Many Christians often love to debate the superficial, the shallow, the trappings of our world, the “ungodliness” of tattoos, purple hair, and skirt lengths. Myself included, because when you’re dealing with heavy issues all the time, it’s like, Hallelujah! Let’s all just stop and talk about something really important……like my hair.
Those who doubt the significance and importance of hair need to watch this old clip from Spaceballs. Never shoot a woman’s hair. Never.
Romans 14 speaks really well to these matters, the whole chapter really, but verse 14 always jumps out at me, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Nothing is “bad” in and of itself, but it also speaks to the need to examine our own motives, intent, the condition of the heart beneath these things.
I am a Nothing but the Blood of Jesus kind of Christian, a There’s Something in the Water Kind of Christian, so absolutely one can be a purple haired, heavily tattooed Christian full of nose piercings. One can love Calvin or despise him and still be Saved. One can even be gasp! liberal, and be Saved. Republican, Democrat, ancient alien subscriber, these things are all just vanities, worldly trappings, they really don’t mean anything in and of themselves. We all meet at the foot of the cross. We are justified because of who He is, not because of who we are.
Can one be an Alt Right, white supremacist, “Christian,” larping about at a protest and punching people in the face? I don’t know, that one causes me some doubt. You’ll have to ask God about that. Myself, I remain uncertain about whether those people have actually met Jesus Christ or not. What can I say, I cannot be expected to know everything.
The point is, Salvation is based exclusively on the blood of Christ, nothing more and nothing less. All other beliefs, styles, cultural quirks, flawed thinking, assorted sins, fall away beneath that one Truth, as far as I am concerned. Also, Truth is a person.
That said, back to the important things, my hair for example. While it is important not to judge and condemn others, it is also important to examine our own motivations, to practice some self-awareness with God, to question our own self deceptions. In the modern world we’re very much into tolerance, acceptance, moral relativism, and sometimes that pendulum swings so far away, we no longer know to question our own selves, to ask God about what is going on within us, to take stock of our own deceptions.
So purple hair, nose rings, and facial tattoos all make a statement, they are forms of I-dentity. It is the “I” in identity that can sometimes be a problem. When our identity is in Jesus Christ, seeking other forms of I-dentity can be a call for some self-reflection, not because we are bad, but because we can learn some things about ourselves and in God’s hands, some of those things can become real strengths, pieces of the puzzle we need to know, sanctification even.
I myself used to be a Goth as a teen ager, not to be confused with the kind of Goth that played an important role in the fall of the Western Roman Empire. I would have been quite willing to participate in such things, but that was before my time. I was actually one of those all black night creatures who hisses at people and wears black lipstick. I was one of those people before such things became fashionable and well-known.
The Holy Spirit actually kept convicting me, pointing out, Hey, do you notice you seem to have the persona of a dark night creature who drinks the blood of the innocent?
I did notice, so I began to tone it down, or at least, in my 20’s I put some purple streaks in my hair. Apparently this acquiescence wasn’t quite good enough however, because I soon met some actual dark creatures of the night, that were far more literal in their gothy translations and often fantasized about being real vampires and drinking real blood. That was simply too weird for me, but God said, that is actually you, that is your persona, your I-dentity, the end result of what you are saying about yourself, what you subscribe too, what you advertise, who you are.
It was very disturbing, quite convicting, eye-opening really. I was actually hiding under purple hair and great swaths of black clothing, when anyone with half a brain would have realized that if one truly wanted to become invisible, camouflage, looking like everyone else, might have been a more effective path. Blending in. There’s nothing quite like standing out like a sore thumb and then demanding no one look at you.
There was also the issue of being rather life affirming, enjoying daylight, finding dead things kind of gross, and the thought of drinking blood horrifying. Goths began to get very vampiristic, which perhaps we always were, but not in a literal sense, not in a dark way that seemed so in defiance of Jesus Christ Himself. I was trying to step daintily over some of the more ritualistic, downright satanic aspects of being a perpetual dark thing, and trying to walk that fenceline just wasn’t working out.
I was like a Christian on the inside but not on the outside, which is good, the inside is what’s important, but when one is working so hard to disguise the outside so it does not reveal what lurks on the inside, it is good to let God ask you about that.
Eventually I began to drop my I-dentities one by one, the purple streaks finally leaving one day when the Holy Spirit pointed out that I was not glorifying in the hair God gave me but rather defiantly insisting it should be a color not seen anywhere else in nature, not designed for human heads, but something I was insisting was a vast improvement over anything God may have intended. And therein was the rub…..
So, whatever issues people have, and they could be quite different from mine, I just want to put an honorable mention out there for the importance of inviting God into our hearts and allowing Him to judge you, right here and right now, and to whittle away the parts He finds unfavorable, not pleasing. Often those will be the same parts you find unfavorable and aren’t even aware of it yet.
Sometimes in the modern world it seems like we have forgotten all this and self acceptance often becomes something more akin to, you must tolerate what is wrong within me and I must tolerate it, too. In a tragic twist I know of young people who now actually feel guilty because they are trying to force themselves to tolerate the things within them that make no sense, that they don’t even like, and their inability to do so makes them feel guilty. Like, sometimes I think all our focus on “tolerance” is actually serving to create people more insecure and shame filled then even necessary.
I really like John 13:8, where Jesus tells Peter, “….If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Allow Him a part with you, He does good work.