Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Defining “the minimal piercing of the ears”

So our oldest is about to get her ears pierced,* and it’s brought to mind the statement on tattoos and piercings that Gordon B. Hinckley offered in 2000:

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also “the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes.” We do not, however, take any position “on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings”—one pair.

I remember this well, because i was teaching at Brigham Young University at the time, and the dress and grooming standards were rapidly changed so that “excessive” ear piercing for women was defined as more than one per ear, rather than more than two per ear.

This leads to an intriguing question. We’ll take it as a given that current church policy allows only one piercing per ear—but i see no requirement for those piercings to be in the earlobe. Our kid’s going to get her ears pierced in her earlobes, but presumably a devout Mormon woman could have piercings through her ear cartilage, as long as she only had one per ear. Right? Let me know if i’m missing something here, ’cause that’s the way it reads to me (and to Jeanne, for what it’s worth).

* This has nothing to do with the fact that it’s nearing Xmas, despite the calendar—we’re actually a few months overdue on when we told her we’d let her get it done.


KRad said...

Funny you should mention... At some point in my life I've had double holes in my earlobes and 1 hole in the top of one ear, in the cartilage (random side note I got this piercing while attending Ricks Collage - not in my "rebel East Coast living days", whatever that means). I was never much a fan of my "second" hole & let it close up rather quickly. However, the one at the top is one I still use from time to time when I feel the need to express my individuality (warped I know but sometimes I feel to let others know that "no I am not the cookie cutter Idaho Mormon I was raised to be" - but you know that). A couple of years ago, I had my top earring in & no others (I hardly ever wear earrings anymore in any of my "holes") when someone came up to me at church and publicly gave me grief about my top earring and what the prophet had said - when I promptly replied that I was only wearing "one earring" to which they had no argument. Not the "spirit" of the counsel I admit but I took way too much pleasure in my response that day. So I took the long way in saying I think your are correct in the literal understanding of what you said but I also think that that's not what was intended or the "spirit" of what was intended by the counsel, but in the end we are each going to do what we are going to do - just as I did - and honestly if I was to get "in trouble" for this I think I'd get into more trouble for my attitude then my actions, but that's just my opinion, for what it's worth.

David B said...

I don’t know, KRad—the way i look at it, you’re either perfectly in keeping with both the letter and the spirit of the law, or you’re going to hell.

I can’t figure out which it is, though, so make sure you send me a card to let me know once you get there, wherever there may be.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Go to hell, go to hell. Gonna go to hell... (I love that song... it's from God's Army. Oh, wait. Maybe I ought not to admit I watch that movie. I mean, what's his name who did it has left the church now for doctrinal differences. And the main character wasn't Mormon anyway. So I guess that means.... Go to hell, go to hell. Gonna go to hell...)

Oops. Got off topic there.

I had double pierced ears for a while. Actually I had three holes for a while which was a really strange fad when you think about it. Good for the stores, though, because they charged the same whether you were getting one hole or two. I never could bring myself to pierce the cartilage because I am a chicken and don't do pain. As it turns out I can't wear any earrings and get random icky pussiness in the four holes I have that will never close up. They hurt sometimes. I can't actually wear earrings because all kinds - including the gold ones - make my ears turn read and burn. It's weird and really too bad since I liked wearing earring.

Anyway, I think the location/type of earring plays into the section in For the Strength of Youth on modesty. It talks about not calling undue attention to yourself, which can be done wearing clothes we would call modest just as easy as clothes that are clearly not.

I'd say a nice stud in the cartilage would be fine and in keeping with the official statement... at least the letter of it. But I think most people would find it hard to argue that it is wrong somehow. Of course most people don't generally just wear an earring in the cartilage. Most people wear that in addition to others. But alone... fine.

However, I think that one set of earrings in the lobes could be completely going against the directive. I've seen some outlandish earrings on people. Distracting weird ones. And then there is like what our cousin Andrew has in his ears. (Forget for a moment that he is male, females could do this, too.) He has those things that you put in the holes that get progressively bigger in order to make big huge holes in the lobes. I forget what he called them. Anyway, they look super weird and kind of gross. BUT that would be one single pair of earrings. So it might be exact to what was said, but it would definitely be calling undue attention to yourself and probably not be okay (never mind how when they suddenly realize at 30 or 40 that those holes are never ever going away).

FWIW, and talking about piercings, I thought our sister's belly button ring was cool. And I've always thought that Ani's belly button would be perfect for a ring and it would be really neat if she got one there - which of course means that she never will because mom actually approves. I'm not sure a covered belly button ring would be a problem (though, granted, most don't get one to keep it covered).

Michelle said...

I liked my belly-button ring, too. I've been surprised - that hole doesn't close up either. Although I was relieved when the hole didn't become huge when I was pregnant with Erik.

I guess I'm guilty of being in the shock-value category. It was funny to see the shocked expressions when people learned I had a belly-button ring. I took it out when the church made it's statement about earrings, but I have to admit I miss it a little bit. More than I miss having earrings in the one extra hole in one ear and three extra holes in the other (to include one in the cartilage). Now, though, it's remarkable if I actually think to put in one pair of earrings.

velska said...

To go with the title of your post, I'll post a snarky comment.

The statement was about modesty. But since especially Mormon Corridor Mormons must have everything explained to the minutest details, it was clarified as "one piece of modest earrings for women."

(For example, people would love it if there were an official statement about what distance exactly the dress hem must be from the kneecap and/or the ground (you know, one wouldn't have to make decisions).)

Now, this discussion's waffling around cartilage just proves my point in a way...