Body Piercing

Body piercing may seem like a modern phenomenon, but it was common in the ancient world. In the Bible, Abraham gifted his future daughter-in-law Rebekah with a nose ring. Israelite women wore earrings as part of their wardrobe (Song. 1:10-11, Ezek. 16:12). In the Law of Moses, if a bonded servant chose not to go free, the servant’s master was to take him to a door and pierce his ear with an awl, a ritual symbolizing that the servant would forever be a part of the home (Exod. 21:2-6).

Later, in the Law of Moses, in Leviticus 19:28, God declared, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks upon you.” This refers to body scarring practiced as part of mourning rites in Canaanite religion. God wanted to make a clear distinction between the faith of His people and the faith of those around them.

What principles can we take from the Bible about how we may decorate ourselves? A good verse to start with is one Paul wrote: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:19-20, NIV).

Each day we make decisions, consciously or not, about the appearance of our body—when we eat, exercise, trim our nails, cut our hair, put medicine on acne, or choose which outfit to wear. Does this action glorify God or glorify ourselves? Is it something that you think the Lord would approve of? Is it a good use of time and money? What kind of impression will it make on others?

As we seek to reflect our Creator, a few texts from the Bible can help shape your choices. The apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (1 John 2:15, NIV). How we chose to shape, alter, or accentuate our person should reflect our connection to God. The Apostle Paul challenges us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).