Monday, April 18, 2005

whatsoever things are lovely

as i was contemplating the passage, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are worthy, think on those things, it made me wonder.

how do we determine whatsoever things are lovely?

there was a time i thought tattoos unlovely. not anymore.

there was a time i thought anything which didn't fit my perception of a biblically appropriate conversation not worth contemplation. not anymore.

there was a time when i was so sure of my rightness, confident in my salvation, that i steamrolled those of lesser certainty with my fervor. that day is long gone.

while i don't want to go down a slippery slope into making all things lovely, i no longer think i even understand what those simple words mean. do you? really?

who determines what is lovely?

who determines what is worthy?

who determines what is pure?

in sunday school yesterday one person lamented the catholics he had seen growing up who had just confessed their sins to a priest and went out and committed the same sins.

i took issue with this.

how is that any different than for us christians?

i asked
i confess my sins very sincerely, and then run out and sin again, very sincerely. i see no difference.

it is so easy to sit in judgment of others. while i do believe there are standards, i am seeing the standards all and only in Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

anything beyond Him, is uncertain. i am unwilling to draw the line which says, tattoo, unlovely. (because to some, it is a thing of great loveliness indeed. in some cultures tattooing is a great honor.)

so do we say then, for uncivilized tribes, tattooing is lovely and therefore, all right? no, i don't think we can.

i think it lands squarely in the who-knows-for-certain category. which is where, if we were completely honest, much of life and the issues thereof fall.

one of the great wounds to my psyche is mt. rushmore.

the lakota hold the black hills as sacred.

that did not stop the carving of four faces of american presidents into them.

it is really tragic. i wonder how any native peoples anywhere can trust anyone outside their indigenous tribes.

people would say, that doesn't go on anymore. let the past go. i didn't carve the faces in mt. rushmore. but yet we flock there and gawk at those faces and mint coins with them, never acknowledging the great insult this is to native peoples who hold those hills sacred today.

disagree if you will, but this is not the way of God. He does not annihilate cultures and traditions. He speaks to people through them. i wish the church could learn to do this.

when you next think of whatever is lovely, whatever is pure, whatever is worthy, consider for a moment those who hold other opinions of loveliness, worthiness, and purity.

i am not saying lay aside your perspective, i am simply saying, consider another's. ask the Lord how to be relevant in the context of the culture and people you find yourself amidst. let's not annihilate others' traditions simply because we are afraid. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of Power and Love and a Sound Mind. let's use it!

we serve a Mighty God. He is able to transcend all cultural boundaries and barriers in ways that don't decimate a people and their traditions. let's stop being so certain that we have the stranglehold on the whole Truth. Christ Jesus is the way, the Truth, and the Life, but He must have a way to bring people to Him without ravaging their culture.

let's see if we can't find it.

(if you'd like to read an interesting book that has strikingly similar points, check out craig stephen smith's whiteman's gospel. just read it yesterday, very good indeed.)


Deborah said...

Hi Suz,

I linked to this post on the Master's Artist message board.

And I referred to an article on tattoing and piercing that has totally turned me away from the practice, except for earlobes for women.

Anyway, here's the link to the article by a psychiatrist I think is brilliant. While I think you have lots to make us think about in your blog entry on how we determine what is beautiful and true, it got me off in this direction today.

Here's the link:



siouxsiepoet said...

hi deb. thanks for the words. i read the article by the brilliant psychologist. and just have to say, that is why the church cannot reach the pierced and tattooed. if you are going to lambast them, and call them self-mutilators, which granted, some may be, then that will drive off those who aren't. there must be a way to deal with this issue without stygmatizing and scarlet lettering the folks who fall into that category, myself included. peace! (and again, i tried to do the message board thing, and couldn't find your message, i'm lost there!) suz