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Tattoos

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  • Tattoos

    What are your thoughts on tattoos? I have noticed in recent years there is a growing trend to tattoo entire arms, legs, neck, etc. It's different than the one or two hidden tattoos of the past. Nowadays it seems to be very blatant and something to be showed off.

    Is there a Christian view on this, or something the bible would teach?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Marie View Post
    What are your thoughts on tattoos? I have noticed in recent years there is a growing trend to tattoo entire arms, legs, neck, etc. It's different than the one or two hidden tattoos of the past. Nowadays it seems to be very blatant and something to be showed off.

    Is there a Christian view on this, or something the bible would teach?
    • Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.

    Unless the culture thinks they are really cool. Then they are okay <sarcasm>.

    I have one, I regret it. It was before I became Christian. I think excess tattoos serve as a type of mask for deeper underlying issues. My phobia is being in church and having a little one point at me because they want one. I don't want to be the excuse they use in their arguments, so I keep it covered.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (28) Cuttings in your flesh for the dead.—It was not only the custom for mourners to let their hair grow long and wear it in a disorderly manner (see Leviticus 10:6), but the bereaved in the East to this day make cuts and incisions in their bodies in mourning for the dead. The Israelite, however, who is created in the image of God, and who is to be as holy as the Lord is holy, must not thus disfigure his body (see Leviticus 21:6; Deuteronomy 14:1, &c.); he must not sorrow as others which have no hope. For transgressing this law the offender received forty stripes save one.

    Nor print any marks upon you.—This, according to the ancient authorities, was effected by making punctures in the skin to impress certain figures or words, and then filling the cut places with stibium, ink, or some other colour. The practice of tattooing prevailed among all nations of antiquity, both among savages and civilised nations, The slave had impressed upon his body the initials of his master, the soldier those of his general, and the worshipper the image of his tutelar deity. To obviate this disfiguration of the body which bore the impress of God’s image, and yet to exhibit the emblem of his creed, the Mosaic Law enacted that the Hebrew should have phylacteries which he is to bind as “a sign” upon his hand, and as “a memorial” between his eyes “that the Lord’s law may be in his mouth” (Exodus 13:9; Exodus 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18).
    God bless,
    William
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    • #3
      Tattoos, like pretty much anything else, can become an addiction. There are people who basically live to continually add ink to their bodies, and as William pointed out the Bible actually speaks against this. Of course getting a tattoo will not cause you to lose your salvation, but you must ask yourself what your motivation is for getting them. I would suggest that at some level there is a bit of narcissism involved.
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      • #4
        I personally have no issue with tattoos, but I also have no issue with people who have issues with them. I do not have any, and I am not going to get any, but I can see why people get them and I get the appeal. It is interesting to think about when they get to an addiction, like Knotical mentioned above, and that is really a sad case. To each their own, though, I suppose. Thanks for sharing.
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        • #5
          I don't have a tattoo but my sister has a couple. She even go one with her husband after they go married with a kanji of the word for wife and I don't remember what language he got his in. People used to only get tattoos, or branded, when they were criminals or slaves. So historically, it makes sense to tell people to not get tattoos. But biblically, you aren't supposed to damage you' temple' and getting a tattoo could be considered a violation of that.
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          • #6
            I have no problem if they are tastefully done. Many have crosses to express their faith, or photographs of deceased loved ones with prayers that are extremely well done. It can be a very pure form of art if done by a talented artist, and several have great meaning to it as well. I remember looking at a Heath Ledger interview once, and he has very obscure, small tattoos up his arms, and when he was explaining what each one meant it was so heartfelt and honest how could one not appreciate it. If you are getting one just to get one cause you think it looks "cool", I would frown against it; however, if you are getting with with a deeply personal or spiritual meaning, then I say go for it.
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            • #7
              I don't see any issue with tattoos. I'm covered in tattoos and feel that it's my right to express myself. I have been told that it's an act of destroying my body, but I couldn't disagree more. I feel as if I'm enhancing my body. My body is a temple, sure, so why not decorate it the way I see fit? If I'm going to be condemned for having ink on my body, I'd like to think that it's a bit ridiculous. No one should be condemned for making choices for themselves.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by lexinonomous View Post
                I don't see any issue with tattoos. I'm covered in tattoos and feel that it's my right to express myself. I have been told that it's an act of destroying my body, but I couldn't disagree more. I feel as if I'm enhancing my body. My body is a temple, sure, so why not decorate it the way I see fit? If I'm going to be condemned for having ink on my body, I'd like to think that it's a bit ridiculous. No one should be condemned for making choices for themselves.
                I was pretty receptive to your statement until I hit the last sentence lexinonomous. The tattoo subject is indeed subjective to the one with the inkings so my observations would not be of any consequence to that individual but for me, I choose to be defined by my heart and character and not what is on the outside of my body, hence, no tats. A watered down testimony due to one's appearance (do nothing that appears sinful) is akin to having no credible testimony at all.

                Now let's get back to that last sentence shall we? "No one should be condemned for making choices for themselves".
                Each decision we make is a personal decision and we are and will be held accountable for those choices. Whether or not to accept Jesus Christ is a personal choice. Whether or not to abort a baby, or commit adultery or slander your friends or enemies are all decisions and still, we are held responsible for each and every iota of each action. Note: ALL sin, whether small or large is still sin and fall into the catagory of condemnation but then again, "there is none righteous, no not one.". But to be sure, it is through the choice that Jesus Christ made that our sins are forgiven.

                To be real, I am certain that you did not mean the statement the way it was written but only wanted to make a post regarding tats and choices about having tattoos. But the reality of the matter is that there might be someone with a serious, "it's okay because I read it in the Christ Forum" dysfunction and go about their merry way doing foolish things. Believe it or not, foolish people abound and can read and sometimes believe everything they read.

                God Bless...............Bobby



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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lexinonomous View Post
                  I don't see any issue with tattoos. I'm covered in tattoos and feel that it's my right to express myself. I have been told that it's an act of destroying my body, but I couldn't disagree more. I feel as if I'm enhancing my body. My body is a temple, sure, so why not decorate it the way I see fit? If I'm going to be condemned for having ink on my body, I'd like to think that it's a bit ridiculous. No one should be condemned for making choices for themselves.
                  No doubt, some temples are self serving.

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                  • #10
                    I have no problem if they are tastefully done. Many have crosses to express their faith
                    There are better ways to express one's faith.
                    Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
                    That's is one way one's Christian faith could be expressed.
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                    • #11
                      I am opposed to anything that is going to hurt and may lead to an infection. [wink]

                      If we are really going to beat the drum of obedience over Leviticus 19:28, then are we going to have to ban 50% cotton/50% polyester shirts as well?
                      Please just help me to understand which Laws are still in effect and which are not.

                      I see tattoos as a problem from the perspective of "As much as it is within your power, live at peace with all men." Those who cover themselves with tattoos and piercings claim that their appearance does not matter, but they are mistaken. Being covered with tattoos or dying your hair multiple colors or wearing black lipstick all make a statement that you have rejected social norms. Which is OK, as long as you WANT to make the statement that you have rejected social norms. It is a problem if you want to work in a bank or a doctor's office or a law firm. In many places, social norms matter.

                      I have a friend who is part of the Bikers for Jesus movement. His appearance allows him to fit in at Daytona at Biker week. It is an obstacle to fitting in at the Baptist Church. That's just the way it is. Christians can get to know him and overcome their natural first reactions, but he will have the Pew to himself the first time he enters a new church. That is a choice dictated by his appearance. Tattoos will serve to create a similar barrier. Not an insurmountable one, but it is unrealistic to pretend that tattoo covering your arm, shoulder and neck doesn't matter. People see it and recognize that you are 'different'.
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                      • #12
                        I have three tattoos, and know tons of other believers that have anywhere from one to full arm sleeve tattoos, and beyond.

                        I have heard the argument that many of the rules in the old testament were created for sanitation purposes (ink at the time would have been a composite of ash and liquids, including urine, or saliva). Animals that were forbidden to eat were creatures that lived in bacteria prone areas, etc. When Peter was told he could eat all of the animals post resurrection, did that line mean other rules of sanitation changed too?

                        It just makes me wonder where the line is drawn as far as what rules "still apply" and what do not according to that theory...
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                        • #13
                          Ah, someone who likes to "sew" I believe. It's an almost forgotten craft but a pleasurable one indeed!

                          Okay, tattoos again. While I do not believe it's such a matter of it being sinful it is the perception that it brings for those who do believe it to be wrong. There are some who believe that caffein is a part of the pharmakia spoken of in Revelation and deem it to be a form of sorcery for it does change our mental and physical makeup. There are some who demand a woman to wear dresses down to the ankles and up to the neck and anything other than that shows the lady to possibly have some loose morals.
                          Going to movies, dances and wearing jewelry are "perceived" to be wrong by some belief systems so it's just a matter of whom you associate with and to whom your testimony will be given.

                          Christians are seen in all different lights and manners which some condone and others condemn depending upon ones prior teaching.
                          Paul told the believing and converted male and female temple prostitutes in Corinth (corrupt) to dramatically change their appearance so the public would not associate them with their past occupational status. The women were commanded to grow their hair and the men to cut their hair and both to put away all of the bling and makeup associated with temple prostitution. The followers of Christ, in other words, are to look different, act different, and be different.

                          Tattoos are things that cannot be erased easily and as William wrote, he keeps his covered for a reason which involves the visual testimony that he wishes to present.
                          1st impressions are the greatest impressions that we can bestow upon those who we wish to give a witness and that 1st impression is generally mightier than the message we wish to impart, or so it might seem. A first impression can bring trust and trust will open ears and open ears can listen and hear the greatest message we can give......The Good News.
                          I can walk among anyone with or without tattoos and be "visually" trusted by both, whereas someone who has a visible tat can generally only walk successfully among like minded people.

                          It's funny really. Way back, when I was in the Army, a tattoo was about the only thing a soldier could do to his body without permission because a soldier belongs to the government and to damage government property was a violation. Now, a ruling has come out that an officer cannot have ANY visible tattoos.
                          It kind of makes me wonder: The government gets 20% of a paycheck and it's soldiers are not allowed to harm themselves in any way shape or form or face the consequences. On the other hand, God only get's 10% and we allow OURSELVES the [freedom of will] opportunity to damage ourselves believing there is no consequence to it at all. Whom indeed has the upper hand here?
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                          • #14
                            I do like that concept of the approach to having them or not, or covering them or not. I do know we are to be in the world, but not of it...but again, if the area is grey, where do each of us draw the line?

                            All of my tattoos tell stories. All of those stories are easily things I attribute to my testimony of what God has done for my life. I did not get them to broadcast those things for the world, but rather as a motivator for myself (one of them is actually a sewing needle, since sewing was mentioned!). Did I get them with the intention of glorifying God with them? No. Was I strong in my walk at the time I got them? No. Does that mean I have shame over them? No.

                            I absolutely agree there ought to be something different about believers, but I also believe it is important to also be approachable, to be humble, to remember that we too are human.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bobby Cole View Post
                              It's funny really. Way back, when I was in the Army, a tattoo was about the only thing a soldier could do to his body without permission because a soldier belongs to the government and to damage government property was a violation. Now, a ruling has come out that an officer cannot have ANY visible tattoos.
                              The military "used" to care a great deal about its image. During certain times the military becomes more relaxed or more regulated, example, during peace time they tend to tighten up, and during war they loosen up. I think it interesting that our military cared more about its image than some churches today. I didn't get mine when I was in the military. Though I was in the Air Force, and at that time they expressed disdain for them, and regulations stated that they could not show while wearing the USAF uniform.

                              God bless,
                              William
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