Beards Like Lions: Clement of Alexandria on the Mark of a Man

But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly!…For God wished women to be smooth, and clementrejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane; but has adorned man, like the lions, with a beard…

This, then, the mark of the man, the beard, by which he is seen to be a man, is older than Eve…In this God deemed it right that he should excel, and dispersed hair over man’s whole body…It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness. But the embellishment of smoothing (for I am warned by the Word), if it is to attract men, is the act of an effeminate person,—if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” says the Lord; those on the chin, too, are numbered, and those on the whole body. There must be therefore no plucking out, contrary to God’s appointment, which has counted them in according to His will…

The man, who would be beautiful, must adorn that which is the most beautiful thing in man, his mind, which every day he ought to exhibit in greater comeliness; and should pluck out not hairs, but lusts…For it is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble ornament. “A youth with his first beard: for with this, youth is most graceful.” By and by he is anointed, delighting in the beard “on which descended” the prophetic, “ointment” with which Aaron was honoured. And it becomes him who is rightly trained, on whom peace has pitched its tent, to preserve peace also with his hair.

__________________________________________________________

Clement of Alexandria, 1885. The Instructor, III.3. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe, eds. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire). The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, p. 275-277.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Bearded theology, Church history, Patristic theology. Bookmark the permalink.