Category Archives: Life Decisions Questions

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Woman Wear a Bindi?

 

Hindu women have a custom of wearing a round, red mark between the eyebrows called a “bindi” (also spelled “bindhi”). The application of bindis is common in South Asia, including the countries of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In some parts of India, a bindi traditionally signifies that a woman is married. In other sections of India, all girls wear bindis. A bindi can also signify the caste or sect a woman belongs to. In every case, a bindi carries a spiritual and religious meaning in addition to its cultural significance. Of the various Indian decorations of the body, the bindi is considered to have the strongest religious implication.

A bindi represents an individual’s “spiritual eye,” also called the “third eye,” which some claim gives spiritual vision. Through the third eye, Hindus believe they can obtain extraordinary perspective, seeing that which cannot be seen through their physical eyes. Hindu gurus and saints meditate by focusing their energies toward the spiritual eye. It is believed that, when the individual’s spiritual eye opens, he attains true enlightenment and gets closer to whatever god he’s trying to reach.

The bindi is located over the sixth chakra, assumed to be one of the psychic “energy spots” on the human body. Thus, a bindi marks the nexus of concentrated, secret wisdom associated with mantra meditation. Bindis are also thought to purify the intellect, improve concentration skills, retain energy, bring good fortune, and ward off evil spirits. The red color is said to be a symbol of power and strength.

A bindi is also seen as an enhancement of beauty. An old Indian proverb says, “A woman’s beauty is multiplied one thousand times when she wears a bindi.”

Western culture, with its ever-shifting notions of style and fashion, will advocate wearing just about anything, including bindis. Just as non-Christians sometimes wear crosses as a fashion accessory, non-Hindus sometimes wear bindis. In Western fashion, a bindi is often a shape other than round and a color other than red. Some women choose to tattoo or pierce their foreheads for a more permanent bindi. Celebrities such as Madonna, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry have all sported bindis in public. Whatever statement these persons are trying to make, the connection to Hinduism still exists.

Every custom within Hindu culture has a certain meaning to it, and all Indian customs are linked in some way to their gods. For this reason, a Christian woman should have serious reservations about wearing a bindi. Even if she herself does not see her bindi as a lucky charm or source of psychic energy, others—especially those familiar with Eastern mysticism—will associate it with pagan traditions.

“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” Paul asks. “For we are the temple of the living God.… Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you’ ” (2 Corinthians 6:16–17). Christians should have nothing to do with the stuff of idolatry. Those who wear a bindi identify themselves with cultural practices that deny the One True God.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Does the Bible Say to Follow Your Heart?

 

There are many calls to “follow your heart” in movies, novels, slogans, blogs, and memes. Related pieces of advice are “trust yourself” and “follow your instincts.” A corollary dictum is “your heart will never lead you astray.” The problem is that none of these quips are biblically supportable.

Rather than trust our hearts, we are to commit our hearts to God: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). This passage gives an explicit command not to trust ourselves. And it gives the promise of guidance to those who choose to follow the Lord.

For anything to provide proper direction it must be based on objective truth. That is to say that whatever is consulted for guidance must reach a conclusion based on objective truth and not subjective, emotional inference. The Bible teaches that man is to follow God. God declares, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7). God has perfect knowledge of everything (1 John 3:20), a trait often called omniscience. God’s knowledge is not limited in any way. God is aware of all events that have ever transpired, are currently occurring, and will ever happen (Isaiah 46:9–10). God’s knowledge goes beyond mere events and extends to thoughts and intentions (John 2:25; Acts 1:24). It is not all this knowledge, however, that makes God a perfectly reliable source of guidance. God is also aware of every possibility, every eventuality, every imaginable outcome of any series of events (Matthew 11:21). That ability, combined with God’s goodness, enables God to give the best possible direction for people to follow.

God says this about the unregenerate heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). This passage makes clear two reasons why no one should bind himself to following his heart when making decisions. First, there is nothing more deceitful in all of creation than the heart of man because of his inherited sin nature. If we follow our heart, we follow an untrustworthy guide.

We are, in fact, blinded to our own heart’s deceitful nature. As the prophet asks, “Who can understand it?” When we rely on ourselves for wisdom, we end up unable to tell right from wrong. The hit song of 1977, “You Light Up My Life,” contains these unfortunate words: “It can’t be wrong / When it feels so right.” Determining right from wrong based on “feelings” is a dangerous (and unbiblical) way to live.

Second, Jeremiah 17:9 teaches that the heart is desperately sick. There is no way to fix the heart. Rather, man needs a new heart. That is why, when a person comes to faith in Christ, he is made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus does not fix the heart; instead, He replaces it with a new one.

But that does not mean that we can rely on our hearts after we come to faith in Christ. Even as believers, we are encouraged to follow God’s will over our own desires. The Bible teaches that “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17).

We have an omniscient, benevolent Lord who promises to give us wisdom (James 1:5); we have His inspired, inerrant Word written down for us (2 Timothy 3:16). Why would we turn our backs on God and His eternal promises in order to pursue the whimsical impulses of the heart?[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Is Christian Country Music Appropriate?

 

As country music is simply a certain style or genre of music, Christian country music—sometimes called country gospel or inspirational country—is music of that particular genre that expresses beliefs consistent with the Christian faith. Determining whether or not Christian country music is appropriate is ultimately a personal decision, but there are biblical principles we can apply.

Historically, country music has had a spiritual nuance, with many artists incorporating biblical themes into their music. It’s not uncommon for country singers to record some straight gospel songs, or at least songs that talk about God.

Almost all genres of music have some sort of Christian sub-genre. However, simply labeling something as “Christian” doesn’t automatically mean that it is. Jesus taught that we should not make determinations by externals, but by the fruit produced (Matthew 7:15–20). In determining whether or not a Christian country song is appropriate, we need to consider several things, including the song’s effects (“fruit”).

First, what is the message of the song? A country song may mention God, for example, but is He portrayed in a way consistent with the Bible? Also—and this is a subjective test—what feelings, thoughts, and memories does a song evoke? Our thoughts should be focused on things that remind us of God’s goodness and truth (Philippians 4:8). If the music one listens to evokes thoughts or feelings that are contrary to God’s goodness, that’s a good sign it may not be appropriate for that person.

Context is also an important consideration. A Christian country song may inspire you as you’re driving in your car, but that does not necessarily make it an appropriate fit for a Sunday morning worship session.

It’s possible to use any genre of music to create songs with a Christian message. Any type of music can be used to point people toward God and encourage relationship with Him. People enjoy different styles of music. The country style connects with some people; others may prefer a different genre. The Bible does not say anything about styles of music. It’s more the message of the music in question and the effects it has on us as listeners that will determine whether or not it is appropriate.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: What Does the Bible Say about Playing the Lottery?

 

The word gamble means “to risk something of value on an outcome which depends on chance.” Because the outcome of a lottery “depends on chance” and playing it involves “risk,” then, by definition, playing the lottery is gambling.

The Bible does not specifically mention gambling, though it does mention the casting of lots for the purpose of decision making (Joshua 18:10; Nehemiah 10:34). And Proverbs 16:33 emphasizes the sovereignty of God: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

However, the main purpose of playing the lottery is to win money, and the Bible tells us what our attitude toward money should be. So often, riches get in the way of a man’s spiritual benefit (Mark 4:19; 10:25). Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13). First Timothy 6:10 is where we find the famous warning that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Playing the lottery as a get-rich-quick scheme is statistically futile, and, the fact is, God wants people to work hard: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We ought to gain wealth through diligence, as a gift from the Lord: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).

Additionally, not only do gamblers typically covet money, but they also covet the things that money can buy. God forbids covetousness: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17; see also 1 Timothy 6:10). Money is not the answer to life’s problems.

So, we would do well to be cautious about playing the lottery. There are probably many better uses for the money spent on a ticket, and we must guard against addictions to gaming. Buying a lottery ticket here and there may not be a sin, but greed is. Those playing the lottery must prayerfully examine their motives and, if they continue playing, do so responsibly and only in moderation.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Be Involved with Cosplay?

 

“Cosplay” (or cos-play) is short for “costume play.” It is the practice of dressing as a real or fictional character, typically from a video game, comic, TV show, movie, or even from history. Cosplayers often gather at a science fiction, game, or anime/magna conventions, but they also like to attend Renaissance fairs and historical reenactments. Some may participate for fun or to compete in contests, others are paid to advertise a product such as a video game or comic book, while a few dress up to promote their own costume supply business.

Cosplay costumes vary. Many are based on pre-existing characters while others are adaptations of a genre. It’s also common to combine one or more genres or characters, for example, a steampunk Darth Vader. Quality varies, as some cosplayers throw on ears and a tail and call it good while others spend hundreds of dollars and several weeks hand-making a single costume.

There is nothing inherently anti-biblical about dressing up with a bunch of other people. Many of the considerations are the same as for other pastimes (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). Cosplay can be very expensive; a custom-made outfit can cost several hundred dollars. Most cosplayers make some or all of their costume, which can be extremely time-consuming. When travel, hotels, and convention admissions are included, cosplay can suck up time and money that could be used for better purposes.

Christians must also consider some problems more specific to cosplay. Many of the women’s science fiction, fantasy, and anime costumes are very revealing—either skimpy or skin-tight. It should go without saying that Christian women should not chose a costume that is blatantly sexual (1 Timothy 2:9), and Christian men should not attend an event if they find such costumes distracting (Romans 13:14). Also, it is natural that putting on a costume encourages a person to act in ways he wouldn’t normally act; even if the costume makes the cosplayer unrecognizable, a Christian should always act in a way that glorifies God. Christians should also take care in what character they portray, staying away from anything based on demons or otherwise blatantly endorsing a non-Christian lifestyle.

Cosplay is not all bad. The level of craftsmanship elevates many costumes to an art form. Cosplay can be a family activity, whether the parents support their kids’ hobby or the entire family dresses up for a Ren Faire. The cosplay community can be very supportive, as players swap manufacturing tips and encourage newcomers. There are even opportunities to share Christ with fellow players.

Whether a Christian should get involved in cosplaying is a personal decision. Dressing up for a Renaissance festival or a steampunk ball is mostly harmless fun. Dressing as a demonic anime character or Slave-Leia at a comic-con, however, is not a good choice. As with any kind of entertainment, cosplayers should seek God’s will first and foremost.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.