Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#211-Vanity, vanity

First off, I would like to thank Joel for allowing me to ramble on his blog. He took a big leap of faith in letting me do this, and I appreciate it.
Second, I would like to begin making my excuses (of course!). It’s finals week(s) and I am a senior in college. If I were in high school, none of this would matter to me. But since my GPA actually does count now, I’m devoting my life to what’s left of my studies. Therefore, my time is going to be filled with notes and books and other awful nightmare-ish things that take precedence above everything else. Long story short, I’m holding off on writing until I throw my cap in the air. (12 more days!) But before I temporarily hiatus, I have another post in the bag.
(Note: I hesitated about this post. Not because it's highly controversial or anything but because it's one of the many gray-standards-issues that I don't really quite understand... and thus am compelled to write about.)

Today’s topic has to do with the fascinating and delightful topic of nails. No, not the kind of nails you hammer into wood, but the kind that are on your fingers. To narrow it down further, I am talking about fake nails. Now, the reason I bring this up is not because I have a desire to wear them and I can’t and so I am therefore subconsciously letting off steam. Although that would be an understandable excuse, it’s not the case. Instead, this idea came to me several years ago when I was at camp and noticed that the cool thing to do was to get a French pedicure and wear flip-flops to show it off. And of course, one had to have a matching French manicure. Of course obviously, this French tactic was used to combat the dilemma Pentecostal girls have about nail polish. Since we can’t wear it, the next best thing is to get some stuff that looks unnatural but is labeled as natural. Although what’s so natural about blinding white tips on one’s painfully pink nails I leave you to discover.

This is just an extra-long aside, but Pentecostals seem to find a loophole that allows them to commit just about every sin the world has to offer while still technically maintaining standards. For example, can’t dye your hair? Just put some “Sun In” on it and voila! Blond streaks! No makeup? Wait for Halloween! It’s excusable then. Can’t cut your hair? Get a perm – they usually fry off about five inches worth. It’s easy! As someone who has grown up in this, you can tell I have learned just about every loophole there is (and every time I go to a “district-wide youth function” I learn a few more).
Anyway, back to my main point. The biggest excuse I have ever heard for wearing fake nails is that they are more “natural” and not as sinful as regular colored nail polish and therefore they should be allowed. Here’s the problem with this: aside from the previously mentioned unnatural yet “natural” color, fake nails are just that – they are fake. Meaning unnatural. Meaning bits of plastic you glue to your fingers, all for vanity’s sake. In short, that argument is ridiculous, and I still do not see the reason why Pentecostal girls feel fine wearing fake nails.
I hope this post doesn’t offend people, because that’s not what I intended. Personally, although it probably seems like I have a problem with fake nails, I actually do not. It just seems to me that the justifications for wearing them need to undergo some modifications if they are to hold up to anyone’s scrutiny, especially that of a new convert. (In Pentecostal world, New Convert is the ultimate trump card of the game, kind of like Helen Keller is in Apples to Apples.)
Note: to all the guys out there who don’t wear fake nails – I’m sorry. I hope this post did not bore you.


  1. You took the words right out of my mouth. Like you, I don't have a problem with fake nails, although they aren't for me. It's the justifications that really irritate me. Same justifications as perms (instead of cutting ones hair), broaches/giant flowers in the hair/giant diamond rings (instead of bracelets, necklaces, etc.), HuLu (instead of a TV), Sun in (instead of hair dye)...etc...etc...etc. The justifications are what I have a problem with in general when it comes to standards. Either do it, or don't, and don't make excuses one way or another. Because the justifications are what make us look hypocritical.


    I know some girls who wear fake flowers as big as their heads in their hair. How is it NOT adornment, I wonder?

    I've been told I just have "more convictions" than others... I'm not sure its more convictions, but rather adhering more to the standards we proclaim.

    Seriously, love this post x578955702. I want to share it with everyone I know. Its great to see another Apo out there feels the same way I do.

  3. Perhaps you could write one just called Loopholes and make a list?
    I've heard a prevalent loophole among bridal college girls is to get two pieces of wood and pat them together, hair in between and break off inches at a time. A girl in my church has hair 6 inches shorter than the rest of the girls in her family, but maintains it's been "burned" off by perms, but its perfectly rounded at the bottom.. Strange...

  4. Glen, I guess I could. I'd probably have enough material to write a book.

    Leigh and Abby, glad y'all like it!

  5. Why do we need the grace of God when all we have to do is make sure we don't wear fake nails or cut our hair?

  6. I'm sorry, but I must have missed it. Where in the bible does it say nail polish is a sin?? Isn't the sin vanity? But yet, how do you judge who is vain when vainity is in the heart! My bible says, man looks on the outward, but God looks at the heart. I don't know about you, but I only care what God sees. So, if only they abide by the standards of their church, they aren't considered vain?? I know women that have real nails, and they freak out if one breaks, and get manicures all the time. Yet, if I go and have fake nails put on, maybe because I have a problem with biting my nails, I am automatically labeled as vain? People, we need to wake up and quit judging each other, and get our noses in the Word or GOD!!!

    1. Man doesn't look on the heart, that's right. But isn't it best to dress modest so ppl notice something different about you? And also so you don't make a man lust? And men should not wear what women wear and women should not wear what men wear. Also, there is nothing wrong with getting a perm or putting your hair up real pretty. And the flowers are not jewlery they are more like an accessory if you pin them on your shirt. (such as glasses or sunglasses) or they will be more like a hair clip when putting them in your hair.

  7. I certainly agree that loopholes is what you should write an article about. Here is one I can't wrap my mind around - How is it okay to get a perm and not okay to color my hair? Both involve changing my hair from the state God made it, both involve chemicals, and I'm sure both are equally harmful to my hair (ahem, my glory lol) For the record, ever since a coworker asked me about this years ago, I've never gotten another perm. They had a point.

    And oh my how I cannot stand the "I don't wear jewelry" but let me put this enormous flower on my forehead...lol

    And, for the record, fake nails are also prohibited at my church if you hold a position, and I do...so I don't wear *anything* on my nails. Thankyouverymuch. =)

    Good luck on your finals, I finished my last one tonight *whew*. No school for a month!!

    Oh, and to the anon who posted above me, I totally agree with you that God looks on the heart and I do struggle with so many "do's and don't's" of our churches, but having been raised this way, much of it became part of my being and I never wanted to do anything else. I do find it hard to share with others why I don't cut my hair, or wear makeup, or why I only wear skirts, when I don't do them so much out of conviction but more because it's how I was raised and it's what is expected of me...

  8. How 'bout the loopholes of the following:
    Since Penny girls can't wear jewelry, their wedding rings are GINORMOUS (for the parts of the country that are allowed to wear wedding rings).
    Makeup at large church plays (we weren't allowed to do any halloween related activities).
    Pajama pants under skirts at the bible colleges and camps.
    Dresses/shoes/accessories costing several hundred dollars when we are expressly told to avoid "costly array".

    On a side note, those hideous, giant, bejeweled, flowered headbands look ridiculous to the outside world.

  9. We have to be very careful here not to fall into judgmental thinking. A set of rules does not make you holy. Holiness is applied to our lives by following the spirit into all truth.

  10. That's why the looopholes are so ridiculous.

  11. Marissa, love the post. And the one before it.

    Here's my twist: I grew up in a church that did not allow fake nails. The church I go to now apparently does... While the pastor's wife doesn't wear them, many of the women "on the plaform" do.

    This has been a real struggle for my husband who grew up in a church that was stricter than mine. I don't really care... yes, it's different, and no, I haven't gone out and gotten fake nails just because it's "ok" now. But it really bothers him... But what do you do when people aren't using loopholes, they're simply doing what they want to because the standard that used to be there, isn't there...?

    I've told him we just can't focus on that. If our church today doesn't FORBID fake nails (or hair dying... which is also apparently allowed because the pastor's wife is 70 years old and her hair is darker than mine... and I'm not even half of 70), how can we hold it against anyone?

    Honestly, I've felt like it's a little sad that this kind of thing (FAKE NAILS FOR PETE'S SAKE) can trip us up... bother us... even take more than a few minutes of our time. And it has (mine and my husband's, in our conversations).

    I completely agree that fake nails are "wrong" (vain, not a true report, etc.) ...but really? Is this what it's all about? And of couse the answer is, of course not. But it's out there, and it's an issue... and winning lost souls, prayer, miracles... that's on the back burner. (That's not a slam at anyone or on this post. If anything, it's directed at me more than anyone.) Le sigh... :)

    Have a great day, any and everyone who's read this way-long comment to the end! :)

  12. Jesus wasnt mentioned one time in this post or any of these comments.

  13. You are exactly right! When we start talking about "standards" the thing that ends up not being mentioned is Jesus. Which should be the very reason we do *anything*. But I would venture to say that lots of us (myself included on several things) abstain from doing things (like fake nails) just because my pastor doesn't want me to do it. Is that okay?

  14. Wow.

    Ok, what the purpose of this blog and this particular post is, is to satirize nuances within our movement. Marissa is a new blogger so you guys probably aren't quite used to her style.

    You're right, this post didn't mention Jesus. Know what? This blog isn't an online tract, ran by a church or organization, or anything of that nature.

    The post and comments are pointing out the irony behind what people SAY versus what people DO!

    Did she try to convince anyone there was something wrong with fake nails? NO! Can you read?

    She pointed out, the IRONY behind women who aren't "allowed" to wear nail polish, so they wear fake nails instead!
    There's no argument made here in favor of anything! It's a call out!

    I swear some people read at a fourth grade level on this thing.

  15. I don't really see that anybody missed the point of her article...and we're all posting with the knowledge that this isn't a church tract or an online witnessing tool. I think we're all commenting with the same spirit that she wrote her article - Which is lovingly pointing out things that perhaps are inconsistencies within our churches, and doing it with a splash of humor.

  16. I had the same idea a while back when I wrote this post: http://www.aaronmatthew.com/blog/?p=413

  17. Speaking of loopholes, I knew this girl at Bible college, who wasn't allowed to cut her hair, so she woke up with bangs one morning, and claimed she had cut it in her sleep! She blamed sleep walking instead of just being honest about her lack of conviction... lol... classic! Actually, I think people judged her more for that little story than they did for cutting her hair, cause loads of girls did the latter anyway.

  18. The words "unnatural" and "fake".. Why is "gettin your nails did" so wrong? All the ridiculous looking stuff Pente girls stick in their bun is fake and unnatural as well. Heck, hairspray is unnatural.

    Quote: "I still do not see the reason why Pentecostal girls feel fine wearing fake nails."

    We can't single out one fake thing because a group doesn't understand why some girls want it and some don't.

    How about this.. we rule out all fake articles.

    Clothes must be 100% natural (cotton, wool, etc). That is going to limit those brand new gorgeous stilettos..

    No artificial (fake, unnatural) hair products.. No hairspray, no Got 2 Be Glued, etc... Wear your hair like the good Lord made it..

    No watches... If they aren't made of a pure substance from mother earth then we can't wear them...

    I think you get my sarcastic point...

    100% Apo Pentecost here... Born and raised... Our problem is that we write articles like this and we don't write articles about about going out and getting the people that have all these things we stand against..

    It's not a outward thing.. It's a Jesus thing.. And when He is in, of course the outward will shine.. But that has nothing to do with your nails, your hair, or whats on your wrists, fingers or ears... It's always has and always will be a heart thing...

  19. It absolutely IS a heart thing. And the real question is why oh why do we still place so much emphasis on the outward appearance? I am also born and raised apo, and I'm not speaking in terms of this article, just in terms of the church in general. We hear more sermons about cutting hair, makeup, jewelry, and such, then we do about inward holiness. Where did we get so off track? Why did my pastor blast lip gloss and turn a deaf ear to gossip?

    Again, this certainly is not saying anything at all against this article, I quite enjoyed it!! She did a great job, but clearly through her humorous post, she struck a very real chord.

  20. Thank you, JP. You could pass for an @slapastolic writer.

  21. wow, i have grown up in church and get frustrated by standards and it is hard when we start playing "it doesnt say in the bible game"
    but take a bite of this:

    When God inspired the writers of the bible to write what he did, he is smart and if you notice, things that are NECESSARY for salvation are layed out very clearly because that will NEVER change

    on the other hand, standards in the bible have some things laid out (like not puttin a razor to your hair) but make-up and clothing things are not so clear because the norms change throughout the times. In jesus's time men wore robes and sandals.....that would be considered homosexual now and innapropriate

    When it comes to standards for men and women I personally think that is left up to personal conviction of your pastor who was appointed by God and put over your specific church for a reason and knows how to cater to the needs of his sheep.

    platform issues are always going to be more strict because you are portraying the very heart of what runs this place and have a responsibility of worship leading which is very important, so you should have more "rules"

    but i do agree specifically with the nails thing, and other strange things that dont seem that they should be "allowed"

    but if we keep biting at eachother about what we think is right then we lose focus of WHY we keep our standards!

    We keep our standards (however strict or not strict they may be-according to one another)
    to be SEPARATE and HOLY in the eyes of God.

    just because you wear skirts to the ground, never wear harispray or anything in your hair and have shirts two sizes too big with sleeves covering your untouched finger nails, but you hate God in your heat means absolutely nothing to God!

    standards are important yes! very important! but our relationship with God is more important and the close we are to him, the less we will want to dress unholy and we will automatically have the standardds God wants us to have.

    Love fulfills all the law!
    so if you truly love God and are sensitive to his voice in your life, everything (including standards) will fall into their proper place.

    Let this girl have an opinion and stop freaking out on her! its a blog. were allowed to have personal thoughts.

  22. @amy
    totally agree!
    standards are not meant for sermon material
    that is a topic you should speak to your pastor or pastor's wife privately about
    visitors dont need to hear about all our "rules" they need to hear about Jesus and his redeeming blood!

  23. WHO CARES!!?????? Are you not going to be taken in the rapture for having fake nails???? I don't think so! I've been in church my whole entire life I have them its not a big deal they aren't hot pink with dollar signs on them just a simple white tip it looks clean and neat. People need to stop knit picking standards and just get into the word of God living a life of Worship and you'll look like what you are supposed to a shining light for Jesus!

  24. Maybe, some of this things will not take you to hell ( fake nails, perms,etc..) but coming from someone not raised in church I can tell you that a lot of churches are starting to look more like the world that the holy separated priesthood we have been called to be! You waste your time defending why you get fake nails or why you permed your hair or whatever but to a sinner you look the same as them! The core of the matter is that we need to look different, because we are different! We are the children of God... a peculiar people... forget all this trying to look like the world because it will be easier to win the sinner! NO, that is not what they want! Standarts are NOT rules they are fences! Fences keep things in BUT they also keep things out... and @ the anonymous person before me... WHO CARES? I do! I had fake nails before I came to God and to most of us that were not raised in church fake nails don't belong in church! I really think that if we concentrate on JESUS, He will show us what is right! We need to let the Lord develop in us the convictions that we need to be a "SEPARATED PEOPLE" I love the Lord and my desire is to please Him in all I do!

  25. I see three problematic narratives going on within the discussion of standards. The first narrative involves how we teach the younger ones the standards which they should follow. The easy way to do this is to decide which things are right in which things are wrong and to teach the younger ones rules. This makes sense for children since they tend to lack the cognitive ability and the wisdom to decide many of these things on their own. The problem is that the rules are easier to teach than the fundamental thought process that created them and since the youth were maintaining a godly standard as they grew into adulthood the elders saw no reason to teach the underlying principles that created the roles. To be honest this was probably never a cognitive decision; the elders likely thought that the principles were picked up by the youth as they learned the rules. Times change and rules that were set and quite appropriate for one time may no longer be valid for a new time. There was a time in the 60s and 70s that beards and red shoes represented pimps and prostitutes but that is no longer the case. And in the opposing direction there is now more things you can do to your fingernails than simply nail polish. So now beards and red shoes are abstained for no reason and all manner of things are done to one's nails so long as the word nail polish is not on the bottle. The narrative that is needed is for every saint to learn the principles of holiness as a youth and to apply them afresh every few years.
    The second problematic narrative is that of the monolithic church. It is human nature to believe that if two people are doing something differently then one of them must be wrong. We think all people as being the same yet though we are equal in worth being the children of God we are not equal in life experience, intelligence, attractiveness, social skills, wealth, athleticism, health, or really any other metric we wish to compare individuals. This is the discrepancy between treating people equitably and fairly but at this point I digress. Each one of us lives in a world where we interact with a certain group of people, live by a certain group of cultural norms and expectations and have a given set of demands placed upon us. Some of the principles of holiness that the Scriptures teach us, such as to love and the avoidance of lust, transcend the worlds in which we live in. However, other principles are links to the world in which we live and since we do not necessarily live in the same world as our brother than the rules we developed from those principles will not be the same. One can easily imagine worlds in which wearing the suit would be costly attire or to not wear a suit would to be disrespectful.
    The third problematic narrative is that of the speed limit debate. The local municipality sets the speed limit on any given road. As a citizen we have very little say in what that speed limit is so when the municipality chooses a speed for a road that we do not agree with we do not try and change it. Instead we drive at the speed we believe should be set for that road and complain about the cops. As members of the apostolic community we have very little say as to the standards we are to follow. So when there's a standard that is an anachronism or non sequitur we disregard them and sometimes find technical loopholes in order to feign compliance. We do this since trying to change an out of date rule has consequences; remember the schism of 08 when the WPF split away from the UPCI. The problem arises when a standard is valid but we lump it in with the anachronisms and non sequiturs. Or when times change and we do things that we should not since there is no rule against them. So we randomly create rules to live by and hope they are good enough.

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  27. I thought it interesting that my pastor spent half of tonight's Bible study speaking on the necessity of knowing the principles behind the standards.

    There may be hope yet.

  28. Well said John. I personally do not like to use the word "standards" - it reminds me too much of the law. And we all know that covenant passed away.....

  29. Keep trying to "earn" salvation by following a set of "standards" that are man-made. News flash...Jesus looked just like the average male of his time/culture...know who he didn't look (or act) like?...those claiming to be religious and holy.

  30. i go to an apostolic church and i think it is crazy to be saying colored nails are wrong and to justify the pink and white nails. whats the difference. they are all nail polish changing the colors of your nails. i personally have been judged for wearing colors and i have took great offense. i even had someone give me pink and white for christmas to encourage me to change. i think it is a personal decision and people are too concerned about others apperance. it should be about the heart. and if one is convicted, do what you feel you should do, but do not judge others for not having the same convictions or justify your look because its more natural.

  31. I would like to more nuance my point. To say that standards are not bad, they are good. There are things that are wrong and must not be done. There are things that are right and must be done. It is the way that we communicate and even think about standards that is deeply flawed not the existence of standards.

    We can think about standards as a series of laws. This is easier to do, and they can simply be transmitted from one generation to the next as the laws; but this is the flawed system that we have. Originally these laws were created in hours or someone's mind based around a series of principles and morays taken from the Scriptures and from the society in which they dwelt. Wile the Scriptures do not change society is in flux and the laws devised to interact with the society as it was may no longer be valid to interact with the society as it is and as it will be.

    We could instead think about standards as laws that are recreated, from the principles and morays of the Scriptures and society, every time they are called on. This way the laws are always fresh and appropriate to interact with the society in which we find ourselves. But there comes a price; it is far harder to teach the next generations how to create the standards by which they are to live.

  32. Seriously, does it really matter if you cut your hair or not (some of the women need to cut their hair because of how dead and fried it is), whether you color it or not, whether you wear a ring, watch, earings or not. It's what is inside of the heart that Jesus sees.

    It's not Jesus or the bible that convicts, its people who convict and try to shove their beliefs down the throats.

  33. Great blog! Totally agree, I have been brought up in this apostolic truth and have seen alot over the years. Here are a few bible scriptures,
    "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16,
    " Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" 2 Corinthians 6:17

    "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1Corinthians 6:19-20

  34. I honestly didn’t read any good news out of this. The gospel is the “too good to be true news”! Here’s the good news, you can cut your hair, wear pants, make up, jewelry and still go to heaven. Anyone that says otherwise will only try to make a doctrine out of one scripture. Religious Pharisee’s proclaiming how holy they are because of a picture they are trying to paint for the world to see. God looks at the heart.