After last night’s inappropriate, godless and predictable performances on the American Music Awards, I figured its time I shift gears for a bit and complain about pseudo-religion. Our nation, our society – even much of the world – is increasing its pace to destruction foretold by prophets on all continents.
As I was browsing the day’s headlines, I found an interesting example of the kind of corruption that unfortunately has some modern Christians – though well-intentioned- promoting works of the devil. It is a sad reminder of the things some turn to while stumbling around in darkness.
Many modern churches feel they must resort to some sort of “lesser of two evils” in order to increase membership. Because most of these churches have vocational pastors, the urgency to pay the bills drives such desperate and ill-conceived measures. One has to wonder if this is why, at the beginning of Christianity, there were so many instances where the people of the church were told to go out into the world “without purse or scrip”?
Most of the time, these novelties are nothing more than disruptive. As we know from the Old Testament, God does not usually scream to us and shake us awake:
"11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
One has to wonder,then, how it is possible that anyone could hear the “still,small voice” above the loud crash and wail of a live band or the fiery screams of a preacher as he bangs his hand against the pulpit.
Despite the good intentions of many, such displays are used to get the adrenaline pumping to create the euphoric feeling that is inappropriately associated with the “fire” or promptings of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, some sermons are designed to get your hair to stand up – a man made attempt to emulate the real thing.
Some churches attempt to augment the message with the chemical stimulations of caffeine or liquor. Others seek to lure youths to the flock by sponsoring skateboarding events, rock and rap concerts, and pro-wrestler meet-and-greets.
Though I find some of these methods offensive, there’s nothing in the Bible that says that skateboarding, motorcycle gangs,or pastors leaping out of their private helicopter are “evil”. They may not be inherently righteous, and may border on the appearance of evil, but that’s all more a matter of opinion more than one of doctrine. It’s those times when these missionary efforts begin to embrace sin that they become more worrisome. Twists of doctrine and selective ignorance of scripture indicate that many believe that it’s time that God “get with the times” and allow women to be priests and homosexuality to be as insignificant as hair color in the selection of clergy. It is quite clear in scripture that the Church should not modify itself to satisfy man if it wishes to satisfy the unchanging and eternal God:
"3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
(2 Timothy 4:3-4)
"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
Some pastors even attempt to justify this deviance from the standards set in the Bible by claiming that “times are changing”, or that “what God commanded man in the past is not what he commands them now”. These are falsehoods inspired only by the “father of all lies”- the adversary of our maker himself!
There is a power in standards… by not deviating, the truth is more true, and all things are closer to perfect. There is no question why several times in scripture there is mention of not having “divers weights and measures”. Was cheating really that rampant then, or is there a deeper meaning behind the inclusion of this seemingly boring rule?
"13 ¶ Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God."
"Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord."
Scripture reiterates certain principles again and again, and because these principles (or “standards”) come from God, they are perfect, and they are applicable in the small as well as the great. Through these descriptions of what seem at first to be merely a temporal law, we can see that it is an abomination to the Lord for man to weaken or counterfeit His standards or apply them unequally. We know that God is the same now as He was at the beginning and will be at the end:
"For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. "
"8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. "
"Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever. "
Because God is perfect, and His word is truth, we can assume that his word also is the same from beginning to end.
In modern times there are many wicked practices. As witnessed last night at the AMA, every passing year brings a bigger and more permeating wave of sin and degradation that shocks the old and titillates the new. Terrible immorality, unthinkable in our grandparents’ day is common place now, and few think anything of it. Sexual promiscuity, divorce, open homosexuality, and all manner of self-mutilation and abuse are common place and often fashionable in our day. These practices are not new, however. The prophets addressed these behaviors in ancient times.
It is one in particular I wish to address:
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh […] nor print any marks upon you …” (Excerpt from Leviticus 19:28)
As the following article says, “some churches” don’t agree with the practice of tattoos. Probably for good reason, since it mentions them in the Bible! The associated reason behind this is that our bodies are sacred. They are gifts from God. Just as we must not abuse them in a sexual way, we must not mutilate or mark them:
"16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."
(1 Corinthians 3:16-19)
With that in mind, let’s visit a small church in Mill Creek, Washington that has taken upon the wisdom of the world to invite its congregation to defile their temples and make marks on their bodies to promote a sermon their pastor- a man they heaped unto themselves after their own lusts (that whole “pick and choose” church thing)- invented. He claims it helps illustrate how we should be more mindful in making decisions of a permanent nature that will have lasting effects on our souls:
MILL CREEK, Wash. – Church is probably the last place you’d think to get a tattoo, but a pastor in Mill Creek is getting his message out – one tattoo at a time.
A Sunday sermon at the Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek features something very unique.
On stage with the pastor is a tattoo artist and a member of the congregation, Erica Armendariz, sits quietly as he adds another tattoo to her arm.
"The one you don’t want to put on yourself is the ‘666’ right?" the Rev. Dan Kellogg asks the church-goers.
This is one way Kellogg gets his message across to his followers.
It’s part of a six-week series called "Permanent Ink." Kellogg says the purpose is to find things in life that should be permanent and other things that should be removed.
Some churches considering tattooing a desecration of the body. But Kellogg disagrees with that.
"Even though it’s a little edgy – and in fact some churches would say it’s wrong to get a tattoo – we don’t take that position at all," he says.
"We actually believe that this represents something that we can apply, something popular in our culture, that we can apply some spiritual truth to."
On this Sunday, Armendariz is on stage getting more artwork added to what she calls her "spiritual sleeve," a mural of religious tattoos across her arm.
"It’s a constant reminder every day I wake up to it," she says. "It’s something that constantly keeps it in the back of my head that I need to be the best person that I can be."
"Some people have thought through what they want permanently on their body, and what we want to talk about is what you want permanently on your soul too," the pastor says.
Kellogg says he’s neither encouraging nor discouraging tattoos, but it’s a powerful message and a unique way to get it across.
He didn’t get a tattoo but had the word "FOUND" airbrushed on to his arm – and that’s part of his next message.
As part of his message last week, Pastor Kellogg had some people remove their old tattoos – representing things they wanted out of their life.
A couple of things about this that really concern me:
1. in preaching that there are sins that will leave a permanent mark on our souls, he is denying the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ! There is only one sin which will never be forgiven, and that is the “sin against the Holy Ghost”- having the knowledge of Christ and God but then turning away and denying it. By focusing on the sin and not the availability of the power of Christ to heal his congregation of their sins and help them overcome them, he is doing them a huge disservice.
2. the Bible says people who mark their bodies like this will be destroyed. That leaves me to wonder: Whose side is this guy on? He is leading his congregation to destruction according to the very book he claims to have built his ministry on!
3. When I watched the video of the otherwise lovely Miss Erica saying “it’s something that constantly keeps it in the back of my head that I need to be the best person I can be” , I couldn’t help but wonder if she was being the “best she could be” when she exposed her breasts to a man in a tattoo parlor to have them covered with “art” (you can see the tattoos creeping down into her shirt), or if she is going to remember to be the “best she could be” when she is wearing low cut shirts (or no shirt!) to show off her “spiritual sleeve”. I don’t know her personally, so I will not even dare accuse her of promiscuity or anything, but it has been my experience that persons who have no reservations about marking or mutilating their body, and no reservations about letting a stranger touch them in their “private areas” tend to also have no reservations about compromising their moral standards through exhibitionism, promiscuity and sexual experimentation. It just comes with the territory.
I am no stranger to body mods myself. I used to be heavily pierced, and most of the young ladies I dated while living in Seattle were tattooed. Very few of my friends- even now – don’t have some sort of tat’ or piercing. A lot of my extended family also have these things. I personally never got a tattoo because I have opposed them my entire life- though previously this opposition was more due to the fact that they are ugly and ruin visual ambiguity like a permanent beer shirt. I can’t describe how disgusting it was to seriously date a woman with intent to marry, only to see a faded tattoo in a place that no man’s hands should have ever been. Even at my worst, an asymmetrical bosom rose or a “tramp stamp” on the lower back was a huge turn-off. Women are built so beautifully, and it is sad to know how many have permanently scarred their pure skin with mementos of childish passions.
To those ministers, preachers and pastors who support such “unconventional” sermons in an attempt to hijack filth from the devil and use it for Christ, I leave these words from the 5th chapter of Ephesians:
"11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
As with all other times I go on and on about a topic related to religion, I find it important to say that my views should NOT be taken as the views of those of my Church. I am an imperfect person, probably more prone to contention than most, and it is never right to attack an organization based on the weakness of an individual member. For an accurate representation of my faith’s stance on permanent body art, follow the link below.
It is also not my intent to suggest anything bad of that girl the article references. She’s at least going to a church… which is a step in the right direction that a growing number of people her age are not taking.
Finally, it is my belief that God is a just God, and that man will be judged only according to those actions undertaken in knowledge of right and wrong. A person who didn’t know any better isn’t “going to hell” without a chance to learn the truth. I also believe that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins; that through His atonement we can be cleansed of those things we’ve done wrong in our life, and can be healed of the pains caused by others who have wronged us… but to access this cleansing and healing we need to follow him- not just say his name or go to church a couple times a year. Through His mortal ministry, Christ laid out numerous examples for us to use in our lives, and if we use His life as a template, we will truly be walking in his footsteps. As much as some will remind us we can never hope to be as perfect as Christ, and as much as some will scorn at our individual beliefs, one important truth stands out: If you are patterning your life after Jesus, you simply cannot go wrong.
The Holy Bible (KJV)
The Doctrine & Covenants (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)