Questions From Readers
● Is it proper for a Christian woman to have her earlobes pierced to accommodate earrings?—B.C., Canada.
The Scriptures do not provide the information making possible a strict yes or no answer to this question. Whether one will have her earlobes pierced for this purpose is really a matter for personal decision.
We have the principle at Leviticus 19:28, which prohibited the making of cuts in one’s flesh for a deceased soul. This was a practice found among those holding false religious beliefs. Some may feel that this prohibition would apply in principle to other unnecessary cuttings.
On the other hand, the Bible does mention earrings (as well as nose rings) and there is no way today to know whether this use involved piercing the ears or not.—Gen. 24:22, 47; Ex. 32:2; 35:22; Ezek. 16:12.
We may note, too, that the Law covenant provided for the piercing of the ear of a Hebrew slave who had fulfilled his required period of slavery and who wanted to remain a slave of a good master. (Ex. 21:2-6) The master was to pierce one of the slave’s earlobes with an awl as a sign of this. This, of course, was not simply for adornment as in the case of piercing ears for earrings, yet the effect on the person’s flesh was the same.
In viewing these various factors together it is apparent that no dogmatic answer can be given. Each Christian woman must exercise her personal conscience in the matter. Some, in applying the above principles, may not want to have their ears pierced; others may feel they can conscientiously do so. A married woman who favors having her ears pierced should rightly consult her husbandly head first. Similarly, a minor would take the matter up with her parents and abide by their decision, in harmony with Jehovah’s arrangement for the family.—Col. 3:18, 20; Eph. 5:22–6:4.
As Christians we should also consider the feelings of others. We may remember the apostles’ counsel showing that the wearing of ornaments is not as important as adorning oneself “with modesty and soundness of mind” and “good works.”—1 Pet. 3:3; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10.
● In the Bible, Exodus 4:11 reads: “Who appoints the speechless or the deaf or the clear-sighted or the blind? Is it not I, Jehovah?” Does this mean that God is responsible in every case for such defects as deafness and blindness?—U.S.A.
No, as this would be out of harmony with God’s whole personality. The Bible tells us: “With evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” (Jas. 1:13) His acts are always purposeful. Never does he bring calamity upon a person without good reason. He is the source of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (Jas. 1:17) “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.”—Deut. 32:4.
In harmony with this, we see that it was by their own choice that the first human pair, Adam and Eve, lost their perfection and hence their ability to produce perfect children. (Job 14:4) As their descendants married, more and more imperfections began to be manifest among humans, including physical defects such as blindness and deafness. Because he has allowed this to develop, Jehovah God could speak of himself as ‘appointing’ the speechless, the deaf and the blind. (Compare Romans 8:20, 21.) Moreover, he fully understands such handicaps and their causes.
Also, Jehovah God has not shielded persons from the sad consequences that disobedience can bring on the physical organism. God’s unchangeable law is: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) Thus children born of incestuous relationships may be born defective; they may be blind, deaf and otherwise handicapped from birth. Persons indulging in sexual immorality may contract a venereal disease leading to their becoming blind, deaf or even insane. The same might be true of children born to a woman infected with venereal disease.
When it is in agreement with his purpose and ways, Jehovah God can literally cause people to become blind, deaf or speechless. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is an example of this. When Zechariah expressed doubt upon learning that he would become father to a son by his aged wife Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel said to him: “You will be silent and not able to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their appointed time.” (Luke 1:20) Zechariah was then for a time made mute, not able to speak until the circumcising of his eight-day-old son.—See also Acts 13:8-11.
Still another way in which God “appoints” the speechless, the deaf and the blind is in a spiritual sense. If people choose to be deaf and blind to his message, he permits them to persist in unbelief. This was the case with unfaithful Israel in the time of Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah was told: “Go, and you must say to this people, ‘Hear again and again, O men, but do not understand; and see again and again, but do not get any knowledge.’ Make the heart of this people unreceptive, and make their very ears unresponsive, and paste their very eyes together, that they may not see with their eyes and with their ears they may not hear, and that their own heart may not understand and that they may not actually turn back and get healing for themselves.”—Isa. 6:9, 10.
Since Jehovah God knew the heart condition of the unfaithful Israelites, he foreknew that they would fight against his message. The more Isaiah would call Jehovah’s word to their attention, the more they would harden themselves against it. In this way Isaiah’s prophesying revealed or made evident the full extent of their spiritual blindness and deafness. The effect of this was as if they had been made spiritually deaf and blind.
Hence, in view of what Jehovah God has done and can do, the Scriptures speak of him as ‘appointing’ the speechless, the deaf and the blind. But he is not directly responsible for all cases of such physical handicaps. These physical defects have come about mainly through God’s permitting a sinful human race to come into existence. In a few cases and for specific purposes Jehovah God caused physical blindness and speechlessness; he has made spiritual blindness and deafness to become manifest in those who fail to exercise faith in his word or message. On the other hand, he has also granted spiritual sight and hearing to those seeking to do his will and, through the rulership of his kingdom by Christ, will free humankind from all physical handicaps.—Isa. 61:1, 2; Rev. 21:3, 4.