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Pagan Christianity, Pt. 4

Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible to deepen our understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi and welcome to Bible Talk, where we talk about the Bible and how the Bible affects us today. I'm John Bradshaw.

Gary Gibbs: And I'm Gary Gibbs.

John: Lately Gary, we've been talking about some interesting subjects. There's been some shifts in society that's kind of seeped their way over into the church. Christians are not immune from societal trends. Witchcraft has become a big deal. Wicca, we've talked about that and how even Christians are not immune from its reach and its influence. We talked about the realm of spiritualism as well.

You know, as you look around society, it doesn't look like it's becoming more healthy and there's a tendency for people to end up trending downwards rather than upwards.

Gary: When you look at people's dress today and this is a touchy topic, but we got to get into this, John, because when you look at the dress of Christians today, it's just marrying that downward trend in the world. I've read an article recently online about fashions. Are they going too far? And even in the secular world they're starting to ask what are people trying to do walking around with their underwear on the outside?

With their pants falling down to between their knees! And they're saying when are tiny tops too tiny? When are hot pants too hot? When are low cuts too low? So even the world is starting to say, what are we doing here? But these fashions have even come into the church, haven't they?

John: Oh man, they have. I remember the day I arrived in the United States of America the first time.

Gary: Oh, you're not from here?

John: No, sir. I know I have a southern accent but this is from the southern hemisphere. I picked up a Washington Post and right there on the front cover was a story of a kid in the Washington D.C. area, Northern Virginia probably, who was in trouble at school because of the way he wore his pants. I said, "Only in America." I've seen everything now. He had these saggers on, you know. Take one step, pull them up. Take another step, pull them up. Pull them up, pull them up and I thought do you really need to get around looking like that?

You go a little further and what people are doing to themselves today? I might just be old-fashioned but I just hope my kids don't get into these stuff. Where is the piercing thing going to end?

Gary: You wonder where it will end because I've seen people... My wife's in the medical profession and she sees parts of people's bodies that normally aren't seen. And people are piercing every possible part of their body, their they're piercing today is painful even to consider.

John: Oh yes, and distasteful. And you know the interesting thing? It's not even as though this stuff is pretty. You get a little steel pole and stick it through your eyebrow. I just haven't seen a pretty one - right through your lip, there under your bottom teeth.

Gary: Or in your tongue.

John: I don't mean to be offensive to anybody, but this just doesn't look attractive. Maybe there's a, "Oh, you old dinosaur." They said that in the 50s when boys slicked their hair back and whatever. But more important than not looking attractive, it doesn't mirror the image of God. And now if we look at it from a biblical point of view... And it's important to do that because there are people every day considering, "Should I do this?" and young people who are being told by their parents - "Don't pierce that nose of yours."

From a biblical point of view, God doesn't want us defacing the image of God.

Gary: Why would that be? Doesn't this just enhance it? It's just modern jewelry. It's not the type of jewelry that maybe your mother wore, but it's modern jewelry. I tell you this is a topic we need to study into. In fact, we have a free book to offer to you our listeners. If you call or write us at the end of this program, we'll give you the number and the address. "Jewelry - How much is Too much?" We'll give you that free book as you call in.

John: Did you say... I was starting to chuckle here. Did you say it's not jewelry like my mother would have worn? Is that what you said?

Gary: I don't think your mother would have worn the nose piercing or the tongue piercing...

John: ... that thing through her face and her belly button pierced. No, I think you're right. I can imagine my mother in that getup.

Gary: But it's the young people now and this is their type of jewelry. What would be wrong with that? With the cuttings and the piercings that people do today? You know I saw one guy, he forked his tongue.

John: No!

Gary: Yes. He surgically had his tongue totally forked like a snake. He had it cut in two. He had the ends narrowed off where they were actually pointed and then he had his tongue split in two. And he could do some interesting things with his tongue. He could move either side of his tongue independently of each other.

John: Could he whistle?

Gary: Quite nifty. I don't know if he could whistle.

John: He might be able to sing two parts at once.

Gary: He talks with a little lisp now.

John: I'm not at all surprised. You know why it's important, and again, young people are considering doing this stuff and parents are pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to get them not to in many cases. The Bible speaks against this. We were created in the image of God. You look into the Bible and the Bible doesn't countenance the making cuttings and markings and poking the holes in the body which was created in the image of Almighty God, you see.

Gary: Where does the Bible tell us that?

John: I'll read it to you. In Leviticus 19:28. Here God spoke to the children of Israel. And He said, "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead. Nor print any marks upon you. I am the Lord." Now understand. I don't think this stuff is inherently evil. But it doesn't represent God's plan A. Now the context here - He is essentially telling the people to keep away from the things that the Pagans do, from Pagan practices that tend to drive one away from God's ideal.

And friend, we want to mirror God's ideal. We really do. We want Christ's will to be done in our lives.

Gary: And if you go back and you really research where a lot of this stuff comes from, it comes directly out of Pagan culture. You go back to the Hindus over in the east and I've been there. I've been to India. And you can see that the Pagans have done these things, these piercings, these types of things for a long, long time. Well, now it's migrating over into Western culture. So this is what the context of Leviticus is. Is this Paganism is coming into Western culture and into the Christian church? This defacing the image of God, do you think Satan wants to do this? Do you think he gets some delight out of this, John?

John: I do, you know. He hates anything that reflects the image of God himself and he is bent on eradicating the image of God from the earth. And he would want people to damage themselves and harm themselves and deface themselves. In fact, we have a biblical precedent where the Holy Spirit is not working in people's hearts. They start to get involved in this stuff.

Now carefully, I don't want to say, "Mom, that Mary, Billy, or whoever it is, is devoid of the Holy Spirit of God." People can go and get these things done, particularly kids, just because they're dumb.

Gary: It's the fashion. You want to be cool.

John: I'm not calling your kid dumb. Yes, I am. No, I'm not. But they could do dumb things. They're younger and they want to do it. And I remember when I was younger...

Gary: You were never dumb though, were you?

John: No, I was close to it on a couple of occasions. Never got a tattoo, thankfully. I don't know how I avoided that. Probably, might have had more sense that day. Tattoos, we're going to put this in the same category. Not inherently evil, but a hard leap to the will of God.

Gary: They mentioned in that text you just read in Leviticus 19 or the marks in the body.

John: There's something about tattoos. A lot of these body art, I would say springs from a desire for attention - attention-seeking. And we ought to be able to find our fulfillment in the fact that Jesus Christ loves us. We are complete in him, the Bible says. I can't improve upon what he's done. I can't go and stick a tattoo on my arm. Some of these things are downright ugly, unattractive and not at all Christian in their orientation. Yes, you get a little rose, put right about here.

But the problem is, a lot of people are getting those roses put right about here. And there's no place to put that stuff. Some of the tattoos are being positioned today at places that draw your eyes in the direction they don't really need to go.

Gary: It's really fashionable though. When I was growing up, you didn't see a whole lot of tattoos. You might see the sailor, the biker has a tattoo. But now, today, it seems like everybody has a tattoo. Now, I know not everybody does but a lot of people are getting tattoos. You see them peeking out under hemlines, ankles, out from people's underwear lines. All over the place you see these tattoos.

John: You're going to make a million dollars about 10 years from now if you can figure out a quick, painless way to remove tattoos from the small of a woman's back. You'll be the new Bill Gates if you can figure out how to get that done.

Gary: The tattoos that concern me are those that people put them all over their face. I went to a store the other day and this guy's got half his face tattooed and I thought what his future way of life is? What type of work is he going to do? He'll become a telemarketer or something, some faceless type job. That's all he'll be able to do.

John: You limit yourself, I'm sure. You opt out of a lot of stuff. 1 Kings 18 - Elijah says to the prophets of Baal, "Offer a sacrifice and call upon your God and if he answers by fire, then we know that he is God." And so, they offer this sacrifice. They get it up. They're on the altar and what do they do? They call out and they cry out and the Bible says that they start cutting themselves and making marks in their flesh. It says they cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out upon them.

It seems that self-mutilation isn't in God's order. I don't want to come across today like we want to rain on anybody's parade or say that you're not a Christian because you've got that little tattoo or something. Oh no, we're not going there but we are talking about God's biblical ideal.

And self-mutilation isn't God's biblical ideal, no question.

Gary: The Bible says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. When you think about that, would you go into a holy temple, some shrine, and would you paint graffiti all over the walls of that shrine? Would you cut up the fine carpet in that shrine, that beautiful temple? You wouldn't do that. But the Bible says that we are not our own. We don't own these body temples. They are God's. God paid for them with the price of his son Jesus Christ. And here we are, mutilating it, and we're cutting it up and we're marking it.

John: Does it ever make you wonder what's coming next? I mean, now that the girls are dressing so that their underwear shows. You know when I was a kid, you didn't do that. If a girl discovered her underwear was showing, she was just embarrassed. It was just... It wasn't good at all. Today it's fashionable to show off your underthings.

Gary: You know what's going to happen?

John: The boys dress till their pants fall down.

Gary: Yes. Here's what's going to happen, John. I go back and sit with my sisters and we look at our pictures of when we were growing up. And this is going to date my sisters and me a bit, but my sisters have these horn-rimmed glasses with big dark heavy frames. Horn-rimmed glasses. They had their bob haircut and they're wearing these maxi dresses and they look like they just stepped out of some sideshow. But you can tell there in the time they wore those things, they were in fashion. They look back on them now and they laugh and they say, "Don't show any of my friends or the rest of my family those pictures."

The nice thing about those fashions is, you throw the dress away, you grow the hair out, you get new glasses. But the fashions today are permanent. When we cut ourselves, when we mark ourselves, we're going to look back in time and we're going to say, "Why did I ever do that? I look like a sideshow freak show."

So we want to appeal to our listeners today. Fill that part in your heart with the love of Jesus. And put off doing some of these things until later when you can look at them more rationally from a distance.

John: And they tend to be destructive, some of these modern fashion items and trends. We want to encourage you to grow in Jesus Christ and seek to reflect his character fully and completely in every area of your life. We hope we've given you some food for thought. Be sure to get our free offer and be sure to join us for more next time on Bible Talk.

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Male Announcer: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you, that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we just discussed and expands on the subject, including information you want to know. To receive this free informative Bible study guide, simply call, write, or email and ask for "Baptized Paganism." The toll-free number is 866-Biblesays. That's 866-2425372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, PO Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678, or email us at bibletalk@amazingfacts.org. Bible Talk is being produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

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