He actually gave his compatriot a choice of two types of leftover soup. After the second man made his choice, the first man then grabbed a corner of his own beard and squeezed it, draining the contents into a bowl! The implication was obvious! Somebody needed a good bath!
Now, in a clear case of life imitating art, on Monday of this week (April 15, 2019), the New York Post carried a story about a new Swiss study asserting that men’s beards actually harbor more harmful germs than does dog fur.
The article, written by Hannah Sparks and titled “Men’s beards carry more harmful germs than dog fur: study”, went on to state that the study sampled men’s beards and found more harmful bacteria in human whiskers than in dog fur. According to Professor Andreas Gutzeit of Switzerland’s Hirslanden Clinic: “The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur.”
The study was originally intended for another purpose: whether humans could contract dog-borne diseases from a MRI scanner shared by veterinarians. Accordingly, swabs from the scruff of 18 men and the necks of 30 canines of various breeds were taken.
The results showed that all 18 of the bearded men, who were aged 18 to 76, had high microbial counts, while only 23 of the 30 dogs showed similarly high microbial presence. What is more, seven of the men tested positive for microbes that actually posed a threat to human health.
The inquisitive scientists also decided to wipe down the MRI scanner after examining the dogs. Surprisingly, they found a “significantly” lower bacteria count than levels recorded after human use.
Based on these findings, Professor Gutzeit stated the obvious: “On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.” Of course, bearded and mustachioed men may well beg to differ. Obviously, some persons maintain better hygiene than others.
Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front (Yes, you read that right!), clearly holds this perspective. He states: “I think it’s possible to find all sorts of unpleasant things if you took swabs from people’s hair and hands and then tested them. I don’t believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic.”
Clearly weary of unfair judgments, he went on to add: “There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it’s more about pogonophobia than anything else.” If you don’t know what the word pogonophobia means, don’t feel bad. Neither did it until I looked it up. It is just a big fancy word for the inordinate fear of bearded individuals.)
Now, I do not necessarily know whether or not facial hair is by nature necessarily filthy. I do know, however, that it is near the mouth. And multiple studies have revealed that (surprising as it may sound) the human mouth is arguably one of the filthiest parts of the human body. One Stanford study found no less than 37 different types of bacteria in the human mouth. While yet another asserts that the human mouth is actually filthier than the average toilet!
Jesus Himself had something to say about the filth that so often comes from our mouths. Only He was not so much referring to physical filth as much as He was to spiritual filth. In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew (chapter 15, verses 10-20), we read:
10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
What is apparent here is that the true measure of the filthiness of one’s mouth is reflected more in what it dispenses from within than in what it consumes form without!
One other memory I carry from my pre-teen years is the day my mom washed my mouth out with soap. She did so, not because of any physical filth my mouth necessarily contained, but because of the filth it had dispensed in her presence in the form of profanity. The latter, of course, reflected a far deeper state of uncleanliness.
And while she meant well, that uncleanness could ultimately only be cleansed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For, as the Apostle John puts it (in his First New Testament Letter, chapter 1, verse 9): “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
A modern chewing gum advertisement campaign portrays various incidents in which people say things they should not say, followed by this tagline: "Dirty mouth? Clean it up!" Thereafter, the gum being advertised is offered as way to bring cleanliness to an otherwise filthy mouth.
These days, thankfully, I don’t feel the need to cleanse my mouth with gum. Or even to wash my mouth out with soap as my mom once did. For, like many people, I do make it a habit to brush and floss and use mouthwash regularly. I do so because I like the feeling of being clean.
But I also know that these things are not what ultimately give me a clean mouth. My mom may have once washed out my mouth physically; but the real cleansing of my mouth, the spiritual cleansing based on the cleansing of my heart, I owe to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who cleansed me on the inside! May He forever be praised for that!
Do you have a dirty mouth today? Why not get it cleaned up? Not from without, but from within! Unlike dental hygiene, it only takes one time! For the One Who cleanses from within cleanses for all eternity!