Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tattoos And The Law

One of my children was recently told by a well-meaning Christian that having a lot of tattoos is not pleasing to God. The person further explained that it was okay if a person had tattoos before becoming a Christian, but to get a tattoo after becoming a Christian is wrong, even if the tattoo were a cross.

When my daughter told me this, I stopped in my tracks and said, Excuse me? Are you serious?

I'm well aware of Leviticus 19:28, but we can't just pick out one law to follow. If that were the case, we'd have to follow them all. And I can assure you that no one is making a fuss over verse 27. And let's be clear: if we're into commandment keeping, we must realize that most of us worship on Sunday, not the Sabbath, which clearly breaks the 4th commandment of the most abused and misused ten.

Friends, Jesus fulfilled the Law. It's not our job to keep the Law. What was once unclean and unholy, God has made clean and holy through Jesus.

God places different convictions on His children. What He may allow for one child, He may not allow for another. Be careful not to place your God-given convictions on someone else for you might become a stumbling block, teaching others that what they do or don't do is more important than living in grace. So while God may convict you about tattoos, it's dangerous to make a blanket statement like the one told to my child.

In Luke 19:40, Jesus said, I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out! Allow me to share an example of how a person can use a tattoo to bring praise and glory to God:

My nephew, a Christian, is a Marine. He courageously defends freedom, and is willing to sacrifice his own life if necessary. He knows what it is to face death. While fighting in war, his mother prayed Psalm 91 for him daily and included that passage in her correspondence with him. His paternal grandfather died last year, and in sorting through his belongings, the family found a photo of my nephew on his nightstand. On the back of that photo his grandfather had written Psalm 91. As you can imagine, my nephew knows what an important role the prayers of Psalm 91 played in his safety. He is well aware of the fact that if not for God's protection, he might not be alive today. He recently had his chest tattooed with a cross and Psalm 91. What a great opportunity he has when others ask him the significance of his tattoo! I don't believe God will be displeased when my nephew recounts his story of God's protection and of answered prayers.

I think the bigger issue would be if my nephew never acknowledged God's presence and protection in those dangerous days. Instead, he has a reminder every time he removes his shirt!

Christians, let's not pick and choose rules by which to live from a long list of laws that are dead. Let's instead live in freedom...standing firm...not subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)


  1. Actually in the old testament they used to seal things that had value with hot wax, an emblem on paper and our pastor said 'tatoos now adays' are not that different, than a seal. I personally won't ever do that but if someone chose to get one, it is their choice.

  2. An interesting fact I am learning is that the Law was never written for the Gentiles anyhow. It was written for the Jews. The Gentiles, which is most of us believers, were never intended to abide by the Law. Though subtle, you can pick up the debate between Paul, the preacher to the Gentiles, and other leaders like James, preacher to the Jews, in the early church period. I'm studying Beth Moore's James - very interesting. You would like it!

  3. Laura - :-)

    Sharon - That's interesting...didn't know that. Always something new to learn and think about.

    Jamie - Isn't that mind blowing...considering what most churches teach and preach? I discovered the same thing this summer when I read Forbidden Grace. I'll probably eventually do the James study. Thanks for the suggestion!