To tattoo or not tattoo, that is the question.

Should Christians get tattoos?  I know this is a bit of a hot button issue and everyone seems to have their own opinion on the matter.  A quick google search isn’t likely to give you a definite answer either, so it’s probably going to be left to your own interpretation.  Like everyone else, I have my own opinion, and it’s one that probably makes me look like a hypocrite because I have six tattoos of my own adorning my body in various places.

I saw a facebook post from a Christian friend yesterday that said something about him wanting to get a new tattoo.  I know that he is a devout Christian so I was a bit surprised.  I commented on it saying that I had chosen to not get any more tattoos, even know I already have 6, evoking Leviticus 19:28 as my reason (Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.).  I’m pretty sure I offended him, which wasn’t my intention, and he immediately took the defensive saying that if I wanted to not get tattoos – cool, but that was Old Testament law and we no longer had to follow it because that law was fulfilled in Christ, who is now our law.  First…sorry, Jimmy, and second, that is something that I personally am choosing not to do as a devotion to God, and I realize that Old Testament law has been fulfilled and that this matter is now open to interpretation since the New Testament doesn’t specifically say anything about tattoos.

But does the New Testament have to be specific about tattoos for us to get an idea of how God feels about them?  If you’re a Christian and you’re thinking about getting a tattoo then you’ll likely disregard Leviticus 19:28 by saying one of several things.  First, you’ll say that it’s taken out of context because it was put in place specifically for the Israelites as part of the Old Testament law and only pertained to them and their specific situation, and second, you’ll note that, since it is the Old Testament law, that this no longer pertains to us as the old law has been fulfilled in Christ and, through him, we have been given the new covenant.  Because of the new covenant, which replaces all of the old covenant laws set up for the Israelites, it would seem  hypocritical to pick and choose which of the old Levitical laws to follow and which to ignore in the name of Christ, right?

Agreed.  It would seem hypocritical, and I certainly do shave my beard and cut my hair.  I do agree that the old law has been replaced with the new covenant because of Christ, which cancels out the law in Leviticus about the tattoos.  But is it really taken out of context?  Does it not apply to us now?  I think it applies to us now more than we’d like to admit.

When God gave these commands to the Israelites, he was warning them not to take part in the pagan rituals of the Egyptians that they were surrounded by.  he wanted them to be set apart from them.  To truly be God’s people.  Wouldn’t you agree that we live in a society that does not embrace God, even if they say they do?  We live in a country of people who, for the most part, think that they don’t need God and measure success with material things.  We also live in a society that embraces tattoos.  So if we get tattoos, wouldn’t it seem more that we were compromising or conforming to the practices of the Godless society that we live in?  Seems to me that we are actually in a very similar situation, and that denying our want to be like the rest of our society by getting tattoos would be a great way to set yourself apart.

But what if it is a Christian tattoo?  Wouldn’t that bring honor and glory to God?  I don’t know…like I said, this is definitely up to interpretation, but I don’t really think that there’s a lot to support the fact that marking up your body would at all be pleasing to him.  If you’re a Christian and you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, I would suggest that you really think about it.  What’s your motivation for getting it?  Would it really bring honor and glory to God?  Does it set you apart as one of God’s people, or is it a compromise of the Godless world you live in?  Are you really trying to draw attention to you or to him?

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

I obviously can’t tell you yes or no, but I can say that we don’t live under the Old Testament law that specifically talked about tattoos, and that we certainly do not follow many of the other laws set up in that passage.  However, I think that God often gives a good idea of his character and what he would think of certain actions through all scriptures, old and new, and that it would be much easier to get a tattoo in a way that would not be pleasing to God than to get one in a way that would be.  We now have the Holy Spirit to guide our actions, so if you’re really on the fence about it, PRAY.  Pray long and hard about whether or not you should get the tattoo you’re considering and I’m sure God will let you know whether or not if it’s a good idea.

Also, the point of questions, blogs and posts like this is not to make people mad, but rather, even if it creates hostility and debate, to get a better understanding of God’s word.  If you have an opinion, it is definitely welcomed!  Sound off below!

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    • Tesia:)
    • April 27th, 2011

    Hey:) Great post. You definitely did not offend Jimmy. He has just thought really hard about tattoos and has come up with his convictions, too:).

    Here’s my two cents.

    “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. ” Lev. 19:28 (NIV)

    “I forbid you to shave any part of your head or beard or to cut and tattoo yourself as a way of worshiping the dead.” (CEV)

    I definitely think that this only means that we should not take part in pagan religious ceremonies of mutilating our bodies for the dead. I do, understand the need of separating from society because we are a holy and set apart people…however, I think that quoting from the law and using it now is not very valid because, as you’ve pointed out, the law has been fulfilled in Christ.

    I believe that we’ve been washed in the blood of Christ and set apart in him for eternal glory with the Father. I don’t really think that a tattoo can separate me from the love that God has for me in Christ. I just think that’s getting a little too legalistic. I have several tattoos, all Christian in nature, and they have sparked some every interesting conversations that otherwise probably wouldn’t have happened.

    I also don’t take the bible fully literally. I mean, I believe that women can preach. So it’s really an issue of interpretation when it comes to the law.

    That’s just my opinion:). I respect your conviction of not wanting another tattoo:).

    Also, Steve….I had no idea that you were a Christian until recently. That’s so awesome:)!

    • “I also don’t take the bible fully literally” – that’s why things like this become hot button issues and you never know if you want to say something publicly or not, lol. You always feel that you might offend someone based on your own interpretation of the scripture, and I think that personal interpretation is vital because it gives you a personal relationship with Christ.

      As far as being a Christian, I wasn’t until the age of 25 after a series of life changing events. I am now 25, lol. This is new to me, but it’s absolutely undeniable. I joined a church and was baptized for the first time last year, and inviting Christ into my life has been amazing for me and my family…I don’t know how people convince themselves that they can get along with him, lol.

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