Christian Myths and Ways Debunked
Is it OK for Christians to curse, dress provocatively, drink, or even get tattoos? Let’s take a look at some myths about how Christians are supposed to live.
By looking at the title of today’s study, you might be thinking to yourself, “what is this all about”? Last summer, I took suggestions on topics to do a Bible study on. There were some topics that could honestly be answered in a matter of minutes so I decided to cram many of those types of topics into one study about Christian ways and myths. For example, one of the suggested topics dealt with it being bad for Christians to cuss (swear). So I am going to take a look at a few topics (cussing, drinking, how we should dress, and even getting tattoos) in today’s study.
Christian should be perfect? Myth or truth
Many people outside of the faith of Christ have a viewpoint that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Some Christians like to also portray themselves in a manner that they are perfect. So, the question is, are Christians perfect or is that a myth? Are we as genuine believers in the Lord supposed to be perfect?
In Proverbs, Solomon says:
He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.Proverbs 14:2 NKJV
To walk, in this sense does not mean the way in which we walk literally, but how we live. The way we live should not be crooked but upright – straight.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV
Christians, as the children of God, should copy the way of the Lord. Is the Lord’s way crooked and perverse? No. The Lord’s way is righteous, therefore His way is right. The Lord’s way is upright, therefore, we are to imitate a way that is upright (righteous)
I can even reference a scripture that was part of our most recent study – Persevering Through the Storms of Life.
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rockMatthew 7:24 NKJV
It is not enough to hear the sayings of Jesus or know His sayings; we must do (strive for – practice) His teachings. If we follow Jesus’ sayings and do them (live by them), then the outcome should be somebody who is living and walking righteously through the Lord. So, it is certainly not wrong for people to expect the best behavior from us as Christians. We, as genuine believers, in the Lord ought to do our very best to live righteously.
Paul also wrote this:
24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:24 NKJV
We are told that we should put on “the new man” which was created according to God. The new man has been washed by the blood of Jesus and he is now clean in his soul. Again, we see that if we put on this new man that our walk should be both righteous and holy.
Holy: being revered, sacred, divine, and sanctified
The verdict: are Christians perfect?
Scripture is very clear to us – we are to walk in the way of Christ – He knew no sin. The fruits of the spirit, Paul writes (Gal. 5:16-23), is love,
joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Therefore, our upright behavior should include these ways. These ways are both righteous and perfect. So, Christians should be perfect.
However, we must be big enough to admit that nobody is perfect and that we are going to fail. Thankfully our sins have been forgiven and we live under the grace of Christ. Truthfully, many believers accepted this fact a long time ago and decided to turn to Christ because we understood that fact very well. However, with that turn, came this idea of things that Christians should and should not do to be perfect. Where did this come from?
Well Paul also wrote to us that the actions that are not fruits of the spirit but are works of the flesh: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. I want you to take a close look at the works of the flesh and I want you to keep both the fruits of the spirit and the works of the flesh in mind as we continue forward in our study today.
With these works of the flesh came an ideology of what Christians should not do. Some of the things that Christians have been told they could not do has been taken from these works of the flesh to an extreme. We’re going to get into some of the myths of things that Christians have been told to do and then we are going to give a verdict on the myth.
Christians should not curse? Why and why not?
Is it a bad thing if you curse and you are a Christian? Before we continue, jot down or think of your answer to this question. Why do you think it is good, OK, or bad for Christians to curse?
Paul’s writing is often referenced when it comes to this topic so we’re going to take a look at some of his writing. First we’re going to start off with what he said in Colossians.
6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.Colossians 4:6 NKJV
From this scripture, people take it that Paul is speaking about swearing and cursing. However, we need to understand why Paul is saying what he has said in this verse. Let’s get more context for this scripture by seeing what Paul said in the verse prior.
5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.Colossians 4:5 NKJV
“Walk in wisdom” is the subject of the verse prior to Paul’s opening in the sixth verse where he says, “let your speech always be with grace”. I feel that if we combine both of these scriptures we can get a better idea at what Paul is saying.
Notice, that Paul is talking about approaching those who are “outside”. This means outside of the Christian faith. Then we see the most significant word from both verses – “grace”. Grace is that unmerited love of God. So our speech to those who are outside of the faith should come from a place of love. Unfortunately, that is not something that is practiced by many believers today. Believers can be very nasty towards those who are not of the same faith or have no faith at all. You can be nasty with your words without ever uttering a curse word, right?
It has been determined that curse words are the “bad” words and therefore they should not be used at all. Calling somebody stupid, is that bad? Calling somebody ignorant, is that bad? We say many bad words to describe other people that aren’t curse words, right? We may even say these words to the face of others and these words can be very hurtful, right?
Calling somebody a fool, is that bad too? We can agree that we should not call people fools I believe. However, Jesus even called the Pharisees fools a time or two (Matthew 23:16-22). Would we say that Jesus is a bad person for calling those religious men fools? No, we would not.
Paul says (Col. 4:6) that your speech should be seasoned with “salt”. I preached a sermon last year called, “Stay Salty, Christians”. You see salt helps to bring out the flavor of food. Too little salt and the food tastes bland. Too much salt and it overpowers the food. The right amount of salt helps works wonders for our food. Our speech, however you choose to speak, should come from a place of love – that’s the key point. Coaches will cuss their players out and those players will tell you that they’ll run through a wall for their coach.
Paul continued in another letter:
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary [aedification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.Ephesians 4:29 NKJV
Again, here’s another scripture where the idea of cussing and swearing instantly comes to people’s minds. We see “corrupt word” and we begin to think of all of our corrupt curse words, right? We must look at the entirety of the scripture however before we instantly jump to conclusions.
This chapter opens with Paul saying, “I urge you to walk worthy of the calling”. Later in this chapter (v.25), Paul says, “let each of you speak truth with his neighbor”. Paul then talks about not giving place to wrath and stealing before he says, “let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth”.
We notice that the type of speech that Paul is talking about is similar to what he wrote in Colossians. Paul tells us that the speech that comes out of our mouth should be for necessary edification (teaching, learning, and growth). This again is talking about how we should speak to those we are teaching or those who are outside of our faith. Speak to them out of love, not hate.
Sometimes we feel that we must season our speech to get through to some folks. I have been told that people feel it necessary to speak in a manner that people will understand to get through to them. What is the meaning behind the words you are saying? I feel that this is very important and very key to the manner in which we speak. Paul tells us we should speak from a place of love.
Jesus even says as much when He said:
34 Brood[ of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.Matthew 12:34 NKJV
The verdict: Is cursing bad for Christians to do?
What words are in your heart? Are they going to lead to necessary edification (growth) of others? Is cursing helpful or can it truly be helpful to others?
My answer to this is that cursing is not the end of the world. In fact, the sin is not the cursing but the corrupt words that can lead others from faith in the Lord. Words that lead to further corrupting someone’s soul is far worse than any curse word.
Honestly, there is a lot more evil speaking going on in the world by folks who speak with eloquent words. What I mean by this is that there are many people who never curse but their heart is corrupt, therefore their way is corrupt, and if they teach and spread their way then their words are corrupt. Those who lead people away from Christ are far more corrupt (and dangerous) than the person that cusses up a storm!
I would suggest that Christians should at least strive to speak in a manner that is always respectful of others – remember who you are speaking too. Most importantly, we must also remember that we are not only representing ourselves, or our church but that we are also representatives of the Lord as well. So, we should always strive to speak in a manner that is representative of God. We should always strive to speak from a place of love and not hate.
With that being said, if the manner in which you speak, whether I like it or not, is helping others to grow spiritually, then how can I say anything bad about that? How can I judge you poorly? In the end, we are responsible for deciding what we feel is representative of the Lord and our faith.
Christians shouldn’t dress provocatively, why or why not?
Paul also wrote about dress in one of his letters, and I did a study on this scripture last year in the study – Sexism in the Church. I mention that study because people do not typically question the way men dress. When we start talking about dressing provocatively, we are talking about the way women dress most of the time. We have all probably seen a picture on social media about what some woman wore to church, to a funeral, to the store, etc. So, is there a dress code in the bible for the way Christians should dress?
Lets take a look at what Paul said:
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and [amoderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.1 Timothy 2:9-10 NKJV
As I stated in that study on sexism in the church, Paul was talking about dress during worship service. His reasoning was that women did not have to wear fine jewelry, fine clothing, or do their hair in a certain manner to worship God as pagan worshipers would do when worshiping their gods. I would be interested to see what Paul thinks of the way people dress when they attend church nowadays.
If you go to church, you can see a generational divide by the way people are dressed! The older crowd at church typically dress up when they go to church; they wear their finest suit or dress. Folks my age typically dress casual compared to those who are a bit older. In fact, you could say that dressing casually could be considered dressing modestly. So, there is certainly a “dress code” for church service that we should know and understand. Paul
What Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy does not necessarily answer our question about the Christian dress code outside of the church does it? Christians, especially women, are told that they should not wear revealing clothes that are tight or show a lot of skin but where does the bible say anything about this?
In the Old Testament we are told:
This is certainly a dress code, but it is not a code about
Let’s remember that Deuteronomy is part of the Mosaic Law and the Law was given to the children of Israel. We live under grace and not the Law in the Church Age. Though, we must also remember that the Law does have good intentions. This scripture, however, does not give us much more meat as to why cross-dressing was considered an abomination for the Israelites to practice. Here is a case where we cannot cross-reference this scripture with another scripture for more information. In fact, this is only stated in Deuteronomy. We can only theorize the purpose behind this law given to the children of Israel, but that is not something that we are going to do in this bible study.
In the New Testament, aside from Paul’s writings, Peter wrote about Christian dress as well (1 Peter 3:3-4). However, what Peter wrote is very similar to what Paul wrote about how women did not have to adorn themselves in fine clothing or do certain things for appearance when worshiping the Lord.
The verdict: does the Bible tell us not to dress sexy?
Truthfully, the Bible does not mention much else about the clothes we wear – it seems much of that noise comes from personal opinions.
I honestly believe the big deal with how we dress comes from stereotypes. For example, a woman that wears tight clothing, short skirts, and shows cleavage “must” be seeking attention or is even “slutty”. When I was growing up, the most that was ever said about the way boys dressed was that we should not sag our pants or wear baggy clothing. I remember sitting in church when one of the deacons stood up to talk down on us wearing baggy clothes back then. The thought was that it made some of us look like thugs. I wore baggy clothes but I was far from a thug!
I feel, again, that people should dress the way that they choose to dress but we can definitely use some common sense. We can all agree that there is proper attire for when we go to places like the store, the church, or the club. It is certainly reasonable to think that the way we dress is also representative of the Lord and our faith. However, we should not feel that God is going to condemn us because of what we choose to wear.
Drinking is definitely not Christ-like? Is this true?
Personally, I made the choice back when I was 18 years old that I was never going to drink alcohol. I do not drink, I do not smoke, and I do not do drugs – those are my choices. Were my choices driven by scripture or because somebody told me that Christians shouldn’t do any of those things? No. That said, somebody may have told you once before that you’re not supposed to be drinking because you are a Christian – let’s take a look.
Now, if you remember, I read you a list of things that were considered works of the flesh. Drunkenness is considered a work of the flesh. So, does this mean you shouldn’t drink any alcohol at all? Scripture is actually very clear on this subject matter and this may shock some of you. I cannot find a scripture that actually prohibits drinking alcohol!
Wine is actually mentioned throughout the bible. In fact, everybody knows that Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). Now, we could actually get into further discussion about that wine but that’s a study for another day.
15 So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.Ecclesiastes 8:15 NKJV
A common theme when we see wine mentioned seems to be its power to bring joy and to lift people to a happy place.
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine,Psalm 104:15 NKJV
And bread which strengthens man’s heart.
And here are the word’s of King Lemuel’s mother as recorded in Proverbs:
6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart.Proverbs 31:6 NKJV
The one bad thing that’s repeated in scripture about drinking alcohol points to drinking to drunkenness not being a good thing, and to not become a drunkard (alcoholic). Solomon wrote:
20 Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,Proverbs 23:20-21 NKJV
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
A winebibber is an alcoholic. Notice the consequence Solomon says of becoming an alcoholic (and glutton). With all of your money going to alcohol, you can fall into poverty was his warning message.
The verdict: is it bad for you to have a drink now and then?
Scripture is very clear on this subject matter – it’s not a bad thing to drink alcohol. However, we must remember that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit so there is no need to go all out and drink yourself to a point that you are doing foolish things that could certainly be considered works of the flesh. Do not drink to the point that you become an alcoholic because that is also a dangerous thing to do.
Thy mythical tattoo sin – good or bad for you to get one? Is it a sin?
The last myth that I will debunk today has to do with getting tattoos. Now, this is a very interesting one because I have been talking about this subject since before I became a preacher. I used to work with a young woman who was trying to get right in her walk with God. I walked into the break room and heard her and another Christian woman discussing tattoos. She feared that a tattoo that she had gotten before starting her walk would cost her because she was told that it was a sin to get a tattoo and that sin would be punished.
Now, many years later, I have had other people tell me this same thing. So, what scripture is it that says it is a sin to get a tattoo? The scripture you have probably been shown or have read can be found in Leviticus.
28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.Leviticus 19:28 NKJV
Again, I must point out to you that the book of Leviticus, like Deuteronomy, is part of the Mosaic Law. We, people living in the Church Age do not live under the Law but under the grace of Christ. I will say of the Law that the Law is good because it came from God, but God gave us His Son who is better than the Law. We are forgiven of our sins – I want you to know that.
There is something else that we must discuss about these tattoos because the question will be asked, “why did God not want the children of Israel marking their skin?” We must understand what tatooing and marking of the skin meant in ancient times.
A good cross-reference for this scripture is 1 Kings 18:28. In 1 Kings 18, we see the showdown at Mt. Carmel between Elijah and the pagan worshipers of Baal (Ahab and Jezebel’s god). The pagan worshipers were going through their ceremonies calling on their god but their god would not answer them. The pagan worshipers even began to cut themselves and spill blood in a way to call on their god. Cutting and marking oneself was a means of worship for pagan worshipers in ancient times. God’s prohibiting of tattoos (markings) and cutting of the body to the children of Israel, was telling them that they did not have to do such drastic things to worship Him!
The verdict: is it OK to get that tattoo?
So, even though this statute is under the Law, it is still true today that you don’t have to cut or mark your skin for the Lord to answer you. If you get a tattoo, there is nothing wrong with doing so – just don’t worship the tattoo! There are people who get tattoos in a way to honor, to remember loved ones. Some get tattoos because they are representative of themselves. Others get them because they think they look cool.
Why the myths?
For so long, many believers that came before us chose to categorize and stereotype people with tattoos among other things. These things were likely done with good intent in mind, but as time has progressed, we have also begun to grow in the way that we think about things. If we look at each subject that we have broken down in this study – a lot of the myths stem from stereotypes about people in the past that does not necessarily fit in our world today.
I don’t look at a woman that is showing cleavage and think, “she looking for a man”. Chances are very high that woman has a doctorate or masters – she might very well on a successful business. The guy that has a tattoo sleeve on his arm could very well have a ministry of feeding the hungry. That man or woman that you see out to eat drinking a beer or having a glass of wine could have just finished writing out a sermon!
If we’re ever going to grow as a people we must learn to look beyond old stereotypes – let them go. Many of these stereotypes have done mankind more harm than good. There is much more
That is it for this study! I hope that you enjoyed this study and will share this study with somebody! Until next time, may God continue to keep and to bless all of you!