28 January 2012

Is tattooing Christian?

When I was in college, I wanted an earring.  Thankfully, my friends Jack and Kurt on the football team talked me out of it.  Over the past few years, I have toyed with the idea of a tattoo.  My wife talked me out of it. 

My former pastor, Wayne DeVrou, shares insight into the idea of tattooing. He comes down on the side of tattooing as non-biblical and provides fairly convincing evidence for his viewpoint. He discusses things I have not considered before.  He points specifically to Leviticus 19:28, which specifically condemns tattooing, setting it in the context of forbidden pagan practices.  The Israelites were to be set apart.  He also shows how, even in modern society, there are pagan tendencies with tattooing as revealed by books written about it. 

I also wonder how Paul's words 1 Corinthians 10 apply. Paul says, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor" (1 Cor 10:23-24). Under the new covenant, it would seem that tattoos would now be permissible as included under "all things", but are they helpful?  

I also wonder where Paul's admonition to the Galatians fits in.  He tells them, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"  Paul is clear that it is neither circumcision, nor its absence, but Christ that saves us. Can the same be said for tattooing? 

I don't know where I stand, but I think Wayne brings up many points worth considering carefully. Don't do something, like getting a tattoo, thoughtlessly. Submit your ideas to scripture and live accordingly.  As for me, I'll keep the ink out of my skin for now. 

I would appreciate dialog on this.  What are people's thoughts? 


Anonymous said...

If you also happen to live by the Old Testament, then it is against God's wishes to get a tattoo because we are to go back into the ground the same way we came out.

This also means being an organ donor is against God's wishes.

I choose to believe that giving life to another human being through my organs is more important that following an interpretation of what God may or may not have wanted us to do, seeing his neither organ donation nor tattoos were actually around when the Bible was written. So since I'm already an organ donor, I may as well get tattooed.

J Kanz said...

Actually, tattoos were around when the Bible was written. That is the point of Leviticus 19:28, where the Hebrews are commanded not get tattooed.

A few other points:
1) as a Christian, I believe there is a danger in deciding that your ethic supercedes God's word. So as to avoid the question of organ donation, another example is that many people have chosen to not spank their children because they believe it demonstrates a higher ethic than what the Bible teaches (Christianity Today has recently taken this position) but we must be careful not to add to the words of Scripture, but rather to make a wise decision based upon the whole council of God's word.

2) I fail to see the logical step from "since I am already an organ donor" to "I might as well get tattooed". That doesn't follow. It would be akin to saying, since I have already stolen, I may as well murder. If one is wrong (and I am not saying that it is), then doing another wrong thing doesn't improve things. Like the old saying says, "two wrongs don't make a right."

Unfortunately, it is difficult to respond to an anonymous poster, not knowing much about you or what informs your worldview. I appreciate your thoughts and like I said, I don't know entirely where I stand on the issue of tattooing. I think arguments for tattooing may be made from Galatians or our understanding of the New Covenant, though I am less clear that they represent the wisest choice.

Faith M. said...

Hey Jason,
I've been strongly thinking of getting a tattoo lately. Something small and scripture based. There are a few Bible verses I've been thinking about, maybe something related to my name, I just haven't come up with "the one" yet. Do I need to put the verse in ink on my body to remind myself, no, but if it's there it may bring me a little peace, reassurance when I'm in need. It might also give me the opportunity to start a conversation with someone about the tattoo, that I might never have talked to before. My own little way of spreading the word. Do I think the Lord will love me less or give me the ticket straight to ... for getting a tattoo? No, like I said, something small and tasteful, not a sleeve, that I really don't find attractive on anyone! So there is my thought, you asked. Maybe when you come home next time we can go together, I'm kind of a wimp!) Love, Faith