That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tattoos ~ Christian???

I really had no idea that there was such a thing as a "Christian" tattoo. I guess I'm just out of the loop?? Or maybe it's the fact that the Bible specifically says tattoos are wrong, so a "Christian" tattoo is an oxymoron.  A couple of weeks ago I was doing some internet surfing, and I happened to stumble across this article on a Christian website about tattoos.  Usually when I'm looking at a Christian website I tend to be pretty skeptical.  There is A LOT of stuff out their claiming to be Christian, and it's nothing of the sort.  I don't just assume that because I website says it's Christian it's actually Christian.  There might be Christian stuff about it, but almost always there's something a bit off once I start digging a bit deeper.  

I had read several articles on this particular website and the writers were pretty on track in what they were saying.  The one about tattoos kind of intrigued me so I clicked on it.  Well, was I ever in for a shock.  The initial article was not that bad.  The writer did not come right out and say that tattoos were wrong (which he should have), but he strongly suggested that Christians should think twice before marking their bodies all up in permanent ink.  It was when I started reading the comments that I became more and more astonished at what people who claim to be Christians believe regarding tattoos.  

There is one verse that specifically mentions tattoos in the Bible which the author quoted in his article.  It's in Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.  I think this verse is pretty clear.  It says Ye shall not.  You can't get much clearer than that!  Well, the reasons people gave for not being obedient to this verse ranged from just plain dumb to outlandish!  Here's some and you can judge for yourself how ridiculous they are.

1.  That was the law and that was for Israel, so now we're under grace and it doesn't matter what we do. 
  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (you're right we are under grace).  Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also; Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:28-31.
  Oops... that reason doesn't work now does it.  Actually the fact that we are under grace means we have a greater responsibility to live holy and obedient lives (I Peter 1:10-16).  I bet a lot of Christians haven't heard many sermons preached about that.  Besides, if we throw out the "ye shall not" in this verse, we have to throw out all the 10 commandments too. 

2.  This verse says you're only not to cut or mark your body for dead people.  So, if I don't do it for the dead then it's okay.  
 HUH???????  Okay, if you really want to go with that then maybe read I Corinthians 6:19-20.  That verse was given a lot in the comments on that article by people who believe the Bible forbids the Christian to get a tattoo (which it does).  Others rationalized this command away by saying it was speaking only about fornication (vs. 18).  I find it astounding how our sinful, human nature can simply disregard clear applications of Scripture in order to justify the wrong that we want to do.  Yes, I Corinthians 6 is dealing with fornication, but there is a principle here, and that principle has far reaching application.  There are other verses too: I Thess. 5:22, Romans 12:9, I John 2:15-16, Colossians 3, Ephesians 4, but I'm sure there would also be some reason why these could not apply to tattoos.  

3.  The reason God gave Israel this verse was because they were going into a land full of heathen people and the heathen practice was to cut and mark their bodies for dead people.  The idea is that Israel wasn't supposed to copy the heathen nations around them. That's why God gave this specific command, and that's why it's only for Israel and doesn't apply to us today.
  Umm... okay, so do we not still live in the midst of a heathen culture? Is our heathen culture not OBSESSED with tattoos?  Pretty sure if you're going to use that reasoning you've actually just strengthened the case for not getting a tattoo, not refuted it.  I John 2:15-16.  

4.  I'm going to get a Christian tattoo of a cross or something and use it to witness to people.
  Yah, and I'm going to buy a lottery ticket, and when I win I'll donate all the money to Christian ministries.   I know maybe I'm being a bit over simplistic, but really, using that kind of rational will allow you to get away with all kinds of sin.  It's like going to a bar to pass out tracts, or inviting all your unsaved friends over to your house to drink beer and then witnessing to them.  Show me in the Bible where God tells us to witness to people with tattoos (or beer)?  God doesn't ask us to do something wrong in order to do something right, because God will never contradict Himself (Malachi 3:6, Titus 1:2).  Besides the way we witness to people is through preaching...more specifically preaching the cross of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:18) not through tattoos or going to bars or buying lottery tickets.
BTW... it's not the witnessing part of this equation that is wrong.  Witnessing is good!  But the Bible tells us how to do that, and being disobedient to clear commands in Scripture is not a way that God wants us to witness.  We may get results (they'll probably be temporary at best), but results don't necessarily mean blessing.  Check out the results Moses got in Numbers 20, but look what it cost him because of his disobedience.

5.  I prayed about it and God didn't tell me not to get a tattoo.
  Actually, He did tell you not to get a tattoo.  It's in Leviticus 19:28.  You just chose not to listen.  This is also very faulty rational.  It's never right to do wrong in order to do right!  (see point #4 for Scripture)

6.  I already had tattoos before I got saved, and God accepted me the way I am, so it's okay for me to get more tattoos because He'll accept that too.
  More flawed logic (it's really secular humanism).  Yes, God did accept you with your tattoos when you were saved.  More than that He forgave you for the sin of getting a tattoo.  Just like He forgives all the lies, immorality, and other wickedness in our lives when we come to Him and ask.  But God expects His children to obey Him!  He expects them to read His Word and study and live righteously.  Will we fail?  Yes, and He WILL forgive us again.  It's not about His acceptance, because the only way God accepts me is when I come to Him humble and broken and confess my sin and ask for forgiveness. For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Is. 66:2).  God doesn't accept me when I purposely and willfully live in disobedience to His will.  Just look at King Saul.  Besides, I don't want to be accepted by God.  That's so shallow.  I want to be forgiven.  I want those sins erased.  I want Him to throw them as far away as the east is from the west and remember them no more.  Salvation is immediate and complete when we receive Christ as our Saviour.  Nothing you can do will ever cause you to loose your position in Christ as a saved child of God (Eph 1:13; 2:6).  Sanctification is a process that starts the moment we are saved and continues until we are someday glorified in heaven with Christ either by death or through the Rapture.  Sanctification is the process by which we become more like Christ (Romans 8:29).  Part of sanctification is getting rid of that wickedness from our old life.  I don't keep lying after I'm saved because, oh well, God accepted me before when I lied, so He'll accept me if I do it again.  I don't keep living in immorality after I'm saved because God will accept me even if I do.  Will God forgive me for the sins I commit after I'm saved?  Absolutely, 100%, YES (I John 1:9)!  We don't become perfect overnight.  That's why sanctification is a process.  BUT, when God brings something in our lives to our attention that is wrong, we must forsake it.  Otherwise we remain baby Christians forever.  Check out I Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 5:12.

Should Christians get tattoos? NO!  It's as simple as "ye shall not."  I really had no idea that this was such a big thing among Christians.  I thought it was easy.  The Bible says don't do it, so don't do it.  End of story.  Apparently it's not that way with a lot of people.  I think we need a bit of a Christian reality check.    I think we need to sit back and really take some time to look at the Scripture and learn what would Jesus do?  It's all there in His Word.  Somehow I can't picture a holy, perfect, just, pure, righteous, good God walking around with tattoos all across His body.  It just doesn't fit the picture of Him that's in HIs Word.  It might fit some man's idea of what God is, but that's not the image we're given of God when we read the Bible.  


  1. Just read this now... and I'm so glad you posted :) A few of my Christian friends have gotten tattoos lately, and it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there against it! Thanks for the verses you put in your blog, too. It's so important to know WHY you believe what you do, not just that "it's wrong." Great post!! ps. Most ppl come back with "Well, you pierce your ears so that's marking your body as well. Just like a tattoo. " What are your thoughts on that?

  2. Hey Jenn,
    Thanks for the comment, and thanks for agreeing. Like you, I'm encouraged that I'm not the only one against tattoos too. About pierced ears. I don't have pierced ears, and I probably will never pierce my ears. I agree that piercing your ears IS marking your body, so I agree that Lev 19:28 could also apply to piercing.

    I do not agree that piercing is "just like" tattooing. It's much easier to let the holes in your ears grow over than to erase a tattoo. I think tattoos have a lot more permanence than piercing. Lev. 19:28 specifically says "print marks" and piercing is not printing a mark. BUT, the verse also speaks of "cutting your flesh." Piercing is definitely cutting the flesh.

    There's also the "body is the temple of the Holy Ghost" principle. My personal opinion is that piercing is a form of self-mutilation. I realize that's somewhat harsh, but it is cutting/damaging your flesh.

    So, I am against piercing. Piercing is a lot more accepted in Christian circles than tattooing, and I know many people see nothing wrong with it. Another principle to consider is the stumbling block. If I'm against tattoos and others perceive a piercing on the same level as a tattoo then maybe it's better that I don't pierce. Also, where do we draw the line on piercing? One hole in each ear is OK, but not two? What about the nose, belly button, eyebrow, tongue, lip, etc.? Where does it stop? Why is an ear piercing OK, but not a nose one? Who decides? The church? Tradition? The pastor? What's culturally acceptable?

    I believe that Christians accept ear piercings because culture accepts it. Certainly many biblical principles could be applied against it.

    But then there's Deut 15:17 "Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise." So, like my Mom always said when we asked her if we could get pierced ears. One hole in one ear is the only piercing that's biblical, so if we want pierced ears that's what we are allowed. Needless to say, we didn't press the issue :).