerned with spiritual devotion.

Verses like 1 Samuel 16:7Matthew 15:11 and 1 Corinthians 8:8 emphasise devotion stemming from inside, not external appearance. So the New Testament focus is on priorities like faith, self-control, righteousness and purity – not regulations about grooming.

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? … You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

He stresses holiness and honoring God with how we live, not outward appearance rules.

So while growing a beard can demonstrate spiritual maturity, shaving is not inherently unrighteous. What matters most to God is the attitude and devotion of our hearts.

7 Key Points to Remember

In summary, here are 7 key things to remember about shaving your beard and the Bible:

1. Old Testament verses imply shaving a beard is unacceptable for Israeli priests

2. Most Christians believe these grooming laws do not directly apply today

3. The New Testament does not repeat Old Testament facial hair regulations

4. Bible verses emphasis inner spiritual devotion over outward appearances

5. Jesus, the apostles and early church leaders likely had beards

6. Growing a beard can be spiritually symbolic, but is not commanded

7. Shaving is seen as permissible cultural expression, not inherently sinful

While growing a beard is Biblically symbolic and culturally significant, most Christians do not see shaving as a forbidden sin according to scripture. Personal grooming falls under Christian freedom not bound by regulations. Right standing with God depends chiefly on the attitude and devotion of one’s heart.

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