Question:

I've a friend who after recently being in a car accident has decided she wants to learn more about God and the Bible ... in so many words. She said she'd like to come to church with me to see what the churches of Christ are like, and in passing said that they probably wouldn't like her nose-piercing. I've looked up some things in the past, but there doesn't seem to be anything on nose-piercing specifically. Would the principles regarding modest apparel apply here?

And is this something I should share with her while she is not a member of the church? I've gotten the idea from articles that when a given person is outside the church, any focus on Scripture should be regarding baptism, and then after they are baptized you can talk to them about specific things they need to change in their life -- something like only after they're baptized that they become subject to the law. Is that right? As always, I appreciate your feedback and great work.


Answer:

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace" (Luke 14:28-32).

When Peter taught the first gospel sermon, he urged his audience, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). A person must have some idea of the sins he is leaving behind before he chooses to be baptized. Must everything be discussed? No, but the person should have some idea of what he is getting into.

A person who is considering becoming a Christian is weighing a commitment which will last beyond a lifetime. He ought to weigh what will be required of him in advance. He needs to know about the requirements of study, worship, avoidance of sin, and the like so that he might make an informed choice. Again, every little detail doesn't need to be covered.

For example, if I know that two people are living to together without being married, I'll talk to them about separating or getting married before they decide to be Christians. To spring it on them afterwards that they living situation is sinful would be unfair.

In regards to nose piercings, much depends on the culture. For example, Abraham's servant gave presents to Rebekkah: "So it was, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold" (Genesis 24:22). A half shekel would be about 5 grams or a quarter ounce. So talk to her some time about how Christians avoid external showiness to let their character shine through and use I Peter 3:3-4 as the basis of the discussion. Make sure you understand the "Not ... But" style of communication (See "Biblical Figures of Speech: Ellipses" for details). Without some basic understanding you can accidentally make Peter's statement sound harsher than it is. When she understands this, simply ask if she has a smaller stud that is less showy (assuming that is the problem) that she could wear to services.