Controversial??

My people, prepare for a little Wesleyan controversy. . . .

I love my tattoos. I love my piercings. I love my band. I love to rock. I love life on the road. I love drums and electric guitars in my church. I love killer rock. I love RED and Pillar and POD and Seventh Time Down and Nevertheless and Mute Math and Monday Morning and Jonah 33. I love hard rock that is all dark. I love Project 86 and Staple and Kids In The Way and Underoath and Maylene and War Of Ages and Norma Jean and Demon Hunter. I love worship and contemporary music. I love Plumb and Hillsong United and Steven Curtis Chapman and Nichole Nordeman and Lincoln Brewster and Jars of Clay. I love about a thousand bands I didn’t mention. I even love a ton of “secular” music (and no, I’m not going to hell for it). I love the kids that skateboard in church parking lots. I love watching those kids do crazy jumps, dares, and stunts that would probably leave me in traction. I love potheads. I love stoners. I love teenage alcoholics. I love the kids “too cool” for God. I love all those kids. I love parents and grandparents who might not like the music but come and have fun anyway. I love more “seasoned” fans who have been rocking for 50 years and won’t quit anytime soon. I love crowd surfers. I love mosh-pit cavemen. I love fohawks and dreads and crazy colored hair. I love chains and studs and straps and vintage clothes. I love goth, emo, and punk kids. I love all black as a style of dress. I love watching from behind my drum kit as kids go nuts and bang their nappy punk heads to the rock we’re throwin at them. I love the sweaty hugs I get when we come off our set. I love signing random stuff. I love letting kids play my kit after a show. I love living out of a stinky van for weeks at a time going places I’ve never been. I love having my face rocked off at someone else’s show. I love heartfelt worship. I love a coffeehouse chill acoustic set. I love the kids fighting a skeezy past and struggling. I love being used by God for those kids. I love that they feel at ease talking with me. I love that my own skeezy past can help them. I love that they dig my piercings. I love that they admire my ink. I love that it all opens doors that Joe and Jane Piousholychurchyface would never even dream of opening.

I hate when I’m brought down or called a false or bad Christian for any or all of the above. I hate when people use these things to question my faith. I hate that it happens a lot. I love the people that do it.

Oh. . . And I hate the words “Thee” and “Thou” and adding “est” or “ist” to any verb. . . . unless used by Shakespeare. Or used tastefully in poetry, in a song or in a period book or movie. I’m not a big fan of the King James Version. I love my NIV. Just wanted to toss that out there.

I’m not mad. I’m frustrated. And tired of it. And I want more tats and piercings. I am far beyond the point of convincing that I should let the holes in my face heal up and wear a suit to church. It ain’t happenin’, folks. I don’t even own a suit. I do own a few ties, but I’m not sure where any of them are. I’m going to take a few paragraphs to throw out some of my thoughts on some of this stuff. Feel free to disagree with me. And feel free to tell me so. But please at least hear me out and give a concerted effort to see my side before telling me that I’m going to hell for the cross, bible verse, Christian band logo, and sacred heart I have tattooed on my arms, and the 5 rings on my face.

I love my tats and piercings and feel that they are a powerful and effective witnessing tool. I have had countless conversations with kids at shows and festivals that started with something like “hey, sweet ink, what does it mean?” or “did that piercing hurt?” I have had the honor and privilege to pray with many of these kids, and offer some of the lessons I’ve learned through my past screwed-up-ness. I’ve had hardened kids cry on my shoulder, and pour out loads of regret and let go of crap. I’ve been blessed to pray with quite a few to receive Christ as their savior. These doors all opened because these kids like my tattoos and piercings. That alone is much more than enough for me to say “who cares what the naysayers say, my tin and ink is all fine. If you don’t like it, too bad for you, keep your sentiments to yourself.” But I want to see both sides and explore both arguments so I’m not just blowing off potentially strong reasoning. I want to dive into a little scripture that is most commonly thrown around regarding the issue.

Leviticus 19:28 – “Do not cut yourselves for the dead or put tattoo marks on your bodies” If I had a buck for every time someone has quoted this verse to me in an effort to disprove my faith and prove me immoral for having tattoos and piercings, I’d be driving a Hummer right now. I have done some research on this verse, and asked several respected, trusted and educated Christian leaders (read: have a lot of letters including PHD after their name) what they think. And all of them have advised that context is critical no matter what verse is being quoted, and it must be quoted in a way that reflects the proper and intended direction of the verse. This verse is in the middle of a chapter outlining the “do-nots” of the old testament, and as such, there is no direct subjective context, but there is an obvious implied context provided by the words “for the dead”. Those words are the qualifier for the entire sentence. According to those I spoke with, and all 5 of them independently agreed, the most proper and accurate interpretation of this verse as a whole is that these things are not to be done as a mourning ritual or symbol of personal loss. I wanted to be as sure as I could that this was accurate, so I sat down with a friend who has her masters in English, and is a high school AP English teacher. She advised that this is the best and most accurate interpretation based on the style of writing used throughout Leviticus and the formatting of the sentence. Good enough for me.

Then there is the other side. Galatians 6:17 – “Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” This one used to be very attractive to me as a rebuttal, and I have heard many pro-tattoo Christians use it to justify our ink. But I’ve also done some research on this verse, and in Second Corinthians, verse 24, Paul tells of how he has been beaten to near death many times, and was given 39 lashes (as Jesus was) on five separate occasions. I feel that these marks are the marks Paul is referencing in Galatians, and I cannot compare myself to that. I refuse to group myself with a man who knows what real persecution is and steal his true pain and sacrifice just because I appreciate body art. Not gonna happen. If I am ever picked to be tortured or beaten for my faith, then perhaps I will quote that verse.

The verses I feel are most relevant are these:

  • Titus 3:9 – “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because they are unprofitable and useless.”
  • Romans 14:13 – “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”
  • Romans 8:1-2 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death”
  • I Corinthians 10:23-24 – ” ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others.”
  • I Corinthians 10:31-11:1 – “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – 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. Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
  • I Samuel 16:7 – “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I think God couldn’t really care less if a Christian gets a tattoo. I think He is far more concerned with the fact that some Christians waste so much time bringing people down over their tattoos. And I believe He is more concerned with those Christians who have tattoos and piercings using this controversy to bring down the Christians who are not able to or are afraid to accept them. I think the real Christian thing would be to be willing to stand side by side, tattoos or not, progressive or traditional, and love each other fully and without reservation as brothers and sisters in Christ and not let this ridiculous petty crap impede the work and worship of God. It’s time to stop playing the victim because other Christians bring us down over tats and piercings, and stand strong to our shared convictions and beliefs and in love one to another. It’s time to drop the holy facades and pious attitudes and judgements and work hard to be family in the fullest sense. We need to be a fully impenetrable and unwavering network of support for each other, with absolutely no regard whatsoever for anything except that we are one in faith and worship the same God.

If you want my honest, no crap opinion, I think it’s time for the church to stop whining, grow up, get over it, and stop demanding that people look, act, talk, and dress like they just stepped out of Leave It To Beaver. This is real life and the church needs to step it up and enter real life. The church claims it has open arms and an open heart and will recieve everyone with love and respect with no bias whatsoever, but on the whole I don’t believe it. I go to a pretty good church where people don’t care how you dress or if you have piercings or tattoos or ridiculous hair, but I would never go to many of the churches that we’ve done shows for. It would probably drive me to insanity. If I get another nasty look when walking into a church because I’m dressed comfortably with ink showing and a fohawk, I may just punch a kitten. . . Then I’m quitting church as we know it and I’m starting my own. . . .

I’m just throwing that out there. . . take it or leave it. . .

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One Response to “Controversial??”

  1. Hey, see if there are any ECC (Evanglical Covenant Churches) in Worchester. That’s what Artisan is and we are col with all that you =write about.
    Miss you tons and wish you could visit before we end for the year.

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