Monday, May 08, 2006

5/8/06, The New Paganism

From: Bob S
To: Pastor Greg Price; Elder Lyndon Dohms; Elder Greg Barrow
Sent: Monday, May 08, 2006 9:47 PM
Subject: Re: The New Paganism

The Rise of the New Paganism

A Critical Reply to "Tattoos and the Word of God"
As regards the paper entitled Tattoos and the Word of God [April 30, ‘06 - no longer available on Albany CRPChurch site ], the problem is fundamental. There is no mention at all, never mind at the beginning of the article, of the locus classicus of the argument against tattoos, much more body piercing/modification. That is as 1 Corinthians 6:19,20 states:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

That is to say, a tattoo is by its very nature, an attempt, whether conscious or no, to defile and deface the temple of the Holy Ghost. It is as if one were to scribble in a book or a take a paint can to the side of a building. It is not art or artwork, but is an artificial marring of the looks the Lord has given someone.

Neither is it a question of expediency, as would be cosmetic surgery, to repair a deformity, birthmark or burn. Nor is it a question of necessity in that we must call the days of the weeks and months something, much more all people cut their hair and/or beards after some fashion. Those that refrained from cutting their hair and that only temporarily are singled out in OT Scripture and known as Nazarites. But cutting oneself or making or printing marks upon oneself is not necessary nor the same as the common actions of cutting one’s hair, beard or fingernails would be (or women arguably grooming for vanity’s sake their eyebrows, underarms or legs.) Gillespie, if not Calvin, implicitly recognizes the distinction between cutting/marking oneself and cutting one's hair/beard in his comments quoted from Dispute against English Popish Ceremonies, (p. 185). Again, one is not a common necessary human action, one is, even before superstitious idolatrous practices or beliefs are factored in. That is the critical and damning distinction that is entirely missing from the argument justifying tattoos scripturally so far.

As to the comparison between tattoos and pierced ears, the comparison is really between a pierced ear and one needle prick and corresponding dot of tattoo ink. Hardly worth the bother and not to the point of what a tattoo is all about in the first place, which is to be seen. Also there is no doubt men can also become vain about lawful items or actions, but that is no argument against that which is vanity or unlawful to begin with.

Still, in short, the rise of tattoos and body piercing/modification these days is nothing more than the rise of paganism (albeit postmodern) as it is a hatred of the body and how it normally looks as created by God. (So too something like abortion or the abominable operations to change one’s gender.) After all the Scripture says: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). Yet regardless if he can’t get the Second Commandment straight, S. Schlissel still essentially nails the point in his at times rather graphic Tattoo You? (8/8/02). Self loathing as a sadomasochistic sacrament/atonement, whether tattooed or pierced. Schlissel says:
The sum of it, for him, is to be found in Eph. 5:29: For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. What remains to be said when a professing Christian equates piercing, cutting, burning and slashing the body with nourishing and cherishing it? Pity his wife!! (Eph. 5:28). And if we are to love neighbor as self, my advice to his neighbors: Move!
Shall we say the same to those who find themselves in a P&R church that tolerates, condones and excuses tattoos? Yes, it is a pity when Steve and his Idaho spud bud, Doug Wilson can't get justification by faith alone right, having bought into the New (CrossEyed) Perspective on Paul, but they are not mistaken on this point to our shame.

As far as comparing permanent with temporary adornment, tattoos with jewelry and earrings, P. McCarter’s essay On Jewelry and Attire (4/6/04), is more than appropriate. He surveys church history, focusing particularly on the Reformation with comments on the topic from the Geneva Bible notes, Calvin and Matthew Henry. What we consider moderate or lawful was not so at other times and if not the temporary, how much more the permanent is forbidden, if not at the very least, if we are to be moderate regarding the temporary, the permanent necessarily can't even enter the picture.

In conclusion, if the Scripture is written for our edification and encouragement, 1 Chronicles 12:32 is to the point. We ought to be like men of Issachar, which had understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do. But to say that the word of God agrees with or allows the unbelieving disobedient pagan practice of tattooing is to fail our calling. It is to say that we fail to understand that word, which is to be written on our hearts - not with ink - but with the Spirit of the living God.

And that is not a good thing. Rather it is a cause for godly sorrow that tattoos have been given a good name according to the scripture, but one would hope that those who have been taught this by both printed and preached, yet specious, exposition are not the only ones with teachable hearts.

See also:
5/12/06, A Brotherly Inquiry about The New Paganism
5/26/06, Fwd: A Brotherly Inquiry re. The New Paganism
10/30/06, Carnal Graffiti and the Word of God: Disproved and Disapproved
2/24/06, Of the "Public Sin" of An Unqualified Condemnation of Paganism (Among Other Allegations)