Sunday, April 30, 2017

Evangelicals Arguing about Pink Hair Dye on Male Church Members

One of the websites I visit most days is Douglas Wilson's blog, which he calls Blog and Mablog, to see what he has to say about various issues.  I read some.  He writes something about every day.   In the last week or so, he has written a series of posts (here, here, here, and here) commenting on posts of another blog (here and here) related to judging worldliness in the church, particularly issues scripture says nothing about.  What drew my attention is the mention of the recent fad of odd, unnatural coloration of hair, even on men.

Evangelicals have stuck separatists, including fundamentalists, in the legalist category for their prohibitions of worldliness. They find themselves with the uncomfortable task of judging areas now that they may not have envisioned coming to their own churches in part because they have kicked this can down the road.  As a simple way of putting it, they want to disallow men (actual male gender) from their church who dye their hair pink.  Pink is not a natural hair color for anyone, but for men it adds another untoward element.  Scripture says nothing about pink hair on men, so evangelicals are scrambling to outlaw such behavior while not looking like separatists or fundamentalists.  They can't say they've been wrong all these years, but they also see the iceberg in front of their Titanic.  It's a tricky tightrope they find themselves on.

Because Wilson must stay in the evangelical worldly club, as I see it, because it is an important aspect of maintaining evangelical numbers, clout, and coalitions, he must write in a very opaque manner to say something is wrong without saying that something is wrong.  If you say that he said something is wrong, he maintains deniability.  "I didn't say anything was wrong!"  He wants you to read the tea leaves in his writing.  This is how evangelicals write to maintain their liberty.  They've been pushing this wrong view of liberty all these years.  Now they are the frog in the kettle and the water is boiling.  They know they should jump out.

Let's just say it.  Wilson thinks men in his church shouldn't be coloring their hair pink.  If they do, they can't stay in his church.  However, that's a tough one to add to your doctrinal statement or church covenant.  You'll seem legalistic by your own former definition of legalism.  The coloring crayon is now marking up the old definition.  Maybe it doesn't work anymore.  Evangelicals can always change what they said and then act like it's historic.  But how can separatists and fundamentalists still be legalistic and Wilson not, while his still ejecting pink haired men?  Tough, tough one, but it's of his and the evangelicals own doing.  They've made this cake, so now they get to eat it, even if it isn't for a wedding reception.

Is a male not wearing pink hair an essential?  Is it a gospel issue?  Do you have to have regular colored hair to be saved?If it isn't an essential, a non-tertiary practice, how do you kick somebody out of the church for wearing pink hair?  It seems to be moving a non-essential to an essential, a non-gospel issue to a gospel issue.  If whatever someone believes is true, it will work in ten or twenty or fifty years.  Evangelicals have been lying for awhile about worldliness and separation, and their new treatment will likely continue with a different lie that will need changing in years to come. It's a regular edit and tweak and rewrite.

Pink hair on men was an easy call at one time.  Everyone would say it was bad.  Everyone.  The folks said the same about rock music.  Wilson is someone that will quote "the Stones" in his writing.  They aren't the Rolling Stones.  They're the Stones.  Someone such as himself with his kind of knowledge can use the shorthand.  He's on a shorthand basis with the Stones.  The Stones are bad.  Evangelicals like Wilson listen to the Stones and Dylan and won't judge you for that, but you can't have pink hair in church. It's a tough one. Really, really tough. Who woulda thunk it?

When a pink haired male church member shows up one Sunday, or one of the deacons' boys shows up with the pink hair, can Wilson do anything about it? Is it allowed? The Stones are allowed as a backdrop to this, just as an example.  You've got to justify the Stones.  That's a non-essential.  How can pink hair rise to an essential?  Beard is being stroked with one hand.  Church doctrine and practice takes on the nature of a Rubik's Cube.

Could part of the answer lie in some sort of a don't-push-the-envelope principle? 
Here's​ an analogy: My typical weekday attire of late has been jeans, a T-shirt, a denim jacket, big earrings, eye makeup, lipstick. No problem for just about anybody in northern Idaho. But if I stepped through a time portal to a century ago, I would absolutely be in sin to continue dressing this way. Respectable women of that day did not wear trousers and did not paint their faces. Doing so would be an affront to my neighbor; it would be arrogant of me to insist on it. 
Technicolor hair is perhaps in that same category. Maybe in another hundred years it will fall into the same category as cosmetics or pants, but right now it doesn't seem to be there. 
Women should certainly be taking dominion in the realms of personal beauty and adornment, but perhaps the way to do that is by pushing as far upward as we can from within the boundaries of societal norms rather than pushing as far outward as we can from the center. 
I'm trying to get my head around Toby's and Doug's arguments, too. I know this is not an area where I'm overly discerning, though my faults and failings tend in other directions. So this is all me throwing out questions, not pretending to have clear answers.
How can we judge between jeans and a t-shirt on women and pink hair on men?  Aha.  What. do. we. do?  What principle can we evoke, since we've already forsaken the biblical ones?  She makes up the "don't-push-the-envelope principle," which is pretty funny.  What verse states that principle?  What's constructive in this world is asking questions.  "Just asking questions."  Not telling anyone that anyone is wrong.  Asking questions doesn't count as doing anything about it.  At the same time, when you are reaching for the life raft, you can say that you were asking questions.  They'll thank you as they go under for the last time.

The women, who at one time frowned on the t-shirt and jeans, were right.  They had reasons.  Those reasons were in scripture.  With their counsel being forsaken, there is in principle nothing left for the pink hair.  It's got to stay.

I printed the comment of Doug's female reader because it is so rich on what evangelicals have brought the church on cultural issues.  They have really nothing to offer that will slow down the slide to Gomorrha.   Fundamentalists now have bought into the evangelical arguments.  They have capitulated already for the most part.

If you have already started down the path where Doug finds himself, you've got really one option as a church.  You've got to say you had it wrong.  You have to repent.  That's the only option that will please God.  Count on losing people.  They won't stay if you start practicing consistently.

What I think most will do is just put their head in the sand.  It's not going to disappear. It's going to get worse out there.  Ignoring it will not work.  You were supposed to be giving guidance to a lost world.  You were supposed to be telling the truth to everyone, especially to the professing believers of your church.  Now it's something about a bed that somebody's made that he has to lie in.

What Doug does on pink hair is very evangelical of him.  He writes a flurry of blog posts. If you want people to stop, you hope that people will read you.  In the meantime, get accustomed to pink hair on men.

To Be Continued

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