Hymns, Hats, and Tattoos

Hymns,Hats, &Tattoos.png

This will be a short one. Really it’s just a few spare thoughts from the post “Christians, Cocktails & Coll Beach“. In that post we talked about young  Christians drinking, how a Christian has the freedom to have a drink (providing it’s legal and they don’t get drunk).
The reality is that the Bible is the living word of God, not a bland rule book. In some situations, we as Christians are free to use Scripture along with our own god-given common sense to decide which way to go, and what to choose.
[See WCOF Ch.1 – VI]

As Christians, we are called to be united. But to be united does not always mean to be uniform.
We are told in a wonderful and vivid way 1 Corinthians 12 that we are one body with one ultimate purpose and one ultimate goal. But just as all our different body parts are different, yet still work together; so it is for the Church.

This won’t be a deep scriptural examination of each point.
For each topic, we can look briefly at both sides (including my own view) then see how they are different but not opposed.
They will be short and generally simplistic, they are just to get you thinking.

This is not a definitive list of all the areas where Christians have liberty, but they are some of the areas which we may face in our own normal Christian living.


When we come to look at Christian liberty and Christian living, it’s always good to have these words from Paul in our thoughts:
““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”  (1 Corinthians 10:23)


Worship

Hymns vs. Psalms
An issue which has caused so much contention in our Church.
Our sung worship of God is important, but it should never be an issue on which the family should bear ill-will or split over.
As a slightly younger Christian, this was a real strong point of mine.  To my shame, it was “Psalms only or you are deceived” level of thinking.
I still prefer the Psalms to any hymn, but I was led to realise it’s a matter of conviction and personal reasoning and certainly not a Gospel issue.
You can sing a Psalm, with all the correct harmonies, but with a stone cold heart. Just as you can sing even a modern worship song with a heart full of genuine praise.

Bible Translation
Out of all the translation that people love dearly, the KJV (or AV) has got to be #1.
And it’s understandable, it is what many of us grew up hearing and using for our memory verses!
If you use the KJV, if it’s your ‘ go to translation, then that is fine – it is well loved and by all accounts a faithful translation. But whilst it may be a good translation, it is not the only one. Almost all the commonly used translations around today are just as faithful as the KJV.
God’s Word is perfect and unchanging, it’s not only to be found in one certain translation. It is found in all faithfully translated Bibles. Personally, I use the ESV, I find it easy to read and believe it’s one of the best modern translations currently available. [One day we can look at this topic in proper detail]

Dress
Let’s bite the bullet and start off with hats (head coverings to be specific).
Should a woman wear a hat in Church or not?
Much like the Psalms vs. hymns issue, this can attract a serious amount of fire from both sides. Those who believe head coverings should be worn point to one passage in Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:6).
Those who say it’s not necessary,  dispute that the passage applies to women today (instead it applied to the certain culture of the day).
If you wear a head covering, that is fine, but make sure you understand why you do it, don’t just do it as part of the ‘culture’.

So what about the rest of our clothes, how should we dress in Church? The reality is that dressing in our  “Sunday Best” does not make sense scripturally. Yes, we are gathering to worship God, so we should dress appropriately. But ‘appropriately’ does not equal ‘formally’.
The reality is that we are meeting together as a family, so the idea of some sort of special Sunday clothes do not mix with that idea.
Our dress and head coverings are not Gospel issues, as long as we are dressed appropriately and don’t cause each other to stumble then it really shouldn’t be a majour issue.

Church Attendance
This is one area in which we have very little liberty.
This does not include special circumstances (family situations /illness etc.)
If we are able, we should all take every opportunity we can to gather with the Lords people, with our eternal family. Sundays, Wednesdays, and any other chances that may arise.
The reality is, and I speak from experience, if you purposefully neglect gathering with the Church, then your walk will suffer. It is simple as that.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching ” (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Lifestyle

Drinking
We already looked at this in detail (click here), essentially if you are old enough to legally drink and you don’t get drunk there is no Scripture against you enjoying a drink.
All whilst bearing in mind where you are drinking and who you are drinking around – always remembering that we are lights in the darkness.
I would say, and this is purely my own thoughts (and my own personal situation), if there is a history of alcoholism in your family I would strongly advise you to just avoid it altogether.

Tattoos
Those against getting a tattoo will point to Leviticus 19:28 as a reason to not get them.
If read in context you will soon see this instruction belonged to the “civil law”, and therefore applied to the nation of Israel [We will visit this in greater detail in a future post].
Essentially this instruction, along with the dietary rules and rules on clothing & hygiene that we find in passages in Leviticus etc. were applicable to the Nation Of Israel – and were highly beneficial to them. But we are no longer bound by those two sets of laws.

So we can get a tattoo, but does that mean that we should?
We still have to ask ourselves why we are getting it?
For our glory, or for Gods?
We also have to ask the obvious question, are we sure we want this on our skin for years to come?
We also have to bear in mind that if we are to get one, it would be wise, for the sake of our witnessing and unity that we perhaps get it somewhere that is not easily seen.
I’ll have to admit I do have a horse in this race. Although we may be able to get tattooed, it’s something we should do with our witness and brotherly unity very much in mind.
[See HERE and HERE for more information on the threefold separation of the Law]

Relationships [boy/girl friend]
In terms of relationships, the Bible is clear that here again is one issue with not much liberty or room for a difference of opinion. If you are a Christian then your other half needs to be a Christian – it’s that simple.
Even if Scripture wasn’t clear on the issue, common sense alone should lead us to realise that it does not make sense any other way.
As Christians our first love must always be Christ, this won’t make sense to one that is not yet saved. We also try to seek God’s glory in all things,  especially in our relationships. That simply won’t be possible with someone that does not care about the Glory of God.


So, there we go.
Just a very brief snapshot of some areas that may to Christians. Like we said already, this is just to get you thinking of these topics. By no means is it a complete Scriptural analysis.
Different opinions on certain secondary issues are not a bad thing. In practice, if love and grace are shown, they serve to strengthen the Church.

Let me know in the comments of any other areas where the Christian will have to use their liberty to make a choice?


Further Reading:
4 Principles for the Exercise of Christian Liberty

Christian Liberty

3 thoughts on “Hymns, Hats, and Tattoos

  1. DC

    Excellent wee piece. Good summaries of the discussions around these topics.

    However I would say that the conclusions you made are very much the prevailing attitudes in the church today, and perhaps now there is great risk of marginalising those who do make use of the blessing of ‘liberty’ by holding to things that many would consider just empty tradition, but do in fact have good Biblical reason (such as hats, Psalms, drinking/attending the pub, tattoos etc) .

    Surely we must be careful that a certain viewpoint is not taken as the correct one, (to the exclusion of other views) and that those who disagree are brushed aside as being sheep and just swallowing tradition whole, as if they can’t think for themselves?

    1. Hello, and thank you for taking the time to comment.
      I would have to say first that the conclusions are really just my thinking on the issues, I would hate to think that anyone would see them as any more than that!

      I’m not calling for a great modernisation in the Church, but we do have to be careful that we can base all our personal views firmly on Scripture (or at least on solid Scriptural principles – as the WCOF words better than I ever could hope to!)

      I’m not sure where you are based, but I do think that there are many good traditions that are beneficial to the knowledge and spread of the Gospel. Things like ‘fencing’ the communion table etc. That do help in Gospel understanding.
      But there are other traditions, like insisting on ONLY using a Bible translation that has dated language and, in places, questionable translations (I’m no textual critic, but I’m trying to read more on the topic) – when our own Confession makes clear that the Scriptures should be made available in the most common and vulgar tongue of the day.

      I think the best example of this in practice is to look at the founding ministers of my own denomination – by all accounts, they were a reasonably eclectic mix of varying ideas on certain topics. But they recognised the difference between primary and secondary issues, and with one Gospel goal in mind they helped forge the FC [see “Unity & Diversity” by Sandy Finlayson]

  2. Pingback: Christians, Cocktails & Coll Beach – Behold Our Shield

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