Monday, July 21, 2014

Are Tattoo sinful?

Let's hit a hot button issue today, are tattoos sinful?  This should be easy, after all the Bible says not to get a tattoo, right?  Cut and dry?  This passage is found in Leviticus chapter 19 verse 28, right among a whole bunch of laws.  To be blunt, to use this verse against tattoos is the worst case of picking and choosing what to obey in the history of picking and choosing.  This passage condemns blended fabric (no 50/50 cotton blends), eating fruit before it's been 5 years, cutting your hair and your beard.  We don't follow any of those, but attempt to enforce the tattoo, why?  I'll tell you why, we think tattoos are bad and evil and we need justification.  After all, bikers and sailors get tattoos, and they are mean and dirty and curse a lot.

The fact is, Leviticus chapter 19 is written to tell the Hebrews how to be different from the Gentiles.  All the things the Lord says NOT to do are things the worshipers of Baals and Ashura DID do as part of worship.  The verse says do not cut or tattoo yourself.  Remember when Elijah was on Mt Caramel with the prophets of Baal, and to attempt to get Baal to act, the prophets began to cut themselves?  Ya, the scars that remained would be the tattoo (they didn't have a tattoo gun).  They would rub ash or other dark colors into the cuts to make them colored (sort of) and that was their tattoo.  It was done for religious reasons, and was forbidden for ancient Hebrews.  Christians today are not ancient Hebrews and we need to understand the Bible in context.

What about your body being a temple, does that mean to take care of your body?  Most of the places that is mentioned is talking about sexual relations.  Your body holds the Holy Spirit, and when you have sex, two become one.  Do not join your temple with a pagan temple (in the case of pagan prostitutes as in 1 Corinthians 6).  It also talks about division in the church, since we are the temple if we destroy the church and separate, we dishonor God's temple and will be destroyed, the sin of Ananias and Saphira.

So, are tattoos a sin?  Yes and no.  For someone who has no moral objection, a clear conscience and feels it's ok, they are free in Christ to get a tattoo.  For someone who feels it's wrong, it's sin for them.  The Bible does not tell Christians not to get a tattoo, but it does tell us to listen to our conscience and not to offend others with our freedoms in Christ.  We are free in Christ to get a tattoo, but not free in Christ to offend another brother.  Keep them modest, keep them free of profanity, vulgarity and immorality (no naked people).  Keep them somewhere they don't offend people and don't condemn a person who feels a tattoo is a sin for them, because if it's a sin for them, they need to abstain.  For the rest of us, make sure you find a good artist!

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