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             IS IT OK FOR CHRISTIANS TO GET TATTOOS?

[I have inserted within this article my own words in brackets.]

Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo?  Apologist Matt Slink


Should we divide over this?

No, we should not divide over this. If personal opinions override scriptural teaching concerning our freedom in Christ, and division and anger are the result, then those who are dividing over this are the ones in sin. [I copied from the bottom, this question above, in hopes that people that read this article (with my comments in red) will read it all the way through.]


Tattoos are making a comeback in present day culture. From teenagers to housewives, they are appearing everywhere, even among Christians. So then, is it okay for Christians to get tattoos?   [The answer that seems to be expected is "Yes."  Yet not to long ago tattoos were associated with sailors, gang members, those in prison, and others expressing some kind of rebellion against the norm.  As societies' morals continue to spiral downward, are we to welcome the "new ungodly norms" of the world as acceptable?  Today we even have homosexual pastors, and homosexuality being addressed as acceptable in some denominational churches.  So then, is it okay for Christians to get tattoos?  A minor problem in comparison to what I have just said.]  To answer this, we need to see what the Bible says about it, if anything.

First of all, making marks on the skin is mentioned in several verses. The first is in Leviticus [The hermeneutics "first mention" principle would tell us that because tattooing from the first is associated with what is wrong, that it is still wrong.]  and the rest are in the book of Revelation which deal with the Mark of the Beast.  [Since all mentions of making marks on the skin in the Bible are associated with wicked men, some might rightly think that should be enough to tell us that it is not right in our time as well.]

     •     Lev. 19:28, "'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord."

     •     Rev. 13:16-17, "And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead. 17 and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name." See also: Rev. 14:9, 11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4.

Any Christian would have no problem denouncing the Mark of the Beast and saying it is sinful. Whether or not it is a physical mark has been debated, but it goes without saying that we are not to receive that mark.  [Just in repeating those last seven words we find the answer to whether it is OK for Christians to be tattooed today, "we are not to receive that mark."  Let's not be afraid to ask "If a Christian already has a tattoo, how can they make it right with God?"  First, we can repent, admit our wrong, confess our sin, and be forgiven, 1Jn 1:9.  Second, tattoos can be removed, or covered.]  It is the Leviticus passage that we must now examine. To do that, we need to quote its context.

Lev. 19:26-30, "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination 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 may not fall to harlotry, and the land become full of lewdness. 30 You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the Lord."

As you can see, tattooing is mentioned in the context of ancient pagan practices. But does this mean that tattooing is in itself a bad thing to do because unbelievers did it?  [These were not just unbelievers, but such degenerate, wicked people, that God told the Jews to destroy them.  We have to be careful not to make a logical error known as the genetic fallacy. This error says that something is false because of its origin. For example, it would be a fallacy that because the Nazi regime developed the Volkswagen Beetle, that the VW Beetle is a bad car. Likewise, just because unbelievers get tattoos does not mean Christians should not.  ["just because" may be true, but there is more to Christians not getting tattoos then just because unbelievers do.  Comparing the manufacturing of a car by a Nazi regime to the Canaanites wicked and horrific culture of burning their babies alive in their worship sacrifices (among other wickedness) is hardly reasonable.  Using this "genetic fallacy" as a foundation for this argument to accept tattooing today is a very faulty foundation that will not support this argument.

The Leviticus context also tells the Israelites to not round off the hair on the side of their heads nor shave the edges of their beards. Apparently, this is what the Egyptians did and God's people were called to be separate from them. But, why such detail about hair? [Matt Slink is obviously ignorant to why the Holy Spirit in His Word gave these details about "hair."   These details did not come because of Moses (2Ti 3:16; 2Pe 1:20,21) Perhaps Moses was concerned about the superstitious beliefs of the Egyptians to which shaving the head and beard had a religious significance. If this were the case, then God's people were certainly called to be separate from the false nations and their superstitions.  [From the above sentence, Matt agrees with me that Christians today should be separate from the false nations and their superstitions, in this matter of tattooing.

But, such religious practices that require tattooing, cutting one's own skin, and/or shaving the head and beard are not around in present-day Western culture.  [Whether the reason people getting tattoos today is not for the same reasons that these wicked people of the past did it should not be the deciding factor.  They are both doing something God says not to do.  Is it Ok to do what pagan ancient wicked people did, or pagan, heathen, primitive Africans & others to today, just because we live in the more advanced West?  I don't think so.] So, the admonition against tattooing, based upon the cultural norm, can't apply for today.  [Matt makes a faulty statement in laying this faulty foundation for his argument, and then comes up with a faulty conclusion to appease those that have or want to follow this faulty practice.]

If we must conclude that tattooing is automatically bad in and of itself [That is not what I am saying.  Matt isn't addressing all that is involved.], then we must also conclude that shaving off the hair on the side of the head and shaving edges of men's beards is also equally bad.   [Again, a faulty conclusion based on a faulty understanding and evaluation of the argument.  Imagine the surprise if people did find out that God considered certain haircuts bad, bad because it was a practice of "rounding" their heads and beards to imitate the shape of the false gods in the heavens they were worshipping, the sun, moon, and stars!  But, since cutting hair and shaving beards is not sinful in itself, how could we conclude that tattooing is also automatically sinful? We can't.  [Again, are we certain that this is not presuming that it is not wrong in God's sight, based on a false assumption, coming up with a wrong conclusion?"

Freedom in Christ  [Unlike Paul (who wrote about freedom in Christ, but refused to exercise that "freedom to eat meat" by not eating meat so not to cause ignorant Christians to sin) many less mature Christians today flaunt "Freedom in Christ" so that they can enjoy the pleasures of sin, or at least that "Freedom in Christ" at the expense of their weaker brethren, as well as the witness to the unbeliever.

Something we must [I don't believe we really need to at all.] examine is whether or not we Christians are required to keep Old Testament Law. No we are not.   [I strongly agree.]  Now, this does not mean it's okay to lie, to cheat, and to steal. It means that we are not required to keep Old Testament Law in order to get or maintain our salvation.  [Tattooing is not a matter of being saved, or maintaining salvation.  Tattooing is not a matter of whether we have to keep the Old Testament Law or not.  Both of these could be omitted so as not to confuse the subject.   The issue is "Should Christians today, be following a practice of wicked people that God condemned and told his people not to follow.  This is not a matter of being legalistic or having to keep the OT law.]  This is because we have died to the law and because of that, all things are lawful to us.

     •     Rom. 7:1,4

     •     , "Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? ...4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God."

     •     1 Cor. 6:12

     •     , "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."

If a person wants to maintain that a Christian should keep the Old Testament Law concerning tattoos  [again, this is not what I am saying], then do they also keep the Old Testament law concerning not shaving the beard?   [If Paul refused his freedom to eat meat, can't we refuse to follow the practices of wicked people?]  Also, what would they do with the Scriptures that say we have died to the law and that all things are lawful? Would they require legalism?  [Is this a rhetorical question in which Matt thinks there is no answer, or that the answer will automatically be "No."?  Jesus didn't give "expected" answers to such questions, but showed there was another option to the "either or" answers that they were trying to make Him give.  The answer is "No, I don't require legalism, but the exercise of "love" in not exercising "freedom" which could be taken by some as promoting wicked ways when 1Th 5:22 says to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." "from every form of evil" NKJV.

First, we must retain the truth that we are not to violate any moral law of God. It is always wrong to lie, cheat, and to steal. Such commands are clearly reiterated in the New Testament and are based on the character of God. So, the Old Testament law dealing with morality, is definitely to be upheld. All of the Ten Commandments (except Sabbath-keeping) are referenced in the New Testament as still being valid (Mt. 19:17-19; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9; Rev. 13:6).

Second, we see no New Testament commands that tell us to keep the sacrificial system, forbid work on the Sabbath, forbid the shaving of beards, or forbid tattoos, etc. Since we have died to the law and all things are lawful (excluding, of course, sin), then the Christian is not under obligation to keep the Old Testament command not to get tattooed. Remember, if tattooing is a sin, then so is shaving the beard -- if we were to retain its command and the ones with it.  [I agree.  Imagine a world without tattoos and a lot of weird haircuts.  Doesn't seem unlike what I picture heaven.]

Third, let me ask a question. Is it okay to eat meat that has been deliberately sacrificed to idols? Would it be a sin to buy such meat in the marketplace and consume it as a Christian? The answer is, it's not a sin.

1 Cor. 10:25-29

, "Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord's, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you, and you wish to go, eat anything that is set before you, without asking questions for conscience' sake. 28 But if anyone should say to you, 'This is meat sacrificed to idols,' do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience' sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another's conscience?"

Paul is telling us that a Christian does not need to worry about a "pagan connection" because he is free in Christ. In this case, the Christian is free to eat meat sacrificed to idols. But, Paul makes it clear that we are not free to stumble anyone else such as a weaker Christian. We need to be wise in the application of our freedom and not cause anyone to stumble.

The point is that we are free and because of our sanctification in Christ what we touch becomes sanctified. The meat sacrificed to idols does not hurt the Christian when the Christian consumes it. If it were a sin to buy and consume such meat, Paul would have said so.

[Yes, but let's not stop here.  Though we have freedom, the mature, knowledgable Christian doesn't put "Freedom in Christ" at the top of the "to do" list, but "the law of love."   Good, better, best.   Giving it the benefit of someone's doubt, Tattooing might be considered by some as "Good", but in God's eyes I can not see it as being considered "best."  What does God want from us, what is good, or what is best?  So is it OK for Christians to be "tatted up'?   Likewise, if tattooing is to be considered a sinful act because of its connection with the pagans of the Old Testament, and thereby we are not have anything to do with it, why did not Paul carry over the same logic to the issue of meat openly sacrificed to idols?  [Paul didn't condemn what I have described above as "good," but he lived according to what I have described as being "best," and the Holy Spirit had him write it into the Scriptures for us to follow as well.

So, should a Christian get a tattoo? Well, personally, I would never do so. I would never mark my body permanently and I don't think it's a wise thing to do as a Christian since it is something that might be misinterpreted as being "ungodly." But, this is my opinion.  [So in other words Matt will not live according to the argument he is defending.] Other Christians have other opinions and each Christian is free to choose what he or she should do in this matter. The Christian should seriously consider the ramifications of a permanent marking upon the skin -- which often includes a social stigma. The Christian should ask whether or not it is a good witness and this is something only that individual Christian should decide.  ["So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.", Ro 14:12.  Matt doesn't seem speak as Paul did In 1Co 11:1, to be saying "follow me as I follow Christ," but "It's OK to get tatted up, but I would never do that."  He says people can follow their own opinion, and each Christian is free to choose in this area of tattooing, as if his argument for it is absolutely right.  Even if Matt were right, and I was wrong, I would rather error on the side of saying "No" to tattoos

then to follow the common growing social practice in our country that continues to grow farther and farther from God.


Should we divide over this?

No, we should not divide over this. If personal opinions override scriptural teaching concerning our freedom in Christ, and division and anger are the result, then those who are dividing over this are the ones in sin.                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                            Greg Merrill

Below are the two emails that Pastor Kilborn (who puts out the newsletter in which I found this article) sent me in response to my comments above.       


Aloha Greg,

   Thank you for your article.  It was thought provoking.

   You made some very good points.


Aloha my friend,

   Thank you for all the help you give to me.  I really appreciate it.  Your response to "tattoos' was very good and you made some great points.  Thank you for that.  If ever you want to call me, here is my number: 808-xxx-xxxx

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    In the future I plan to use this page to share articles that I have written in the past.  I also have permission to use the fine articles I have found on a fellow pastor's newsletter.  I have other sources that I either already have permission to use articles, or am certain I can obtain that permission.

Below is a link to the newsletter of a church in Koloa Kuaui, Hawaii. Having visited this church, met the pastor, and had many emails with him, we have formed a friendship, and he has granted me permission to use the articles in the newsletter.

https://us-mg4.mail.yahoo.com/neo/b/message?sMid=5&fid=Inbox&sort=date&order=down&startMid=0&filterBy=&ac=kFQEiWwtfrrXF4KDp42Tcm3825M-&.rand=1181328996&midIndex=5&mid=2_0_0_1_159_ABV3w0MAAGxXVxwWkQ3eyCKbN3s&fromId=


                                                              Genesis 1

                               Are the days of creation 24-hour periods or long ages?

                                                     Dr. Ron Rhodes, Apologist

 

Many today find theological support for the idea that the days in Genesis are long periods of time. For example, in Genesis 2:4 "day" refers to the entire time frame during which God created.  In Job 20:28 "day" refers to the time of God's wrath.  In Psalm 20:1 "day" refers to a time of trouble. Moreover, in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 we are told, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."  Besides, the sun was not created until the fourth day of creation, so the first three days couldn't have been literal 24-hour solar days.

 

Contrary to this position, many other Christians provide substantive arguments that the days of Genesis 1 are literal 24-hour periods:

 

1.  The Genesis account makes reference to evening and morning, indicating that literal days are meant (Genesis 1:5).

 

2.  Genesis tells us that God created the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night.  This would seem to indicate that the days were literal solar days (Genesis 1:16).

 

3.  Solar days seem to be implied in Exodus 20:11, where we are told that "in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day."

 

4.  Whenever a number is used with the Hebrew word for "day" (yom), it always refers to a literal solar day (without exception in the Old Testament). Genesis says that God created the universe in six days, so it must have meant literal solar days.

 

5.  If Genesis had intended to communicate that God created in long periods, a perfectly acceptable Hebrew word would have been ideal to communicate this concept: olam.  But this word is not used. "Yom" is used, and as noted above, "yom" with a number always refers to a 24-hour day.

 

6.  Second Peter 3:8 does not indicate that a day for God actually lasts a thousand years.  Rather it says that a day is like a thousand years. God is above the limitations of time.

 

7.  The Genesis account indicates that Adam was created on day six, and he then lived on through day seven and continued to live in the days that followed.  If the days of Genesis were long ages, how can these many thousands of years be reconciled with the biblical statement that Adam died at age 930 (Genesis 5:5)?

 

8.  The argument that the first three days could not have been literal days because the sun was not created until day four is not convincing.  The first three days were probably the same length of time as the last four days.  The exact same kinds of descriptive words are used to describe all the days-words like "evening" and "morning."  Some believe God created a temporary, localized source of light in heaven (see Genesis 1:3) which, as the earth rotated, gave the appearance of light for the day and darkness for the night, all within a 24-hour period. God Himself could have been the light (see Revelation 21:23; 22:5).