Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What About Men With Earrings...or Browrings -- Is That OK?

It used to be that earrings on men were "wrong" or inappropriate, especially for christians. Well, now that is OK I guess. What about just one brow-ring, or two maybe? Is that OK?

I wish someone who knows better than me would explain to me where we draw the line. How does the Bible deal with these gray areas? (this is not a gray are to me but to some it apparently is)

Is it OK to be in church leadership with an earring, or what about bone ring through the nose? One is OK but not the other? Who says? How about one of those earrings the size of a coin where you can see right through the ear lobe? What about multiple piercings through the ears, brows, nose, and lips?

I am fine with the unsaved lost entering the church as they are but what about when the church leaders are are showing up with these markings? What kinds of statements are being made without words to the youth? Wouldn't this send mixed messages to children?

Let's say you are a christian who has an occasional beer. To many this could be something left up to one's discretion as long as it doesn't offend the younger or weaker christian...right? Personally I do not drink beer but let's just say you as a christian do sometimes. Would you wear a Corona t-shirt to church? Probably not. Why? Well, it's obvious, others may not understand and you may cause a weaker brother to stumble. In that case if you insist on wearing this t-shirt are you doing it for the good of your brother or for yourself? Couldn't it be argued that a church leader with an earring may and possibly could be causing a younger and weaker christian to fall into confusion since earrings, piercings and mohawks are things which make statements of rebellion in the world (at worst) and (at best) are a statement of worldliness? If these are not statements of worldliness then exactly what are they?

Come on men, quit cowering and make a stand!

I think we really need to ask we love the world? 1 John 2:15

Am I crazy on this? Please, somebody correct me where I am wrong. I am open and willing to be corrected.

I think about what scripture says in 1 Cor. 10:23-24 & 33:

23. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive.
24. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
33...even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Also 1 Cor. 8: 9 says:

9. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

And 1 Cor. 8: 12-13 says:

12. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
13. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

So I ask, is the issue about this "mature" christian's "right" to display HIS expression of being a "man of the the world" through body piercings or is the issue about the weaker brother and how we should always be looking out for his good and spiritual health, as scripture clearly teaches?

Frankly, I have a 12 year old son and I would not want him to get his body pierced in any way, even a small earring. Earrings are for girls. When he is around an older, mature christian man, I am going to be faced with a conflict if that older christian man has piercings.

Here is an excerpt from a post on which I hope helps explain further:

" a day when the church is trying to look as much as possible like the world, where we dress like the world, talk like the world, are entertained by the world, how can we even begin to fulfill this command? For many in church-ianity today, the very idea of being holy, separate, and pure, is counter to the real goal of "reaching the world". But where do you get the idea from Scripture that you reach the world by capitulating to it and becoming its mirror image? When Paul said he became all things to all people he was not even contemplating the idea of becoming worldly in thought or behavior, speech or dress."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an issue that makes most church leaders sweat and tremble. Issues like this is how worldliness sneaks into the church. By the "little things" that are not necessarily over a moral act or deed, but require a judgment call by the leadership as an opportunity to deal with an issue.

When the leadership does NOT set and communicate the standard of where to draw the line in the gray areas, then the person who pushes the envelope the most is the one who sets the standard.

To deal with this issue means that the church elders or pastor have to draw a line in the gray area. But isn't that why God put them in that position? To not do so is to fail in his responsibility to God.

If an issue like this is overlooked in the local church, then much more serious issues with destructive results will not be dealt with. The leaders become passive and too afraid to confront the problem. If unwilling to deal with the issue, this will exposes the leadership as unqualified to lead.

A piercing seems relatively minor as an isolated act, but it is likely an indication of an iceberg of love for the world beneath the surface. But that's the individual's issue. It becomes and even more serious when the leadership ignores it. This means that the leadership is possibly more concerned about people liking them than they are about being faithful to the position they are in. To lead.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

People get piercings and follow trends because they want to be accepted by other people, that's for sure. They see stuff in magazines or on TV and try to emulate it. They spend their saturdays out at clubs and dancing

But there are also people who take a lot of pride in not following trends. People who brag about how "unhip" they are. People who go out of their way to find obscure music to listen to or buy clothes that other people would never be seen in. They spend their saturdays at old record stores and thrift shops

Then there are the people who don't pay attention to fashion magazines or music videos. These guys wear old t-shirts and spend their saturdays fishing on the lake with their buddies, completely unaware of Hollywood or much else beyond their group of friends. They'd never be caught dead in a club or a record shop.

What all three of these groups have in common is that they all three are pursing things they enjoy. And all three are emulating styles and partaking in activities that guaranteed they'll be accepted by the people around them.

You don't have to get piercings or follow the "hip crowd" to "conform to the world." The "world" at large is so big and varied that it's foolish to assume there's some overriding attitude of what's cool and what's not. The world is divided into hundreds of sub-cultures, each one of which has looks, attitudes, and activities that they value.

Is that wrong? Is belonging to a sub-culture conforming to the world?

I don't think so. I think when God talks about conforming to the world he's talking about valueing yourself and material goods over him and other people. When the stuff we're into (fashion, hobbies, activities) become more important than doing his will that's when I think we're "conforming to the world."

And as to whether or not a piercing could cause a weaker brother to stumble and develop a spirit of rebellion - well, I think you could apply that line of reasoning to just about anything. Could your other blog that features the nature art cause a brother to stumble and start worshiping nature? I think it's incumbent on us to interpret scripture carefully. Not only so that we don't transgress agasint God and each other - but also so that we don't create a new law that oppresses us.

It sounds like maybe you just don't like piercings. And that's okay. You should feel free to have your own likes and dislikes. I don't think, personally, scripture speaks to this particular issues, though.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous dpazos said...

Greetings Kenny and Patrick:
I do not have earrings or green hair or hanging pants. Haha!
I have observed some interesting trends lately as have you. Many are subcultures I suppose, like rockers or hippies or refugees or youth rebels, etc. I personally have been tempted toward participating in certain subcultures but not certain others. I guess different brothers could stumble for different reasons. I like the beach and surfer stuff, sports, and some others perhaps though not so much.
The piercings do not appeal to me at all, but I guess some men could get tempted to get pierced if they see pierced males at church! Seems bizarre to me, but I guess its a different subculture. Some could be inclined to dress in Victorian fashion for church or wearing a tuxedo. Although strange, this would not be offensive to Christians. Always the liberal stuff get Christians upset. Some might want to get green or purple hair, or dress like women or gays. I have leaned toward surfer styles myself for church when I was a teenager. Some older members of the Baptist church did not like youth dressing like surfers to Christian events. Of course, it was viewed as acceptable when I went to High School Camp. Not so much at the church building however. Those who had a mohawk or muscle shirts also got disapproval from older church members. The chicks wearing bikinis at camp had similar disapproval, although I rather liked it.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Hank said...

I am attracted to your reasoning, but am not certain I can accept some of your conclusion. Leviticus 19:28 ('You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.) seems to discourage one from disfiguring his body or other forms of self mutilation. Yet in Ezekiel 16:11 "I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. 12 "And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head." The Israelites, in Exodus 32:2&3 and 35:22 were referred to as having worn earrings, both men and women and without apparent stigma.
One is drawn to Christ as He says, "...all the law and the prophets are summed up in Love God and love your neighbor as yourself ” IT would seem that the key is more the heart’s condition than the action.. I have often seen pictures of cultures that are given to pagan worship where there is a tendency for people to alter their appearance. I am led to believe that at the root of their action is dissatisfaction with themselves or perhaps God’s image they bear. My own reaction to men wearing earrings is somewhat negative due to the tendency in our culture to blur the gender lines. My recollection is that earrings only began to show up in this culture in the late 60's, early 70's in the counter culture as a statement first of rebellion and perhaps later fashion but both coming from a culture that has less problem with sinful behavior than identifying sin as such. Perhaps I Corinthians 4:1-6 has relevance here.
Your question, ‘Is belonging to a sub-culture conforming to the world?’ perhaps should be addressed with the Scripture Romans 14: 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. We must guard our hearts and in spite of a world that is in a very bad spot honor the King. The only King.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

What ever happened to this?:

2 Cor. 6:16-18

16. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

18. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about these Ken,
Matthew 15:18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Mark 7: 20 And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."

12:39 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

So Kenny, do you think the command to "be ye seperate" only applies to things like earrings and tatoos? Or does it apply to anything that large groups of people flock to? How popular does something have to be be considered "of the world?"

The world shops at Wal Mart. More men shop at Wal Mart than have earrings. Is shopping at Wal Mart therefore "of the world" and something to be avoided?

1:01 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Thanks Hank. It's definitely an interesting issue, isn't it?

The idea of avoiding things that may cause a brother to stumble is an important idea - but one that gets used to justify personal bugaboos a little too often for my taste, I think.

One man might use it to say earrings, or styles of dress are wrong - but there are some groups where such things are far from a stumbling blocks. And is it really fair to group anything we personally don't like in with the same category as eating food sacrificed to idols? I mean you can see why a Christian would have an issue with eating food that was originally meant to honor a false God. Does that mean any object or activity that a person might perceive as sinful deserves the same consideration?

If a brother sees sleeping past 6:00 as slothful is it our duty to wake up at 5:30 every day to help support up his faith.

If another brother doesn't think Christians should buy products from a company that has ties to communist or oppressive countries, is it our duty to avoid those companies?

Is that the degree to which we're supposed to support each other? Or does God expect us to use our reason in determining what might legitimately hurt another brother's faith and what is them looking to bolster their own predispositions with scripture?

Worth thinking about, I should think. As always Hank, nice to read your input.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

not the same thing Patrick.

Males who decide to pierce themselves are usually making a social statement of rebellion or homosexuality. In many cases, the more piercings, the more the statement. This is common sense.

What does the common person think when they see a young person riddled with piercings all over their face? This young person knows that it is going to perhaps "shock" others, this is why they do it. They are trying to make some kind of shocking statement about themselves being "bad" or "intense" or goth...whatever.

There is a danger when Christians whose hearts are supposed to be renewed by the Holy Spirit continue to make these statements of rebellion and worldliness.

This doesn't seem too difficult to understand. I think people back-peddle on topics like this perhaps because they may have allowed their son to have an earring or may be overlooking other men with earrings in church leadership positions which they are unwilling to confront because it is difficult to deal with.

Shopping at Wal-Mart, or sleeping, or riding a bike is not the same Patrick.

Does that explanation help?

1:24 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Not really, no. You're attributing motives to wearing ear rings or getting piercings that may or may not exist in the preson doing it. Assuming you can speak for the mindset of most people who have or come into contact with piercings is more than a little ludicrous and make this discussion kind of pointless.

Is the issue that these things are of the world or that they're a symbol of rebellion, because the two things aren't synonymous.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous mnphysicist said...

1 Cor 10:24 is often times the key.

24. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

In some areas, piercings may indeed be showing love for others, where in other areas, it is rebellion, yet in others, its a non issue. It really depends upon the culture. In and of itself, its neutral. Thus, one has to assign motive to make the call, and unless one is in a very homogenius culture and society, thats quite problematic. Instead, in most cases, it ends up being an individuals own opinions.

The same could be said with the Walmart example, although admittedly, thats an issue that hits folks in the pocket book, thus it would indeed be one of those "hard to hear" type of scenarios. Or as you alluded to in a comment, because they are personally involved, its easy to overlook. I know I do when it comes to Walmart, but doing so is very much of the world, and from a big picture view is probably rebellion... although nearly everyone, including myself (I'm a fan) partakes in such commerce.

I think a similar situation exists in the Leviticus text, which if one reads the previous verse is also hard to hear and readily overlooked. Contemporary US culture has twisted scripture such that following Lev 19:27 is seen as rebellion, rather than following the word of God.

All that being said, if I were still involved in youth ministry, I would highly discourage piercings and certainly amongst leadership. A person who is pierced is not offended when they see a non-pierced leader. The reverse is not always true.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FOR THE INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER; the Biblical principle as set forth in the books of Moses require that the follower be extremely careful to not fall into the same morality AS WELL AS THE SAME CUSTOMS of the surrounding nations in Canaan.

Leviticus 18:30
Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.' "

Leviticus 20:23
You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.

Duet. 22:5 is another good example. The women were forbidden to dress in men's clothing and men in women's clothing. To do so was detestable to God! The principle is one of separation from the pagan cultures, not assimilation. The New Testament echoes the same, to be a peculiar people (Titus 2:14) set apart unto God, holy. 2 Corinthians 6:17: "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
Of course this means in one's lifestyle, but one's affections for the world will often be evident in his outer appearance as well. God knew that the allurement for the believer would be through the things in the world (non-christian culture) that seem harmless but will serve as door to worldliness. Simply put, it is "the love of the world" as described in 1 John 2:16: "For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world."

FOR THE MINISTER, elder, pastor, preacher; there should be NOTHING in his life that could be considered a "love of the world" which would hinder his message. He must be beyond reproach (1 Tim. 3:2). There should be nothing about the person that offends except one thing, the message of the cross. His individuals "rights" (if he really wants to be faithful to the calling) must take a back seat to the greater cause, to teach, preach and exhort, without any hinderances.

Why are so many older folks and others so worked up over piercings and earrings in men in ministry? Well, I believe it is because those who embellish their bodies with such have no regard for the biblical principles mentioned above. Their "RIGHT" becomes the most important thing. It becomes their idol. Their rights become the topic of discussion instead of the obligations and responsibilities they have a ministers for Christ. This is why piercing and such things are an offense to the older and the more conservative. No one takes these biblical principles seriously anymore. Let me reiterate: No one takes these biblical principles seriously anymore.

For those who disagree, please, show me the scripture that supports your position. You can't.
-Keith Oliver

10:47 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

So, Keith what about the example of shopping at stores that do business with countries with poor human rights records? If, as a Christian, I object to that sort of thing on the grounds that God is a god of mercy and commands us to take care of widows and orphans should I expect my minister to stop shopping at the same places?

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe. If you feel so led, talk to your minister and perhaps he will agree your position.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. I'm one of those who still believes earrings are designed for EARS on GIRLS ..... so no one gets confused.

Someone said common sense isn't very common ....

Body piercings are hotbeds for bacteria and infection; we're hanging metal pieces in places where they don't belong -- gotta be very careful.

One teen in my family took to the piercings -- eyebrows, ears, nose, mouth, and Lord knows where else (I didn't ask). Wore them until he couldn't get a job; no one took him seriously, looking like that. Needless to say, food and shelter were more pressing than image, and the rings all disappeared. He's now gainfully employed.


12:37 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

"Maybe. If you feel so led, talk to your minister and perhaps he will agree your position."

So it's up to the minister to decide whether or not he agrees with the position? He doesn't have to blindly accept whatever his congregation might be offended by and avoid it so he'll be "above reproach?"

What if he doesn't agree with your position on piercings?

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A minister is free to follow Biblical principles to a greater or lesser extend as he decides. But the consequences of the end result will be between him and the Lord.

Whether or not any of us are in agreement is irrelevant. The question is, are going to submit ourselves to the obedience of scripture and filter everything through the eyes of scripture first? Once that is done, then we can look at culture, Walmart, etc.

Lastly, if the pastor that I have submitted my self and family under does not submit himself under the authority of scriptural commands and principles, then I would consider finding a church that takes submission to God's Word more serioulsy.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Kenny, you'd agree though that if a minister wants to follow biblical principles so that he's "beyond reproach" and so that nothing about him "offends except one thing, the message of the cross" he should avoid shopping at a store like the one we mentioned, right? Since it has the potential to cause other Christians to stumble.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the situation is as serious as you believe it is, then the church leadership needs to be involved and pray for spiritual confirmation in the scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit among the leadership of the church, then it could apply to any situation. Even yours.

Where are you going with this? Are you setting up a straw man here?
-Keith (not Kenny)

5:24 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Whoops, Sorry Keith.

No, I'm not setting up a straw man. You seem to have no problem making a blanket prohibition against piercings and earrings based on the idea that they might appear evil to someone. I'm just wondering if you're as sensitive to any appearance of evil or if earrings are just a personal bee in your bonnet.

When I asked if a minister should avoid shopping at certain stores you suggest involving leadership and praying. But when it comes to earrings you talk about how ministers need to forego their own rights to soothe the sensitivities of others. I guess I'm just wondering what the difference in the two situations is.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Hank said...

I have copied comment from ...." 'This quote by Art Katz carries much truth and weight for our day and age: The world is in this very condition because we, as the Church, have not lived in a priestly fashion before it, to teach the world the difference between the common and the profane. We have not communicated the sense of the fear of God, because we ourselves do not have it. Paul says, "knowing the terror of God, we persuade men" (II Cor 5:11),' " (my words now) I wonder if this comment is not relevant to this conversation? I think all to often the nonbeliever when he hears a believer talk about fear of God misunderstands the believers love and reverence for God. One can not say they have a love or even a dim perception of God and not quake at His power and Person. I struggle with the context of judging men by appearances. But appearance, as body language does, speaks loudly and sometimes volumes. I am inclined to want to reserve judgment to more than only appearance. Although my first reaction may be negative should it rule?

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Joe Martino said...

What sin is your brother causing you to commit by wearing an earring?

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be more concerned that I would cause a weaker brother to stumble. As a young Christian it took far less to excite my mind into an unhealthy place than it does now that I am beginning to slide into the other side of the middle age bracket. I still have huge weaknesses but they are of a different stripe now. I think Galatians 6:1-10 speaks to this issue. It is the job-responsibility of a leader, (and those who are speaking and responding to this blog seem to be doing so because of an inclination to lead, ((I do not say this as a negative)) to disciple other believers to follow Christ. I know the message of Jesus is as radical to our day as it was to His. It was because He spoke of the heart and not the externals or even what was culturally acceptable, but there are understandings of some of Christ's parables that are not understood well outside the culture to which He spoke. If I have one serious objection to the odd decorations of some subcultures, it is that they draw attention to the external only. I am not convinced this is terribly different than the provocative and revealing dress of a beautiful woman that draws the already visually driven male to a point of enticement. Perhaps I should give equal time to some of the male leaders who entice with their words lonely women driven to distraction by their need for relationships and do so to better their condition and not the well being of the other. I would recommend reading Matthew 18:1-8. The question is not that I would be responsible for that ones sin so much that I would be held accountable for my own and my sin is in not loving others as my self and even more important I am not loving the One who made them and loves them the most. As a teacher-leader my judgment will be greater. James 3:1 So the question is not what sin my brother or sister might commit but rather what part have I played in their life at that point.
Or is this rather a question of rights. I have been purchased and my rights are now His rights. I pray I will not hurt the ones for whom He has died.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me personally, none. But to the younger person and older as follows:

1. He becomes a bad example by openly identifying with a worldly sub-culture of rebellion.

2. He becomes a bad example of masculinity to christian young men.

3. He gives young men an opportunity to rebel against their parents using earrings and such.

4. Lastly, he becomes an offense to the older as a hinderance in his message and ministry.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I guess we're disagreeing about what that verse means. To this point, I've not heard anything from you to cause me to think that the Bible forbids men wearing earings. I would disagree with some of your baseline statements regarding the only reasons a male would wear earrings.
This seems to me to be more of something that you don't like. A generational or preferential thing if you will.
You keep saying "show me a Scripture verse where it says we can wear earrings." I can't. No more than I can show you a verse that says we can wear pants.What unhealthy place would me wearing an earring (no, I don't) cause a weaker brother to stumble?
I think even a cursory look at that passage (esp. in the original languages) would show that Paul is talking about our actions causing someone to sin.
I'm not saying you have to wear one. As I said, I don't. But I think we have to be careful not to confuse our preference with Biblical demands.
Just because I don't like somethign doesn't mean it is causing me to stumble.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've strayed off of the original point which was not about men in general, but had to do with the church leader, pastor or elder having an earring or other. And that a higher standard should be persued.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

"Come on men, quit cowering and make a stand!" seemed fairly general to me. In fact this whole post seemed to wander between leadership and men in general. Thanks for the clarification.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

These two things are the same


3:23 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

OK, Now I am confused. Kennyo are you KCO? If not, do you agree with hsi assesmetnt of me straying from the original post?

3:39 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...


Sorry for the confusion.

KCO is my twin brother, Keith.

I am Kenny, the one responsible for this blog. Keith contributes sometimes with posts and he also gets involved in the comments section.

I am sure he would be willing to clarify whatever he may not have made clear.

3:56 PM  

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