Here we go on the final post in this series! I’ve appreciated the feedback from you offline, but feel free to toss your comments on here online so that others can see them as well. Many of you have had good thoughts, points, and questions.
Assuming you’ve read Part 1 (Top Ten Common Objections To Christians With Piercings) and Part 2 (Thinking Through The Purposes Of The Law), then we’re going to deal with our responses to freedom in Christ, how we could still be in sin, and what this means to us as leaders, followers, and ministers of the Christian faith. Oh, and if you’ve really been hoping I’ll respond to some of those objections from Part 1, perhaps we can do that too.
Let’s Get Real: Conclusions & Warnings From Our Freedom In Christ
I hope you read Galatians 5 like I mentioned, cause I’m going to make some startling statements here that I’d really appreciate you knowing come from the God you claim to know and love, rather than me. I don’t want that kind of pressure, and besides, I like you liking me – I’ll say it.
More importantly though, I need to be frank and honest with you. If you’re still holding to a “this is holier than that” outlook on things such as piercings (though it could be hair styles, clothing styles, tattoos, jobs, bed times, etc.) than you’re straight-up wrong, and well, in sin.
In fact, Paul would go so far as to say, “Why would you think Christ is any advantage to you at all then?” (Gal 5:2 paraphrased). Scary thought: You could actually be “severed from Christ completely” by justifying yourself by a law rather than faith in Christ alone (Gal 5:3-4). *ouch*
Truth be told: I believe I have known many adults who have dedicated much of their elderly lives to serving in the church and God [the believe] and are so bloomin miserable that, from examining their lives, I have wondered if this isn’t the case for them.
You see, don’t get me wrong, this applies to many “youngsters” as well, but it’s just not the typical scenario I encounter often. I want you to know, I’m not saying this to shame you, but rather, I would love for you to join in the freedom of knowing Christ fully and being fully known! Knowing nothing depends on you, or matters, except your own faith, working through love, that comes from knowing you are loved no matter how you perform or what you look like! (Gal 5:6)
Trust me, it’s exhilarating and freeing, to lighten up and worship with your heart, but you gotta have your head give you permission to do that!
The alternative is such a sobering warning – so scary – that it ought to jolt you into a serious state of self-inspection. If your heart is so distanced from Christ because of your self-righteousness that you are too prideful to admit you’ve been taught wrongly, and so stubborn you refuse to admit you’ve elevated your preferences above the Christ so that you’re Lord instead, then God’s words for you are simply this:
If you hold to Jesus plus anything, any part of the law, then you stand condemned by the law, needing to maintain the whole law. If you would say Jesus and circumcision, then go ahead and just emasculate yourself the whole way. Your view is not from the one who called you. (Gal 5:
*yikes* …I love you! :| I would rather you not be hindered, and continue to run the race well! Many have simply never seen or heard the gospel explained in this way, and that’s okay. There is no shame, no condemnation, no problem, if you change your thinking and, well… chill. :)
The only way to not be offended by truth, is to humble ourselves and repent.
Why Does It Not Matter? Are There Times That It Does?
Simply put, this matters because how can we love people, and see them like God does, if we’re too busy critiquing them based on our preferences?
You can not even justify that the act of piercing your face, is either a “slippery slope” nor disrespectful. If it’s not sin, it’s not either! If it were a sin, it’s both! So saying, “Ok fine, it’s not sin, it’s just disrespectful” doesn’t work.
You also can’t say, “Well it’s just what the world does and we’re supposed to be different” or even “Jesus wouldn’t have done it.”
Wh? Because Jesus probably also didn’t wear underwear. He probably also didn’t wear buttons. He probably also… you get the point. I mean, why would women’s ears be the one exception to piercing the body anyways? And as for the other…
Correlation ≠ Causation
Just because there seems to be many hopeless and hurting people who do pierce themselves, doesn’t mean “it’s what sinners do.” In all actuality, there’s even more sinners who wear suits and ties and are clean-shaven – they’re often even better at being sinners. So, by your own logic, you’d condemn yourself again.
When It Might Matter. Some Valid Responses
“It influences kids…” Now, I agree, there’s way more important things kids need to be worrying about than spending their money on piercings or tats. That said, I’d still way rather have my kid want to be like a tatted and pierced all-out Jesus glorifier than a clean-cut, hard-working, suit-and-tie or cowboy that’s wasting his life for the approval of man!
“We are missionaries to our culture.” On the occasion that we are in a situation, such as I have been, that many the community are not spiritually mature enough to think through such issues in spiritual wisdom, scripture is clear that we are obligated to be patient with those with weaker consciences and lesser understanding.
The trick is having wisdom for knowing when to teach, and when they refuse to grow, being patient and not tempting them to sin in their weaknesses. (Gal 5:26, 1 Thes 5:14, Rom 15:1-7) More on this below.
“We are not called to glorify ourselves.” This is typically the only response that “holds much water,” as they say. It’s true, we are not to decorate ourselves for our own glory, but rather, whether eating, drinking, or whatever, do it for the glory of God! (1 Cor 10:31) Still, let’s all just be thankful for grace, shall we? Because in reality, this means most of us stand in sin every time we go shopping for nearly anything!
In my case, I can’t say I originally got my piercings for the glory of God. I got them out of boredom / craziness while waiting on a girl to finish getting her belly button pierced. However, when God gripped my heart for his purposes later on, I’ve seen my piercings bridge more gaps and start more convos in culture than many suit wearing pastors will see in a lifetime of ministry. (1 Cor 9:22)
Pray for wisdom, because depending on your communities context, sometimes this verse can work both way:
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Cor 9:19-23
What This Means For Us As Minister Leaders
So this means a couple quick things for us as leaders and ministers (and you’re a minister even if you’re not in vocational ministry):
- PICK YOUR BATTLES, but recognize this one is closer to the gospel than you think. You may be teaching “reach your community” but if one tiny bit of self-righteousness is in there, well, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump!” (Gal 5:9)
- PROMOTE UNITY, but always keep Jesus as the goal, not unity. Jesus does offend. Growing, maturing, recognizing when we’re wrong, and letting go of our selfishness, does hurt! Don’t shield people from the growth that God could be trying to teach them for the sake of your popularity. Just don’t smack people around for the sake of being right. Read Romans 15.
- TRAIN THE YOUNGSTERS, and remind them we are to teach elders with respect. (1 Tim 5:1-2) I’ve seen too many people be angry and disrespectful to elders over this matter. We all can be wrong. We all can be right. It’s hard to keep a person safely between conceit and discouragement when they realize they are spiritually more mature than many of the people they have followed. We are (as I am) in need of many reminders in this stage.
What This Means For Us As Minister Followers
It also means a couple quick things for us as ministers of the faith and followers of leaders who may have piercings:
- TRAIN YOURSELF, and remember to act and teach with respect and patience. God places people over us in authority. Whether you agree or not, we must respect them. This is often quite difficult if you know they are in sin and stubbornly being picky over things they shouldn’t be and not over things they should.
I’ve been there, but as long as you’re in that position, do all you can to be respectful. Read Titus 2 and 1 Tim 5:1-2. You may be there to serve, stretch and grow a person over you, but it also may just be for a time of growing yourself. You can’t be their Holy Spirit.
- SPEAK UP ON BEHALF OF YOUR BROTHER! If you know someone just attended your church that is going to be “offended”, “distracted”, “worried”, “turned-off” or whatever by your leader’s piercings, then don’t go to the leader and make it their problem! Go to the person yourself and speak up! Defend your brother or sister in Christ and speak highly of their character. Point the person to the things that matter; who knows, maybe God is giving you an opportunity to invest in someone!
Great gospel foot-hold right there, “Hey, yea, I know… those piercings… could you and I get some time to talk about that? I’ve done my research on that and it’s actually quite interesting what God actually teaches us about that.”
Cause, well, now ya know. :) Think well my friends!
We made it!? What do you think? Any points that need clarified still? Anything you’d disagree with? Anything that helped, encouraged or convicted you? How will you apply this thinking in your life? I’d love to hear it.