Edited to Add….

(N.B. I inadvertently deleted this post [sorry Lizzie!] this a.m. but found it again and got it back up again. So just in case you were wondering what happened. Here it is.)

If you are reading the previous two posts, I thought I should mention that this discussion is centered around cultural story, not individual story. I would not pretend to know or want to know what brought every Christian women with a nose stud to getting one. It is not really important, and it does not get my scivvies in a knot to see it. But on this blog we are often talking to women who are raising young girls and sorting through the issues around that. Speaking for myself, this is out there in the spirit of a lively dinner table discussion, not a secret gossip group behind the school, discerning the heart of people who pass by. So, that said….

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9 thoughts on “Edited to Add….

  1. I think the above post makes a good point. The point is not to point fingers but to learn and grow. I have enjoyed the discussion, but don’t plan to use it as a defense for a judgmental heart or to make myself feel better that I’m so wise as to have avoided piercings and tats. I am insecure and faulty, yet loved by Christ, and have messed up in a trash heap of ways. Instead of furthering my pride, I can use these posts to give me perspective and to help me in leading my girls in the right direction. Thank you for these posts, Mrs. Nancy and Lizzie. I really appreciate your wisdom, courage and graciousness. Your family is a sweet encouragement to me! :)

  2. Mrs. Wilson,

    Of course I am with you when you say Christians need to get a clue when it comes to what the world sees us doing. And I’m not even going into the tattoo issue here. But I do wonder at what point we say that this or that is now officially within the pale of acceptable—even admirable—Christian adornment. Somehow pierced ears, bobbed hair, blue jeans, and bare legs under your dress made their way into the Christian mainstream, and we (well, most of us) no longer associate those things with loose women. The rebels did it first. Then the somewhat edgy attention-seekers. Then the fashion-forward “good girls”. Then the main-streamers. And now your stodgy grandmother can have her gray hair bobbed and bare legs under her jean skirt. At church. And nobody blinks. It seems to me that, at least with the nose piercing thing, we’re somewhere between the “edgy attention-seeker” and the “fashion-forward good girl” moment. We in your sister church across town have quite a handful of women with sparkly little nose studs these days, and the number is growing. And these are, by and large, married women belonging to well-respected families (elders & deacons) in our congregation. Perhaps because I’m more used to seeing it, I think it CAN look quite lovely, although it still gives me pause the first time I see someone new show up wearing a nose ring.

    I haven’t researched the history here, but I’d guess that this is the phenomenon that occurred with wearing pants and so on. These 20- and 30-somethings will someday be 50- and 60- somethings. And by then, well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the way of bobbed hair. I’m not contemplating a nose ring myself, but I do want to know at what point (if ever) we can stop raising our unpierced eyebrows at the girl in the pew with the nose stud.

    On another note: Christian women do a lot of things to adorn themselves that happen to draw attention, but it seems that we’ve got to be oh so careful about imputing motives to the women with the little diamond studs in their noses. Those sweet delphinium hairpins from Amoretti sure do draw the eye and invite comment. But they are there for “glory and beauty”—an appropriate adornment for a Christian girl. When I was finally allowed to get my ears pierced at age twelve, I must admit that my motives had FAR more to do with wanting to look like all the cool girls than it did with love for the beauty of the adornment. And had anyone asked me, “Why SHOULD you do this?” I could not have answered the question to anyone’s satisfaction.

    In fact, we may be having this (somewhat heated) discussion because we haven’t been asking ourselves “Why SHOULD we do this?” in a lot of less hotly contested areas. Take a lovely young lady showing up to church in dress that meets all typical standards of modesty, except that it’s scattered with sequins and is made from taffeta the color of a school bus. Certainly gets everyone’s attention. But the only question we ask is, “Why CAN’T I wear this flashy little number that’s going to turn heads when I’m worshiping God? Besides, I’m not showing any skin.” But we’re not asking what the good reasons are FOR doing so. We’re out of practice when it comes to giving an account in our everyday decisions (Why SHOULD I watch this movie, buy these curtains, go to this party, etc?), and we think the burden of proof must always lie with the naysayers.

    It seems to me that perhaps a more helpful angle on the question of whether it’s okay to pierce this or that should rest on the far bigger question of whether doing so enables you to better love God and your neighbor. Would it make your mama cry (or snort in disgust) whenever she saw it (even if you’re a married woman)? Then honor her. Love your neighbor. Would wearing a lip ring be a distraction to the people in the desk next to you? Then skip it. Would everybody (including you) be thinking about your flashy yellow dress instead of the worship of God? Then hang it up.

  3. And my comment that got deleted along with the original post went something like this:

    One thread I see running through this discussion is the idea of thinking communally. We are very individualistic. I’m the chief of sinners in that area — so unused to making decisions as a part of a family or community. This discussion is helping to shape my thinking along those lines.

    Nancy and Rachel — Thank you for being thought-provoking and gracious and patient through out this discussion. I greatly appreciate the lively and loving dinner conversation.

  4. Ha! My missing comment was still in my browser window when I got home. Let’s see how close I came to recapturing it:

    I think there’s an issue running through this thread of the general disconnectedness we all feel from family, culture, etc. We’re not used to thinking through things in a corporate fashion. I’m the chief of sinners here — I want to know whether my thoughts and actions are right or wrong, and I have trouble considering that question in the context of a broader community.

    A big THANK YOU to both Nancy and Rachel for your thoughtfulness, graciousness and patience in these threads. Hooray for lively and loving dinner table discussions amongst the brethren…er…sistren. 😉

    Not bad for writing them ~12 hours apart!

  5. I have to say that Hannah G’s comment has been the most poingnant.

    I don’t think that to have the only reason be for getting your nose peirce is that “you think it looks pretty” is a bad reason. We use that reasoning for all kinds of things that we adorn ourselves with and are never made to give a better account for it. The necklace you’re wearing? It’s just pretty. The shoes you picked? They just matched the dress.

    I think the reason that nose piercings are so controversial is that, as Hannanh metioned, they are still a bit edgy. But we don’t think how much of what we do now as ‘modest’ Christians would have gotten us picked up in the red light district 100 years ago. Pants, shorts? Even the long denim skirt that hovers just above that ankle would not have been modest years ago. And yet I am thankful that I don’t have to wear twenty layers of petticoats.

    There is something great about pants and yet some Christian women at one point started to wear them, I’m sure, and probably got some flack for it.

    Culture changes and different things come to have different meanings. Very frequnetly this happens because some people rock the boat, try some edgy things. Earrings do not have the stigma of slavery attatched to them any more and nose rings are losing this meaning too.

    I do not really even see Biblical reasons to not have one. It is true that Rebekah had a nose ring and Abraham’s servant brought one in anticipation of this. So it could not have been that uncommon among godly virgins to have a nose piercing (Gen. 24).

    I have to say I have had my nose pierced and loved it. The reason? I just thought it was pretty.

  6. Not that this discussion needs any additional tangential comments, but Meghan’s comment reminded me that my Nana was the first woman in her family to wear pants. She was also the only sensible, hardworking one in her family (Great Aunt Blanche traipsed across the country having children by many fathers, Great Aunt Madeleine just spent her life whining). For a poor farmer’s wife it was a practical decision. Not making any point…just sharing a family story! :-)

  7. I suppose I should say this publicly: I threw away my henna last night.

    I don’t know as the insecurity argument applied to me (though I generally feel about as secure as a blind man with vertigo wearing roller skates on a high wire), and the “I feel this way about it, therefore it’s right” comments from both sides have only served to make me want to confiscate some folks’ keyboards, but the overall force of the arguments about living in community finally won me over.

    I don’t know as my mom’s ever been around when I’ve worn henna, but I know she’d just think it’s weird. The couple of folks at church (one elder and one endearingly opinionated little girl) who have said something negative probably represent many others who have kept their opinions to themselves, and I’ve probably been a distraction to them. By giving it up, I will be doing no harm to those who have commented positively, and will be taking away a harm (however small) from those who are bothered by it.

    The first time I read (well, listened to) Stepping Heavenward I was struck by this passage:

    “[Mother says] that I am growing careless about my hair and my dress. But that is because my mind is so full of graver, more important things. I thought I ought to be wholly occupied with my duty to God. But mother says duty to God includes duty to one’s neighbor, and that untidy hair, put up in all sorts of rough bunches, rumpled cuffs and collars, and all that sort of thing, make one offensive to all one meets.”

    It had never occurred to me that my appearance is a matter of duty to my neighbor. Still have trouble remembering that. And until this discussion I had never connected the henna with this duty. There will probably always be a few who are unduly offended by things they oughtn’t be, but as long as there are still many offended by something that’s really not very consequential, then I should refrain from offending them.

    Again, thanks, Nancy and Rachel, for the discussion.

  8. Not to nitpick, but in re “bare legs under the dress…”

    If I’m not mistaken, undergarments and stockings had a run of about 250 years. Modest medieval women wore a shift, an overdress, and nothing else (NOTHING else.) Undergarments of any sort are a fairly modern invention. Legs were always bare under dresses. If you’re referring to exposed bare legs under dresses, I don’t see where flesh-colored or translucent stockings are much of an improvement. So it seems to me the logical cutoff point for objection here is above the ankle dresses, not the bare legs.

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