What Do We Believe About Tattoos?

The issue of tattoos is one that many young people inside and outside of the church wonder about. Sadly, the church has very seldom given them much help in wrestling through the question: “What Do We Believe About Tattoos?”

There is a new show on television called “America’s Worst Tattoos.” The show highlights some tattoo artists who are commissioned to cover up tattoos for people who got regretful tattoos at one point in their life. Most of the people with these regretful tattoos are young people between 18-29. This age demographic is known as “The Millennial’s.”

In 2010, Pew Research found that 4 out of 10 Millennial’s have one or more tattoos. 70% of those tattoos are hidden by clothing. Public opinion among young people is often that tattoos are not that bad. As with any blog on issues like these, I try to show what are the differing sides of the argument and where I land.

Two Views:
1. Tattoo’s are bad & Christian’s shouldn’t get them
People in this camp tend to be fundamentalist Christians who quote Leviticus 19:28 which says “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” This is the only verse in the entire Bible which explicitly says the word “tattoo.” According to this view, tattoos are demonic paganism. Christian’s should not have tattoos at all. People with tattoo’s are probably bad people who commit crimes and don’t love Jesus. Quick to judge someone based on their appearance, rather than their heart.

2. Tattoo’s are alright for Christian’s to have under certain circumstances
Tattoos aren’t that bad. Christian’s should be able to get tattoos (preferably ones of religious significance). There is such thing as a Christian with a tattoo and they should be judged based on their sin, not appearance. People with tattoos are not more likely to commit crimes because of their tattoos. Tattoos are not sin, we should just be very discerning with which tattoo you get (realizing the perspective of people in society who see you like that & the social stigma attached).

What’s My View?
Personally, I don’t currently have any tattoos. Mark Driscoll explains the context of Leviticus 19:28 as ” The Bible says in the Old Testament if you’re a priest from the line of Aaron, part of the sacred order whose made it on to the team, you shouldn’t get a tattoo that identifies you as a member of another religion that worships a false god.” I agree with Mark Driscoll on this point. I saw one blog which sets out to call Mark Driscoll a false teacher & his stance on tattoos was one of the main reasons they concluded he was a false teacher. Guess they would be saying the same of me right now…

Also, Revelation 19:16 says that “On his [Jesus] robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Next time we see Jesus, He is going to have this tattoo and judgmental religious people are going to freak out.

I take the Bible seriously when it says to glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 10:31). Glorifying God with your body is much more than your appearance. Glorifying God with your body can be modesty, caring actions, serving, and basically anything you do while alive with this earthly body.
If you are getting a tattoo of a cross to show people how holy you are, then you’re doing it wrong. You cannot tattoo holiness onto your arm. If a tattoo of a cross is deeply significant for you and is being tattooed there to glorify God only, then I don’t see an issue with it. Glorify God through your actions, words, mind, and heart.

Are All Tattoo’s Bad?
Christians need to lighten up on the whole tattoo argument. Jesus does not judge us on our appearance, but on our sin. He judges the heart. There have been many people who have gotten tattoos that were not intended on being pagan or demonic. They like body art and are merely expressing themselves through that. They’re not worshiping some pagan god through it. However, I have seen people get pentagram tattoos & other things which really would qualify as going against Leviticus 19:28. I would definitely affirm that as demonic.

Judgmental Christians, get to know someone with tattoos before  you judge their character. I don’t have any tattoo’s, but this does not make me any more holy or better than those who do have tattoos.

Closing Advice
For those wanting a tattoo: If you’re going to get a tattoo, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Not to glorify yourself and show people how great you are, but to glorify God. Don’t be the next person on “America’s Worst Tattoos.” There are some beautiful tattoo’s out there. It’s a permanent thing, so make sure it’s for God’s glory & your joy.

For those against tattoos: Don’t be quick to judge those with tattoos. Tattoos are usually significant to a person and tell a story, but they do not define a person. You could encounter hundreds of people on a daily basis who have tattoos covered up that you don’t even know about. You have no problem with them because you think they don’t have any. Would your view of them change if you found out that they had one? Hopefully not.

For those with tattoos: I just want you to know that Jesus loves you. Even if you made a mistake in getting a tattoo you shouldn’t have. The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus loves people regardless of where they’ve come from or how they look. His love is a lot bigger than that. Knowing that He loves you that much, glorify Him with your life & body.

God Bless,
Tyson Bradley

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