Friday, July 15, 2011

Tattoos, Piercings and Christianity

As we continue our topical ventures, I believe that this rather obscure subject is actually as simple as black and white…{pun intended}…and what you decide to plaster permanently on your body is up to you. You are the only one accountable for it. Forever. But the decision undoubtedly will cause questions to be raised, motives to be checked and religion to be challenged.

With that said, I believe that tattoos and piercings are one of the laws that was abolished by the cross. We can see very clearly God’s original stance as found in Leviticus 19:28. “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” This seems to be the main verse that everyone questions, and this particular controversy is only found in the Old Testament.

Now let’s break it down. First off, if this scripture is read in context, then you will see that God was making a reference to the cultic and religious practices of that time and culture. In essence, it was a sign of slavery, bondage and idolatrous worship. This command was given to the Israelites as a means of protection from being led astray by those practices; it was specific to them and was not directed at the body of Christ. In those times, it is my understanding that the cutting of the skin or marking of the body was also used as a means to honor the spirit of the dead, mourn the deceased and offer respect to the gods. Just like the sacrificial offerings and eating restrictions that were set forth at that time, those customs have passed away. Did you have to kill a ram this morning? I didn’t. Thanks to the blood of Jesus, we are not bound to those traditions anymore. We have been set free!

Obviously, in today’s culture, piercings and tattoos are used for ornamentation and adornment. I believe that He gives us freedom to choose those things. God created each of us as unique individuals. Now WHAT you choose to ink on your body is a different story, er, blog. Many times, this can also be used as a witnessing tool to a group of people that we may otherwise have a hard time reaching since it is a great conversation starter. There can definitely be pros and cons among other variables though, but it is not a sin.

I do know that God’s word says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) In this New Testament reference, it seems that this is to be used as a guideline. After all, the temple was draped with beautiful fabric and laden with gold. And if God did not want us to embellish ourselves with jewels, then why would He make references to our individual jeweled crowns in heaven? Grant it, He was most likely making a symbolic metaphor, but an example of adornment nonetheless. The latter is just my own interpretation and rationale…not a “thus saith the Lord,” but I also strongly believe that there is a time and place for everything. Use wisdom.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself though if you are thinking about inking or piercing:
*What is the dynamic of your surrounding culture and will it be offensive?
*Is this something that you are going to want 30+ years from now?
*How will your current/future spouse feel about it?
*What is the importance and what does it symbolize?
*Is it in a place that could hinder employment?
*Who does it glorify?

The last time I checked, God judges the heart, not the outward appearance. Christianity is based off of a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a critical religious spirit with an aloof or judgmental opinion. A tattoo won’t make you a Christian, and it certainly won’t do the opposite either. Regardless though, if you are the one doing the questioning or the one doing the responding, do so in love and with the right spirit. ♥

Mine is a Fleur de Lis and Heart combo that was designed by my husband. It reminds me of my roots and is also a representation of the Trinity. (And it is only slightly coincidental that I got it the year the SAINTS won the Superbowl! lol)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

To Drink or Not To Drink?

So, I said I would tackle some controversial issues. In this particular blog we will focus on drinking. Is it OK for Christians to drink? How much is too much? What does the Bible say about this topic? These are some of the questions that I will attempt to answer. I want to remind you that before you read any further, if you have not read the previous blog introduction, please stop and do that first since that is the foundation that we will be building on.

As we stated previously, everything is filtered through the cross which either abolishes, continues or fulfills the law. In this instance, I believe that God’s point of view on drinking remained the same in both the Old and New Testaments, before and after the cross.

There are an abundance of Scriptures that reference drinking, both for and against. For discussion purposes, we will note a few, but for a deeper study, you should read them in the full context for which each was written. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Deut. 14:26 - “Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” (NIV)
  • Ecc. 9:7 - “So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!” (NLT)
  • Is. 29:9 - “…be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer.” (NIV)
  • Eph. 5:18 - “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery…” (NIV)
  • Rom. 13:13 – “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness...” (NIV)

    I believe this is where personal responsibility comes in to play. While it may be OK to drink, it is the overindulgence and lack of self-control that is the sin. Alcohol, namely wine, was used many times in the Bible. In the New Testament, Jesus turned the water in to wine (John 2:1-11), and Paul told Timothy to drink wine to help with his stomach and frequent illnesses (1 Tim. 5:23).

    Because Christ made us human, He gives us choices. We can choose to have dependency on Him or dependency on a substance. He created wine for our physical benefit, but we should not be overcome by it or dependent on it as in 1 Cor. 6:12 which addresses this very clearly. “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’--but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.” I believe that this is where you need to know your limit, but let me add this. If alcoholism runs prominent in your family, then you should not be considering even the thought of one drink. That would be like playing with fire and expecting not to get burned. The Bible also says that if you see trouble ahead, avoid it! (Ps. 27:12) This would be a prime example of trouble!

    Which also leads me to my next point…as Christians, we should be conscious about not being a stumbling block like it says in 1 Cor. 8:9. “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” I am reminded of a wine and cheese social that Jeremy and were going to host several years back. Unbeknownst to us, we had a newly made friend who was a recovering alcoholic that was planning to attend. We received a phone call advising us of the situation. Immediately, we decided to cancel the event and do something else. Why? Because we cared enough about that person that we did not want to do anything that would create an opportunity for them to fall. And while their intent was just to come for fellowship, it would have still placed them in a situation of temptation and weakness. Yes, they are ultimately responsible for their own actions, but we should not be contributors.

    In closing, I did want to mention that aside from the right and wrong debate, there are also times when the decision to drink is based on a personal conviction for a specific reason or a command from God for a specific purpose. We must be attentive to both. There are several cases in the Bible where individuals were commanded not to drink; Samson’s mother was one of them along with John the Baptist. There were also a few corporate commands to a body of people like the Israelites and Aaron’s sons to name a few. God sees what we can’t see, so He gives us those commands for protection.

    We are also instructed not to “join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves.” (Prov. 23:20) This is very prudent advice that will keep you out of situations that present the opportunity for sin. Remember, the drink is not the sin. It is the drunkenness that results from overindulgence that creates the sin.

    So those are my thoughts. Your decision should be based out of your personal relationship with Christ at His discretion and direction. The End.