Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts on Tattoos

by Donna L. Watkins

After posting, Tattoos For Christians, an article from another website about whether tattoos have a spiritual meaning, I began receiving comments and emails.  I appreciate the feedback because there is rarely one side to a matter, but the bottom line for all Christians should always be to follow The Word rather than our own feelings.

I didn't think much about the topic after reading the article, but presented it as information; however, with the interesting comments that came in, I began studying it to see what I felt God's Word says about it.

The most referenced verse on this is Lev. 19:28 which says, "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord” (NKJV). The OT was written in Hebrew, so I like to go back to the original Hebrew word to know what was really being said since translations don't always give us the full meaning.

Strong's Concordance shows the Hebrew word as #7085 and defines it to mean: "an incision or gash + mark." Not very clear on that, but the word tatoo is used in other concordances. Strongs #7085.

I do know some people who have gone through great pain and expense to have them removed after becoming a Christian and they weren't involved with a church with rules on it.

Everybody should determine in their heart why they want a tatoo and to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in whether it is a witness to our faith ... or whether it limits our sphere of influence.

Sadly, most people have definite opinions on things and judge people much too easily. I heard somebody speak one time about the grunge wear that some young Christians dress in. That it doesn't matter to Jesus how one dresses, he is still loved by our Lord and it won't negate his salvation. I agree with that ... but the point to be made was that the attire would limit his realm of "influence" since there would be many who would judge him by his clothes before he had a chance to be a witness in word or deed.

In actuality, all Christians are judged more harshly because of being a Christian. Many people have been hurt by the church and Christians ... so our appearance has a lot to say about who we serve because sometimes it's only our appearance that gets to "speak" about who we are in Christ. If there's not a noticeable difference between a Christian and the rest of the world ... what is the attraction for somebody to want Christ?

If we have to sway to the ways of the world to witness, aren't they changing us more than we are changing them? When God rescued Israel from Egypt He gave them commands that would make their life easier and also keep their hearts connected with Him. Consider Leviticus:

When He rescued the twelve tribes of Israel from brutal slavery and led them out of Egypt, He commanded them, “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt, shall you not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do: neither shall you walk in their ordinances” (Lev. 18:3). God demanded the Israelites not to defile themselves with the pagan practices and customs of surrounding nations (vs. 24-29). “Therefore shall you keep Mine ordinance, that you commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that you defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God” (vs. 30).

I studied the background of tatoos just now and there are many websites that give the history of them. If you consider where the "art" came from and when, how and why it was used, it doesn't lean toward any indication of Christianity ... and is often judged harshly. So why would we want to become "part of" something that even "might" ruin our witness for Christ? It's hard enough letting your Light shine without doing something that may offend many before you get to utter a word.

Interestingly there's been a Harris Poll on tattoos. This segment of the article is interesting if you consider it in terms of being more Christ-like:

How do tattoos make people feel?
Among Americans with tattoos, 34% said having a tattoo has made them feel sexier. Interestingly, more tattooed females (42%) feel this way than males (25%).

Additionally, those with tattoos said that having a tattoo has made them feel more rebellious (29%) while others said a tattoo makes them feel more attractive (26%). But tattoos apparently won't do much for your intelligence or your physique, as few Americans reported that tattoos make them feel more intelligent (5%), more healthy (4%), or more athletic (3%).

How do people without tattoos feel about those with them?
Many Americans who do not have tattoos said they think that people with tattoos are less attractive (42%), less sexy (36%) and less intelligent (31%). They also think that those with tattoos are more rebellious (57%). In contrast, only 29% of those with tattoos think they are more rebellious.


Like Paul says in I Cor. 10:23 that, ""Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive."

We are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit resides in us to guide and direct and teach us in all things. It's that still small voice within that is the one to heed.

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1 comment:

Donna Watkins said...

My inbox had an article link to something more on tattoos. Another perspective of focus. It's titled "Marked by God".

The important thing is not to judge and I pray that my comments in the above post have no condemnation or judgment in them ... it was certainly not my intention.

I go to a church that welcomes anybody dressed in any way ... and tattoos would not render a visitor without welcomed greetings. This is the kind of church I want to belong to ... the kind of church Jesus would have attended.

Love is our #1 commandment ... and on that we need to always lead.

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