(Picture of Ariana Lacono and her mother)
Earlier this year, a 14-year-old girl named Ariana Lacono was suspended from school. She was not being rebellious or harmful to anyone though. She was suspended simply because she had a nose piercing, and this violated the school’s dress code. Now, most people would take the easy path in this situation and just take out the nose piercing, but not this family. See, the reason this story became a headline is because they were claiming that the nose piercing was a way Ariana expresses her religion. Now, I have heard of people getting a piercing as a physical reminder of what Christ has done, but this went to a whole different level.
As it turns out, this family is part of something called the “Church of Body Modification.” Yes, you read that correctly. This is a group of people who heavily support body modifications and are tying it in with religious practices. So, Ariana was saying that her piercing is a part of her religion and should therefore be accepted by her school. Sadly, this dispute was taken to the Federal Court and the ruling went in Ariana’s favor.
Most of us probably have never heard of this “church.” I certainly had not. Essentially this church believes that the body, mind, and soul are connected and are an integrated unit. Therefore, if a person modifies his/her body, then the mind and soul will be modified as well. To be quite honest, this “religion” is outrageous and, well, gross. They support and endorse all types of body modification including all forms of cosmetic surgery, tattoos, piercings, tongue splitting, and body gauges (stretching the nose, ears, and other parts of the body with steadily larger objects). From what I can tell, this church endorses, literally, any and all ways to change the body and to push the limits of the body (such as fire walking).
There are several points to consider in this situation: (1) They claim to be a religion and yet they do not seem to worship together, use any scripture, or believe anything in the Bible. In fact, they support many grotesque and sinful practices. (2) God wants us to be respectful of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 3:16). Romans 12:1 states, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of god, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, well-pleasing to God….” Certainly it is not “well-pleasing” to God when someone significantly changes, marks, scars, and damages what God created. (3) People will do almost anything to get their way and get around the rules. Apparently, some will even go so far as to make an entire religion about it. It is sad that people are now using the label of “religion” to get around the rules and do what they want. These people are using the “members of their body” for sin and self-gratification within their man made religion, but God has instructed us to present the members of our body as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:12-13). This religion seems like nothing more than a loophole and an excuse to change and mark up the body.
Our lives should be about living for Christ (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21). It is not about modifying the beautiful way God created us, or pushing the limits of our bodies. The Scripture says, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:9-10, 13). Living and experiencing life physically is trivial in comparison to spiritual living (1 Timothy 4:8). The real way to live and experience life is by putting the deeds of the body to death and living a spiritual life dedicated to Christ.