The Modern Mormon Jesus

shavenjesus

Did you ever wonder how Jesus would look like if he was clean shaven, with short hair and wearing a suit? I saw this picture in the blog of someone called Mithryn.

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I looked at it for a while and it made me think about the unwritten rules of LDS grooming and how much importance we seem to give to these things. Perhaps, too much importance?

We always talk about “Sunday best” but what’s considered “best” seems to be a matter of personal interpretation and of course culture, depending on your geographical location.

However, it worries me when we seem to make a direct connection between clothes/personal grooming with worthiness. The General Handbook of Instructions says:

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“Those who bless and pass the sacrament should dress modestly and be well groomed and clean. Clothing or jewelry should not call attention to itself or distract members during the sacrament. Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. Nor should it be required that all be alike in dress and appearance. Bishops should use discretion when giving such guidance to young men, taking into account their financial circumstances and maturity in the Church.”

Even though, I do not necessarily see how a tie and a white shirt “add” to the dignity of the Sacrament, I don’t think priesthood holders (specially the youth) should be told they cannot pass the sacrament because their shirts aren’t white. Of course, I do understand it for any other reason but not as THE reason for refusal.

Wearing a white shirt doesn’t automatically make you worthy just like wearing a beard doesn’t automatically make you a drug addict. Young people are very impressionable and I think we need to be tactful and understanding when we deal with these things.

How many of us would be criticizing the Jesus in the first picture if he comes to Church unshaven and wearing a red robe? How many of us would think the second Jesus is possibly a returned missionary, worthy to pass the sacrament just based on the way he looks?

The thing is…both pictures are from the exact same person. Less facial hair and a new wardrobe didn’t change Jesus, it changed our perception of him.

I really like the lyrics for Hymn # 235 “Should You Feel Inclined to Censure”

1. Should you feel inclined to censure
Faults you may in others view,
Ask your own heart, ere you venture,
If you have not failings, too.
Let not friendly vows be broken;
Rather strive a friend to gain.
Many words in anger spoken
Find their passage home again.

2. Do not, then, in idle pleasure
Trifle with a brother’s fame;
Guard it as a valued treasure,
Sacred as your own good name.
Do not form opinions blindly;
Hastiness to trouble tends;
Those of whom we thought unkindly
Oft become our warmest friends.

Text: Anon., ca. 1863
Music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838-1876

Perhaps the next time we feel the itch to criticize or gossip about someone for not wearing the right shirt color, or the right shoes, or the right skirt length to Church it would be nice if we think about the fact that they CAME and in many instances, it took a lot of sacrifices for them to be there. What we can at least do, is welcome everyone with open arms.

In Hugh Nibley’s famous words:

“The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism… The haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.”

2 thoughts on “The Modern Mormon Jesus”

  1. I believe we shouldn’t judge based on appearance however I believe at the same time that we should keep up with the times and at the present time wearing a shirt and tie are socially acceptable.

  2. I am not a Mormon, but a Baptist, (Full disclosure, eh?). An IFB, in fact, so you know that we often deal with the same issues: appropriate dress, hair, and so forth.

    Of course, I believe that each church, (We are independent), has a right to have their rules of such things, and that each will stand before the Lord in matters of appropriateness and legalism. I am a pastor, and I wear a beard, which actually is biblical-but I know there are many of my brethren who would not allow me behind their pulpit because of the beard.

    Now, hair length is another issue, because it is mentioned in scripture, BUT, each should be taken where they are-not all know what the Bible says about hair length for men and women, and some are hard to convince, often due to personal preference.

    I did, however, want to make a comment about the final paragraph by Nibley, (Sp?).

    “The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism… The haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.”

    I submit to you that it wasn’t the Pharisee’s keeping to the law (Observance of all the rules). That troubled Jesus, nor proper dress and grooming or patriotism, for ALL these things were given by God. What Jesus had a problem with, concerning the Pharisees, was their tendency to INVENT new rules that added to the laws of God, (Strictly forbidden IN the law), their placing of man-made traditions above the word
    Of God, thus placing themselves above God. This is why they missed Jesus the Messiah when He arrived: because they really had no desire for a Messiah who would not keep them as rulers, a Messiah who would reprove them and their traditions.

    They wanted a Messiah made in their own image-a king today, not a Servant Lamb He came as. This was the sin of the Pharisees: keeping the commandments and laws was right and proper, and Jesus Himself advocated it-they just placed their own traditions as being more important. They were hypocrites and rejecters. NO ONE should ever place anything above the very Word of God, the Bible. No writing, no man, no church.

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