Tattoos have gone from only being acceptable on certain types of people in our society to being widely accepted in diverse social circles. They have become intricate works of art using human skin as a canvas. But how should Christians think about this? Craig Groeschel, pastor of Life Church, offers the following video as a way of thinking through this issue in a Christian way.
Though people think about tattoos in different ways, the only opinion that truly matters is what God thinks. Unfortunately, Scripture hardly mentions tattoos. In fact, there is only passage that directly addresses them: Leviticus 19:28, which says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord”. It seems like this verse is very clear, right? Well, we must remember to look at this particular text in the context of the entire book of Leviticus. Leviticus was written for God’s people who had formerly been enslaved by the Egyptians. What God seems to be directing the Israelites away from are the customs of their former Egyptian captors.
Those Egyptians had a custom of cutting into their bodies when a relative died and therefore letting out what they would call the “life blood.” They would also tattoo pictures of their gods on their bodies. God explicitly forbid this practices. So if we apply Leviticus in a completely wooden fashion, then we would also anot be allowed to cut the hair on the sides of our heads (Lev 19:27) or wear clothes with different types of fabric (Lev 19:9d).
People who are “pro-tattoo” make a compelling point that tattoos that are explicitly Christian can be used to witness or at least be a conversation starter about eternal issues.
Groeschel offers some thoughts to consider if you are thinking of getting a tattoo:
1) Keep in mind that some might consider you rebellious. This may especially be true when thinking about applying for a job.
2) You might be making a decision that you may later regret. What looks good on you at 22 may not look as good at 62.
3) If you are still living at home, and your parents are against tattoos, then don’t get one. Just because we may have liberty to do something doesn’t mean we circumvent another commandment (like honoring your parents) to get it.
In all this discussion we must never forget that tattoos are outward and that God cares much more about what is on our inside than the ink that is on the outside.