The other day I was sitting in church and watching the young men bless and pass the sacrament. It occurred to me while watching them that not one of them would have been able to participate in my home ward 45 years ago.   They all had white shirts on, so that was not the issue.  It was their hair length!

As you remember from my previous post on music, I was a teenager in the early 1970’s.  This was the height of the hippy revolution, and long hair was of the devil.  Our bishop made it a rule that nobody could bless or pass the sacrament unless they had “missionary haircuts”  This was just not a ward rule.  For stake sports, all participants needed the same missionary haircuts.  I remember standing in a line before the start of a stake basketball game, and having the referee checking our hair length.  It could not touch our ears, and could not touch the collar on a dress shirt.

I remember some weeks only the bishop’s son and Dan B. could bless the sacrament.  The rest of the priest quorum’s hair did not make the grade.  I also missed playing quite a few basketball games.

What I find most ironic about this was that white shirts was not a requirement, was not even talked about.  In fact I did not even own a white shirt and needed to borrow one from my dad to take my mission photos for my application.  So 45 years ago, any color shirt was OK, but hair had to be missionary standards.  Today, you must have a white shirt (1) , but hair is no longer a criteria, and is not even talked about.   Also interesting is that 45 years ago, all the guys had long hair (over the ears and over the back of the collar) in high school, and our bishop’s son stood out like a sore thumb in school.  So the church (our Bishop) decided we needed short hair.  Today guys shave their head (unheard of in my day) or wear short hair, and now the church (our current bishop) has nothing to say about hair length.

I know the argument is that one should follow our leaders, and we’ll be blessed for it, but my engineering mind does not work like that.  I need a reason, and it needs to make sense.  Hair length and white shirts is just busy work in my mind.  But maybe there was a deeper reason for cutting my hair in 1973.  Like the move “Holes” (2)  where it seemed that digging the holes and filling them in was just busy work and building character, the warden had other reasons for digging the holes (spoiler alert); he was looking for treasure.

I’ve not figured out what the hidden reason (treasure) for cutting my hair 45 years ago, or wearing a white shirt today, other than “because I said so, and I’m your priesthood leader and you’ll be blessed”.

Why do you think our Bishop made us cut our hair?  And why doesn’t our current bishop care about hair, but does about white shirts?  And what will be the defining item 20 years from now for passing the sacrament?  No earrings? No tattoos? Green Bow Ties?


(1), Yes, I know that wearing white shirts is not mandatory in the CHI, but just a suggestion.  But our previous bishop made it mandatory for all YM participating in blessing and passing. Our new bishop let a YM leader pass with a blue shirt last week, so maybe their is hope!