Hot Topic! Hot Topic!

So, I sat down to post a quick recipe, but I see something else has been happening here! My mom is off shopping in Spokane for the day, but it appears she popped a hot one off before she went.

While I couldn’t agree more with her original post, after reading the comments, I see that there are a few questions that might need to be expounded on, or explained, or as is quite possible, fueled. So here it is, my very quick drive-by post about the nose rings.

Honestly, I think the whole business of Christian women with nose studs is pretty funny when you get right down to it. Let’s begin by assuming that these women  are not doing it to disfigure themselves. So we can rule that out. They think it is pretty, and just a wee bit edgy, but not so edgy that anyone could pin them down on anything. And perhaps when it bothers some woman in the church (and it probably will), the nose-ringed lady will happily trot out the “My husband likes it, and that is why I have it” trump card. Ha ha, gotcha now, stuffy lady. Well , here’s the deal. The lady may or may not be stuffy, but she is right to be bothered. Nose studs are traditionally beautiful. If you are of Indian descent, go for it, they belong to you. But if you are a native of Omaha Nebraska, with a long family line of Bible-believing corn growers, then I am happy to stand with the stuffy lady (I’ll even hold her hand) and say, “What the heck?”

Remember The Horse and His Boy and the wonderful descriptions of the Narnian women? They were strong women who walked and talked and laughed and wore bright colors and did not have to cover their heads or faces. They could voice opinions and were free. That is you, little Christian girls. Free. That’s right.

Now imagine if in this wonderful story Queen Susan decided to wear a nose ring and a veil after seeing how pretty the Calormene women looked in theirs. Never mind that those women were the ones with the miserable arranged marriages (the women who weren’t free to turn their back on the Tisroc, or turn down Prince Rabadash in marriage because they found him to be a stinker).

Seriously, now what would that have done to her character? And when her brothers objected, would it have helped if she had said, “But I just think it is pretty”? Does that matter? Not at all. Maybe it is pretty, but for Queen Susan it would have been completely destructive of her identity as a free woman.

Now obviously today it is not as clear cut, or we would not be having this conversation. But traditionally, nose rings have been worn by women in cultures that are not ours. They are culturally associated with Eastern religions (yes, Rebekah wore one – so if you are a Hebrew woman in the times before Christ, you are in good company and may freely wear one without my comments). They are associated with women who are not free. Are those women beautiful? Yup. Is that the point? Nope. Are nose rings part of your heritage and culture? Then by all means wear one. Are they only part of your culture in the last twenty minutes, as popularized by people who decorate with little idols in  an effort to look multi-cultural or deep or interesting? Then get away from it. That is like Queen Susan asking the concubines for beauty secrets.S

taying away from it is not the same thing as being scared of it – I can’t imagine Queen Susan getting insecure around Lasralene. But the irony is that the Christian women who do this exact thing think it makes them seem more secure – more at ease in their surroundings. But does it? To anyone with a radar?

Let’s take this one more step. Imagine running into a girl at church in full blown Renaissance garb. “Huh,” you wonder. An older, stuffier woman might be brave enough to pry. “My husband likes it,” she says. “That is why I do it.” Stumper. Well, when it is just one girl, there is no cause to start shouting. You think you are just dealing with a little insecure weirdness. But imagine that every week more women were dressing up in costumes to come to church. I think it would be time to say something louder about it. At that point it is starting to look like some major group cultural insecurity. And that is exactly what it would be.

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25 thoughts on “Hot Topic! Hot Topic!

  1. Valerie-
    you and me both! For some reason they do not appear for me, and I have to get my mom to do it in her account. But, she will be home soon, so rest easy!

  2. Terrific post! Couldn’t agree with you more, and more people need your zest and boldness on this issue.
    Could you just clarify one point: When you compare the nose ring issue to Susan asking concubines for beauty secrets, Esther taking what the head concubine guy appointed to her comes to mind (Est. 2:15). How is that different? She was a Jewish woman submitting to the cultural beauty norms of the Persians.
    I enjoyed this post; thanks.

  3. Are you copying and pasting from a Word document, or composing directly in WordPress? And are you using the Visual tab or the HTML tab in WordPress?

    And as for the substance…ah, now you’re speaking my native tongue…Narnian!

    So my first follow-up question: Should Aravis give up her Calormene dress when she becomes queen of Archenland? How should her daughters dress? (I don’t know if I’m going anywhere with those questions…they just popped into my head.)

    Second question: You know Lucy and Su had a girls’ day out at the Calormene bazaar. What were they allowed/not allowed to buy according to your standards?

    Third question: Lucy and Su are mid-20th century English girls. By your logic, should they be wearing Narnian clothes?

    Fourth and fifth questions: If we are heirs of all the earth, why not share the pretty things? Is it also wrong to eat the cuisine, listen to the music, and enjoy the artwork of these other cultures? Why is apparel/jewelry different? And what about “normal” jewelry (earrings, bracelets, necklaces) — are those allowable?

    Sixth question: Why would it necessarily be from insecurity that Susan might copy something Lasaraleen wore? Couldn’t it be “Oh, that’s cute! I want one”?

    Seventh question: I know a teenage girl who wears what you’d probably call “costumes.” I’m not good enough at fashion history to guess whether any of them would be properly classified as Renaissance, but give or take a hundred years or two, and we’re in the neighborhood of some of her outfits. She makes them all herself, and her family does not seem bothered by it. She’s a little different, but not outré. I can’t bring myself to think anything other than “That’s Gretchen. She’s fun.” What do you think I should I be thinking?

    OK…seven questions is enough. 😉

  4. Wow Rachel! You remind me of your dad.
    Thanks for being bold and saying what needs to be said! I love this site. Off topic here, but, I must say I enjoyed seeing the picture of the “cousins!”

  5. @ Lindsey–Esther was not a free woman. She was a captive in exile. In that case being adorned by the concubine caretakers was being raised in station and not at all like Susan, a free woman and a queen in her own land, stooping.

    😀 This is a fun topic, by the way.

    I totally agree with Rachel that just that it’s culturally acceptable on the other side of the world doesn’t make it culturally acceptable here. The mentions of nose rings in the Bible makes it pretty clear that those wouldn’t be, like tattoos, something that’s across the board verboten. But that isn’t a free pass for everyone to run out and get one.

    Another thing to think about–Nose rings are more about submission (in a slavery way) than about honour. If Christian women want to break the mould, why wear something associated with slavery instead of something associated with honour? Why aren’t there more cool young things wearing tiaras, ermine, and purple? (Yes, that would be inappropriate, but in a slightly more appropriate manner).

    *whistles while concealing pattern and cloth for 1400s churchgoing cotehardie*

  6. What is our culture? We are a hodgepodge. Are we not? My Great grandmother was from India. I guess I am clear to get a nose ring. Right? I am also Norwegian, German, Czech, and Scottish. I am just trying to picture my garb if I embraced all of these cultures.=} Sorry I am trying to follow the logic here but I guess it doesn’t work for those of us mixed breeds.=}

  7. I know this is a blog for ladies but I had to just say….WOW. You just insulted about 1/3 of your own church community. This topic seems to be a big dividing line that just is NOT necessary or in any way profitable. I am speaking for my own household within this Church community but I DO NOT agree with either of these two posts and I am afraid that it is doing more damage than good. Just my thought on the matter I will say no more.

  8. Haven’t read all the comments and really should re-read the post, but from my quick first time through, preach it, sistah!

    Oh, I also loved your post about crazy-town at your house – you are a great writer on possibly touchy subjects, very direct but not bossy. :)

  9. “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

    I have just read through a truckload of comments and have had a lot of thoughts. But the above verse seems to be the most pertinent. The desire for beauty is overwhelming, but Paul says that we should not be relying on the outside for that beauty. We should be discussing the good works that we should be doing, how we should be doing it, etc.

    As God always looks at the heart, He knows what the actual motivations of people are. Have any of you ever said that you wore something because it was comfortable, and that was an outright lie? I think a lot of what people say is their motivation is a lie.

    Those who have put in their thoughts as pro piercing, etc I think are being gullible. There is an awful lot of focus on catching the world’s eye. I think the anti-piercing party are looking for reasons not to do it that are so far removed from our culture as not to be relevant.

    Newsflash: Culture, even our culture should not be our guiding light. And if you are going to copy someone else’s culture, you better know what you are doing. I knew a girl at missionary training that was decorating her chin with all kinds of designs to look like the tatoos of North African women that she hoped to go to. But very rarely are these sorts of things spiritually neutral. They could be signs to ward off the evil eye.

    If you look at the most effective evangelists, they are the ones that are centered on the gospel, not on what they are wearing, piercing or permanently marking. To reach people, you need to love them from the heart, not look like them on the outside.

    I believe the Leviticus passage is saying that the people of God should look different from the pagans, because all the pagan outside stuff had pagan meanings. And as Nancy said, the world knows what it is talking about. People who are saved out of such a life usually want to get as far away as possible.

    The more I see tatoos everywhere I think that people are just so desperately needy inside and they are looking in all the wrong places to fill that need. And now the Christians want to look just as needy.

    So my basic point is, whatever you do, do it unto the Lord and let us live a life worthy of the calling we have in Christ. I wholeheartedly agree with Rachel, we are free women, let’s act like it.

    And just as a final sidenote, if you have ever had a tatoo you may not give blood. Your blood is considered tainted.

    Reading back over this it is obvious what time of day it was when it was written. Oh well.

  10. @Aubree–Really? My great-grandfather was also Indian, but I was brought up Western Christian and very conscious of my Western Christendom background. So far the Indian side of my heritage appears to have manifested itself only in a strange liking for Bollywood, silk scarves, and really hot curry.

    But Western Christendom is where my allegiances lie–and not the last five broken minutes of it, but the whole last thousand years and more. I find it easiest to simply ask, “What would the Puritans be doing if they were still around?”

    Nancy’s right, this is a question of loyalty. But the question is not, is this particular fad part of the uniform of the other side? but rather, what fits in with the uniform of our side and with the attitude of loyalty to our side?

    In the end, you can’t draw hard and fast lines, just like you can’t draw hard and fast necklines ;).

  11. Thank you for the Susan/Free woman illustration. It really clarified a lot of niggly little arguments I could dredge up in my mind.

    Great topic, and lots of fun.
    Kathleen

  12. It has been enlightening and entertaining to read the three Wilson’s ideas on this subject and all of the reader responses!

  13. You can still donate blood after having a tattoo. They wiil ask you a few simple questions regarding how long have you had it etc. At least that is how it was New England a few years ago.

  14. SJR- Thank you for your words. I appreciate that they were kindly said. Most people would have referred to me as “gullible” or “snookered”=} I think I was being silly more than anything. I apologize for my lack of sincerity. I guess what I should have said is that our culture even our “christian culture” relies heavily on all the nations around us. Just go to the next church potluck. Recipes from every “tongue, tribe and nation”. Our clothing, architecture, music, home decor, etc. are heavily influenced by other people groups. My home is filled with decor from, Africa, The Philippines,Scotland, England, Hawaii, South America, Idaho and Japan to name a few. I think that is really a wonderful thing and while I still have NO desire to pierce something or tattoo something I feel that I struggle to pass judgement on a Christian lady who does do this because I must know her “motives” are evil or sinful. Perhaps they are. Perhaps I am a wimp. That is entirely possible. I for one wear long skirts and long pants. Not because I am overly desiring to be modest but because I am self-conscious about my legs. How often do we as Christian women make decisions with the wrong motives. ALL the TIME. I still agree with the premise here. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful to have thought through this topic. I will continue to chew on it.

  15. “My husband likes it.” or “My husband wants me to dress this way.” can be tricky in that sometimes hubby has feigned naivety thinking that his wife isn’t dressed provocatively or in a manner that is causing other men to lust.

    I wonder if sometimes there’s a bit of pride in their decision in that they have a “See what I have and you can’t have it.” attitude. It’s like showing off their sports car.

    If hubby is sending his wife out in immodest attire, he is not protecting her physically or emotionally.

  16. Okay, here’s a long one.
    I hardily agree with Nancy and Rachel. I am so glad to see them, as well as Heather T, dealing bravely on this issue. I would argue that this is a worldliness that has seeped into our Churches and is quickly causing rottenness in her bones. I am convinced that this is a very important issue and it needs to be grappled with and weeded out of every church across America if we want Gods favor to be upon us. It’s the common sermon of our nations need for repentance for her adultery. We are making the world our idol. Bravo!
    To add a touch more to this picture, if I might.
    I would argue that our universal Christian Church has lost her salt and vigor. We are no longer appalled at the worlds standards of beauty, no, now we have embraces them. This is truly embracing to us all, and it speaks loudly of how blinded we have become as a people. We follow the breeders of Britney Spears and Friends. We are so enamored by celebritieism, we convince ourselves of our own importance.
    We can’t tell between the Christian women and the cute pagan girls anymore. Heather has hit the nail on the head, we lie. We lie both to ourselves and to each other. We deceive ourselves that our motives are not rebellious. We tell ourselves, “Well I am not rebelling against God, just the prissy pastors daughter who think she knows it all.” “I ame not insecure!” “I am not fooled by the cool of this world!” “I just have funky style, that’s all.” The truth is, only you and God can know your heart motives. But be deceived no longer, if you are fostering sin in your heart, God will lead the wise to see it and correct you, because He is your Father and He promises to do this because of His love for you.
    It is high time we Christians start taking more time to analyze why we live as we do. We ought to know why we are making our choices. We need to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways to be sure we are pleasing God with the choices we make. Ignorant sin is still sin. Ignorant foolishness is no less foolish in God’s site. He bids us to search for wisdom, and clearly, many are not digging as deep for God‘s wisdom as they are for their own individual glory. Instead we waist our time defending our individual ideas and styles. Well the bad news is, in most cases, that individuality is of the world, not of God.

    Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes: Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.

    God wants our obedience to Him to rule over our personal desires- from this obedience we will begin to understand Him. Only on this path will we discover what physical beauty truly is in the Christian community. A good place to start is with a gentle and quiet spirit. Here’s to fighting the good fight together. Lead on sisters!

  17. “Seriously, now what would that have done to her character? And when her brothers objected, would it have helped if she had said, “But I just think it is pretty”? Does that matter? Not at all. Maybe it is pretty, but for Queen Susan it would have been completely destructive of her identity as a free woman”

    How exactly is an outward adornment going to affect her character and her identity? I think those comments are very revealing – Does what I wear affect my character or does my character determine what I wear/pierce/tattoo?

  18. Matthew – Hey man – I think you’re missing the point. Our church has called Doug to shepherd us and lead us in wisdom and on this website, Mrs. Wilson supports him as she “teach[es] what is good, and so train[s] the young women to love their husbands and children,” (Titus 2:3-4, ESV)
    I was in Couer d’Alene (the closest thing we have to a “beach town” our here) and was amazed that about 75% of boys and girls over the age of 13 had tattoos. Mrs. Wilson, being concerned with helping parents like us think through these things, shared some wisdom on the topic.
    For those of us with kids who want to figure out what the heck is going on, Mrs. Wilson has been a great help. But the problem is that we want to quickly take the conversation from a straight-forward heads-up from a older, wiser teacher, right into the fringes where everything gets really muddled and touchy – where we can all think of good exceptions, etc. And what was an insightful lesson has become a overblown scandal, because insightful lessons tend to be boring and usually don’t involve me getting to flex my debating muscles in front of the world (or at least the audience that the insightful teacher has gathered around her).
    Anyways – this seems to be the pattern, over and over, on these here blogs. And it get’s old. It’s like neither Doug nor Nancy can talk about anything on a blog post without some ambitious web fight promoter turning it into some spectacle for cheap thrills. In this case, Mrs. Wilson and Rachel have continued down the bunny trails for a while with us (probably because most of the commentary has been civil).
    But talk about doing more damage than good – how edifying to the Body is it for a member of the church community to get up publicly and trash talk our pastor’s wife? Come on man! Dont’ you think that some of that “double honor” (Timothy) due our elders might extend to their wives as well?

  19. I completely agree with Nancy and Rachel on this topic. It really is all about WHY we as Christians do something that matters. What is being said? Christian women need to be aware that the messages they send by what they do to their bodies may not be as innocent as they think.

    I have a very good Christian girlfriend who, in her pre-Christian days, had a large tattoo put on her lower back. This kind of tattoo is commonly referred to as a “tramp-stamp.” Now, my friend has never been anything of the sort, but she has often had people assume horrendous things about her because of her tattoo and its placement. Christian women should NOT be associated with whoredom; it’s completely backward. I asked her once why she had decided to get the tattoo in the first place. She admitted with remorse that she, “thought it would be cute.”

    When we say “cute”, whose standard are we going by? What are we trying to communicate and what could be inadvertently communicated? These are important questions for Christian women to ask when we are adorning ourselves. To whom do we belong, and are we looking like it?

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