Because Everything Has Meaning, Nothing is Neutral

July 23, 2009

Say we are dealing with a young man who has dyed his hair purple.  I am giving him counsel and I tell him (as I would tell him) that this was sinful.  He would want me to look up “purple hair” in my concordance and show him where the Bible prohibits it.  But this is as unreasonable as the demand to find a list of English obscenities in a Greek lexicon.  The Bible condemns rebellion, and the purple hair means rebellion.  If he agrees, he has admitted the sin.  If he disagrees, then he is an empurpled ignoramus, as the Sex Pistols would readily tell him, were they here.

(Doug Wilson, Future Men, 160-61)

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5 Responses to “Because Everything Has Meaning, Nothing is Neutral”

  1. Drew Says:

    Now this one smells like bait. Here’s a nibble. Great point, poor example. What’s unhelpful is that the excerpt flashes over the “big middle,” the conversation between a parent and a child draws out the heart and explores motives.

    I can think of several reasons (some sinful, some foolish, and a couple ok ones) that a person may want to color their hair apart from rebellion. Of course, Wilson might label all cosmetics “vanity,” so I don’t know his boundaries. Curious – is he going to condemn folks as rebellious who color their graying hair based on Proverbs 16:31 or 20:29?

    I really appreciate Tim Kimmel’s thoughts in the chapter “The Freedom to Be Different” in his book, Grace-Based Parenting. I really look forward to those conversations with Jonathan.

  2. David Says:

    But that’s what’s so fun about Wilson! Often there is no nuance. He smacks you with his point and forces you to think. I agree with your objection.

  3. Ramona Says:

    Since I’m an old fogey, I don’t really know the answer to this: Is there any reason, except for rebellion, that a person would dye their hair purple?

  4. Ron Durham Says:

    Though I am by no means a fan of purple hair, tattoos, body piercings, or any of the other immature things people do (not limited to young people anymore I’m afraid) Like Drew I would contend at least that conscious rebellion isn’t the only reason a young person might dye their hair purple. Sometimes it may be peer pressure & wanting to look “cool”, sometimes its “identity issues”, and still other times its sheer impulsiveness; all potential signs of a need for spiritual growth but still not neccessarily rebellion. The heart is the key issue here as always, and that’s where we need to focus; A constant challenge for any parent.

  5. Drew Says:

    I think that “intentionally being different” isn’t always equivalent to biblical “rebellion,” although you could define rebellion so broadly as to include anything beyond “normal.” I could have dyed my hair in college because I would have found it amusing. The church where I worked, however, could have seen it as rebellion. My parents would have been unfazed.


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