Over the past decade, there has been a huge growth spurt in the popularity of male accessorizing, particularly in the form of earrings. While in more conservative eras, this particular vanity was limited to the truly rebellious, it is not uncommon to see otherwise straight-laced men sporting a discreet earring. Different churches and denominations have different opinions on this trend, and the jury is still out as to whether this will become an acceptable accessory for the average Christian man.
Long before Christianity, many tribes believed that demons could enter the body through the ears so they placed metal in their ears to repel demons. Earrings were also popular in Elizabethan England, where most noblemen had some type of ear piercing that could be decorated elaborately.
However, as cultures changed, Western civilization began to consider the earring inappropriate, which led, in large part, to the general objection to Christian men wearing earrings. Even early Christian mysticism and other religions that predate Christianity that may have worshiped other deities have not made this trend more popular.
One of the things that makes it so hard to determine whether or not it is acceptable for Christian men to wear earrings is the wide variety of people who refer to themselves as "Christians." For some, being a Christian simply means following the teachings of Jesus Christ and trying to live in a manner similar to how he would have lived in a given place and time.
A slightly narrower definition of "Christian" is provided by Princeton University and reads as follows: "religious person who believes Jesus is the Christ and who is a member of a Christian denomination." For the purposes of this article, we will use both of these definitions to explore the implications and ramifications of Christian men wearing earrings.
People pierce their ears for many reasons. For most women, it is a practical method of accessorizing. For men, it may be more of a rebellious statement, and excessive piercing can be an aggressive expression of one's individuality. At times in decades past, the placement of a man's earring has also been a subtle acknowledgment of homosexuality, although this has never been the prevailing reason for piercing.
Ear piercing comes in several types. There are discreet, single holes that men occasionally decorate but often leave empty. Then, there are enlarged holes that hold cork, wood or large metal hoops. These generally should not be removed and are a fashion statement as well as an expression of individuality. Often Christian churches discourage piercing because it is an outward indication of rebellion and even if the church does not mind it, it can make other members uncomfortable.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say explicitly that men or women should or should not wear earrings. However, there is a lot about modest dress, and many Christians interpret this as a directive that men should not have pierced ears since this type of accessory is considered particularly flamboyant on men. However, in an age when churches are striving to bring as many people back and into "the fold" as possible, most have become tolerant if not accepting of this trend.
Many extremely conservative Christians believe that earrings indicate a belief in demons, support for demons, lack of faith or homosexuality. While historically many of these beliefs have coincided with piercing, in modern times a man's pierced ear seldom indicates much more than an affection for that particular accessory or an affinity for the piercing trend and accompanying look. However, it is nearly impossible to judge a man's religious inclinations by his wearing or lack of an earring.
In the end, most pastors and other religious figures in the church like elders and deacons may not like earrings themselves, but they do not condemn them. Religious expert Elmer Towns points out that a Christian's first responsibility is to bring honor and glory to God, and this is best done by remembering that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Based on this directive, one might say that as long as the earring is worn without an accompanying desire to betray God or indulge an excessive vanity, then Christian men can generally wear earrings unless their church specifically prohibits it.