Today I read 1 Corinthians 3, a very well known chapter for it's verses 16 and 17 where Paul declares that we are the temple of God. As a Latter-day Saint, it is not uncommon for our beliefs to clash with those of the world and for us to receive questioning looks from those who differ from our beliefs. Most often the things that get me the most questions about being a Latter-day Saint involve the Word of Wisdom, and our stance on the body, namely tattoos and piercings.
The Word of Wisdom, it seems every culture has their own vice when it comes to the Word of Wisdom and so depending on who you talk to, you get a different response. I know that having served a mission where I worked with the Chinese people, the big hang up was tea. In America, it's coffee, alcohol, possibly cigarettes and if you are in the South, tea. Living in Alabama I have co-workers that break every don't on the Word of Wisdom on a regular basis. I will never understand why people want to drink alcohol, I just don't understand it at all. The tea I can understand, it has a pleasant smell to me. The coffee, it makes sense, they want the caffeine to help them stay awake. Even the cigarettes make sense to me. But alcohol, I have never understood it in the slightest. I mean, if you drink too much of it you throw up. It takes the salt out of your body and dehydrates you giving you a "hang over" the next day. It makes you do things you regret when you sober up. It makes you say things that you normally wouldn't. I mean, what's the draw? Where is the upside to drinking? I just don't see it.
There are so many ways to talk about our bodies being a temple. I could talk about the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, appropriate language, all of it fits. However, I think I will focus on keeping our appearance clean and orderly. Another fad I have never understood is that of piercing your body and getting tattoos. I like a nice pair of earrings on a girl, I really do. But when people start getting their bodies pierced in weird places, it is just bizarre and a HUGE turn off for most Latter-day Saints. For one thing it hurts. Ask anyone who got their nose, not the nostril but the bridge, pierced. Ask them how awesome it was the first time they sneezed or had to blow their nose. It just makes no sense to me. I know I keep saying that, but I really can't understand why people do it. It started out, so I understand, from a desire to be different. I don't know why it continues however because now people who do it are typecast into one lump of people. And truly most of them fit quite nicely in there.
The other aspect I have never understood are tattoos. I get that it's art to these people, but the skin is not an appropriate medium for any art. It changes. Let's say for the sake of argument that you stay the same size your entire life and so the tattoo does not stretch or sag because you never got bigger or smaller, laughable I know, but for the sake of argument let's go with it. Your skin is still going to sag when you get older and it will look ridiculous! I cannot think of one good reason to get a tattoo, not one. It's painful to get. Most of them do not add anything to the appearance of the individual. In my opinion most of them are pointless anyway. Some I have seen are quite intricate and honestly pretty neat to look at. But it is still inappropriate to deface the body like that. These artists would be much better appreciated by putting their work down on canvas and being appreciated for their art in my opinion.
I have often wondered if the reason young Latter-day Saints sometimes get a tattoo is because everyone around them is doing it, the peer pressure aspect, or if it is because they don't understand the principle behind keeping our bodies clean, inside and outside. I think it's a little of both. Although I have never understood the point of peer pressure and if your friends were true friends once you explain to them why you don't want to do something, they would back you up on it. But that is a completely different conversation entirely. As for the other reason, the lack of understanding about why we should not get tattoos in the first place, I have always liked the argument of our bodies are a temple and we would never spray paint the temple walls. It's a wonderful analogy and, at least for me, puts it into perspective. If our bodies are a temple, we need to treat them like the temples of the earth.
You would never deface a temple. At least I hope not and if you would then you have much bigger problems! We need to treat our bodies with the same reverence that we would treat the temple itself with. The temple is the most holy building on earth and so our bodies should be as holy as we can make them too. We should not defile them and should not do anything to make Heavenly Father disapprove of how we are treating our bodies, inside and out. Respect for ourselves starts with how we treat our bodies. We cannot have the Spirit with us if we do not respect our own bodies and don't treat them the way Heavenly Father wishes us to. It is possible to have the Spirit as your companion with a tattoo, but as with anything else, it can be more difficult to keep the Spirit around us when we do not follow the commandments as strictly as we should. And do you really want to take that chance that the Spirit will not be there to help when we need Him the most? I sure don't. Until tomorrow.