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Hot Topic: Should a Christian have a tattoo?

We surveyed our church and asked for the most pressing questions they have about Scripture or what the Bible says about controversial modern day issues. I’ll be answering many of those questions over the course four weeks in my new series Hot Topics. In fact, I just answered eight of those questions yesterday in the first message. In case you missed the message, I’ll answer one question or category of questions each day throughout the week right here on the FBR blog. So let’s get started.

Should a Christian have a tattoo?

40% of people between the ages of 26-40 in the United States have a tattoo. For some, this is a non-issue, but for others it is a very big deal. Christians in the church basically fall into three categories over tattoos. Some say, “Sure, it’s no big deal … tattoos are just an artistic expression on my body.” Others say, “Oh no, that’s very bad. It’s a very dangerous, cultic practice.” Still others say, “Well, it all depends on the tattoo – as long as it’s not a naked woman, or a satanic picture, or a cat.”

Every person you ask is going to have a differing opinion. The bottom line is that it isn’t as much about what people think as it is about what God thinks. So what does the Bible say? Not a whole lot.

There is only one verse in the Bible that speaks directly to tattoos. It’s found in Leviticus 19:28 when the Bible says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” So you would think that God is very, very clear about tattoos, right? Well, you have to look at the context of what Leviticus 19 is saying as a whole.

You see, the Israelites had just escaped from Egyptian bondage and passed through the Red Sea and God was telling them, “Don’t take on the pagan practices of the Egyptians.” When an Egyptian would die, the remaining relative would often cut into their body to let out what was known as the life blood. This was a pagan ritual and God said, “Don’t do that.” The Egyptians would also tattoo on their bodies pictures of pagan gods – and again, the One, True God said, “You are My people … don’t do that.”

So if you want to take Leviticus 19 literally, be careful because this was the Old Testament law fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament. Leviticus 19 also says, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (vs. 27). It also says, “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material” (vs. 19d). These are things we do every day.

Some of my Christian friends that are pro-tattoo make a very good argument that a Christian tattoo can be a good witness, or a good conversation starter. They will also argue that if you want to be against tattoos, you should probably be against ear piercings because Leviticus 19:28 says, “Don’t cut your body.”

If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, there are a couple of things to think about first.

  1. You might be considered rebellious by some. If you are going in for a job interview, or meeting someone for the first time, people can be very judgmental and they may look on the outside and make a judgment on you – so that’s something to think about.
  2. You need to remember that you might be making a decision that you later regret. You don’t want to permanently tattoo something representing something temporary in your life. Also, remember that things that something you get tattooed at 25 will be saggy later in life.
  3. If you are 19 years old and you’re living with Mom and Dad and they pay the bills and you want a tattoo but they say no – there’s no tattoo for you.

This is just one question from my first message in the Hot Topics message series. You can watch the whole message here.

Check out our live webcast on Sunday mornings at 9:30 & 11:00. You can now watch on your computer, tablet or phone.