“Everything is permissible for me” -but not everything is beneficial.
The real question is, is it a sin? To answer the question immediately: It’s not a sin to get a tattoo.
There is nothing inherently wrong with a tattoo. There is something wrong (very wrong) with idolatry and its pagan practices origin.
The most common verse people point to when discussing tattoos is Leviticus 19:28: Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. Here is something else in the same chapter: 27 Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. These were the commands to the Israelites and the Levities. If you study these Old Covenant commands, they refer to the Israelites keeping themselves far from the appearance of these idolatrous nations (I would recommend reading all of Leviticus 19).
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It can be problematic when scripture is quoted out of context, or without regard to other scripture. This is one case where pointing to a single verse has created an inaccurate legalism
As you can see, many of the other ‘rules’ that are laid out in Leviticus are not followed today. Does that mean that the whole book of Leviticus, or even the Bible should not be followed? No! It just means that we need to carefully analyze what the theme of the Bible is, and realize what it means for us today. The book of Leviticus contained several ‘laws’ that were made to keep the children of Israel healthy and holy for God.
Tattoos in those days were extremely dangerous and could result in injury, disease, or death. The verse also is referring to a pagan ritual of putting tattoo marks on oneself for the dead, in order to protect oneself from the spirit world.
Why then, should one get a tattoo?
A person does not need to get a tattoo! I am not advocating that everyone should get a tattoo – rather I am saying that we should not shun those who have tattoos, or make the judgment that they must not be a Christian.
Some Christians get tattoos to show their allegiance to Christ, while others just think that it is something cool to do.
1 Samuel 16:7b says:
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Clothing nor Tattoos can measure ones relationship or dedication to God.
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Romans 10:4 says:
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Galatians 3:23-25 Says:
23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law Christ is the new covenant. Christ is the new covenant.
So often Christians decide something is wrong not because of what they have read in the Bible, but because of what they have been told the Bible says. Each and every one of us can look to the Bible for ourselves to see what is written on a given subject.
I don’t favor loose or liberal interpretation of scripture at all. I think loose interpretation of scripture is a result of longing for a desired statement (or lack thereof) in scripture. Legalism can be bad too. Legalism can be destructive as well because it is based on incorrect interpretation of scripture.
I am (very) conservative when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Here is how I read it: Yes, it is okay to get a tattoo, so long as it is not idolatrous or pagan. For a Christian, isn’t your body God’s temple?
Absolutely! I want my body to “be a temple,” for certain. I’m not about to get a pagan or idolatrous tattoo.
Herein lies the problem. We expect everyone to like what we like and dislike what we dislike. We expect our church experience to be everyone’s experience. We expect everyone’s arms to look like our own. We expect everyone’s taste in church music to be like ours. We are all uniquely made by God. I’m not condemning anyone who has them or saying you will go to hell. I leave that in the hands of God.
Are tattoos a sin? No. The pagan practice of marking was.
Will you go to hell for one? No. Repent and believe that Jesus is Lord and that his blood was shed for our sins and he died and was risen so we can be saved and we can go to the Father through Jesus Christ.
At the same time don’t judge people with tattoos.
Some people see this verse as clear evidence that it is wrong to get a tattoo: You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord. (NRSV, Leviticus 19:28)
However, there are problems with that interpretation. Leviticus 19:25-31 contains a series of laws that prohibit various pagan worship practices. The Israelites were constantly tempted to lapse into the pagan practices of other ancient peoples ( Exodus 32:1-6, Numbers 25:1-3, etc.), so they were forbidden to do anything that had even the appearance of a pagan ritual.
Cutting and marking the flesh were common pagan rites for mourning the dead. So, in context, it was probably not the mark on the skin itself that was offensive, but rather the strong association with pagan worship. Such an association would not likely be made in today’s world.
Another verse cited against tattoos was written by the apostle Paul:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (NRSV, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) However, in context, it is clear that 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 is about sexual immorality, not about tattoos.
Scripture can be interpreted different ways, and it is not clear whether or not getting a tattoo would violate any Bible teaching. A tattoo which portrays hatred or violence or something evil would be more clearly against Bible principles.
I don’t personally believe that getting a Tattoo will result in a separation between ones self and God. God can and does use individuals with Tattoos.
I personally believe that we should allow the Holy Spirit to deal with each individual concerning this topic. We all have different burdens and convictions, it’s up to each person to keep ourselves open concerning what the Holy Spirit demands of us.
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By : Curtis Whiteman
Curtis D. Whiteman is a Husband, father, and inspirational speaker. Follow Curtis’ Twitter account for inspirational and wisdom packed tweets that will enrich your walk with Christ.