Tag Archives: tattoos

Tattoos and Christianity-What Do You Think?

Tattoos are such a controversial topic with many, not just within the Christian community. Many people feel that it is dumb to mark your bodies with a permanent branding, of sorts. Others feel that if they feel strongly enough about something, putting that object/idea/etc. on their skin forever shows the ultimate commitment. Where do you fall on the spectrum?

**Please note that the below is my opinion on the topic and is not stating that if you do or do not have tattoos that it makes you more or less of a Christian or anything of the sort.**

I, personally, know MANY faithful Christians who have tattoos. I do not feel that the mere fact that they have ink on their skin is going to keep them from heaven. In fact, I have seen Christians use their tattoos to bond with others who are inked and not Christian and it was a foot in the door to get these people into the church. Remember, God does work in mysterious ways.

Some say that getting a tattoo is a sin and reference Leviticus 19:28: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.”

If simply reading the verse, the topic seems pretty cut-and-dry, but there is more to it than what meets the eye. This ceremonial law was given to the Nation of Israel, not the entire body of Christ, and this law was listed under Levitical law which was overturned when Jesus came and gave us new laws as a body of Christ. Not all of the laws given to Israel apply to the rest of us. For instance, here are some more Levitical laws we no longer follow (and these don’t cause as much of a stir as this one for some reason):

-Eating Fat (Leviticus 3:17)
-Letting your hair become unkempt (Leviticus 10:6)
-Wearing clothes with rips and/or holes (Leviticus 10:6)
-Drinking alcohol in Holy Places (Leviticus 10:9) [This one is a bit of a problem for all of the Catholics out there, huh?]
-Eating an animal with a divided hoof, i.e. pig or rabbit (Leviticus 11:4-7)
-Eating or touching the carcass of any seafood without fins or scales, i.e. anything besides fish like crawfish, crabs, lobster, shrimp, etc. (Leviticus 11:10-12)
-Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (Leviticus 12:4)
-Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (Leviticus 12:5)

That being said, in my opinion and through my reading of the Word, and my beliefs on the topic, I believe it can be a sin to get a tattoo, but it depends on your motivation, the image you are getting, and what your tattoo may say about you to others. I believe it is a personal decision and it is up to that person’s discretion. Think of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” If the tattoo you are getting helps, edifies, and shows Christ, then why not? If it may take some explaining and may distract people from Christ, then it may be something you may want to reconsider. My dad (who is completely anti-tattoo by the way) says “if you feel that strongly about something, buy the t-shirt.”

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What does the Bible say about tattoos?

Many people use Revelation 19:16 and conclude that Jesus had a tattoo therefore it’s okay to have tattoos today. But there’s more to take into consideration when using this verse as a reference point:

  1. This verse is coming from a vision John had. He saw Jesus riding from Heaven on a white horse and the passage includes a very detailed description of how Jesus looks including “On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Because it was seen in a vision, does that make it 100% accurate? Does that mean that will be exactly, to the “t” what happens in real life or is it a metaphorical vision to help people understand what is happening or going to happen? Revelation is full of symbolism which is used to paint a picture.
  2. Jesus is Jewish. The Jewish Law states “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:28. Jesus was obedient to the Mosaic Law and as Matthew 5:17 says “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.”

If you look at this selection of text though, the entire chapter is about differentiating God’s chosen people, the Israelites, from those around them with their pagan rituals and sorcery and not necessarily giving them specific laws for their lives.

Look at verses 26 & 27 for example. “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.” How many Christians do you know that shave their heads and beards?

I know many tattooed people who say we are no longer under Old Testament law as seen in the following verses:

Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Galatians 3:23-25 “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.”

As seen above, this is true. But if it was important enough in their time to make it a law once before, it is definitely something to cause someone to take a second look at in their own life.

I, personally, have nothing against tattoos. I know many people who find them offensive or ask the question “why?” I ask that question too when I see something random like a random cartoon character, a leopard print pattern, or a tribal neck tattoo, but sometimes I think tattoos can be tasteful. I think it needs to be of something that is super important to you though because you will have it embedded in your skin for the rest of your life.

With that in mind, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

So if the ink you are permanently injecting into your skin brings glory to God, and you wouldn’t be ashamed for your pastor to see it during church one Sunday, go for it.

When thinking of getting a tattoo, ask yourself these questions:

What are my motives for wanting a tattoo? Am I seeking to glorify God or draw attention to myself? Will my tattoo be a source of contention for my loved ones? Will getting a tattoo cause me to disobey my parents? Will my tattoo cause someone who is weak in the faith to stumble?

Instead of asking, “Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo,” perhaps a better question might be, “Is it okay for ME to get a tattoo?”

“Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover” – An Idea from the Bible

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” (Luke 6:37)

Sounds simple enough, right?

Christians are REALLY bad about saying things like “I’m not trying to judge, but…” or even judging in our minds. Many people see a man covered in tattoos and their first thought is “grab your purse; lock your doors” or in this day and age, you see a person with a turban, hijab, or burqa and automatically assume they’re a terrorist.

Is this considered judging someone? YES.

Is it wrong? YES.

Is it hard to train your mind not to rush to rash judgments about people? Definitely.

As humans, we are programmed to look at those around us. We take in the world through our eyes. Society, movies, media, etc. have shaped our views and tell us how we should perceive the different things we see. Instead of looking at a man walking toward us, we are trained to see a blonde hair, blue eyed man with a spider web tattoo on his forearm wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. Do you know why? Several reasons:

  1. We, as a society, are extremely visual. We put a heightened sense of self-worth on people’s appearance. We see someone’s brand of clothes, way they style their hair, purses they carry, etc. as an extension of them and by assessing those things (even subconsciously) we think we can learn so much about that person. You can tell their social class (how much money they have), if they take care of themselves (by their physical size), their “clique” (if they are casual, emo, gothic, mainstream, preppy, etc.) all from what they have around them-as an extension of themselves.

 

Why do you think the cosmetics industry and the clothing indurstries are such a large part of the global market? The skincare industry accounts for 33.8% of the global market (http://www.statista.com/topics/1008/cosmetics-industry/) and the apparel industry accounts for 28% of the global market (http://www.statista.com/topics/965/apparel-market-in-the-us/). In other words, approximately 62% of the global market belongs to these two industries. How crazy is that??? We put way too much weight into appearances, not just here in America, but as an entire human race.

 

  1. We live in a society where dangers are literally at every turn. There are so many evil people in the world who hurt innocent people for no reason. We, especially as women, are taught to constantly look over our shoulder, keep mace in your purse, never go out without friends, stay in after dark, etc. We look people up and down to try to assess their “danger factor.” It is sad that it has come to this, but genuinely, I know lots of women who have admitted to doing this and in today’s world, you can never be too careful.

 

  1. We’re curious. No two people are exactly the same. Our brains are always taking in new faces, new surroundings, new characteristics, etc. We look people up and down to try and learn more about them (although usually do so based on the first two points above).

As children, we are taught the age-old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but do we take it to heart?

Just because someone has tattoos, that does not mean they are rebellious or a thug or a bad person. Many Christians have tattoos-in fact, many are Christian in nature. God says for us to go forth and tell of His word to everyone. Who is a better “missionary” (if you will) to someone covered in tattoos, but a Christian covered in tattoos. I know pastors who have tattoos. Many people get tattoos as teens or young adults and then become saved through Christ. Having tattoos removed is painful and leaves scars. So many people converting to Christ would have tattoos, and they may not be very “pleasant” ones, but does that mean we should look down on them and judge them? No. We do not know their soul. We do not know their relationship with the Almighty.

The Bible verse people most associate with this is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Does God want you to tattoo the whole cast of Family Matters on your back? Probably not.

Is a tattoo going to keep you from entering Heaven if you have accepted Christ as your savior and lead a good, and Godly life? I highly doubt it.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I’m not trying to stay stuck on the topic of tattoos…it is just something I hear and see a lot in the Christian community and it has to stop.

What about single mothers? They’re judged a lot too. People see a young mom on her own with her child and think things about how she should’ve tried harder to keep the baby’s father around. Or even a single dad. What did he do to make his child’s mother leave? It’s our nature to “blame the victim.” We do not know the circumstances of other people’s lives and we shouldn’t pretend to do so. We need to mind our own business and show Christ to these people; not show nasty attitudes and dirty looks.

Another group often singled out, especially here in the South (I live in Georgia), are interracial couples. People, it is no longer the 1960’s. People are free to love who they want to love. I’ve heard people quote 2 Corinthians 6:14 as proof that God does not want people to engage in interracial relationships. That is stretching the Word a little thin, don’t you think?

2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?”

As long as the person loves God, loves you, and puts his relationship with Christ above all else, it does not matter if he is purple with yellow polka dots. God does not see color. He calls all of us. He created all of us. Quit singling people out for things that we do not feel comfortable with (not things that God has spoken against) and show Christ to all those around you!

What Can One Person Do?

  1. Ask God to show you any prejudices or judgements that might linger in your heart so that you can confess it to Him.
  2. Seek to gain an understanding of the customs of other ethnic groups in your community. Are any of those customs a possible source of racial prejudice? Do you discriminate?
  3. Get to know people. Learn their heart. That will tell you much more than their appearance.