Ask Your Preacher
Is it biblical to raise your hand(s) during praise and worship songs? Why do people raise their hand(s) during song? Is there a right and wrong way to lift your hand(s)?
Dear Palms Up,
The practice of lifting up your hands during worship is traced to 1 Tim 2:8, but unfortunately, many people misunderstand this verse. There is nothing wrong with literally lifting up your hands to God, but Paul is telling them to “lift up holy hands, without wrath and disputing”. The context is about a certain lifestyle that people were to have. It is similar to the saying, “Put your hand to the plow” in Lk 9:62. ‘Lifting up holy hands’ refers to working, laboring, and serving in a godly way. Christians are to serve God faithfully, without arguing and disputing with each other. ‘Lifting up holy hands’ has nothing to do with how high your arms are raised when you pray; it has to do with the character of the life you live. Are we living holy lives when our hands serve God (1 Cor 4:12)? Raising your hands during worship has the impression of godliness, but living faithful lives actually fulfills God’s command to ‘lift up holy hands’ (2 Tim 3:5).
Is it bad to listen to heavy metal music?
Dear Rock On,
There is nothing wrong with listening to music of any type as long as it:
- Does not teach or profess evil ideas (such as drunkenness, promiscuity, immorality, violence, etc.)
- Is not full of foul or crass language (Eph 4:29).
Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33), and bad music is a form of bad company.
Having said that – any other type of music is perfectly permissible. Jesus even used music as an example of general happiness in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:25).
When the Bible doesn't directly condemn something, but we are left with applying principles to determine whether the thing is right or wrong, whom are we putting our trust in? Do I trust myself that I have correctly applied the principles, and how will I know?
Dear Conceptual Thinker,
When we take Bible verses and combine them together to understand larger principles, we are doing exactly what God intends for us to do (Ps 119:160). In Acts 15, we see the apostles do that very thing. When the issue came up regarding the circumcision of Gentiles, the apostles listened to the evidence (Acts 15:12), studied the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 15:15-18), and came to a conclusion (Acts 15:19).
God tells us to be wise in that which is good (Matt 10:16). The way we gain that wisdom is by studying God’s Word and applying it to the best of our abilities. When we do that, we are placing our faith in God.
Leviticus 19:28 said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Why don't I hear too many churches preaching against putting tattoos on your body?
The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. This is not a right or wrong issue, but simply one of wisdom. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.
Right to bear arms – we are trying to find Scripture that would determine if you have the right to protect yourself… such as a home invasion. We have found ‘turn your cheek and let him have your coat’. Any help would be appreciated.
My favorite verse on the subject of self-defense is Lk 22:36. Jesus told His disciples that hard times were coming, times of great persecution. He said that things were going to be different from the days when they preached from city to city and didn't even bring any money with them to buy food because they would be provided for (Mk 6:7-8). However, after Christ's crucifixion, the preaching would get harder, and the risk to their lives would increase – so what was Jesus' answer to this increased risk to their lives? In Lk 22:36, He tells them to bring money and buy a sword. There is only one reason you would ever need a sword – personal protection. It was the first-century version of Jesus authorizing a concealed weapon permit!