Are Tattoo’s Sin?
… In some cultures this question, Are Tattoo’s Sin, is a no brainer. However the last several years I have been living as a Christian Missionary in Brazil and this question still needs to be answered….
I first visited Brazil as a young missionary here for only a couple months. It was my first mission trip and I was scheduled to ministry in Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. To be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly scheduled to minister in Peru. I boarded a speed boat one day without permission and crossed the border illegally. However even in Peru this question came up: Are Tattoo’s Sin?
The question for me is so obviously however for many it’s not. Mostly due to the fact of weak teaching behind the pulpits and yes of course even personal responsibility for NOT studying the Word of God ourselves. Let me be clear and state that I have tattoos, I have three of them. The most recent tattoo I received shortly after arriving in Brazil this last time to live here fulltime back in April of 2013.
Having tattoos and being a missionary was no easy task. Remember I live in a culture where some pastors tell their Church members that to shave their legs, cut their hair, or even not wear certain clothes such as a long skirt or heavy suit is sin. Holiness is a good thing but not when it leads to global ignorance and in many cases authoritative abuse.
What does the Bible say exactly? Are Tattoo’s Sin?
“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:28
Well there you have it. According to the Word of God (which I personally believe the ENTIRE Bible) we do have a direct command from God to NOT cut our bodies or get tattoo’s. That should be clear enough and for some who spend more time speaking then they do studying it is more than enough. However God hasn’t called us to be ignorant. We can’t just take one statement out of context and build an entire doctrine from it. That is what Cults and corrupt politicians do.
What is the book of Leviticus?
The book of Leviticus is the book of the Law. It is a SPECIFIC Book wrote to a SPECIFIC people. It cannot and should not be seen as a guideline for the Church. The Hebrew slaves were unhealthy both physically and spiritually. They were being called to become a great nation to fulfill the promise of the Lord and for this reason they NEEDED very clear guidelines on how to accomplish this enormous task. That is why you see dietary laws and such throughout the entirety of this Holy Book.
Any student of Romans (found in the New Testament) is clearly shown that the law brought the knowledge of sin, it was ONLY old covenant and that Jesus Christ has given the Church a BETTER covenant. For those who wish to argue this simple truth let me point you only a few verses later to the next chapter in Leviticus where Moses discusses sexual immorality. Now there are several situations that it deals with but here is one for the sake of argument.
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” – Leviticus 20
So let me ask you this:
Those of you who claim Tattoos are sin; when was the last time you killed a homosexual walking down the street? When was the last time you saw a man holding another man’s hand and you took a rock and beat him to death with it?
I certainly hope the answer EVERY Christian reading this responds with is: NEVER! Jesus did NOT call us to murder those lost in sin. He did NOT call us to spit in their face and beat them to death. He called us to be a light in the darkness and point lost souls to repentance through the grace, mercy, and love of our precious savior.
Here are the facts.
There are those who will remain to answer naively the question ‘Are Tattoos sin’, but look at the words and actions to Jesus when faced with a similar dilemma.
In Mark 7 we see the Jewish leaders holding onto the law (book of Leviticus) and trying to shame Jesus and his disciples. What does Jesus do? How does Jesus react?
“…Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him…” -Mark 7:18
Now clearly this passage is about food and washing. However the same idea is clearly represented. Jesus is giving us a revelation of the New Covenant, a much BETTER covenant. We do not make ourselves Holy or Pure because of our actions or the food we eat. We cannot do this! Only God Himself can purify a people so sinful as us.
In closing I want to encourage each of you reading this to study the Word more for yourselves. There is so much the Bible has to say about this topic that I can’t fit it into a single blog post. One thing to remember is that tattoos in itself are something that stays with you your whole life. Many people, as they grow older, deeply regret them. Honestly look at some in the older generation and see how distorted their tattoos got over the years.
I have tattoos but I don’t encourage people to go out and get them. It is a personal decision each of us has to make and only you have to live with it. When I think of my 8 month old son I would never want him to get Tattoos. However, the day will come when he will have to make his own decision and no matter what he decides on the topic of tattoos I will always love him.