Piercings are a transgression?

source: Wikipedia

When I look around most mainline churches, I find everyone looks pretty much the same. Most people come from similar economic and cultural backgrounds and have many of the same peers. It reminds of Clone Wars from the Star Wars series. Maybe the church should be suing Lucas…it’s had this idea for a much longer time. I just thought mainline denominations such as my own would be better at it because we’re more “liberal” and “open.”

Recently, I was at a minister’s meeting and a missions strategist in our denomination began to talk about something near and dear to my geeky heart. A powerful moment occurred when he asked the church members present, “Are you willing to allow people with piercings and tattoos into your congregation?” That question, powerful though it be, brought out my cynical side as I turned to a colleague and whispered, “When are we going to be willing to let ministers like that in our pulpits?”

You see, my denomination doesn’t have too many freaks and geeks in our pulpits. (At least ones who will admit it.)  It’s not a common thing among us though I see it among many people in the “emergent church movement” as well as in many nondenominational churches but there are very few in the United Methodist Church. But we’re the liberal ones, right?

After mulling on this leader’s statements, I began to talk with other colleagues. Many of them shared stories of how they’d been told not to wear an earring or nose ring. Some mentioned how they’d been taken aside and informed it would “be best” if their tattoos remained covered.

Then it hit me…I’m not the only one! Yes, I’ve got some ink (rather recent I might add) and have had my ears pierced for over 25 years. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s a part of who I am. Everything has a meaning and memory behind it. The sum of these parts of my past and present inform who I will be in the future.

And this is why I find my journey difficult…I look around my denomination and other mainline churches and wonder, “Where are my people? Where are the freaks and geeks?” I realize I’m missing the outsider, the one who is different, the one who is estranged and then it dawns on me…my people aren’t here. I’m a missionary to a culture in which I didn’t grow up and I want to find a way to bring these two strange, different worlds together.

How do I begin doing it? I’m not sure. I think I’ll start by asking some of my strange, odd friends who don’t go to church because everyone looks the same.

This entry was posted in Christianity, church, geek, Inclusive, Mainline, Piercings, religion, Tattoos, United Methodist. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Piercings are a transgression?

  1. Pam Bitner says:

    I would think the church would be more worried about the spirit over the flesh. Just because a person has tattooes and piercings doesn’t mean their sinful people nor does being ‘clean’ make for the pure soul. Good post, my friend. 🙂

  2. Brad Huebert says:

    I’ve got no piercings or ink to speak of, but I’m with you, brother. Glad you’re free to be you, even (or especially) in the pulpit. I am too!

  3. I don’t think piercings or ink are a sin.

    I do think that not taking care of your body is. Why is the latter an acceptable one and the former not accepted? That’s a question to ponder, but I think that it’s related to culture.

    Mainline churches tend to have a more 20th century, middle-class valuing culture.

    I actually went to a United Methodist Seminary (although not officially supported by the UM). I think Wesley wouldn’t like some of the battles in the churches that have the name of the movement that he started. Where is the radical, “The World is my parish!” mindset?

    Too many people are living wretched lives, headed for a Christless eternity to argue over tattoos.

    I hope all flavors of Methodism can reclaim the radical love of the Gospel that is their inheritence instead of trying to keep people in the church happy.

    I’m speaking of Methodism only b/c I’m familiar with it. Other denominations need to learn from their founders, who often risked life and limb for what they felt sacred.


  4. Charles McDowell says:

    I’ve actually had the experience of someone quoting scripture from a tattoo in my Sunday School class. I think the Church needs in general needs to refocus on who we are trying to reach. Many Churches that I have visited are content on reaching their congregation, but that is not what we are to do. If the Church redevelops its burden for the lost, tattoos will take there place as a norm along with other previously controversial topics like women wearing pants.

  5. charles carr says:

    Glad to read your post.I admire your convictions & support your action.

  6. Allen Beard says:

    Piercings – another example of our irrational bias. “We” don’t care if a woman has her ears pierced. Two earrings in each is even OK. Go beyond that and a lot of people frown. And let men have one or both of theirs pierced and a lot more people frown. Although there’s definitely been some movement on that in my life.

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