(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
In the Old Testament days, when the Old Covenant was in operation between God and his children the Israelites, God told Moses in Leviticus 19:2 and 28:
- “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy…Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”
Some people who claim to be Christians today, take the view that since they are not Israelites and this command was given to the Israelites under the Old Covenant and that Christians today are under a New Covenant through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, that it is now permissible to get a tattoo printing.
But is this really the case? Does this mean that marking your body permanently with ink is something that God’s children today, operating under the New Covenant, really have permission to do?
I do not think so. I would humbly suggest, that when a prohibition has not been expressly stated in the Bible or in this case, the New Testament, we should still apply the principles derived from the New Testament and the Bible on the whole, to determine whether something is right or wrong. God may not have dealt with every topic in the New Testament but he has certainly given us principles to operate by and expects us to use wisdom and discernment.
In light of this, I would like to provide some reasons, both SPIRITUAL (based on principles derived from the New Testament scriptures) and PRACTICAL (based on common sense), why you should not get a tattoo.
EIGHT (8) SPIRITUAL REASONS BASED ON PRINCIPLES DERIVED FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES, WHY YOU SHOULD NOT GET A TATTOO
1. The New Testament says that not everything that may be permissible for you to do is advisable for you to do.
Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 6:11, that although all things may be permissible in the new liberty which he had in Christ, all things were not necessary to do and he would be careful not to be brought under the power or bondage of any of them. He said “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
2. The New Testament says that everything you do, should be done to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 and 23 state:
- “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him…And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 also states that as Christians, we should: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Given the above verses which serve as a guide as to Christian conduct, be honest with yourself. Given that tattoos are generally permanent inscriptions on your God-given, blood-washed body (which by the way is not yours since your members belong to Christ), do you want to get this tattoo for the Lord or for yourself?
The Word of God clearly states that everything you do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus and that you should be doing it as unto him.
Did Jesus tell you that he wanted you to do this? The scripture clearly states that you should acknowledge him in all your ways and not lean on your own understanding so that HE could direct your path. Did you even consult him and ask him to direct you in this? Everything the Christian does should be for the glory of God. That is why we live: To bring HIM glory. Did he tell you to go get a tattoo to glorify him?
I am sure he didn’t. I am also pretty sure that if you tell him you want to do it to glorify him and ask if he wishes to be glorified in this way, the answer will be NO.
Some of you may be asking, what if the word, inscription, message or symbol to be tattooed is something positive? What if it is a word or phrase from the Bible?
In fact, some people try to justify taking a tattoo by stating that the message is sentimental or that it is a word or phrase from the Bible.
Irrespective of what the message is even if it is a Bible verse, you ought not to mark your body with it. It is not so much the message that should be avoided but the marking itself.
In fact, when we examine the scriptures, God does not desire for us to literally place his Word on our bodies through markings but in our HEARTS and in our HEADS.
For example, of his children, God stated: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their HEARTS, and in their MINDS will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
In Psalm 119:11, David also told God: “Thy word have I hid in mine HEART, that I might not sin against thee.”
The goal of every Christian therefore should be to have God’s Word inscribed in our hearts and in our minds, that which the naked eye cannot see, not on our bodies.
3. The New Testament says that we should avoid the very appearance of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:22-23 tells us as Christians: “Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and BODY be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.“
It is no secret (if you do your research), to see that tattooing, which is in most cases, a lifelong covenant with ink, has been associated over the years with idolatry, demonism, paganism and other diabolically evil activities.
The list of evil activities that tattoos are often associated with should make a blood-washed Christian want to have no association with it whatsoever, if only for the sake of not ruining his or her testimony for God and how he or she is perceived by those in the Church and in the world.
I have personally observed and it is clear for all to see, that persons into rock music (which is not of the Lord), living in open rebellion against God (e.g. some so-called celebrities, proud atheists, women living promiscuous lifestyles, gang members, those into drugs, alcohol and other evil practices), have a love of tattoos. There is something about it that makes such people gravitate in its direction.
Why then, if I say that Jesus is my Lord and that I hate the practices of such people, would I want to be associated or identified with any of that? Tattooing definitely has the appearance of evil, as culturally, it has been known over the years and continues to be strongly associated with a rebellious spirit and what is evil and unclean. I should therefore avoid it, unless that is the message I want to convey.
4. The New Testament says that if you are a Christian, God owns your body, not you.
In addition to acknowledging God in all your ways, it is important to remember, that you are no longer the owner of your body. When you came to Christ and surrendered your life to Him and accepted his redemptive work on the cross, the New Testament makes it clear that you are not your own, for you have now been bought with a price.
It is now therefore your reasonable service to not do things to exalt your flesh but to keep it under subjection, so that Christ can have his way in your life. As John the Baptist stated of Jesus who is now Lord over your life: “He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30).
Galatians 2:20 states: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
God owns your body and therefore, any lifelong decision or decision that could have consequences for a long time, in relation to your body, you need not just to consult with God but to ask for his permission. If you do that and truly wait on his answer, I am certain that he will NOT tell you to go ahead and mark yourself with a tattoo, irrespective of what inscription or words you are considering using.
You are already marked and therefore identified by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. This makes you special, set apart, a royal priesthood and different from the masses around (1 Peter 2:9). Is that not enough? God wants you to be distinguished from those in the world. Why do you want to fit in?
If you truly seek God’s face and ask him for his will in this matter, it is highly likely that instead of him telling you that it is okay to go out and get a tattoo, that he may instead point you in the direction to some scripture in his Word that can guide you, like the following verses:-
- “Know ye not that your BODIES are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid…Know ye not that your BODY is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your BODY, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19-20)
Your body is the temple of the holy God. It is not yours to do as you please. You do not own it and are expected to be holy in your treatment of it. How can you do so, if you are placing permanent ink on your body that is associated with the spirit of rebellion and demons and say that you do not care?
As is stated in Galatians 5:5 therefore: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
5. I personally believe (given my observations of the people who mostly tend to gravitate towards tattoos and how destructive their lives usually turn out), that it invites demonic influence into your life.
Do you want to play russian roulette and take the chance of opening up the door to satan and his demonic attacks in your life?
1 Corinthians 10:21 states that: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”
In 2 Corinthians 6:17, although Paul was speaking about unholy alliances between a Christian and a non-Christian in for example, marriage or business, it demonstrates the concept of separating from all darkness and the things associated with darkness. He said:
- “…for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord (agreement) hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 also states: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
Given that the idea of tattoos has historically been associated with darkness, uncleanness, devilish worldly practices and not what is good or of the light or holy, then if you are a Christian, you should want no part with it!
1 Corinthians 6:11 states of the Christian’s new identity in Christ: “…but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Romans 12:1-2 also states:
- “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your BODIES a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
6. The New Testament says that if you are a Christian, you are the light of the world, no longer a part of the darkness of this world’s evil system.
Matthew 5:14-16 states:
- “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The Bible therefore describes you as the light of the world and instructs that you should let your light shine so that others may see your good deeds (not your tattoos) and glorify your Father in heaven. If that which is light and that which is associated with light glorifies your Father in heaven, then who do you think is glorified with tattoos which is mostly associated with darkness?
7. The New Testament says idolatry is a sin and in my view, tattoos are a form of idolatry.
It is important to remember that idolatry is named in the Bible as an example of one of the works of the flesh, not the Spirit.
Having said that, you are making a choice to permanently put ink on your skin for no health reason, just vanity and self-glorification.
As said before, some people try to be smart by inscribing Bible verses on their bodies, saying they are doing so to glorify God but God never asked them to do it nor did they consult him as to whether he would be pleased in them doing it. So really, at the end of the day, when one really examines the motive, it is an excuse to do what SELF wants for self- glorification.
To make a lifelong covenant with ink is in my view, idolatry. Lifelong covenants should only be made with Jesus who already marked us with his blood and to our spouse in marriage. Anything else, for me, especially given that it is not a necessary procedure to save life and limb is idolatry, if not of the ink then of self.
Inking yourself for life or most of it is too eerily close, in my view, to the idea of taking the mark of the beast expressed in the New Testament.
If both the Old Testament and the New Testament mention permanent markings of any kind on the body in a negative light, then whether it is a tattoo or the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelations, I want no part with it!
Some Christians want it because they think it is fashionable for the young person, their unsaved friends may be doing it and basically, they want a taste of the world as well. Instead of setting the standard for the world, they are allowing the world to set theirs.
Yet the Bible says in 1 John 2:15-17:
- “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
8. The New Testament does not condone selfishness and taking a tattoo is selfish.
The New Testament talks about selfishness and that this must be done away with in the Christian’s life. Yet, when a person decides to take a tattoo, they do it for no one else but themselves, irrespective of how this may impact others.
Such a person does not consider how those around him or her may feel about it, like his or her parents, the Church, his or her friends and even his or her future spouse if not yet married.
The Bible says to consider how your brother or sister feels about something and that you should avoid doing it for their sake, even if you say your faith is strong and that it is therefore permissible. Have you considered how this will impact on anybody else other than just yourself?
SIX (6) PRACTICAL REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT GET A TATTOO
These reasons are not as significant as the spiritual reasons I gave earlier but they are still relevant to consider. PRACTICALLY speaking, you should not get a tattoo because:
1. You will most likely regret it later.
Many people who enter into lifelong covenants with ink, later regret it. Why sign up (literally) for the rest of your life with ink, when you don’t know if you will want it ten, twenty years from now? Wasn’t the blood of Jesus which he has marked you with, enough?
2. Even though it may be possible to remove it, I understand it is a very expensive, painful process, may not remove all of it and can leave scars.
On removal, an excerpt I pulled online reads: “Surgical removal, also called excision tattoo removal, involves cutting off tattooed skin and stitching remaining skin back together. Surgical removal is the most invasive method of tattoo removal. However, it’s the only surefire method of completely removing a tattoo.”
Does this sound like something that would glorify God and that he would want you to have? Why make a decision with ink now that could affect you for a lifetime?
3. It could turn a future godly spouse off.
I for one, am very repulsed by tattoos, to the point where I want to throw up whenever I see one. I therefore do not want a spouse that has one, even if he got it before he got saved. It is a deal breaker.
That is not being judgmental either. If you made the choice to get a tattoo, why should I have to suffer throughout a marriage (which is for life) by having to stare at that eye sore all the time? For me, that could even adversely affect physical intimacy between us as a couple because I think I would always feel that there was a third wheel or giant elephant in our room with us.
That part of my husband’s body would be awfully neglected because I would NOT want to touch him where that awful imprint is and I certainly would NOT want to kiss him there.
From a woman’s perspective, I could tell you right now, that with the ratio of how many women there are to men and how difficult it is to be found by a good, Christian man, if you are not yet married but ever want to be, then getting a tattoo is a bad idea. You will most likely be ruining your chances of this happening, at least, to anyone God-fearing and decent.
A decent man of God is looking for or is supposed to be looking for a woman that is modest and respectable, not just in the way she dresses but in her very conduct. When men of God read about the virtuous woman in the Bible and dream of a woman like this, no where does it state that she put markings on her body.
Tattoos draw loud attention to a person. It screams in an uncouth, unlady like manner: Look at me! It is so loud, it can prevent good prospects from noticing both your physical and inner beauty, especially if you placed it in an area where it cannot be hidden. At the end of the day, it is anything but modest. You may be removing yourself from the Christian marriage market by getting one of them. Is it worth it?
4. It can make your life difficult in terms of getting a proper job or a promotion.
This is because tattoos have such a negative connotation (and rightly so), even in the world. It sends the message to a prospective employer that you don’t care about anything or anyone, that you are wild and will do as you please.
Needless to say, employers generally don’t like it, especially if you’re hoping to work in a place that takes professionalism seriously. So why would you want to make yourself unattractive in the labour market by allowing yourself to be stereotyped as a reckless, unprofessional and indecent person, reducing your chance of getting a good job or a promotion? How is your employer to take you seriously with that ugly thing on your body?
5. It can make you self-conscious and limit your opportunities in life in general.
For some social events, like Weddings, you may find yourself having to cover up your arms if you placed the tattoo there and instead of living in the liberty which Christ died to enable you to have, as the years roll on and the pleasure of having gotten a tattoo wanes, you may find that you are now dealing with the bondage of self-consciousness because you know that ypur tattoo is loud and you know that it is not generally perceived in a positive light.
I have personally seen pictures of bridesmaids with ugly tattoos on their bodies and this spoiled the picture entirely. When you looked at the picture, no matter the scenery, no matter how lovely the dresses were and the colour scheme and the flower bouquets, you did not even notice the bride and the beauty of the day, only the ugly ink inscribed on someone’s arm. That thing stole all of the attention and it is all that anyone can think of.
Needless to say, it looks nothing short of ridiculous when women with tattoos wear strap or sleeveless dresses, exposing that unflattering thing. It never works well together. I am at a loss as to why they do not wear an outfit that would cover it up completely on such an occasion.
6. I understand that if not handled properly, it could result in serious health issues, like hepatitis C and even AIDS.
Do you want to take the chance of contracting some horrible illness from the needle or whatever they use, to ink on the tattoo? A momentary decision for a temporary high, can have permanent consequences.
If after all I have said, you remain unmoved, not convicted and still want to have a tattoo, you should ask yourself, has the idea of permanently inking myself become an idol in my heart? If so, you should repent.
Finally because the devil is so cunning, he often tries to find subtle ways to re-introduce his evil agenda, in a way that is not easily detected to the masses. There is therefore now this nonsensical practice where, people are inking on tattoos permanently where their God-given eyebrows are or are supposed to be. I understand that some never had much eyebrows to begin with and others may have lost theirs in some kind of accident or otherwise and therefore find this practice, called microblading, attractive.
However, it is in my view, something that the Christian should stay away from, as it is yet another form of tattooing ink permanently on to your skin, although more subtle and without some of the downsides of getting a traditional tattoo.
The Bible warns us to be on our guard always, as “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE TATTOOS?
For persons who have already made the mistake of taking a tattoo or tattoos, this does not mean that your life is going to be hopeless, provided you make the right choice in moving forward.
If you took the tattoo after you became a Christian, you need to repent. Once you recognize the gravity of what you have done and are genuinely sorrowful about it, go to Jesus and confess what you have done, let him know that you are sorry for having done it and ask him to forgive and cleanse you and to shut every door you have opened to diabolical forces in your life.
If you took it before you became a Christian when you didn’t know better, then thankfully, once you truly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and asked him as Lord into your life, the power of his blood to save you was and is more mighty than the power of that tattoo and the forces of darkness behind it. Jesus is therefore able to break every chain with the forces of darkness affiliated with that tattoo. If you wish, you can still go to him and confess that what you did was wrong, that you regret it and that you will never do it again.
If you have not yet given your life to Christ by believing that he raised up from the dead on the third day (because he is God the Son) and confessing him as Lord over your life, having a tattoo is just one of your many problems. You are in serious danger of hell fire when you die and should therefore go humbly to Jesus now, repenting of all of your sins and asking him for his forgiveness and salvation. Ask him to come into your heart now and if you believe that he rose again from the dead on the third day, let him know this with your lips and declare boldly, that he is Lord over all. He has the power to clean you up from the inside out and make you into a new creature.
2 Corinthians 5:7 states: “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
If you have any questions on this topic, send me a private message. I’ll be glad to help in anyway I can.
(Written on 07th July, 2018)