Sunday, 2 November 2008

My Talk

So this should hopefully go as a scheduled post and post itself at 7pm ish which is about the time I should be taking the stage - so to say! 

I thought that as you (and the blogosphere) won't nessercarily be in the church tomorrow evening I would post it here and then post a link to the podcast (if it gets posted online! - if not hopefully I will come up with a back up plan!)

What is Body Art?

According to Wikipedia, Body Art is art made on, with or consisting of the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings but other types include scarification, branding, stretching shaping, full body tattoo and body painting.

Body piercings are usually a hole punctured through the flesh for example through the earlobe or the Outer Helix (the top bit made of cartilage). As well as this you can also get various other parts of the human body pierced including tongue, nose, cheek, lip and others. It’s come down to the fact that if you can stretch a bit of skin far enough you can probably pierce it.

What are Tattoos?

A tattoo is a permanent marking made by inserting ink into the layers of skin. Tattooing has been practiced worldwide. When it comes to tattoos the first group of people that spring to might are Maori tribes from New Zealand. In Maori culture a tattoo is called Tā Moko and they were a sign of being of a higher rank. The tattoos are created by chiseling the pattern into the skin and then the ink was placed in the wound to create the pattern.

Tattoos and piercings then made it into popular culture and became more common from about the 1970’s when they were first associated with punks.

So heres where I do my CSI bit and get all technical medically piercing and tattoos are a really bad idea. Tattoo pigments alone contain various amounts of chemicals including aluminum, cadmium, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, silica, sulphur, titanium dioxide and barium sulphate.

This is kinda scary and enough to put anyone off as phosphorus is used in ferilizer and explosives, barium is used in X-rays to make sure your intestines are moving along correctly - it’s actually radioactive and sulphur is also used in insecticides and fungicides thats mould killer to you and me.

What are Piercings?

Piercings on the other hand involves the puncturing or cutting a part of the human body creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn. This can also be the start of stretching. Stretching is where a taper is inserted into the piercing hole and kept there while the hole is stretched. The “art” of stretching has it’s roots in tribal traditions in Amazonian tribes in South American and tribes in Africa. Whereas normal piercings are able to close up and heal over, stretching is more permanent and may never heal.

What Reasons do People Have Body Art?

I guess I could reel off 100 different reasons as to why people have body art but then again I’d be here till Christmas you’d all be well and truly bored.

So using the wonders of Facebook I messaged some of my friends from Uni. I made sure I asked people who had one or both when it came to piercings or tattoos. Quite alot of my friends had their ears pierced but I also found that quite a few had tattoos or other piercings.

Quite alot of the girls had their ears pierced in their teens. I had my done around the age of 12, out of my friends the average age was 10. One friend was as young as 6, her mum was 3 when she had her ears pierced.

I remember the disagreement with my parents I had about having my ears pierced. It was decided that I would be allowed to have my ears pierced at 16 - which to me seemed a long way off but I could wait three years. Anyway at the next family gathering both me and my mum noticed that my cousin who’s two years younger than me had had her ears pierced and I didn’t get why she was allowed them but I wasn’t.

I also looked at various medical journals and found that 1 in 10 adults have some form of body piercing that isn’t in the earlobe and that a quarter of them end up with complications with 1 in 100 cases ending up with hospital admission

What the Bible says......

When I was reading about the biblical view of piercings and tattoos, a lot of writers referred to it as a “disputable matters” or a “Romans 14 Issue” so I looked into it to find out what one of these was. An example to quickly explain where I’m coming from when I refer to a “Romans 14 Issue” is the subject of whether Christians should drink alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 says “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life, instead let the Holy Spirit fill and control you”. So Paul is saying to the people of Ephesus in Turkey that getting drunk is really bad for you and so rather than drink alcohol you should be filled with the Holy Spirit and let it guide you which makes sense however Paul then says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 “Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach, and your frequent illnesses.” So in a way Paul is saying it’s ok because the water is making you ill, but then he’s also saying be sensible in the amount you drink. The other thing you have to take into consideration is that Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine at the Wedding in Cana. So it’s not all that bad it would seem.

So now we move on to Body Art, when I asked one of my Christian friends what she though about piercings and tattoos she pointed me straight to Leviticus 19:28 and through all the information I looked at this verse always appeared.

Before I read it to you let me give you the run up to this verse.

At this point in time, Moses has led the slaves out of Egypt and they’ve made it to Mount Sinai where Moses has been given the ten commandments - this all happens in Exodus. By the beginning of Leviticus, God feels that his people need more rules and guidance so the book of Leviticus is developed and it becomes like a handbook.

Leviticus 19:28 says “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord”

If we took this at face value, you could assume that God says no to all tattoos and piercings. So maybe rather than standing up here, I should be walking around collecting earrings. (At this point I'm going to step away from the lecturn and walk over to one of the girls with funky earrings and ask her for them)

Well actually no - you’re safe.

The best thing to do is to look at the context. God knew that the people who lived in Canaan (or the Promised Land where Moses was guiding the people) used tattoos and body piercings as part of their religions and the way that they worshipped their Gods.

God wanted his people to be different, he wanted them to be set apart for him. If they had joined in and tattoo-ed or pierced themselves they ran the risk of becoming part of the crowd - which God didn’t want them to do.

This is still a truth today. After all there are many things that can pull us away from being set apart from God.

We should ask ourselves: Are my actions going to be respecting Jesus and advancing the gospel or is it going to hinder others from coming to Christ?

My brother has this thing for violent and gorey films. He watches movies like Hostel and Saw and barely reacts to them - or finds it more funny that shocking whereas I prefer happy endings where everyone is happy and good triumphs over evil or the hero saves the day. When it comes to movies I watch I try to think if Jesus was in the cinema with me would he be ok with what I’m watching.

So when it comes to tattoos and piercings you have to think to yourself - If I get a tattoo is it glorifying God? Am I attracting attention to myself? Am I being Jesus to the people around me?

Alot of Christians say that tattoos are bad because of this verse in Leviticus but as I said earlier you need to look at in context, also I would suggest that you pray about it and really think about it as tattoos are permanent and that pattern that looks cool now might not look so good when you’re 70 and wrinkly. It costs nearly 3 times more to remove a tattoo than have one in the first place. I would also suggest that you talk to people, remember a tattoo somewhere visible like a hand or face, or lots of piercings could be the difference between getting that job and not getting it.

I have one last bit to finish off with. I read various blogs from across the world and one specifically is by a photographer called Sara. Recently I read about a post that she written about her tattoos. She has 8 tattoos all that have personal meaning like the names of her children and grandchildren but the one that I want to point out is this one on her forearm. This is what it looks like, to you and me it looks like 3 symbols, a cross, an anchor and a heart and this could mean anything but this is the story behind it in her words from her blog.

(I emailed Sara and asked her if she could put some words on an email that I could use as her explaining about her tattoos - so that I didn't get the wrong end of the idea)
I saw a magnet with Faith Hope and Love symbols, and the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13 on it:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I bought the magnet and took it to the tattoo guy I go to, Adam, and we worked out a design that looks almost exactly like the magnet, but it’s going vertical up my arm vs. horizontally. This was tattooed on October 1, 2007. It’s on the inside of my inner right arm. This was a big step for me. I’m now wearing a tattoo showing my love for God on my arm. My first tattoo that isn’t on my back. I guess if you want to put it out there for everyone to see, it should be something meaningful.

So I’m hoping that this had made sense to you all and if you have any questions, I will see what I can do in a way of answers.

What do you think?

Pastor Mow Mow helped me lots with getting my talk started - I was so unsure how to go about it - it's definitely different from things like that Dissertation talk we had to give. I think Mum is coming to listen and Dad might as well as proud parents hehe. Rich even gets a mention so I'd like it if he comes but I doubt he will.

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