Piercings have become increasingly common in our culture, with people of all ages and backgrounds choosing to adorn their bodies with jewelry. From simple ear piercings to more elaborate body modifications, piercings have become a popular way for people to express themselves and enhance their appearance. However, as Christians, it is important for us to consider what the Bible says about this practice.
The Bible does mention piercings in several different contexts, including slave piercings, priestly piercings, and decorative piercings. However, the Bible does not provide a definitive answer on whether Christians should or should not get piercings. As a result, Christians may have different opinions and practices when it comes to piercings.
In this blog post, we will explore the biblical teachings on piercings, examine the historical and cultural context of these teachings, and provide practical guidance for Christians who are considering getting piercings or who already have them. We will consider the different perspectives that Christian theologians and scholars have offered on this issue, and we will offer some practical considerations for Christians who are seeking to make an informed decision about piercings. Ultimately, our goal is to help Christians navigate this complex and multifaceted issue in a way that honors God and reflects our commitment to him.
Historical and Cultural Context of Piercings
To fully understand what the Bible says about piercings, it is important to examine the historical and cultural context in which these references were made. In ancient cultures, piercings were often used as a form of decoration, as well as a way to communicate social status, religious affiliation, or membership in a particular group. Piercings were also used as a symbol of submission or dedication to a particular authority figure or deity.
In the Old Testament, piercings were mentioned in several different contexts. For example:
- Slave piercings: In Exodus 21:6, we read that if a Hebrew slave chooses to stay with his master even after his term of service is complete, “then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.” This type of piercing served as a symbol of the slave’s lifelong commitment to his master.
- Priestly piercings: In Exodus 28:1-5, we read that the Lord commanded the making of special garments for Aaron and his sons, who were to serve as priests. Among these garments was a breastplate that was to be fastened to the ephod by two onyx stones, each of which was to be engraved with the names of six of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Lord commanded that these stones be attached to the shoulder pieces of the ephod “as memorial stones for the sons of Israel.” The Hebrew word for “attached” in this passage can also mean “pierced,” leading some scholars to speculate that the stones were actually pierced through the shoulder pieces of the ephod.
- Decorative piercings: In Genesis 24:22, we read that when Abraham’s servant met Rebekah, who would become Isaac’s wife, he gave her a gold nose ring as a gift. In Song of Solomon 1:10, the bride describes herself as wearing gold earrings. These passages suggest that piercings may have been used as a form of decoration in ancient Israel.
In the New Testament, piercings are not specifically mentioned, but there are general principles that can be applied to this topic. For example:
- The body as a temple: In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul writes, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which is God’s.” This passage emphasizes the sanctity of the human body as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and suggests that we should treat our bodies with respect and honor.
- Avoiding stumbling blocks: In Romans 14:13-14, Paul writes, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” This passage encourages us to consider the impact our actions may have on others and to avoid doing anything that could cause a fellow Christian to stumble.
Perspectives from Christian Theologians and Scholars
Christian theologians and scholars have offered a variety of perspectives on piercings. Some argue that piercings were a common practice in ancient cultures and that the Bible’s references to piercings should be understood in this context. They suggest that since the cultural significance of piercings has changed over time, Christians today are free to make their own decisions about whether or not to get piercings.
Others emphasize the importance of modesty and purity in the Christian life and argue that piercings can be a distraction from these values. They suggest that Christians should strive to present themselves in a way that reflects their commitment to Christ and that piercings may not be consistent with this goal.
Still, others argue that the decision to get a piercing is a matter of personal freedom and that Christians should not judge one another on this issue. They suggest that as long as a piercing does not violate biblical principles, Christians are free to make their own decisions about whether or not to get one.
Application for Christians Today
Based on our exploration of the biblical teachings on piercings and the perspectives of Christian theologians and scholars, here are some practical considerations for Christians who are considering getting piercings or who already have them:
- Consider your motivations: Before getting a piercing, take time to reflect on your motivations for doing so. Are you seeking to fit in with a particular group or subculture, or are you making a personal statement? Are you trying to enhance your appearance, or are you trying to express your identity? Consider whether these motivations are consistent with your Christian values and goals.
- Consider your witness: Think about how your piercing may be perceived by others, especially non-Christians. Will it be a stumbling block to their faith, or will it be an opportunity to share the gospel? Consider whether your piercing is consistent with your desire to honor Christ and to be a witness for him.
- Consider your heart: Ultimately, the decision to get a piercing is a matter of the heart. Ask yourself whether your desire for a piercing is rooted in a love for God and a desire to serve him or whether it is driven by a desire for personal gratification. Take time to pray and seek God’s guidance as you make this decision.
- Consider the cultural context: As we have seen, the cultural significance of piercings has changed over time and varies across different contexts. If you are considering getting a piercing, it may be helpful to research the cultural and social implications of the piercing you are considering and to consider whether it aligns with your own cultural and social values.
- Consider the risks: Piercings can pose certain health risks, including infections, allergic reactions, and scarring. Before getting a piercing, make sure to research the risks associated with the piercing you are considering and take appropriate precautions to minimize these risks.
In conclusion, while the Bible does not provide a definitive answer on whether Christians should or should not get piercings, we have explored the various perspectives and considerations that can guide us in making an informed decision on this issue. We have seen that the historical and cultural context of piercings should be taken into account when interpreting the biblical teachings on this subject and that different Christian scholars and theologians have offered different perspectives on piercings.
In light of these insights, we have offered some practical considerations for Christians who are considering getting piercings or who already have them. We have encouraged Christians to reflect on their motivations, consider their witness, and seek God’s guidance in making this decision. We have also emphasized the importance of cultural context and risk awareness when considering getting a piercing.
Ultimately, our goal as Christians is to honor God in all that we do, including the decisions we make about our bodies. By reflecting on the biblical teachings on piercings and considering the practical considerations we have offered, we can make informed decisions that reflect our commitment to Christ and our desire to glorify him in all things.