Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adorning Ourselves

It rarely seems to be an issue in the modern church, whether or not a woman/girl should pierce her body for the purpose of creating places to hang jewelry, although I assume it has been rather hotly contested at various times in church history. Even outside the church it wasn't considered discreet, modest or, dare I say, acceptable until relatively recently. "Relatively" meaning until the 1970's. Today, one would absolutely be accused of being a prude or perhaps even a legalist for suggesting that young ladies should not have their ears pierced and even other facial piercings are obtaining that sacred status of "unassailable." After all, don't ya know, the pastor's wife has a nose piercing, and she's as godly as they come!

I'm going to borrow a line from Highlands Ministries and say, shouldn't we all live "simple, separate and deliberate lives" for the glory of God and for the building of the Kingdom? In being deliberate, shouldn't we ask ourselves, "How will piercing my body and wearing jewelry which draws attention to myself glorify God?" As usual, we shouldn't be asking, "Is it lawful?", but rather, "Is it expedient?"

What follows is something I shared with some other ladies on an internet discussion forum for Christian mothers. The question posed on the forum was this:

Are pierced ears biblical, unbiblical or neutral?

The woman who responded immediately before me said that every reference to earrings in the Bible was "negative", so my comments start out by referencing hers:

I don't agree that piercings in Scripture are always "negative". However, they are always a sign of belonging to someone else. Either in the form of slave/bondservant to master or wife/betrothed woman to husband.

The Scripture says little about the actual "piercing", although rings in/on the face/nose/ears are mentioned (depending upon which translation you consult), it is often assumed that these rings include piercings because it is difficult to imagine how else a person would hang a "ring" on the face/ear/nose. In the case of bondservants, the procedure for doing the piercing is actually mentioned.

When we discuss ear piercings, we are talking about two issues, really, the first being the wearing of jewelry and the second of making holes (permanent alterations) in the human body.

When it comes to jewelry, I find that Scripture pretty much endorses the idea of a man adorning his own wife with jewelry, but does not endorse a woman adorning her SELF with jewelry. The only mentions of a woman adorning herself with jewelry refer to harlots. Otherwise we see a man giving jewelry as betrothal gifts (Isaac to Rebekah, God to Israel (Ezekiel 16) and in Revelation the Bride is adorned for her marriage, in the white robes given by her husband). Jewelry of all types served to testify that a woman was "taken", similar to our own culture's use of an engagement or wedding ring on a certain finger. An earring, in particular was a sign of ownership for both men and women.

We are warned in Scripture not to adorn our outward appearance, in the sense of drawing attention to ourselves. But a wife is her husband's glory and he is free to adorn her for his glory.

As for making holes in the body - it is not forbidden, but what is the purpose? If a woman is putting holes in her body in order to draw attention to her jewelry, is that modest or appropriate? I don't see any difference in piercing a nose or piercing an ear. The differences are merely cultural. If your husband asks you to pierce your ears so that he can adorn your ears with jewels, that is his privilege as a husband. :D

I wish I was not pierced. My parents permitted me to pierce my ears when I was 12, and I did so. My husband does not like jewelry or piercings. But my holes are permanent reminders that I put my own preferences over those of my future husband. :( I don't want my daughters to have any such regrets, and since it's never too late to get a piercing, we have told them that piercing their bodies is an absolute "no" until they are married and the issue is resolved by their husbands.

On a personal note, nothing really Scriptural, but it seems to me that I was saying God made a mistake or forgot something when I decided I needed holes in my earlobes. Didn't God know that I wouldn't fit in with the crowd unless I had something dangling from my ears? In some respects, my attitude was the same as someone who has plastic surgery for vanity reasons. I wasn't pleased with the way God made me and decided to take matters into my own hands. I deeply regret that attitude and the results.

End of my response in the forum

That does a pretty good job of summing up my opinion on the issue. I've discovered that most women, including Christians, will reject any suggestion that we should restrict our behavior in any way. For some reason, to restrict ourselves from doing things which won't send us to hell is to waste the liberty we have in Christ. I must say I reject that notion and it irritates me, as I'm sure my 2 readers have already discovered, for anyone to do anything for the sole reason that we have the LIBERTY to do it. I'm still waiting for the woman who will argue, "I HAD to pierce my ears for the glory of God and the building of His Kingdom!"


Felipe and Dana~ Heirs together of the grace of life. Parents to 10 children said...

Or rather the woman who will argue and say "I HAD to pierce my ears so that I wouldn't be an affront to people and turn them away from Christ."

I can't help it...your blog always seems to provoke me to comment.

subject by design said...

Thank you so much for your comments! They provoke me as well, to consider whether I wrote with care, whether I said what I actually believe, and whether I need to change what I believe.

Just curious, were you in earnest about that argument?

Felipe and Dana~ Heirs together of the grace of life. Parents to 10 children said...

I read an article awhile back on a internet forum. The article, written by a woman, rationalized and justified why this woman and her daughters had stopped wearing dresses/skirts only and went to wearing pants.

The reasoning behind this woman's position on wearing pants was that she didn't want to stumble her unsaved family and friends by only wearing her dresses and skirts.

So, I would say yes, I was in earnest about that argument. I think it faulty at best to say we must become like the world to win the world.

Felipe and Dana~ Heirs together of the grace of life. Parents to 10 children said...

One other comment. When you said "But my holes are permanent reminders that I put my own preferences over those of my future husband." It reminded me of the verse in Proverbs 31 that says "she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Its the word "all" that gets me in that verse.

All the days of her life...that would include her life before her husband.

The Childress Family said...

I appreciate this topic Terri. I am going to show this to my dh and get his thoughts. He has said he doesn't want our girls getting their ears pierced anymore. A few of our older girls have their ears done but not the younger ones.
Dana, I appreciate your contribution to this discussion as well. I always appreciate when you share your thoughts on Scripture.

Blessings to you both.
Love in Christ,

subject by design said...

@Dana - I read that same thing, and the words of that woman were troubling to me. I think that being concerned about what others will think can never rise higher than, at most, a secondary concern. The first question must be, "What does God think?" If God has no opinion on the matter, then I suppose we are free to make our decisions upon any other set of criteria that we establish. I've notice that women who change their standard of dress are the first to point fingers at me and call me a legalist. Since they had no reasons or principles for why they used to avoid pants or cover their heads, they assume that I also have no reasons. Personally, I have never had unbelievers comment or question what I do, let alone take offense at it. But if they did, I am ready with an answer. Either they will be offended by my Christ, or they won't care what I do.

I also am confronted with the weightiness of that verse in Proverbs 31. Regretful, as well, but I can't change the past! ALL the days of her life! Wow.

@Janet - wow, you doubled my blog readership! You already know how opinionated I am, and this blog is not well published because it is more of a place for me to dump my thoughts while I'm working on them than a place for me to try to change everyone to my way of thinking. Keep that in mind if you read something that sounds hyper-critical or harsh. I'm not so good with tact yet (God is working on me) and I was raised to be incredibly sarcastic, which is a very difficult habit to break! Thanks for reading.