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Should Christians get tattoos?


The Bible says in Leviticus 19:28  "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord."  This passage clearly tells us that God does not want us to be marking up our bodies with different kinds of graphics or tattoos. (Some would argue that this was just an old testament law that no longer applies, but we must remember that there are many important principles that we find only in the book of Leviticus that certainly still apply, such as laws against bestiality and the selling of a child for prostitution)  The principle here is that God desires for His people to be different than the rest of the world, both on the inside and out.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."  The Lord designed our body to be a temple and a dwelling place for His Spirit.  In the same way that Solomon's temple was free from graffiti, we should not defile our body since it is also God's holy temple. If Paul instructs us to glorify God in our bodies, then their certainly must be a way to dishonor God with our body, so to say that we can do whatever we want them is not Biblical.

Throughout history and in the Bible, tattoos have been related to pagan practices and wild living. As Christians, we are to be set apart as holy vessels for God (1 Peter 1:14-19) and to turn away from things that link us to this world which is passing away. Remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to "Abstain from all appearances of evil."

We're not supposed to be like the rest of the pagan world and live the way everyone else does: "Therefore come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." (1 Corinthians 6:17)

"And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father."  (Colossians 3:17 NLT)  All of our actions are to represent Jesus Christ and I really cannot picture the Savior with snakes or butterflies tattooed across His forearms.

What if someone has made the mistake of getting a tattoo?  Have they gone too far?  Absolutely not: 1 John 1:9 assures us that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  During my wild partying days, I decided to get a rather nasty looking tattoo and the Lord has since forgiven me of this. I am ashamed of the tattoo now, but I am reminded that Jesus has washed away the sins of my past and freed me from that rebellious lifestyle.

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