A Good Point.

 So, Hannah makes a fun point in the comments on the last post. Her question was concerning the border lines between when something is way over the line,  and when it is generally accepted as normal. I think we all agree that things just change over time, and that Grandpa’s opinion about make-up is probably not so current. If you think about it though, if you were right on the historical line with make-up, when it was just spreading its wings beyond the brothel, what would say about it to your daughters? And after enough girls in the town were doing it that it wasn’t strictly the territory of the prostitutes, would you let them jump in?  This line of thought made me realize something – this system is broken.

Why are the Christians sitting around waiting for the green light to follow the world? Why would we want to be part of doggedly chasing the world, making its rebellious trends safe for Christian homes? What is going on here? Hannah refers to the young fashion forward Christian girl with the nose stud, right on that border. Bothering some, and fitting right in with others. But I would not call it fashion forward, but rather trend-caboose.

Truly fashion forward activities lead change, but the world’s trends are always followed by Christians, never led. So let’s think about that.  Should Christian fashion be huffing and puffing and trying to catch up with what California beach girls used to wear? Should we just sit around and wait until we are allowed to do what they do? Of course not. Post-millenially speaking, we should be doing our own thing. We should be raising our daughters surrounded by beauty, engaging their minds in their fashion decisions, and keeping them emotionally unattached to the world. We want daughters who can think and dress for themselves, not just wear whatever they get in the garbage bag of hand-me-downs from the world. In the long, long, long  run, Christian fashion should be its own dog, with little pagan girls saying, “Please, please can I wear this mom? I don’t think it makes me look too much like a Christian girl.”

But here is the other thing, and I think it is critically important. There have been some responses to these posts that were a little upset that we would march right through the middle of such a tender subject and ever say anything that might make some of the girls with nose studs feel talked about. Those were the brave people, who commented. I know there was also a intake of breath and perhaps hurt feelings here and there about what we have said. So I want to emphasize again, that this is not a discussion of individual nose rings. Not that I want to be rude, but I honestly couldn’t care less. Hannah mentioned that it is increasingly common in our sister church (and while I am aware of it as a trend, I could never type up a roster of people who have them).

This is discussion of  a cultural trend that we are in the middle of witnessing, and not a slam session on the individual ladies who are wearing them.  And here is something rather important: we are in the middle of witnessing this trend  alongside of our children. What do we say to them about it? What do we believe about it? Are we allowed to have an opinion? Are we allowed to talk about it? In public? Well, the nose rings are worn in public. They started the conversation. And apparently the conversation they started is persuasive. Our children ask about it. We have to have an answer.

Now, you can easily have a different answer for the same question and still be our friend, in fellowship with us, and we may even think you pull the nose stud off rather well. But if you have a nose ring and you have worn it out of the house, you have made a public statement, and if someone says, “Hey, let’s talk about this a bit more. I don’t think it is a great idea,” you have to remember who brought it up. You have to remember that you are the one advancing it.

So if you want to defend it, do. If you don’t want to  talk about it, don’t. If you want to get angry and feel hurt that anyone would say something out loud about it, reflect on how public your nose is. You made it a canvas for all of us to look at. You put some text out on that particular billboard, so don’t stress out about its privacy now!

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21 thoughts on “A Good Point.

  1. Rachel,
    Wow! You nailed it again. I think the reason we have gotten to the point were it is so acceptable for Christians to get tattoos and nose rings is because there is not many who will speak up about this issue (and other issues). The truth might hurt someone’s feelings. I really appreciate the work you all do to teach and encourage us. Thank you!

  2. Well I have to say….

    I have been following (silently) along in this discussion since the beginning and I must say, this is my favorite post of all (hence, my speaking up now.

    Everything was RIGHT on but I love the idea of being trendsetters. My favorite line was:

    “Please, please can I wear this mom? I don’t think it makes me look too much like a Christian girl.”

    That hit the nail right on the head AND made me laugh. Loved it.

  3. I am looking back over some of the posts and reading quite a bit about the nose ring vs. ear rings. As if these are in fact viewed the same in our culture.
    I think we need to check out our reality with this idea. I don’t feel uncomfortable a bit boldly saying, we all know they are not the same, let alone speaking of a tattoo as being in the same camp with ear rings. To help support my brave assumption-How many of you have seen babies with their ears pierced? Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. Okay, now how many of you have seen babies with their nose pierced or sweet little ankle tattoo’s. No, of course you haven’t, and I am pretty sure that if you did, it would not be in a Christian family. I would be hard pressed to find a Christian who would say, “oh that’s so sweet, God must be thrilled with the design of your babies tattoo.”
    This post that Rachel has written is on the $$. What is it Doug W. says? Christians can always do the same as the world, just 5 years later and always much worse. That’s it, scraps from the table is all we seem to want. Well I would love to see mature Christians with innovative ideas creating an original Christian, culture. Feasts, clothing, home décor, stories, and many, many more things that need to be happening in our churches to create a culture we can hand down to our children. Like what Rachel said, cultivate the minds of our children with a Godly perspective on fashion and see what God gives them to imagine.

  4. As I have been reading through some of the blogs on this subject I am struck by something. Spiritual and cultural relativism and assimilation. Isn’t the truth always consistent? Yes, truth doesn’t change. God given truth is what we should be seeking not cultural truths. If there is something that seems to be treading on that “gray line” we should always avoid it.

  5. It seems strange to me that we cannot accept that we live lives intermingled with unbelievers who I must add were created in the image of God and therefore can produce beautiful things. I very much doubt that when Christ walked this earth that he wore different clothes than those around him. I am almost certain that he wore whatever frock was common for that timeframe and culture. Whatever a carpenter wore or whichever way men wore their hair etc. No I am not advocating all of the worlds fashion. Yuck. We have to be aware of the fact though that we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if some “unbeliever”(possibly) had not created the first computer. We would not enjoy supper around our tables without the dishes, glasses, silverware or table created in some shop in China. Aren’t we grateful for the men who invented modern amenities whether they were believers or not. I don’t think that accepting some of these gifts from God no matter who created them is wrong or even broken. I wish very much that there was “Christian” clothing or rules of what to pierce or not. God has given us discernment. a conscience and minds capable of making decisions that honor him. Let us not forget that we are all fallen and need God’s grace to grant us wisdom as we make decisions in this imperfect world. I for one am not waiting for some sort of green light so that I can have the “go ahead” to wear or pierce what ever I please. However I refuse to reject all that the world makes and designs because it comes from the “culture” and we are on the “caboose” end of things. I am at this point grateful that I am not living in the era of powdered wigs and skirts that wouldn’t even fit through a doorway!=} Isn’t that a comfort.

  6. Aubree-
    I would completely agree with you! I simply meant that we want to teach our children in such a way that they will be leaders in the world and not followers.

  7. I fully agree that “trend caboose” is a more apt description of this situation than “fashion forward” and a useful metaphor for thinking about this issue. We’ve been riding the back of this train so long that the view of the tracks clicking out behind us and the feel of wind on our faces is starting to make us feel like we’ve got a seat up front with the engineer.

    To take a totally uncontroversial example, I remember when capri pants first came out (again). And I thought they were completely ridiculous, and only the really edgy people were wearing them. But then I started seeing young, upstanding ladies whose taste I admired wearing them more and more, and I eventually came to think capris had their merits. Since then, that train has moved on so far that capris are now a great way for the elderly population to stay cool while hiding the unsightly blue veins they’ve acquired. This took about ten years, if memories serves.

    Of course ours is a backward system. Of course “many more things need to be happening in our churches to create a culture we can hand down to our children.” Amen. Of COURSE we should be steering this strain—and laying down new tracks while we’re at it. Maybe WE should have invented capris first. But we didn’t. (I don’t think.)

    And I completely agree that those Christian who are among first to stick out their (literal or metaphorical) noses ought to be the first to be ready to defend themselves and their decisions. Sitting in the caboose does seem wiser than riding up near the front if this train’s about to head off a cliff—more chance of getting off in time and all that.

    Nevertheless, while we endeavor to grab hold of the brakes and turn this runaway train around, I still sincerely would like to know when/whether we should accept yesterday’s shocker as today’s yawner. I don’t think we want to adopt the legalist’s approach that says, “I draw the line at pants. Last stop. I’m getting off here. And those whose last stop is nose rings are in dread danger of derailment.” But I’m also sure we can’t simply be relativists willing to go wherever our cultural leaders take us. They have a destination in mind, and it isn’t ours.

    I’m not asking this as a rhetorical question: DO we get off now, regardless of what the culture is doing? Do keep riding, however reluctantly, as long as it IS in the caboose, until our numbers and bank accounts are strong enough to get off and start a fashion train of our own? We seem to be stuck following, so what do we do in the mean time? It seems inevitable that we will, sooner or later, come to embrace nose rings are part of Christian culture. (Perhaps even on babies.) But we won’t have the satisfaction of knowing we started the trend.

    I would love to see Christians take the lead in every area of culture. But most of us (including me) seem to be unable to do anything but make vague pronouncements about cultural change; we have very few John Henrys actually swinging hammers through our cultural mountains and laying down the first mile of actual track.

  8. I really enjoyed this post, Rachel, and I think you made some great points to ponder. But I still think it misses the point overall. Much of what I was going to say (whilst waiting for my little girls’ naptime), Aubree already pointed out very well. But I’ll still add a few things.

    One thing, however minor, is that I genuinely do think earrings and nose rings are essentially the same type of thing – Biblically speaking. No, I wouldn’t put a nose ring on a baby, but I also wouldn’t put makeup on my baby – that doesn’t mean I think it’s any less appropriate at a different time.

    I also have to point out, in the vein of what Aubree said, that just because we as Christians *do* something that is similar to something to the world does, it does not logically follow that we therefore are imitating the world. Examples abound, from the mundane and simple like eating three meals a day and enjoying wine, to issues which could seem more complex like home mortgages, nose studs and blogging! Honestly, being that we all live in this world God created, and are working with the same “raw material” of creation, we are bound to come up with similar things. Sometimes, yes, and even often, our modern American *church* culture tends to struggle with wanting to imitate the world. But you can’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater and assume that any fashion statement we make, if it was made previously by someone ungodly, is therefore made in imitation.

    I’m guessing most of you ladies wear modest jeans, and don’t have pierced noses – is that really the “uniform” of a Christian? Because honestly it seems to me you might look just as much like a conservatively dressed atheist, a mormon, or any other group of people which uses that same style! I am all for Christians being the trend setters, but as there is “nothing new under the sun”, it’s likely that some group at some point in history thought of the same creative style idea a Christian might come up with while they trying to look different from the world. Of course I’m not saying that some group in ancient history dressed in the unpleasant punk style of modernity, but piercings, body art, jewelry, makeup, hair styling- these things have existed in various forms throughout most, if not all cultures – people define beauty very differently, but most cultures still strive for it. I still believe as Christians we are called to seek to adorn ourselves in a way that we believe (reasoning from Biblical principles) is honoring to God, and appropriate and lovely for one bearing His name. I also believe that this WILL look different to different people, and we must make allowances for the fact that our personal opinions do not constitute a binding Biblical standard. We have obviously allowed for some creativity of appearance, or I think our community would look a bit more like the Amish.

    The other main point I wanted to mention is that although the Bible teaches much about how to array ourselves in a way pleasing to God, it doesn’t say that is what should identify us as Christians. God says others will know we are Christians by our love. Also, since I’m already being rather long-winded, I’m going to post one of these key “principle” passages in it’s entirety here:
    1 Peter 3:1-6
    In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

    Does this passage say we should not have adornment? Absolutely not! It says our adornment should not be merely external. Meaning, again, that we are not defined or identified as Christians by our externals alone. We are shown to be Christians by our love, or as this passage puts it, by the hidden person of the heart…a gentle and quiet spirit, etc. If Peter is talking about making sure our loveliness is shown in the ‘conversation’ of our lives, and not relying on braids and gold jewelry, etc to make us seem beautiful, then it seems to me that the braids and gold jewelry were indeed there. And that brings us right back to the point that we as Christians use wisdom in choosing our adornment. If we choose an adornment which looks like one the Egyptians used, perhaps we are imitating them wrongly; or perhaps we are rightly ‘plundering the Egyptians; or perhaps we thought of it all on our own and it’s entirely coincidental that it looks like the Egyptians. God looks at the heart. I think it’s great that we are able to pound these things out together in seeking to come to a greater understanding of how to form a lovely Christian culture. And I will still happily admire a friend’s beautiful tattoo, or nose stud, in the context of admiring her godly life and beautiful heart.

  9. Won’t it be neat to see what our little girls and boys by God’s grace will come up with if we continue to train them up in the way they should go.=}

  10. Nancy your initial post on this topic was not only astute but written in a lovely manner. It was a pleasure to read.
    I still recoil inside when I see women with many piercings (except for earlobes) and tatoos. They do symbolize paganism and rebellion to me. When I was a child in the 60’s, the only people I saw with them were people from a culture that was known for being dishonest and blatantly pagan, carnival workers, and men who caroused. When tatoos and piercings (other than earlobes) started to be seen on women in the 80’s, they were worn by those who were vocal in their words, deeds, and lifestyle as being opposed to God.
    Yes, fashions and perceptions change, but honestly, how beautiful are tatoos? The colors are dull and they are a blotch on lovely skin. I think they are still saying’ “Look at me, I’m a little fast and more fun.” Same with rings on noses, brows, tongues, and other places. They distract from beautiful eyes, skin, and bone structure. Maybe more thought goes into getting one now but I’ve known people who got them on whims, encouraged by friends. They are a reminder of pagan cultures and actually mar beauty.
    However, pierced ears are practical as anyone who has withstood the pain of clip-ons and screw-posts can attest.

  11. Thank you again, Rachel. Keep Preaching. And thank you Mrs. Wilson. I have nothing to add or take away from either of your posts. You are on the Money!!!

    What I’ve received from you: In reading both of your replies to blogger posts, I’m reminded of how a Christian can simultaneously be gracious in word, but also not be conformed or intimidated by the current fad, and continue to encourage and provoke others to a Godly vision. This is where I go wrong- instead of graciously bringing someone back to the Word, I would tend to harp on them and try to control the person’s life. This isn’t my place, and through reading your replies back to bloggers, I’ve been shown again how we are to relate to one another as Christians.

    Please- keep on writing more! Your posts help more than you know! Thanks!

  12. So, after talking this over with my husband, I’m really finding myself wondering what’s left if as Christians we shouldn’t follow too far behind the status quo (ie dressing like Kitty Von Bora) nor too closely (ie jumping on the latest trends)? I also start wondering what Christians should do when higher necklines and feminine skirts start showing up on runways in Paris?

  13. I just want to say “bravo” for what has been said on this blog about tattoos and piercings! Certainly markings have their symbolism, and as the Bible says, our bodies are God’s – His temple for HIS SPIRIT! Surely we shouldn’t be carving into them! Also, the Bible clearly shows that we are to be women of modest beauty, carrying images of femininity and showing glory to God, not following the trends of Hollywood and those who live such ungodly lifestyles. Would you want your Christian daughter to look like a gothic girl, dressed in all black with black nail polish and lipstick, carrying around the image of death and hopelessness? Absolutely not! We, as Christians, need to stand back and say, “What image or attitude does my action convey if I do this?” and not just do what we want because WE want to do it. The church has become tolerant of many things, trying to become like the world to win the world, producing an entertainment-based church, and living just like them. I am glad to be a part of the church that stands apart! Thanks, Nancy and Rachel!

  14. There are so many ways to take this conversation, but honestly, my first thought was an example (besides Amoretti, of course):

    Anna Maria Horner http://annamariahorner.blogspot.com/

    She’s a Christian (Greek Orthodox, I think?) who designs fabric. With the beautiful fabric she creates, she sews clothes for herself and her daughters and sells her patterns. These clothes are all trendy and funky and fun…but they are also fairly modest, IMO.

    And her fabric sells out at stores all over the place. Not that popularity means anything.

    But she seems to me to be making good art to the glory of God.

    Creative and Christian. That’s what I think it means to be living out this crazy ride. Yes, we’ll borrow from the fashion of the world but at least we’ll do it well.

  15. Okay just a comment on the nose stud issue. I have someone very dear to me with East Indian roots who I suspect will have a nose stud someday because she will gravitate to it just like she does dangling 4-6 inch earrings, anything that reflects light and very bold bright colors…. The way she adorns herself comes from within her. I have studied her for years now and this does not come from rebelliousness, it is innate.

  16. I have loved reading these posts – thank you for dealing with these issues. It’s refreshing to hear more than “that’s worldly so we don’t do it”.

  17. You have again made an excellent point, one which applies to more than just piercings and tats. Christians are salt and light. We should be more concerned with how to affect the world than trying to mimic it. If the salt loses it saltiness….

  18. Thank you, Rachel for your post. It is a welcome and balanced view to counteract the position that we conservative Christians tend to take to “run as far away from ‘the line’ as possible.” That is merely a defeatist attitude.

    My family has frequently found this G.K. Chesterton quote helpful as we make clothing/’billboard’ decisions:

    ” Don’t ever take a fence down unless you know the reason it was put up.”

    Often this leads to discussion about the message of our clothing and then what is really beautiful and what is really not. Then we ask: Does it honor God? Does it honor others (in the area of modesty, aesthetic richness, etc.)? And does it honor the occasion?

    Anyway, that dips a little in the modesty area more than fashion, but that’s inevitable, it seems :).

  19. I don’t think that as Christans we are necessarily waiting for the “green light to follow the world” just because we pick up on some of the trends set forward by them. I would not even call it trend caboos.

    We would be foolish to think that Christans have to come up with all things in order to be leaders. When Isreal plundered their enemies taking cloth, gold, dishes etc. I would not say they were just trying to make “rebellious trends safe for Israelite homes” because they took what the world had to offer. It is true that some of the treasuse got them in trouble but some was a blessing. The problem came with not discerning what was what.

    We should be culture makers but some of this includes taking the truely lovely and making it ours. We, as Christians, need to know what to take and what to leave behind but by being discerning we are being leaders.

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