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If I am baptized into the SDA Church, will I have to get rid of my earrings?


If I am baptized into the SDA Church, will I have to get rid of my earrings? I know God loves me with my earrings, and knows that Iím not a better person without them, but it feels as though the members of my dadís church judge me a bit because I wear earrings.

Steve Answers:

Do you have to take off your earrings in order to be baptized into your father’s church? Your earrings might be a small thing, but there seems to be more to your question than simply what touches your ears.

Let’s start with just the outward appearance. You may quote, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV).1 But when you go to church, it’s not just God who is looking. People who worship God are there too. And they see the outward appearance better than they see your heart. Perhaps they are judging your heart based on your outward appearance.

You’re the same way. I’m sure you can recall times you had an immediate impression based on someone’s outward appearance (think “Lady Gaga” or “a hick from the sticks” or “skater” or “preppy” or “old geezer”).

People employed at fast-food chains or at Jiffy Lube wear uniforms. Even a seating host at a nice restaurant has a required formal look. Men who work in an office environment typically must wear a tie, even though they can choose the color and design of the tie. Even many schools without uniforms have some type of dress code.

What is the dress code for your father’s church? Is it clear, or understood only by insiders? Are men expected to wear ties? Can women wear pants? Is it “dress up” or “dress down”? Does it make a difference if the church service is held indoors or outdoors, summer or winter, New York or Maui, Canada or Saudi Arabia?

Are earrings considered “not part of the dress code” at your father’s church? If so, then I would expect that those who comply with the dress code judge you as being somewhat out of place, insensitive, or even clueless (maybe rebellious?).

One option is to just be a visitor at your father’s church, rather than joining it through baptism. Visitors are different than members, just as somebody visiting your dad’s house is probably treated differently than you are treated.
God had some very specific dress codes for the priests who served in the Old Testament wilderness tabernacle. Exodus 28 describes a specific outfit for the priests: “Make tunics, sashes, and special head coverings that are glorious and beautiful” (Exodus 28:40, NLT).2 And verse 42 even describes the underwear for the priests. If you want an intricate description of dressing to the hilt, read about what the high priest was to wear (Exodus 28:1-28). I wonder if that would be OK at your father’s church.

But the God found in the Old Testament was still more interested in what was happening on the inside than on the outside. Here’s what we find in Jeremiah 31:33: “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (ESV).3 Is it in you? What I mean is this: Is God’s law in your heart? When it is, you follow God from the inside, and it shows in various ways on the outside.

What would you think of people who raise their hands in church? What would you think if they don’t raise their hands? Paul wrote something about that to young pastor Timothy. Please note what gets your attention in these few verses found in 1 Timothy 2:8-10: “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works” (ESV).
What caught your attention: “men should pray,” or “lifting holy hands,” or “without anger or quarreling”? I can lift my hands by myself, but I need the presence of God in my life to not quarrel and to refrain from anger.

How about the next section: Is it easier for a female to not braid her hair or to demonstrate self-control? Easier to not wear gold/pearls or to actually do good works? Once again, the simple “jewelry or no jewelry” really can be attained without God, but your good works are completely dependent on God being in your life (see Ephesians 2:10).

But what about those earrings? People will always judge you, and it won’t be limited to just earrings. And they should! That’s right, they should! So should you. And don’t quote Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged,” because just a few verses later you can read, “Do not throw your pearls before swine” (verse 6) and “You will know them by their fruits” (verse 16 and repeated in verse 20). When Jesus said, “do not judge,” He was telling them that those who judge a lot will get judged a lot (see verse 2).

Paul informed his readers that they would be judging angels one day, so they should get used to making good judgments now (see 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3). You should expect to be judged, and you should expect to judge others. Both are already happening.

Based on the reality that judgments continue to be made, here’s what I suggest for starters:

1. Get to know the people at your father’s church. When you become friends with them (and they become friends with you), their judgments will be helpful rather than hurtful. And so will your judgments of them. Friends help each other by giving feedback about their perceptions (judgments).

2. Once you are friends, ask those who you think are judging you what they think about your earrings. Don’t get defensive. Hear them out. And be ready to share your opinion and the reasons you wear earrings.

And there’s one more thing. You mention possibly getting baptized in your father’s church. If you get baptized, it needs to become your church, not merely your father’s church. Baptism is your decision to follow Jesus. That includes joining the body of Christ. Some people claim to love God but have difficulty loving God’s people. Here’s what 1 John 4:20, 21 tells us: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (ESV).

See what I mean about needing the presence of God in your life? If you truly want to go ahead with your baptism (and I really hope and pray that you do), you will need God’s love in order to love others. And they will continue to need God’s love in order to be loving to you, too.

You asked about earrings. They are small things. But I hope this brings to the surface the importance and the significance of God’s love deep inside of you. When you give yourself to God, His love shows itself in all those good works that only God can do through you.

1 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
3 Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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