I decided to write about tattoos today because it came up in our most recent small group discussion. Normally I wouldn’t write about things discussed in confidence, but everyone there seemed pretty open and one person there (don’t worry Rob, I won’t mention your name) even suggested that I write about it on my blog. So here I am.
The questions ranged from “Are tattoos right for Christians?” to “What kind of tattoo would you get?” And the way I see it, there’s one word that answers both questions: painful.
The truth is, tattoos have been a painful topic of division among some Christians. I’ve had interns and volunteers alike that have been tattooed. I’ve had co-pastors that have been tattooed. And for the most part, they all love Jesus and follow Him closely everyday. No bones of contention from me, that’s for sure. But I also want to acknowledge that there are other Jesus followers who also love the Lord and would shout loud and long that a tattoo has no place on a Christian. Fair enough.
And if I were leaning one way or another (I’m not), I’d have to default to my background and upbringing. I was raised in what would be considered a conservative Christian home. Getting a tattoo never entered my consciousness; not even in my “rebellious” phase. The only tattoo allowed in my home was the short one that rang the bell and shouted “Da plane! Da plane!”
But still, one should never take for granted what one was taught/told/expected to believe. One should at some point (hopefully sooner than later) understand what God says about any given issue on one’s mind. Therein lies the bottom line.
So, is it right or wrong for a Christian to have a tattoo? The simple answer: Yes. Before I get into that, I’d like to create a side door out of this blog for anyone who might be done with it. Here’s a question to ask: Can someone have a tattoo and STILL love Jesus passionately, follow Him whole-heartedly, share Him with others unreservedly, and go to heaven fearlessly? My answer? Yes.
Okay, for those who are done, thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ll come back soon!
Now for those who want more, there are other questions to ask: After exhaustively reading what God’s Word says, can I get tattooed with a clear conscience before God? (Based on my study, God’s Word speaks to tattoos in the Old Testament in the context of pagan practices, and says nothing about tattoos in the New Testament.) Am I getting a tattoo out of a faith-filled desire to draw close to God or am I getting it to draw attention to myself? What is the evidence? How does my heart and God’s Spirit within me lead me in this decision? Will a tattoo cause a weaker brother or sister in Christ to stumble?
I also think its important to recognize 2 schools of thought here; that is, 2 distinct different types of Christians. I am not meaning to oversimplify, but just bear with me.
There is one group of Christians that would have their stance summed up in Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Essentially these would say “Lighten up. Jesus didn’t die for this argument. There are more important things to think about than tattoos.” And that’s true.
There is another group of Christians that would have their stance summed up in Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” And essentially these would say, “We belong to God, and so don’t have the right to mark ourselves up with ink, especially when it puts us closer in line with what the world says is okay. We need to be different in every way possible.” And that’s true, too.
I’m not trying to be diplomatic, but I’m also not trying to make a case. The truth is, tattoos are what we call “disputable matters”. For more on that, read Romans 14. But as for me, I’m going to simply ask this question: “What brings glory to God in my life?”