One of my favorite sections of Scripture for teaching young women how to navigate through their teens and twenties comes from Titus 2:11-14. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Of course there is quite a bit of meat in this passage, and it is a good one for all of us, not just young women. I want to point out just a couple of things from this passage. The grace of God teaches us. And what does it teach us? To say no to ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to say yes to righteousness. Also note: He has given Himself for us and purified us so we can be His own special people. So when it comes to our perspective on tattoos, piercings, blue hair, and lip studs, we can look to the grace of God to teach us what to think about it all. And we should wonder if this is how we should live and look as God’s own special people.
When women first started wearing trousers, it was rebellious, true. But today when women wear trousers, it does not communicate any such thing. (Unless your mother told you not to wear trousers to some event, and you did anyway just to spite her. But you could do that just as well with a hoop skirt.) Give yourself every opportunity to be great at your craft. Take a lash tech course to serve yourself best.
Cultures change and shift and adapt, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. Nevertheless, some things will always be viewed as wrong or skewed in every culture, in every age. When a beautiful woman cuts up her face with a razor, everyone knows she is at war with the image of God. If she tattoos a spider web on her face, everyone agrees she is sending the message to the world that she hates herself. At least that is the message all the world hears, though Christians don’t always get it. This can be seen as well with dog collars, spiky purple hair, and tongue studs. All these are degrading and anti-human, anti-image-of-God. A woman who has been hurt and unloved can resort to such desperate measures in a futile attempt to sort of give everyone the finger. “I don’t care what you all think. I will show you! Just look at how I can disfigure God’s image in me!” It is very sad to see.
Some of these things like piercings and tattoos fall into the category of outright rebellion, and some fall into the category of using discernment and wisdom. For example, a tattoo, no matter how “cute” it may seem at the time, can certainly (at the very least) create the potential for regret later. So it is foolish and short-sighted. Blue hair can be washed out, but it is still like painting an ugly mustache on the Mona Lisa. Temporary or not, everyone knows it does not belong there.
Earrings in the ears are universally known to be lovely, unless they are the size of cantaloupes and are designed to drag the ear lobes down to the armpits. Then we all recognize it as a deformity and a beauty-obstruction, the fruit of darkness. Rings in the nose, eyebrows, tongue or lip can be more of the same cries for help from sad and lonely people who do not know who they are.
If we belong to Christ, if we are His own special people, then we are set free from sin and death. We don’t need to live in it any longer, and we don’t have to drag our chains around with us. We are unshackled and made new creations in Christ. A people zealous for good works. This is what should define us, not the markings and piercings of a lost generation.
Now some of you are going to ask, “But how do you know that is what the tattoos and piercings mean? How can you say it is the uniform of the other team?” The Bible tells us to deny worldliness, but it does not give us a list of worldly items. We are to be taught by the grace of God about this. We are to chase after wisdom and lay hold of it.
The world knows how to speak its message, and it knows how to entice Christians to buy its wares. That’s why the Bible has multiple warnings to Christians about not conforming to the world, not loving the world, not being pressed into the world’s mold. The world has a powerful message and Christians ought to at least pay it the respect of acknowledging the content of the message. Spiky blue hair and lip rings and tattoos are all yelling at the top of their lungs and most everyone hears it, except for the Christians who want to shanghai the message. “No, this lip ring does not mean rebellion, it means nothing of the kind. I just want to shake up the church ladies with my edginess.”
The world speaks a language, loud and clear, and Christians need to listen to what it is saying. Only then can they discern whether the message is true or false. If the message of tattoos and piercings is a God-hating message and everyone knows it, but the Christians re-interpret the message to be something like, “Hey, this is cool,” then they have been snookered, fooled, and reeled in.
Compare it to this. Just imagine that you went to a foreign country and unknowingly kept using a hand signal that meant something very bad in their language. You thought you were just waving hello, but everyone on the street knew what it really meant. In a similar way, the Christian may be wearing the other team’s uniform in an uninformed manner, but all the world knows how to read it well enough.
We need to quit making excuses for the world and giving it a free rein and a free pass, excusing and overlooking and ingratiating ourselves. It is much healthier to reject it without being intimidated or embarrassed or feeling like we must have a Bible verse that says don’t pierce your eyebrow, you nincompoop.
Finally, I just have to tell a story. A young woman was telling a young man about the very cool tattoo on her back (or shoulder) that was the Mandarin word for chaos. The young man looked at the tattoo, and then acted surprised. “Do you know Mandarin?” “No,” she said with a panic stricken look. “Do you? What does it say?” “Bad news,” he said. “It says stupid white girl.”
You get the point.
42 thoughts on “Markings, Piercings, and Blue Hair”
wonderful words Mrs. Wilson.
Wow. Thank you, Mrs. Wilson. I’ll leave a more detailed reply later. In the meantime, I’m still digesting this amazing article. Thank you. Keep preaching!
Loved both these posts, but I really do think tattoos in particular are losing their association with things pagan and are certainly no longer indicative of rebellion.
When I was twelve I got my ears pieced and I remember my mom telling me with a little smile (hers were already pierced) that when she was a little girl, her mother told her, “Only loose women pierce their ears”.
Times change, things do not remain as they were, and pierced ears are not reserved for the “loose” woman. If it were so, then I’d say every woman in my church is a harlot, by that defining sign.
Tattoos, when I was a child, were for bikers, sailors, the rebellious, and yes, the loose women. But when my children are grown, I doubt very much they’ll be associated solely within those categories.
No one mentioned it prior (unless I missed a comment), but we don’t seem to bat an eyelash at an Indian woman wearing a Salwar or Sari and sporting a tiny diamond on the side of her nose. No sign of rebellion there- it’s cultural, much like Rebekah.
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I always appreciate them.
Well said! I agree, by and large, with what you are saying. But, I think we can often put in the sin camp what rightly belongs in the ‘tacky’ or ‘not my thing’ camp. A better safe than sorry approach with our young women is a wise one, but declaring all nose-rings defiling of the image of God may be dangerous.
A family friend recently married. She comes from generations of great Christian people, and married a great Christian young man. My mother and I attended the wedding together. As the bride was walking down the aisle, i noticed a tiny diamond stud in her nose. Mama remarked after the ceremony how terrible that was for the bride’s mother – and how the bride would regret it in her wedding pictures. I completely disagreed. I might not pick it for myself – and I won’t be rushing my now five year old out to get one when she’s of age – But I’m not ready to proclaim this young bride was, even unknowingly, defiling the image of God. I thought she looked quite radiant – nose-stud and all.
I think, at the end of the day, that we should take the time to parse out what is clearly image-of-God attacking (spider web tattoo on the face) – and what is a difference of opinion about what is attractive and acceptable – caused by culture or generation (nose piercing).
Yes, many things are cultural. Of course they are! My point is that the culture (the world) is speaking through these things, and Christians don’t know the language well enough to interpret the message, so they muddle it. When West imitates East, we are picking up religious and cultural assumptions with them. What is acceptable (and even lovely) for a Hindu woman should not necessarily be imitated by a free Christian woman. Especially by one who hasn’t thought beyond the “cute” category. And, regarding tattoos, we still have Leviticus 19:28.
So, then, and this is just a question, by what standard do we adorn ourselves? By what is culturally acceptable (changing standards?) or by the Word of the unchanging God?
And another one, is the reason we do not judge the Indian woman for her cultural identity and adornment based on the fact that she is not professing faith in the living God? Maybe her look will be in style in a few years; what then?
Really, these are just questions from a mom of three young marrieds, two of whom along with their spouses are sporting what would be considered modest tattoos, as well as two younger children (a boy and girl, ages ten and eight respectively) who are mighty influenced by their older siblings. Thanks for the post, Nancy. Timely stuff.
I greatly value all that you have written, both in your blog and your books. So I am asking for further wisdom in light of what you have already stated here.
It is common where I live to see many ladies, and many Christian ladies, with nose rings. I have not been judgmental and don’t have much of an opinion about this, but I have been thoughtful about a sermon from Ezekiel I once heard. My daughter immediately latched onto the Ezekiel 16:12 (NIV) about placing a ring in the nose for beauty. We (her father and I) have not found this as a reason to allow her to have a nose ring (and she is not nagging to have one). I wonder if this should be considered in ones opinion about nose rings and not just what other Christians think? I come from a baptist background and many were sour about drinking alcohol. After discussion the main objective was that drinking alcohol in public would give the wrong impression to non-Christians. Is this a similar mentality? Also, we did not even allow our daughters to have their ears pierced until we heard a wise person explain the idea of earrings as a symbol of submission. We allowed our daughters once they were a certain age to have earrings and were readily equipped to explain to our sons why they could not have one or more (not that they were asking).
Sorry for the long whatever, I just am not certain that a nose ring is rebellion or crying for attention anymore than earrings are. Any further thoughts?
My husbands dear Grandfather was once horrified when he smelled the scent of perfume on me. He told me that “that stuff” was only fit for prostitutes.(he is not afraid to speak his mind=}) Through my tears I told him that I actually do not care for perfume and would not wear it if my husband had not purchased it for me to wear. He had no response. I found this to be very eye-opening. In the Christian circles that he is a part of this is still the way they think.
My mothers generation had similar opinions about nylons. A woman who went without them was considered to be “loose”. This opinion is now almost laughable. Very few women wear them now and if they do it is for the “tummy control”=} Times change.
I also know Christian women who have husbands that have requested that they “tactfully” pierce certain parts of their bodies, ie. nose, lips, or belly buttons. Some of them in my opinion look lovely and well adorned. I agree 100% with the premise of your argument. We should be ever fighting the culture. Perhaps though there may be ways to glorify God with these kinds of things. Just a thought. Thank you for writing about such important and relevant issues. I am grateful.
Wow, I am suprised by the differing opinions on this issue.
Why take something so obviously worldly and try so hard to morph it into something glorifying? I think the root here goes back to the C word…are we content with the bodies the God gave us or do we need to permently decorate them and then wonder if we are still living sacrifices which are pleasing to God?
I agree with Nancy on this one, any way you want to sugar coat it, or explain it away…you can’t ignore Leviticus.
Thank you for posting this, Mrs. Wilson. I am fourteen, and I often find myself gravitating towards what the world imprints as “cool”. However, is it not true that what some might say is the marking of a rebellious child (I.E., pink streak in the hair, nose piercing, etc.) does not necessarily mean that they are rebellious in their heart. Also, when preaching to a non-Christian, wouldn’t it be better to act as one of their own? For example, wearing a Muslim’s clothing when preaching to a Muslim; otherwise, if you were dressed as a Christian, wouldn’t they try to kill you? I know it has it’s boundaries. But I also have a question: is painting the fingernails considered improper in your house?
During my college years I worked in a nursing home. There is no statement as convincing to me regarding the “un-womanliness” of a tatoo, than a bed-ridden, flaccid body. No matter how “discreet” and “cute” it is now, it is very unlikely to continue to be so throughout life. I certainly agree with the moral grounds for abstaining from such things, but even those who disagree need to take into account the long term impact of such choices.
Perfume can be washed off, and earring holes will grow shut; but tatoos are basically permanent.
Honestly, I think this argument lost some of it’s integrity when you said:
“Earrings in the ears are universally known to be lovely. . . Rings in the nose, eyebrows, tongue or lip can be more of the same cries for help from sad and lonely people who do not know who they are.”
How can you apply this statement to a simple diamond stud in a woman’s nose, but not apply it to makeup and earrings? or jeans, or high heels, etc.
I really appreciated your recent post about modesty – when you outlined the possible reasons Christian women may dress immodestly – you pointed out how much more damage can be done by the modestly police – but on this your personal distaste for the adornment in question really seems to have a heavy influence on your logic. In reality a woman’s cleavage can do more damage to the church via appealing to sinful lust than blue hair could ever do.
We could discuss thousands of particulars but the bottom line is that what we do with our bodies does say something about our heart and almost all of that is subjective. But honestly, is this a worthwhile argument? At what point in history were the “team colors” cannonized? Is this the hill we want to die on with our daughters?
For most young women no more thought goes in to piercing their nose than their ears – but articles like this could keep that same young lady out of the church – and to what gain?
My husband and I were talking about this topic this morning. Your posts always seem so timely! LOL! My husband brought up the same Scriptures you used, too. I was playing devil’s advocate because I keep encountering so much extremism. Women seem to either embrace the world and think anything goes as long as Christ is somehow attached, or they go the route of legalism.
“At least that is the message all the world hears, though Christians donâ€™t always get it.”
Thank you, Mrs. Wilson, this is my favorite line! It reminds me of my thoughts when I was introduced to a “Christian” hard-core punk band. They looked, acted, and sang like they were strung out on heroin, but somehow because they sang about Jesus (at least they TOLD me that’s what they were singing about, most of the lyrics were growls and groans) they insisted that what they did glorified God! They were, without exception, evangelical kids raised in church and Christian schools. I don’t think they had any idea what the world saw them doing.
I have to say that you have, by the wise use of the Word of God, sufficiently changed my mind on this one. I have chewed over the new perspective to consider the “why” as opposed to the “why not” and it actually changes a lot of how I live my life. I think my “generation” and those who are coming behind us are using tatoos and piercings as a tool to “fight” legalism about our appearance. However, though it may keep me out of favor with God and out of His heaven, it is not the most excellent way to communicate grace to a watching world.
I have a sister-in-law and a very close friend who are both godly women, and both have very tasteful nose studs. They both have darker hair and complexions and it suits them well. It doesn’t glare at you, and I think it even makes them look more feminine – in much the same way as a nice pair of earrings. Neither of these women got their studs out of rebellion (that I’m aware).
While I fully agree with you that we need to be careful about what image we’re portraying to the world, I fail to see how they are ‘speaking the world’s language’ in this…
It’s sounds like an oxymoron saying you agree 100% with the premise of the argument and then proceeding to call body piercings lovely. It sounds a little like you’re trying to put a nicer name on sin (i.e. – “tactfully pierce”). Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I do agree, times have changed. But how far will the Christian woman go with watering down what the Word says as long as she can look fashionable (under the name of “times have changed)? Jewely itself is not intrinsically evil, but one could ask oneself, “Why am I wearing this? What kind of attention do I want?” If you have received your name in Christ, you do not need to seek after some other name in the world’s eyes. You can be secure in who you are- a creature in Christ.
You have such a way with words and have done an excellent job explaining this. I can tell by the comments that the world has done a great job snookering and reeling us Christians in. Thank you for your time and patience while teaching this very difficult issue. I suppose it would not be so difficult if we could keep it simple. My husband has a saying, “Don’t add or subtract anything from God’s Word.” Leviticus 19:28 should be enough for us to decide not to follow the world on this issue.
April- I am not a highly educated woman. I am certain that some things that I have said are not well thought out. For that I apologize. I will try and be more clear in the future.
I have been married 10 years. I am the mother of six children. I have no tattoos and have no interest in getting them. I have pierced ears. I dress modestly. I have NEVER colored my hair. I raise my children to respect authority, care for there bodies and Most importantly serve God their maker. I serve and submit to my husband to the best of my ability in accordance with God’s word. We probably have much in common.
I was simply stating that I have seen some piercing done in a lovely manner. I see no harm in a wife piercing something that would give her husband pleasure. You don’t have to agree with me. I am fine with that.
I have seen in my life destructive forces from legalism. When I was a child my family was asked to not be a part of the churches work because my faithful Christian parents drank wine from time to time.
My husband was raised in a home that did not celebrate any holidays because most of them can be traced back to pagan roots. No Christmas! That is so sad to me.
I believe that as Christians we can from time to time redeem some of what our culture does as well. No I do not pierce and tattoo my body. I have absolutely seen things done to the body that are grotesque. I do not support people mutilating themselves it is repulsive. I just want to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. If that makes me a weak Christian than so be it.
But, Nancy, there’s a significant tradition of blue hair in the church! At least amongst little old ladies! 😉
One more “What about…?” question for you on this general topic: What do you think about henna art/mendhi? Although most folks refer to henna “tattoos,” it’s a cosmetic, not permanent body modification, but there are certainly similarities. Is it a little too outrÃ© to be an acceptable part of a Christian’s attire? My answer to the “Why should I?” (vs. “Why shouldn’t I?”) question is “For beauty and for fun.” I’ve been drawing and writing on my hands with regular pens since I was a kid, so henna was a happy discovery for me, and I’m kinda bummed that not everyone shares my joy. But I’m not the most sagacious of critters, so I’m willing to listen to those wiser than I. (Just don’t ask me to give up my redneck palm pilot!)
Really? Leviticus 19:28? Why not ALL of Leviticus? 19:19? 19:27?
I’m not trying to be contentious. I just want to be consistent. If we are going to bind ourselves by the 28th verse, then we ought not shave the sides of our heads or wear linen with wool. Does this apply still? I never hear anyone arguing those two verses 😉
And ear piercings are ok but others are not? Nancy, yes- nose rings on Hindu women have religious significance, or at least they did. Not sure they universally do today.
I have a few piercings in my ears, as many of us do who came of age in the ’80’s. Is this wrong? Does this make us all pagan?
What does it mean to dress like a Christian? I take very seriously the command to be modest and feminine, which is the most binding command regarding dress I see in Scripture. Here in California flip flops are ok at church. Does that make me like the world? Or just culturally appropriate?
P.S. Javier, the cleaning guy at my office, just told me I look like a gypsy today. Yesterday a visitor at church exclaimed, “Oh, I was hoping I’d get to meet you. You dress like I do with your hippyish clothes.” (I was wearing the same outfit.) Henna art feels like an extension of that sense of personal style — I’m not preppy, I’m not prairie muffin, I’m not classic…I’m artsy chick. Does that realm of different style sensibilities come into this discussion anywhere?
What is your take on old frumpy women who dye their hair light blue?
I haven’t thought much about any of this, but the main considerations appear to be as follows:
–Is it permanent? (Tattoos are permanent; henna isn’t, and neither is piercing)
–What does it say culturally? (This is what Nancy is saying in this post–what are they really saying? It isn’t whether you wear pants, but whether you wear skintight pants, for example. In India, an Indian woman (even a Christian one) might wear a nose ring–just like in the Pacific, a woman could probably get away with a coconut bra. For us that isn’t important; we are a part of our culture, not someone else’s, and nose rings do not have the same long and honourable history as earrings do.)
–Is it disfiguring, or lovely? (This may be the most important thing of all. Everyone’s mentioning tasteful piercings, but what about beautiful God-honouring piercings? Can such a thing actually exist, and if it can, would it say the right thing culturally? Only if you can say yes to all the above should you go for it.)
I’m wondering right alone with Valerie about the Henna Tattoos. I think the body in it’s “natural” (unmarked) state is the most beautiful, that’s why I’ve never wanted a “real” tattoo. But I do think the Henna ones are rather pretty and fun, like painting the toenails blue might be.
By the way, is anyone who says “the bible says not to get a tatoo” wearing only 100% cotton. As I recall the bible also says “nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.”Lev. 19:19
Also, say some Hindu woman becomes a believer or some tatooed woman becomes a believer… Are they still suited up for the other team?
Glad this is a non-essential, but I know if and when one of my children ask if they can have a tatoo or what’s the big deal why can’t I have one: here’s my reply,” How will it glorify God? Give me an honest answer because in all things that’s our goal.
I love a good discussion, but good grief people! Lets not forget that Christ died to redeem us, we are his people, and we will stand or fall to our Master alone. And we will stand. (Your head covering or my tattoo, or Mrs. Smith’s sagging skin notwithstanding.) The thing is to do all as unto the Lord, in the wisdom He gives us.
Aah! I pressed send only to realize that there are probably a lot of Mrs. Smiths out there. I was aiming for the Jane Doe effect. (Please, please don’t let there be any of those out there!) Also, I do understand the importance of growing in Christ and His wisdom, which explains the need of (and pleasure gained through) these great topics.
Audrey and Kendra — It’s not fair to dismiss the Leviticus tattoo verse so easily. If you have a good argument in favor of reading it as a ceremonial law (like don’t mix fibers), please, let’s hear it. If not, then you need to consider that it might be in the category of a moral law (like don’t have sex with animals…also in Leviticus). I don’t know which category it falls in. I’d like to hear some good arguments on either side. But if it is a moral law, then it’s still 100% in effect.
My best guesses for arguments on either side:
Side A: The verse refers to not being like the pagans, therefore it’s about being separate and distinct from those outside the covenant, therefore it’s a ceremonial law.
Side B: The verse refers to altering the body, which is made in the image of God, and is therefore a prohibition against desecrating God’s image just as laws against murder and perversion are, therefore it’s a moral law.
I could be swayed either way. In the meantime, unless there’s more compelling evidence, playing it safe would seem to be the wisest course of action.
Thanks for the post, Nancy.
In an earlier comment, Valerie mentioned beauty and I’d like to address that. I think Nancy’s “mustache on the Mona Lisa” applies to tattoos as well. Skin is beautiful, radiant, one-of-a-kind (even when it is wrinkled and covered in age spots). Tattoos don’t highlight skin–they cover skin like paint on a canvas. Here’s an analogy: an big, old hotel in Billings is currently undergoing renovation. The beautiful marble floors that were original to the hotel were covered in the 60’s? 70’s? with some flooring that was trendy but not beautiful. When the workers went to uncover the floor they found that the trend setters had wrecked the marble by boring big holes in it for the new flooring. Obviously in the 70’s somebody had no appreciation for what is truly beautiful.
Maybe we all need to do a better job of affirming to our children and especially to our daughters the beauty God has given them.
I’m not sure why piercings are thought of as not permanent. If you leave it in long enough (anywhere), the hole is pretty much going to remain. Right? I still have the holes in my ears, and even though I can’t punch through them completely, they’re still there. Wouldn’t that be true also of the nose, the cheek, the lip, or whatever?
I think we should take a step back and look at the larger picture. Someday piercings aren’t going to be all the rage, so why permanently mark yourself as a participant in this passing fad?
“When West imitates East, we are picking up religious and cultural assumptions with them.”
Say what now? Christianity is at its origins an Eastern religion isn’t it?
@Audrey I think “How will it glorify God?” is indeed the operative question. So the question then is “how will a tat or lots of piercings glorify God?” I would not rashly answer that question “never” but I think I can safely say “hardly ever.” (I think those who use “all things to all people” are badly taking that verse out of context. You do not have to look or act like somebody to minister to them.)
It seems to me that, although perhaps thoughts on multiple piercings and tatoos may have changed somewhat over the years, we are certainly not in the situation where they have NO negative connotations. Even if they have no bad connotations to some certain group of people (which I would question), can we say that for ALL people? Shouldn’t we be ministering to ALL people, not just the select cool few? Perhaps, you are thinking, it only turns off the stodgy and old-fashioned church ladies and retirees; but didn’t Jesus die for the stodgy, old-fashioned church ladies, and retirees too? If so, would not discretion be the better part of holiness?
Playing it safe was my point exactly. People often forget laws and wether they are still in effect or not. They choose to utilize them, while ignoring the ones they feel more comfortable breaking.
It still boils down to one thing. Our chief end…to glorify God. So, my question is “How will this glorify God?” If a case can be made for a tatoo that does that, I’m all for it.
Like I said, glad it is a non-essential and in those things liberty…right?
Forgive the intrusion, but the conversation is interesting. I’ve been encouraged by the displays of piety, seeking of truth, and building up of one another in this discussion, and on the recent related posts.
One phrase that has popped up several times that has struck me is the apparently unchallenged reason of “my husband likes it”. Now, I am a Christian single young man, and I am very aware that Christ is continuing to remake me in His image and draw me away from my natural, fleshy heart of sin. I cannot imagine that “because I want something” is by itself an acceptable reason. If my desire were not glorifying God, I would want my wife to be the first to delve into that and lovingly correct me – that we may grow together closer towards Him.
Perhaps this has already occured within the marriage relationship for those that have utilized this reason above and in the other threads. I just hope that in something that is questionable, it IS questioned in the marriage covenant, and then, if found acceptable, is joyfully carried out in love. But in that order.
Modesty is the key, yes.
Even elders’/pastors’ wives these days might have had double earrings done, or even a little faith related tattoo, not that I advocate a tattoo. It’s a hermeneutic question, I guess, to some extent, maybe: the Leviticus passage also mentions men not trimming the corners of their beards; I wonder if the context there is Old Testament Jews in the land, under the ceremonial law.
I guess that double pierced earrings are pretty ‘tame’ and widespread, really.
But I agree with the emphasis on modesty.
This is late, but I couldn’t help but think of your discussion when I bought a lot of Playmobil toys off ebay, and this was included:
The world has a “bad guy” look, it’s true, like it or not.
A friend and I were talking about dreadlocks. I think it would be fun to have them… I do not want them to be rebellious – I think they are neat. I wanted to know what your thoughts were on this issue. Thank you.
I haven’t read all the comments here, so I don’t know if this has been said yet; but it seems to me that the underlying premise of some of your notions is a little off base.
I was struck by a few things you said: “some things will always be viewed as wrong or skewed in every culture, in every age.” It seems to me that while some things are viewed in this way, there are only a few things that will always be seen as being clearly intended to be image of God destroying in all times and places. Cutting one’s self in a random, violent fashion is certainly in this category. I have a hard time thinking of other things that are going to be universally seen in this way though.
Later you said about a specific culture’s body art, “Then we all recognize it as a deformity and a beauty-obstruction, the fruit of darkness.” I challenge this idea. If you open a National Geographic magazine, you’ll see that there are almost as many ways of modifying the body as there are cultures, and I think its not a stretch to say that alsmost all of them are seen as beautiful by the people within those cultures. Beautiful, but not in some dark way. And not in some way so different from a small ear ring or anything else we see as normal in our culture. Some modifications don’t comport with a sense of what is just: female genital mutilation/circumcision, foot binding, etc. But if people are choosing to do it to themselves, and if they aren’t destorying important functions of their bodies that God intended that they have, and their community see it as beautiful, I have a hard time seeing it being primarily intended to be an Imago-Dei destroying act.
I think the question of permanence is one that would cause anyone who is wise to give pause, but wouldn’t biblically preclude any specific act.
Please be careful when you make such broad statements claiming to know the motives, convictions, and attitudes of other’s hearts. To speak so definitively about something so obviously extra Biblical as piercings, IMHO, puts you in the dangerous catagory of adding to the word of God that is warned against in Revelation. I am often criticized for being legalistic, and extra Biblical myself, simply for living in obedience to what God has called ME to do. I am a homeschooling, skirt-only wearing, QF wife and mother – with a tongue ring. I have it to remind me of the nails driven through the hands of feet of my precious Jesus. I pray that every word that would come out of my mouth would be pleasing to Him. James 3:2-11. His sacrifice paid my price.
Allow me to make a case for the other side.
I’m a church-going Christian young woman. I’ve had blue hair and currently have eight piercings, which I enjoy having.
Those of us with piercings of tattoos aren’t at war with the image of God–quite the opposite. We enjoy how God made us so much that we want to customize our bodies, the way you’d paint the walls in your house or plant flowers in your yard. We view it as self-expression the same way others view a fun hairstyle or favorite jewelry. Everyone changes the image of God the second they get a haircut, shave, or shape their eyebrows. We just take it to the next level because we like the way the next level looks. That’s the reason, plain and simple. There are people who like face tattoos, so they get them. They don’t get them to anger others. Very few people over the age of 20 do these sorts of things to elicit a reaction from others.
The reason people think it is warring with the image of God is that it doesn’t fit their personal standard of beauty. Think about that statement for a moment.
I also like to think of it in a different way. I think of myself as living proof that Christianity isn’t something only for little old church ladies. There are people out there who are interested in Christianity but feel they wouldn’t fit in or wouldn’t want to switch their personal style to one they hate and that keeps them away. I show them they don’t have to stay away because they like their tattoos and piercings. Christianity is an all-embracing, loving religion.
We shouldn’t all look the same way. If we did, we’d be a cult instead of a Faith.