A few weeks ago, I dyed my hair blue. This has caused a bit of a stir.
I’m not surprised. I find it quite stirring myself.
I did some experimental color last summer and fall, but this was a step well beyond the reds and even dark purples which don’t seem to scare people. I guess blue screams, I’m breaking away from the norms!
I’m sure people think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I don’t feel all crisis-y, so I doubt that’s it. I just honestly wanted to do something cool for once and this seems pretty innocuous and non-permanent. And fun.
Having blue hair has been a revelation in some ways.
For one, total strangers are way more likely to give me a shout-out now. “I love your hair! Blue is my favorite color!” I’ve heard that at least a dozen times now, usually in the grocery store.
I’ve seen kids’ eyes get wide as they break into huge grins. They know what’s up. Sorry, parents, if your kids are using me right now as leverage in their argument to let them dye their hair…. By the way, you should totally let them do it….. Be prepared for some weird colors left behind in the shower though.
We need blue-haired people in this world. We do. And tattooed people, and people with nose rings, and people who wear weird colors or look androgynous or who play D&D on the weekends with their friends in a basement somewhere.
We need the people outside the “norm.” They show the rest of us that it’s ok not to be all matchy-matchy with what the world tells us we should be like.
We’re called to love those who are different, difficult, or outside our comfort zone. If you can’t get past the fact that I, a woman in the middle of her professional career, assaults your eyeballs with hair displaying about 5 blue hues — what are you going to do with the genuinely odd people you’re called to love?
Further, young people need to see all kinds of people living healthy, productive lives. Offering one standard model of a Human creates the impression that all the others are somehow deficient.
We crazy-haired people are pretty normal. Some of the nicest employees at the mall work at Hot Topic. Their body modifications (a typical trait of a HT employee, I’ve noticed) has no bearing on their friendliness, their capabilities as workers, or their value in this world. Likewise, I’m not sure why schools tend to jump all over things like crazy socks or crazy hair colors. Who cares what your socks look like? Or your hair? “It’s distracting.” Really?
God doesn’t care (I’m pretty certain) what my hair looks like. He created it brown, but I’ve never put much stock in the “if God wanted you to have ——, He would have created you that way” line of argument. Adam and Eve, apart from the Fall, would have still been working toward the New Jerusalem. From a Garden to a City was always the plan. (Read more about that in Al Wolters’ excellent little book, Creation Regained.)
Growth and development have always been the tasks of humans who create, being in God’s image.
Evangelicalism is really struggling right now to handle the LGBTQ+ movement. What I’m seeing, for the most part, is a willingness on the part of most Christians to love individual people (people they know, people they’re already friends with) even after they find out those people identify with an alternate sexuality …. but a deep-seated resistance to loving LGBTQ+ people as a group.
Somehow, in the aggregate, what is non-normative is more threatening. To extend marriage rights (some argue) diminishes marriage. To bake a cake implies approval. And Godforbid we imply that in any way, we condone anyone’s aberrant sexual behavior, identity, or leanings.
Apparently the Holy Spirit has lost His ability to convict people of sin, righteousness, and judgement (cf: John 14) in these latter days. The LGBTQ+ movement broke Him?
A decade of teaching taught me that I can’t change anyone. I can love them, encourage them, cajole them, and warn. But I cannot change anyone. It’s simply not my job. And it’s also not my job to function as someone else’s conscience, certain that I identify the areas in his life where he’s clearly wrong and sinning to make sure he knows that he’s messing it up.
I grieve when a friend tells me they’ve spent a lifetime trying not to be gay, not to be weird, not to be trans*, not to be different. I don’t have easy answers for them. I don’t even know how I’m supposed to think and feel about these issues – I cannot reconcile the Bible’s words (as I understand them) with the narratives I hear from people I love.
I’ve read the arguments from Christians working to reconcile biblical narrative and systematic theology for those who claim both faith in Jesus and a non-heterosexual identity. Ken Wilson’s Letter to my Congregation is one of the few I find compelling — I like his recommendation that churches provide a pathway for gay Christians to remain in communion with the Body while the larger Church sorts this stuff out. The Holy Spirit is big enough to handle Christians who are behaving non-normatively and – if they’re sinning – convict them of sin.
I’m certain that breaking people in the name of Jesus isn’t the right way to handle this.
Friends, if we cannot bring ourselves to tolerate oddball hair colors, a non-threatening behavior that lies outside our accepted norms, how are we capable of loving God and our neighbor when that actually gets hard?
Loving God doesn’t mean making everyone around me worship Him the same way I do and for the same reasons. It’s God’s job to call people to His name – He makes that clear.
Loving my neighbor doesn’t mean co-opting the Holy Spirit’s job to sanctify those who claim faith in Jesus. It means …loving.
Perhaps it means allowing myself to live in the uncomfortable region where I cannot exactly see how to reconcile my theology and my faith with my friends or their narratives, while remaining genuinely hospitable and welcoming to anyone who shows up at my door needing a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Perhaps that is what Grace looks like – giving up my comfort zone for the sake of another.
Perhaps we Christians need more blue-haired people around.
Because if you can learn to stop thinking of my hair as an unnatural aberration, maybe you can also stop seeing your LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ only as misguided, disobedient Christians … and simply care for them instead.