I had an interesting conversation the other day about tattoos. Like any form of art, they are quite interesting, some are really nice, and some are not. But the discussion was, Are Christians allowed to get tattoos? This discussion does not relate to those who come to Christ already with tattoos, we are talking about those who are already saved, didn’t have one and are now getting them or contemplating them.
For the longest time I was one of those raising the hand with Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” (NLT), but is not as clear cut as that. First of all there’s the judgment part. If I am judging other people for getting tattoos, piercings or men wearing earrings, then I’m the one in trouble for judging. I’ve met true worshipers with all of those or some, these are Christian leaders who I truly respect for their spirituality and who have been mentors in my life. I admit that at the beginning I was conflicted. So I decided to do some research.
First of all I discovered that we need to read things in its context This rule and many others in the Old Testament were placed by God to avoid pagan rituals amongst the Israelites. He wanted for his people to be set apart and he still does. So does getting a tattoo makes you conform to what the world is doing? There are two schools of thought, some that say that the rules in Leviticus still apply to us, some that say they don’t. Well, I agree in Leviticus 19:29 when it says “Do not prostitute your daughter…”, but it also says two verses before, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (19:27) and we know that men have haircuts and shave everyday.
From the majority of the articles I read that do not attack the tattoos (meaning not necessarily approve of them, but don’t have the notion that they will send you to hell) I gather that it’s all in the motivation and heart. Even tattoos are a matter of the heart. Why do you want to get a tattoo? Is it to fit in within the culture? Will the tattoo bring more attention to you than to Christ? Remember that our ultimate goal is that He becomes greater as I become less (John 3:30)
Some people even claim that God has tattoos using the scripture of Isaiah 49:16 “I have tattooed you on the palm of my hands” Others have said that Jesus has a tattoo as well referring to what is said in Revelations 19:16 “On his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”
At the end, more than the focus of is it right for a believer to have or not a tattoo look at where your heart is. If you don’t have one, “are you looking at the sawdust in your brother’s eye while paying no attention to the plank in your eye? (Matthew 7:3) If you are considering one, why do you want one? Have you talk to God about it? Will getting one affect your relationship with God or make others stumble?
Personally I’ve looked at some and they are quite interesting, I could never get one and it goes beyond any religious convictions. I don’t see myself sitting for any extended period of time to be voluntarily poked. Also, I don’t think I could commit to a design. I don’t think I could agree to one color as my favorite color for my entire life, it used to be red, and somehow my mom says it used to be yellow and if you ask me now it’s blue. Can you imagine?
As always I’m interested in hearing your opinion. Let me know your thoughts and hope you have a blessed day.