The truth behind trendy tats
Should Christians get tattoos? I have been asked this question a few times and now feel it’s a good time to address it more thoroughly.
If you stopped to read this blog, hoping to get a quick endorsement for your tattoo, you’re gonna be disappointed.
BUT… if you are really sincere and looking to find the truth on the matter… stick around. I’ll provide some food for thought here.
First of all, I think the mere fact that we question if Christians should have tattoos is a pretty clear indication that we shouldn’t.
Remember the words of Paul, “everything that is not from a conviction is sin.” ~ Romans 14:23
So, right from the get-go, there is a big red flag when it comes to tattoos and believers.
Secondly, we must look at what the Scripture says on the matter. There is only one passage that speaks clearly on tattoos and it is found in Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead OR put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”
Technically, the debate should end there. But, it doesn’t. I have heard all of the following arguments concerning this verse:
- We are not under the law anymore, we’re under grace.
- This passage speaks only of an ancient pagan Egyptian practice and not to modern tattooing practices.
- It’s okay if your tattoo honors the Lord, etc.
Many believe that this prohibition against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 is only in the specific context of particular pagan practices—that the tattoos referred to are those that, like the cuttings, are for the dead (that is, as part of idolatrous mourning customs and attempts to induce the gods to help the dead in the afterlife). However, the prohibition against tattooing in Leviticus 19:28 can stand independently from “cuttings of the flesh for the dead” by the specific wording of the verse, which says OR “put tattoo marks on yourselves.”
Unger’s Bible Dictionary supports the above by stating: “In Leviticus 19:28 we find two prohibitions of an unnatural disfigurement of the body: ‘You shall not make any cutting in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.’ The latter (Heb. qa’aqa, ‘incision’) refers to tattooing, and has no reference to idolatrous usages, but was intended to inculcate upon the Israelites a proper reverence for God’s creation” (1974, p. 696).
Remember, in the New Testament, we are told: “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” (1 Corinthians 6:19)?
So we are to “glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
No matter what you want to make the text say, it’s pretty clear from the verse in Leviticus 19:28, and even from the New Testament, that Christians are not to tattoo themselves.
But, maybe you’re still not convinced…
Maybe you still want to get that coveted tattoo of an eagle all over your left arm.
Question your motives
Another question you should ask yourself is the following: “Why do I want a tattoo in the first place?”
If you’re a believer and you really want to get tattooed, you need to do some serious soul-searching here.
Are you so desperate to find meaning and identity that you need a Bugs Bunny tattooed on your butt, a cross on your chest, or a butterfly on your ankle to feel special?
Because, deep down, getting tattooed is an attempt to feel special, right?
If you don’t feel special through your salvation and through the simple fact that you were bought at the highest price by an all-powerful and loving God… I would question your understanding of your own salvation. I’m sorry if this hurts, but it’s the truth.
Tats, a symbol of rebellion?
Whether we wish to admit it or not, tattoos are and have always been a symbol of rebellion. When I was a kid (back in the ’80s), only sailors, bums, convicts, or low-lives had them.
Sure, today they are more fashionable and trendier than ever, but curiously enough they still are the one thing rebellious teens can’t wait to get as a visible sign of their own declaration of independence.
I think the reason they are trending is because we are generally trending towards rebellion as a society – pure and simple. But I don’t want to get preachy here… I want to make points that will get you to think.
So, since most Christians who get tattoos tend to reject the law of Leviticus and say that we are ‘under grace’ and not ‘under law’, let’s stick with the New Testament then.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:22-24, we are admonished to “Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tattoos, because of their origin and the fact they used to be only worn by rebellious types still hold the stigma of rebellion… they still hold to an “appearance of evil”.
The proof is in the pudding… statistics prove that individuals who have a lot of tattoos have a harder time finding a job. Employers frown on tattoos because they feel the person might not be dependable and trustworthy.
And it is because they have this appearance of evil that believers ask the question: Should Christians get tattoos?
There is also another point I’d like to make…
If you had a large tattoo on your arm and you got a job for two weeks working at Buckingham Palace, where you know you might encounter any members of the royal family on a daily basis… would you wear short sleeves? Or would you cover up your arms… just in case?
If we’re honest, most of us would say we’d choose to cover our arms when surrounded by royalty. Ask yourself why (?). If tattoos are fine, and you’re not under the law… why would you, all of a sudden, become self-conscious of your tattoo? You see… deep down… you know the answer.
Let’s talk about branding
God made us in His image. We are His best brand. We are a product that He takes great pride in.
So, let’s talk about branding for a second…
Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari? No. Why not? Because you know it holds too much value to be vilified that way. The bumper sticker would insult the car itself.
Would you carve something on your Macbook? No. Why? Because you value the brand too much to vilify it. When you open your Macbook laptop, you’re proud to show off the impeccable cover with the lit-up Apple symbol on it – aren’t you?
Now… you value things like expensive cars or computers. Why do you not value God’s handiwork? You value worldly brands more than heavenly ones. Why? Because you, dear friend, do not know your worth.
So, the biggest problem is that you don’t understand your value. If you fully understood that God’s image and branding is on you… you wouldn’t put a tattoo on it to ruin it.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:9 that “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
You were given great honor by God!
Psalm 8: 4-9 says this:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
You are the crowning achievement of God’s whole creation! You bear His image and His resemblance!
And you’re trying to find validation by getting an image unworthy of you tattooed on your body?
The problem is that you think in terms of wearing brands on you to find value. It is not what you wear, or what you drive, or what you get tattooed that makes you cool or valuable.
Don’t you get it? You’re the brand!
So, it’s the other way around…
Things, like tattoos, don’t add value to you. Because you are royal, highly valued by God, and the pinnacle of creation, you give value to things by engaging with them.
He who is in you is stronger than he who is in the world. Because the Spirit of God lives in you…
- Where you walk becomes Holy Ground
- What you wear becomes kingly attire
- What you drive becomes a Holy Carriage
- Where you live becomes a castle
Once you understand the value bestowed upon you and the brand you bear… you will never seek value in clothing, cars, or tattoos ever again.
The only mark we should want as believers is found in Ephesians 1:13:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”
That should be enough marking for any believer.
So, should Christians get tattoos? No, they shouldn’t. And now you know why. Hey… tell your friends! 🙂