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A Piercing Worldview

Piercing is the order of the day. Piercing is cool. Anything that sticks out (and I mean anything) may be pierced. If it doesn't stick out but can be scrunched up and wrinkled, that too may be pierced. Abs, pecs, lobes, tongues, glutes, and nostrils — anything you can get an alcoholed ice-pick on one side and bloody cork on the other may be pierced. Although the custom seems to be slightly more popular in California and New York, I have found a bit of it in Des Moines and Peoria.

I recently ordered a French Dip sandwich from a girl with steel through her tongue, ears, and eyebrows. She seemed in no pain, but just looking at her hurt me all over. I felt the same pity I used to feel reading the National Geographic and seeing pictures of women with their lips stretched over round plates. They, too, seemed to be in no pain, but I felt it for them.

Piercing must have something aesthetic about it that I'm unable to see. When you have rings ascending your nose and curving their way like surgical rivets up your ears and across your eyebrows, it must be a sign of metallic desirability to others equally riveted together. These sutured ones must meet in utter admiration for all their piercing insights and piercing lifestyles.

Now this is a real reach, but could piercing be a kind of subliminal habit for those whose lives are falling apart and need a few rivets to stitch their psychoses together? Unkind? Maybe. Maybe they're just fully adjusted people who like that steel and dermal look. But I remember an observation of Dr. Scott Peck who said that people who are locked into self-destruction tend to pick at their own flesh, making little scabs as insignias that they really don't want to exist any more.

I'm not a psychiatrist, but I wonder if a navel ring isn't just a steel in the middle of a weak psychosis where the person is spared from breaking apart by putting a little pinch of metal in an old, left-over umbilical.

Here's how I see it:

If your nose seems to be too plain to lead you into certainty, staple it. If you ears stick out like the open doors of a taxi, pin them down with cables and rings. Here and there around the torso drive in a bit of metal that will keep you weighted down and give you a bit of immovable character.

I see nothing sinful or unbiblical in this C-3PO complex. After all, piercing dates back to the dawn of time. And people have long been interested in making themselves more beautiful with art. But whatever we do in word or deed, all should be done to the Glory of God.

I doubt that those who so readily pierce themselves are doing it for God's glory. And the only way they will be made whole is to trust the One who was pierced for our transgressions.


Calvin Miller is professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.

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January 2002 Edition
Volume 10, Issue 4
January 2002