Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Finding the Sacred in the Secular: Part 5: Tattoos"

This is kind of a side bar to the series... it is about Tattoos. I have posted a YouTube clip and an article with Biblical references that may or may not surprise you. On a personal note, I don't have a problem with tattoos. I do not have tattoos ("tats" ) of my own because I am not a big fan of needles for the most part. I do have brothers with tattoos. I remember when my brother Johnnie got his first tattoo. My mother was not real happy... at first. She finally came to the realization that although she wasn't thrilled with Johnnie's tats, he could be into something a lot worse.

Johnnie (photo of Johnnie and family is above) is a Christian, dedicated father to Emry and Maya and loving husband to Debbie. He is also a leader in the church he attends and has a passion for worship and reaching young people. My brother is authentic if anything. He's never been a liar although you might not like what he has to say.

Last year Johnnie got a new tattoo... it says "To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain..." It symbolizes his own testimony. Perhaps you're thinking, "Was it necessary for him to tattoo his testimony?" My answer to that is, I don't know, maybe not. But on the flip side, I've been told that there is a story behind every tattoo. Who knows who Johnnie will run into, someone that a pretty conservative mom of five like myself could never relate to, but Johnnie could. And say this person and Johnnie begin to trade "tat stories"... and then the person points to Johnnie's "To Live is Christ..." tat and says, "Say, tell me about this one." The testimony that follows could very well end up in the sinner's prayer.

I've included a YouTube video below of Worship Pastor Carlos Whitaker and his experience on LA Ink... it is my understanding that he also received some flack about his appearance... but God knows his heart... and that is not my focus here anyway... enjoy the video and read the article below for a little more on this subject.

My prayer is that we can all become more accepting and love just as Jesus does... tats and all!

Christians and Tattoos (Article by: Kelli Mahoney)

The main scripture verse that people use against tattoos is in Leviticus:

Leviticus 19:28 – “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” (KJV)

While some believe the scripture is clear that the verse tells us not to cut on our bodies, which is what tattooing is, there is much more to interpreting this statement. In context this verse is discussing preparation for death in which many bodies were tattooed with pagan religious symbols. Since God’s commandments prohibit Jews and Christians from worshiping other gods, it would be logical that God would prohibit these death preparation tattoos.

However, it is also clear that many dictates of that particular time in history no longer apply. There are scriptures in the Old Testament that tell women to keep their heads covered at all time. Others tell people they cannot eat certain types of meat. Still others prohibit certain types of haircuts. They all had their purposes at the time. Yet, many of those rules no longer apply in the New Testament.

Yet, just clinging to the New Testament not directly prohibiting tattoos is not necessarily a clear approach, either. The New Testament does not directly prohibit things like bestiality or prostitution of a daughter, but Christian believe those things are sins. How do we know the fine line? Just saying that “Well, the New Testament doesn’t directly tell me it’s a sin, so I can do it,” is often looking for an easy out in a difficult decision.

Is It Only Banned for the Dead?

Tattooing is a pretty common occurrence today. They are no longer reserved just for bikers or delinquents. Many of the Christian people you admire in your life probably have tattoos. Yet there are also Christians in your life telling you that tattooing is a sin, and you should avoid it at all costs. So should Christians get tattoos? Are they a sin? Let’s look more closely at scripture as well as the pros and cons of tattooing to find an answer.

Others use the reference to the dead as justification for getting tattoos while alive. There is debate today regarding this reference. Many biblical scholars believe that there are two distinct acts being discussed in this scripture. There is the tattooing of the dead and then there is the marking of the living. Other scholars see it only as reference to the dead.
The Body is the Temple of God

There is little question that the Bible states clearly how our bodies are the Temple of God making it important that we care for our bodies with the same love we give to God. Christians against tattooing believe that this scripture from 1 Corinthians is another reason a person should not get a tattoo:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (NIV)

This scripture does not ban tattoos, but it does bring up the question as to why a person wants to get a tattoo and which tattoos to get. As with some sin it is not the act but the intent that matters. If the act of getting tattoo is rebellion against parents, authority, etc. – then it is a sin. For instance, if your parents tell you not to get a tattoo and you do it to spite them, then getting a tattoo is sinful, because God’s commandment calls for you to
“honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12).

The other question to ask yourself is if your tattoo is edifying God. Since tattooing is very much debated by biblical scholars, do you really want to take a chance on getting a tattoo that does not honor God? Are you getting a tattoo just to fit in or are you getting a tattoo to glorify the Lord? Remember, you are supposed to be in the world, not of the world. While many tattoos are beautiful, they tend to honor the world rather than God.

Getting a tattoo is something that should not be taken lightly. It is a well-debated issue in the Christian community, and there are differing opinions as to whether a tattoo is sinful or not. As a Christian, decisions need to be made with your eyes on God. So, if you do choose to get a tattoo, remember that, while man looks at the outside appearance, God looks at the heart.

Love & Blessings!


Sherri Walker-McCann said...

Hey Tara! I got a tatoo when I was 30 (I just turned 33). I was in Dallas with my girlfriends and we all got matching tatoos (a small star on our left ankle). I thought nothing of it-truthfully, I had never even considered getting one but all my friends tell me that it was all MY idea. I do not doubt it-I have a tendancy to be impulsive :). I have never regreted it-in fact I LOVE it. My Oldest daughter-Brooke, however was afraid that I was going to get "aids" or that I would go to hell (where do they even HEAR these things!?). I feel that the Bible tells us a lot of things that we do not observe now (women cutting their hair,eating pork........). I just can not imagine something so insignificant keeping someone out of heaven. I always have people asking me "yeah...but, what are you going to do when one of your kids wants one?" My response is always the same, "when they are THIRTY years old and decide to get ONE-I will take them there myself"!

Debbie said...

Wow what a tribute to God through your words about johnnie we are so lucky to have you in our lives ;) we love you very much