After God spoke to Jacob, he instructed his
household to get rid of their idols and purify themselves. Along with their
stone idols, they buried their earrings.
"So Jacob said to his household and to all
who were with him, ‘Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and
purify yourselves and change your clothes’ … so they gave Jacob all the
foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them."
This has always been the response of pagan
people when they’ve embraced the Gospel of Christ. From Papau New Guinea to
the Amazon jungle, pagan tribes engage in body scarification, earrings, nose
rings, tongue studs, multiple piercings and tattoos. Once converted to
Christ, however, these tribes abandon all these body modification practices.
"Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only … Do
not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your
God … is a jealous God and His anger will burn against you … Do not test the
Lord … Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the
stipulations and decrees He has given you. Do what is right and good in the
Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you … in the future, when your
sons asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws
the Lord your God has commanded you?’ ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt,
but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand …" Deuteronomy 6:13
It is completely inappropriate for a
Christian man to wear an earring – the mark of slavery. What may be
appropriate for a woman is not necessarily appropriate for a man. What is
practiced by the world is seldom acceptable for a Christian.
"You, my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one
another in love." Galatians 5:13
"Live as free men, but do not use your
freedom as a cover up for evil." 1 Peter 2:16
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us
free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a
yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
If something is prevalent and accepted in the
world, that alone should be a compelling argument against Christians
adopting their fashions and fads. We are called to be different. We are to
honour God with our bodies.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of
God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to
God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the
patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good,
pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12: 1 – 2
Our bodies matter. They are to be presented
to God as holy offerings – in a way that pleases God. We are not to follow
the example of the pagans. Making holes in our bodies is hardly respecting
them as temples of the Holy Spirit. Permanently disfiguring our bodies is
blatant rebellion to our Creator and Redeemer.
"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and
strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against
your soul." 1 Peter 2:11
Part of the Biblical description of a harlot
is that "she decked herself with rings and jewelry … but Me she forgot,
declares the Lord." (Hosea 2:13)
"For in his own eyes he flatters himself too
much to detect or hate his sin." Psalm 36:2
"Let us examine our ways and test them, and
let us return to the Lord." Lamentations 3:40
To draw attention to ourselves with these
excessive fashion statements is hardly in keeping with the Biblical commands
to be humble and modest (Proverbs 21:4; 1 Timothy 2: 9 - 10).
"Your beauty should not come from outward
adornment … instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading
beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." 1 Peter 3: 3 - 4
The present obsession of many with body
modification is a revival of tribalism. It involves a painful initiation
rite, which produces an identification with a certain tribe, clan or
sub-culture. The Kacipo people in Sudan stretch their lower lips to fit a
saucer-sized pottery and they stretch their ear lobes to create huge holes
and long earlobes. Amongst the Nuba tribes in Sudan, multiple earrings, nose
rings, body scarification and body painting are prevalent. The Dinka and
Nuer tribes in Sudan are easily identifiable by the pattern of scars across
Amongst the Hindus - nose studs, belly rings,
toe rings, tongue studs and eyebrow rings are common. Tattoos amongst the
Amazon tribes identify the various members of a given tribe. In Papau New
Guinea, all kinds of body scarification, tattoos and body mutilation
distinguish the various tribes.
Among the tribes in Borneo, tattooing is
mainly associated with head hunting (a visible sign of success) for men and
the coming of age of women - in some cases it symbolizes their social
status. Tattoos are part of the "rites of passage" and next to blackened
teeth and long ear lobes, intricate tattoos on fingers, hands, lower arms,
thighs, calves, and feet served as important elements of beauty for women.
A pagan view on the subject: "A tattoo is a
complex signifier: it signals class; it signals sexuality; and it has
specific content as a signifier: a depiction of an animal, a person, an
abstract tribal design. The most usual motifs are signifiers of power and
masculinity... But what the tattoo signals above all is the power one seizes
over one's own body… To be branded or tattooed shows also that you have the
requisite guts to join the group. It is not the most extreme or painful form
of initiation, but it serves as a sign of pain and hence of resolution."
"Tattooing is often a magical rite in the
more traditional cultures, and the tattooist is respected as a priest or
shaman." (Michelle Delio, Tattoo: The Exotic Art of Skin Decoration, p. 73)
And in the same way, eyebrow rings, nose
rings, multiple earrings, nipple rings, belly rings and tongue studs
distinguish identifiable sub-cultures in New York, London, Paris and other
capitals of what is meant to be civilization.
"The look on their faces testifies against
them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them!
They have brought disaster upon themselves." Isaiah 3:9
The interesting thing is that while so many Westerners rush into new age
religions, body piercing and occultism, many millions in the tribes
mentioned in Africa, South America, Asia and the Pacific islands, are being
converted to Christ and are abandoning the body piercing practices of their
It is very clear who are the Christians and
who are the pagans in these mission fields. The pagans wear little or no
clothing and they engage in a variety of body scarification, body piercing
and/or tattoos. On the other hand, the Christians are easily identifiable –
they wear clothes and they don’t engage in any body modification.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no
longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live
by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians
Of course, some older people will still have
the scars and the holes – testimony of the pagan past before they were
converted – but all earrings, eyebrow rings, nose rings and such like have
been removed. And their children are free from these pagan disfigurements.
It is unheard of in these areas for Christians to voluntarily pierce or
tattoo their bodies. In fact, they are shocked when Western men visit them
with ponytails and earrings.