12.17.2016

One Christian's View On Tattoos

Tattoos.

A topic that many people have many different opinions on.  There are more conservative views, and also very liberal ones too.  A lot of Christians have tattoos, while others are convicted against getting any.

In my opinion, neither is right or wrong.

The ones who are hardcore anti-tattoos may beg to differ, but lets take a look at Scripture, shall we?

The most popular verse that conservatives bring up when talking about how tattoos are "wrong" and "ungodly" is Leviticus 19:28, which says:

"You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD."
(NASB)

At first glance, it seems to indicate that God is telling His chosen people to not tattoo themselves.  And this is true. But, like any passage of Scripture, we need to read this verse in the entirety of its context.  Not only the verses before and after, but also the time period in which this was written.

"(26) You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divinations or soothsaying. (27) You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. (28) You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (29) Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall into harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.  (30) You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. (31) Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.  I am the LORD your God."
- Leviticus 19:26-31

I think it's pretty clear that God is talking to His covenant people of Israel in this passage, and that His commands were specifically for that era and those individuals.  He is commanding them to stay away from specific practices of any of the nearby religious groups - such as, eating bloody meat, practicing witchcraft, cutting hair and beards, prostitution, and cutting one's own skin in memory of dead relatives.  This was a very common practice in pagan cultures as a physical, outward show of mourning.  It's very important to note that it's specifically talking about cutting and tattoos for that specific reason.  It no way implies that it's for body decoration or art.

Let us also look at the original language that this passage was written in.
The word for "tattoo" that is used in Leviticus 19:28 is the Hebrew word "qa aqa" and is the only place in the whole Bible that it appears.  This Hebrew word means to literally "cut", but taken in the context, indicates a mark imprinted onto skin - and I feel that we can safely assume that it's still in reference to marking bodies in mourning for the dead.

Another simple reason why I believe Christians are free to tattoo their bodies is simply that we are living under the new covenant.  Therefore the old Law is done away with and we are no longer subjected to the rules that the Israelites were under.  If we still were, then why aren't we sacrificing animals to redeem ourselves, and why are we eating pork, and not wearing clothes made from two different fabrics?

Today, the tattoo is a decorative art form for self-expression.  (Personally, I don't think anyone should get a tattoo unless it has a personal meaning to them because, let's face it, would you really want something permanently inked into your skin unless it wasn't something that was significant to you?  I think not.)  Just how people use makeup, piercings, different hair styles, body-building, etc. as forms of modifying their appearance, so tattoos are used to change and decorate someone's body and look. And you know that phrase "Outward appearance reveals the inward heart?"  Well, whatever you choose to get tattooed on the outside of your body is a representation of your inward self.

I'm not saying that, since tattoos are not sinful then every Christian should go out and get them!  It's definitely something you need to consider and prayerfully seek God's direction in whether or not to get tattooed.  He convicts every individual differently.  I, personally, currently have 10 tattoos (and plan to get more).  If He has convicted you otherwise, then don't get any.

Tattoos are a life-changing and permanent choice.

Some questions you could ask yourself if you are considering getting some are:

  • Am I legally old enough to get a tattoo?
  • If I live with my parents, would they support my decision or would it be disrespectful to their house if I chose to get one?
  • Would I be defying their God-given authority at my current age?
  • Would I still want this tattoo on my body even when I'm fifty years old?
  • Is this tattoo something my future spouse would like to see on me forever?
  • Is this tattoo easy to hide in case of any future career opportunities that don't allow tattooed employees?
  • Would this tattoo bring glory to God in its phrasing, image, placement, etc.?
  • Do I feel fully convinced that Christians are permitted to get tattoos?

Let me know what you decide on;)

5 comments:

  1. That's a really good article, Raquel! I had done a similar post on my blog when I just threw several verses on body art (tattoos + piercings) at my readers and let them meditate on them on their own, because I didn't want to stop them from seeking God's will on their lives about that subject.

    I've personally been told by God not to get any tattoos (Like, I was praying about it because I really wanted to get Bible verses on my hands, and he brought me to several verses that clearly were telling me "no."). Plus, I don't think my parents would be okay with it, especially that obvious, so that confirms what I first heard.

    But I don't doubt Christians who do get tattoos (although some of them clearly haven't thought it through, like they're not even sure what their tattoo represents) because God is working different things with everyone. One of my cousins have been told by God to no longer wear pants (and she just moved to Boston so she's kinda struggling XD), another lady in my prayer group is back to her natural hair - like no perm, no braids, no nothing - and my mom has once been told to not wear jewelry during a forty days fast. In other words: These people cannot take what God told them and impose it on others as the only way to live their Christian life. God doesn't want to accomplish the same thing in everybody's lives. Maybe for my future, having verses tattooed on my hands and wrists would be problematic. Maybe he is working with my cousin on a certain aspect he's not working on with me.

    Bottom line is: Focus on your relationship with God and help others to focus on hearing God's voice as well. Tattoos is one of several topics which the Bible doesn't have a clear and firm statement on, so we can't mix interpretation with truth.

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  2. hey Raquel. I loved this blog post! is there any other advice you would give to young Christians thinking of getting a tattoo?

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    1. Good question. I would just greatly advise lots of prayer and seeking advice from someone who will be honest with you and pray with you about it.

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  3. Hi Raquel. What advice would you give to a younger Christian who is considering getting a tattoo when they come of age?

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