I’m linking up with Crystal Stine today for Behind the Scenes. Snap a picture and tell the story about what you don’t see. The whole truth about the picture. It’s fun and heartfelt. Join us!
Today I actually have two pictures I want to show you.
First Picture :
A few years back about a year or so after he had graduated high school my son came walking through the family room without his shirt on. This was not necessarily an odd occurrence since that was the path from the bathroom to his bedroom. I wasn’t pay really close attention to him but I thought I saw something on his chest. At first I was concerned that what had caught my eye in just a glance was a rash or cut. Come to find out it wasn’t any such a thing. Instead, to my great horror, it was a tattoo. My sweet baby boy who had a heart to chase after knowing more of Christ and teaching Him to youth, had marked his body. I try hard not to over react. Since it was Hebrew writing, I asked what it said. And he answered EL ROI (God who sees). Whew, so at least is Godly.
However, I have to admit I was still upset. I was raised in a strict home and was taught that tattoos were only for sailors, bikers and those in prison. (Sailors had to ne included because my Grandaddy had a few tats) But under no circumstances should a young pastor have any. Again that is what I was told and that is what I accepted. I made it very clear, in a not so lovingly motherly way that I was disappointed in him for making this decision.
Now this photo was taken a little over a year ago. It is from a text my 20 year daughter.
On her back left shoulder is a heart, ribbons, a keys tattoo. Again I was not happy but I was able to handle this one differently. I calmly asked questions. I wanted to know why she got it. What was the meaning behind it? What in her life did it represent?
So what changed ? Why was my reaction different? My son wanted to tease me that it was because she was the baby so I was giving her a pass. Someone else said that in my ‘middle ageness’ I was to tired to fight it. But the truth is God had changed my heart. He had made a difference in my thoughts.
I began to search the scripture to see what God had to say about the issue instead of relaying on what others have taught me. So when I ponder the question, “To Tattoo or Not.” Leviticus 19:28 was where I started.
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” (NLT) Leviticus 19:28
How much clearer can that be, right?
Well, to fully understand this verse we have to look at the context it tis set in. This passage in Leviticus is specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the people living around the Israelites. God’s wanted to set them apart. His desire was that His people would be different. God forbids them from imitating the heathens. His holy people were not to engage in idolatrous, pagan worship and sorcery. This instruction was given to protect. God knews that following the practices of the world would lead them away from the one true God.
Again if we are going to look at Leviticus 19:28 we must also review verse 26, “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood,” and verse 27, “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.” Oh but we don’t like to address those, do we. If we look at those with the same eyes as we do verse 28 then it hits many more of us. I along with many others eat non-kosher meats and get haircuts against what is taught in 19:26 and 27. Yet we do so without participating in the forbidden worship of pagans. Back then these customs were associated with pagan rites and rituals. Today they are not. So we must conclude either tattoos, eating non-kosher meat and haircuts are all wrong and sin or we have agree they all are not. We can not pick and choose.
So, the important question remains, is getting a tattoo a form of pagan, worldly worship still forbidden by God today? My answer is, this matter is disputable, and should be treated as a Romans 14 issue.
- Let God alone tell you what is right and wrong on matters that are not clear in the Bible. Ask yourself if you have freedom in Christ ? Or, does the area weaken your Christian walk?
- Because there are disputable issues in the bible (tattoos, smoking and such) Don’t pass judgment on your brother or sister if they have freedom that you don’t have in an area.
- If you are strong in an area and have freedom in Christ in that area, never let your freedoms cause a weaker brother to stumble
So if you are asking the question, “To tattoo or not to?” I think the more serious questions to ask yourself are: What are my motives for wanting a tattoo? Am I seeking to glorify God or draw attention to myself? Will my tattoo be a source of contention for my loved ones? Will my tattoo cause someone who is weak in the faith to stumble?
I understand it can be a divisive issue and I don’t mean it to be, however, it is an issue I have (and still do to some degree) stuggled with. So I have turned it over to Christ and ask Him to lead and direct me.