Tattoos: Sin...or Perfectly Acceptable?

7:55 AM

Hola readers!
I'll try to make this post brief, to the point without too much rambling (but I probably wil fail to succeed since tattoos are such a controversial issue with conservative Christians).
When I was younger I assumed tattoos were completely wrong because of that one Bible verse in Leviticus that says not to put tattoo marks on yourself. I held to this idea like crazy and would love to point out how wrong it is to mark your body, though in all honesty tattoos fascinated me. I remember seeing a butterfly tattoo on a lady's ankle in color and thought how pretty it looked. I also wore countless fake tattoos that had to be washed off by church time. It wasn't until I began to really get serious about my faith around the age of fourteen that I began to reexamine my view on tattoos.
So what is my opinion...are tats right or wrong?

They're perfectly acceptable.

To a point.

Allow me to explain: The verse in Leviticus saying not to get a tattoo is pretty precise but if you look at the passage as the whole it says,

 "(26) You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divinations or soothsaying. (27) You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. (28) You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (29) Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall into harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.  (30) You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. (31) Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.  I am the LORD your God."
- Leviticus 19:26-31

I'd love to explain this in grand detail but Raquel from It's Just Raquel  explains the verse the best on a blog post she did awhile ago about tattoos:
| I think it's pretty clear that God is talking to His covenant people of Israel in this passage, and that His commands were specifically for that era and those individuals.  He is commanding them to stay away from specific practices of any of the nearby religious groups - such as, eating bloody meat, practicing witchcraft, cutting hair and beards, prostitution, and cutting one's own skin in memory of dead relatives.  This was a very common practice in pagan cultures as a physical, outward show of mourning.  It's very important to note that it's specifically talking about cutting and tattoos for that specific reason.  It no way implies that it's for body decoration or art.

Let us also look at the original language that this passage was written in.
The word for "tattoo" that is used in Leviticus 19:28 is the Hebrew word "qa aqa" and is the only place in the whole Bible that it appears.  This Hebrew word means to literally "cut", but taken in the context, indicates a mark imprinted onto skin - and I feel that we can safely assume that it's still in reference to marking bodies in mourning for the dead. - Raquel |

I firmly believe that we are living under the new covenant - which is the New Testament - and if that's the case then tattoos as decoration on our bodies aren't condemned anywhere in the Bible after Jesus came. So honestly I believe tattoos can be beautiful and even a thoughtful way to display your testimony and your story on your body. 
One of my role models and favorite rock stars, Lacey Sturm, has a very very meaningful tattoo on her arm she got when she become serious in her faith. It was a sign that she was making a forever commitment to serving her Lord and Savior and I find that very humbling and courageous. That tattoo is forever and you're saying that so is your relationship. comes the 'but' in my blog post....BUT tattoos CAN be wrong. 
I've seen many people around me longing to get skull tattoos, quotes about death and darkness and I really believe this is truly wrong to want to mark your body with those things. Our bodies are a temple to the Lord - we as the people of this world are the church and to mark (or want to) mark our skin up with things from the dead is wrong. I just can't see how anyone following the Lord would want to do that.
Jesus is about life, love - not death and evil. 
To put such things on your skin is giving others the opposite message a Christian would want to. 
Other then this, I think tattoos should form a purpose as with anything else. Tattoos are a way to express and I've heard from other friends that they use tattoos as a testimony. Their tattoos have deep, personal, meaning and I think those are really the only tattoos you should want.
Why mark your skin with something that will in a short whole have no meaning?
We are Jesus' masterpiece and I think we need to be careful of what we display on our bodies - this goes with anything. Clothes, piercings (more on that later), and tattoos. We as conservative Christians so quickly condemn tattoos but ignore the heart problem. 
If you try to keep meaningful tattoos on your body yet dress in a way that screams insecurity and attention, then what message with your clothes are you displaying?
It all boils down to what's going on inside - where it really matters. 
Are you following Jesus with everything that is in you or are you just 'doing it' because everyone else is and 'it's cool'?

Pictures via Google Images

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4 of your thoughts

  1. What an interesting post! I applaud you for stepping out to post about some controversial topics like this.

    I always had heard that verse from Leviticus as an argument against tattoos, and so I grew up assuming that tattoos were "bad". However, I recently actually read that passage for myself, and saw it a bit differently. I found it intriguing how the very next verse talks about not cutting or shaving hair... and I was thinking how we basically are taking one law and ignoring the next with that passage, if we're taking it literally!
    I personally do not desire a tattoo and am not planning to ever get one- however, I'm not going to judge anyone becuase they have one (it's not our place to judge, anyway!). Like you said, it all boils down to the intent of our hearts, and if a person has one with the right mindset, I don't think that it's a sin, since Jesus did not condemn them in the NT. I also think that someone who truly wants to honor the Lord would not purposefully have tattoos that are dishonoring to God or that ruin their bodies. It's all about the heart!

    Anyway, I'm sorry to ramble- thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    1. I'm not planning on getting one either, frankly because I hate pain and couldn't stand getting pain if I don't have to but I do think they can be inspiring and not really a bad thing.
      Don't worry about rambling! I love reading your thoughts and getting to know you!

  2. I like this a lot. personally, I have a tattoo. Its of a purple ribbon and its on my arm. its very meaningful for me because it stands for the chronic illness that I will battle the rest of my life. it stands for awareness and courage. and I dont believe that God thinks thats wrong. but I can see the point you made about people who put things on their bodies that are, well, stupid, to be frank.

    thanks for talking about a debated issue with respect. nicely done :)

    1. Your tattoo sounds beautiful and ones that stand for courage and awareness are amazing and such a testament!
      Thank you for commenting Faith - I always love hearing your thoughts on these issues!!


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