Brethren, today, I want to talk about tattoos. Is it okay for Christians to get tattoos? What does the Bible say about tattoos? What does God think about having permanent ink etched on our skin?
Now, you and I definitely know the answer. We unanimously believe that Christians shouldn’t have tattoos and it is directly against Biblical principles.
However, sometimes, knowing the answer doesn’t automatically mean that we understand how we came to that conclusion. That’s the reason I want to discuss this important topic.
Tattoos becoming more popular
If you haven’t noticed yet, we are living in a time when tattoos are getting popular. Back in the days of my youth and maybe earlier than that, those people who get tattoos are usually the people who are criminals, people who have gone to prison.
In the United States, statistics show that 30% of Americans have at least one tattoo on their body. We are seeing the same trend in the Philippines. With famous and popular celebrities and personalities sporting their tattoos, more people are getting convinced to have their own.
Sooner or later, someone might ask you, do you have tattoos? If not, why? So, we need to be prepared to give an answer.
Tattoos in churches
Now, here’s what’s interesting, brethren, today, getting tattoos is even encouraged in Christian circles. Just take a look at some of the most popular Christian preachers today. You will soon see that these preachers have tattoos.
The law against tattoos
The primary direct prohibition of tattoos is found in 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.”
That’s clear. You shall have no tattoos. However, pro-tattoo Christians read this and will tell you that Leviticus 19:28 talks about pagan practices and therefore, does not really prohibit tattoos.
Christians approving tattoos
For example, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary argues that tattooing doesn’t break God’s law but that “these practices then, and also now in some places, were parts of heathen ritual.”
A lot of Bible commentaries share the same perspective. They explain that Tattooing and making cuttings in the flesh are pagan practices and will directly or indirectly tell you that tattooing isn’t morally wrong.
This is the reason you’ll find so-called Christians today who will tell you that it’s okay to get tattoos as long as you do it for God. I have watched a video of a Christian who was asked, why do you get tattoos? He said, “It helps me to start conversations with non-Christians. When they see my tattoos, they ask and that’s when I can witness God.”
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Is it okay to get tattoos?
So, what is the truth? Here’s the truth that people would readily accept: tattoos are pagan practices. A lot of scholars would admit this and thus, it should give us more reasons to avoid them!
The problem is that a lot of Christians also participate in other pagan practices, they just see tattooing as not a big deal.
We read in Deuteronomy 12:29-31:
“When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
So, the mere fact that putting on tattoos is considered pagan, then that should make it clear that we shouldn’t get tattoos.
Inscribed on our hands
Now, another verse Christians proudly use to justify getting tattoos is Isaiah 49:14-16:
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.
The Hebrew word inscribed in this verse is châqaq, which basically means to hack. It doesn’t mean getting a tattoo. Never have I seen any person getting a tattoo by hacking the skin. In other verses this same word was translated as lawgiver, governor, decree, portray, law, or appoint. Only once it was translated as printed.
Did Jesus have tattoos?
Now, to confirm that tattoos are really something Christians shouldn’t have, we simply have to see the examples set by Yahshua. Did Christ ever have a tattoo? Obviously, no. He faithfully followed Leviticus 19:28.
Why do people get tattoos?
Now, what are the reasons people get tattoos? The most common answer you get is that it is a way for them to express themselves. What a lame excuse. Are tattoos the only way for you to express yourself? Of course not. Some will tell you it’s their work of art. Now, if you see old people who have tattoos, you will see how ugly tattoos become over time.
Some people get tattoos to belong to a club, group, or gang. Some people get tattoos to make themselves cool. Some people get tattoos to rebel.
You see, there’s really no reason good enough for any of us to get tattoos. Let’s ask ourselves, what’s the worst thing that could happen to us if we don’t get tattoos? Nothing. I haven’t heard of someone dying because they didn’t get tattoos.
You are the temple of the Holy Spirit
To help you make the right decision, consider a 2017 survey conducted by Advanced Dermatology. The survey says that 75% of their 600 respondents admitted to regretting at least one of their tattoos.
Let me leave you with this reminder 1 Corinthians 619-20:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body [g]and in your spirit, which is God’s.
We don’t own our bodies. We are not in a position to decide what we should do with it. God owns us and He decides what we should do with our bodies.
If you already have tattoos before you were called to the body of Christ, God will understand. The important thing is what we do with what we already know.
With that said, may we all live a holy, righteous life, that is pleasing to God.
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