Should Christians Get Tattoos? What Does the Bible Say?

by Jack Wellman on June 23, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

Should a Christian get a tattoo?  Is there anything in the Bible that restricts or permit’s a Christian to have a tattoo?  How can we know for sure since the Bible is silent about tattoos?  Is it a sin to have a tattoo according to biblical principles?  What about a Christian symbol like a cross for a tattoo?  Surely that would be acceptable wouldn’t it?

The Bible is Silent

There are many gray areas in a Christian’s life.  There are many things that are not listed in the Bible that are not recommended for the Christian.  Search any concordance and you will not find restrictions on abortions, on gambling, or on tattoos.  So how do we know whether a thing is sin or not if the Bible is silent on a particular issue?

There are certain principles that are laid down in the Bible that we can apply to gray areas in a believer’s life.  For example, the Bible does not say, “Thou shall not gamble” but we understand that this activity is not what a godly person does.  The Bible does not mention that abortion is wrong, but the principle of loving your neighbor as yourself, that children are a gift of God, and that God is the giver of life and only He has the right to take a life is understood, so we know that abortion is sin because it is taking an innocent human life and it is murder.  But let’s try to focus on what the Bible teaches in the area of a believer having a tattoo.

Bible Verses on Tattoos?

There actually are some references on tattoos in Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”  But if you read the entire chapter, this is referring to pagan rituals that where performed over the burial of their dead.  This verse is prohibiting worldly, pagan rituals that the nations outside of Israel had as tradition.

Tattoos are not a recent trend for humans.  These date back to the ancient Egyptian civilizations and beyond. Many ancient people have had tattoos as a custom and even Native North American Indians.  But I could not find any example of ancient Israel having tattoos so does this mean that Christians are not permitted to have them?

Romans 14 and What is Permitted

Romans chapter 14 is an excellent chapter that covers things that are not specifically addressed in scripture.  For example, Romans 14:23 says, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”  I would say that if it causes your brother to stumble and cause an offense or might make a non-believer question the believers authenticity in Christ, then it would appear that we should prohibit such a thing or activity in our own lives while not judging those who are persuaded that it is okay for them.  And verse 23 is also saying that if we think it is a sin for us, and it is not from faith, then it would be sinful if we think it is.  God leaves some room for maneuvering in the sense that if it bothers our conscience or if we feel it might offend others, then it is best that we abstain from whatever it might be.

Romans 14:15 gives us a parameter on unnamed things in the Bible and whether we should or should not abstain, “If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.” Paul is taking about foods here, but in verse 20 he makes a very important point, “but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.”  If we think something like a tattoo and especially what the tattoo is a picture of, we can make some Christians and non-Christians stumble in their belief of your sincerity of faith.  If they might see it as sin then it would be wise that we abstain from it since we are taught to abstain from even the appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22).

In Essentials, Unity

While we should not needlessly cause someone to stumble or be an offense to them, neither should we be judging someone just because they have a tattoo, or they drink wine or drink beer, or smoke cigarettes, and so on.  Again, we return to Romans 14 in verse 13 and apply the biblical principle: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”  A famous Christian dogma is appropriate for whether someone has a tattoo or not or whether one should have a tattoo or not: “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Judging by Appearances

At work I once hesitated to share the gospel with a machinist because he was covered in tattoos, drove a Harley, and chewed tobacco.  When I finally did muster up the courage to witness to him, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he was already a born-again.  Sadly, I had prejudged him by his outward appearance; something that God never does.  Incidentally, this made it much easier for him to witness of Christ to other bikers and live out the principle that Paul lived, “to be all things to all men” (I Cor 9:22).  Its not easy to remove tattoos by the way and besides, God is no respecter of persons and He looks at the heart and not at the outward appearance so neither should I.  Personally I would not get a tattoo because my wife, children, and grandchildren might be a little surprised to see me wearing one.  Others in my congregation might be shocked to see their pastor with a skull and cross bones on his shoulder or a cross on his forearm.  But I will not sit in judgment if a believer or a non-believer has one or if they don‘t have one.  God wills all men to be saved (I Tim 2:4) and accepts all of men, as long as they believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Was this Article Helpful?

If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

Are Guardian Angels Real?

What Are The Gifts of the Spirit?

Does The Bible say What the Devil Looks Like?

Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



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{ 149 comments… read them below or add one }

john February 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

Wrong, the ten commandments clearly stata that thou shall not kill.
abortion is killing

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Nick July 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

We’ll try this again. It seems unfortunate that nobody has mentioned the body being a temple for the Holy Spirit. What are you marking your temple with? Why do you seek to mark your temple with things that represent the world? I maybe could agree with a tatoo of a cross, or a dove, something that represents The Word, but not things that are of the world. We see that God took His blessing away from Solomon for having too many pagan influences in the temple…so I ask, is your motivation for getting tatoos a thing that comes from above, or is it motivated by the world? As far as seeing into someones heart, Jesus said the words that a person speaks is an overflow of what is in their heart, so if you pay attn., you can indeed see into people’s hearts, by just listening to the words coming out of their mouth.

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Jack Wellman July 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Thank you Nick for your comment. I see you quoted 1 Cor 6:19-20 but we must always take context of what Paul was speaking about. Was this about tattoos? Read the entire context please:

“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”

About what is Paul speaking here? About foods? About smoking? About tatoos? None of these but he is talking about sexual immorality and so are you equating someone getting a tatoo with the same kind of defilement as sexual immorality? Context in Scripture is always critical or it makes it a pretext. Are those who get tatoos, and I have not suggested in this article, of whom I am the author, that anyone should get one but do we put those who do in the same category of sexual immorality? I hope you are not. I will not. Are you saying they might lose their salvation over this? I would be cautious for none of us are without sin but to equate defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit (our bodies) to that of sexual immorality is clearly wrong and is not good exegesis. Do you agree sir?

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Nick July 23, 2013 at 12:19 am

Thank you for your reply. So you think our bodies should only be a temple for the Holy Spirit in matters of sexual immorality? Interesting. I believe our bodies should be a residing place for the Holy Spirit concerning all things about our faith. All our thoughts, desires, and actions should reflect the condition of our temple. Few can argue that tatoos have their roots in pagan tradition. Much like the “Christmas” tree, modern day Christianity has “adopted” many pagan symbols, rituals and rites, and has conformed to the things of the world, instead of being transformed. Ultimately, the question tatoo-seekers should ask is this: Is your motivation/ and the end result of a tatoo for the glorification of God? Or will the tatoo draw attention to your flesh… I guess Scripture for me is the guide. Not necessarily the things It doesnt say we shouldnt do, but the things It says we should be doing. And we need to be careful, because in this day and age, just about everything is rationalized by Christians (abortion, fornicating homosexuals who are allowed to be bishops in certain denominations, and I could go on, and on, and on…). In an overwhelming fashion most of these things are done because of the love of the self, and not from our love of God. So I ask again, has your love of God compelled you to get a tatoo? Or has the love of the self… Thank you again!

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joe July 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

Nick,

I wonder, does your church simply have white washed walls? Is there no paint what-so-ever? Is there not some wallpaper in the bathrooms? Pattern on the carpet?

How does blue, red, tan painted walls bring glory to God? Sometimes we just want our Temple to look good.

Why do we Christians think that God is anti-art? Why do we think God cannot reside in a temple with decoration???

Nick July 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Thank you, and I understand, but is the “artwork” on the walls of the church of worldly things? In closing, please be careful. We need to discern certain things beyond what Scripture explicitly says. For instance, it seems some here would say its okay to marry a 12 year old, because the Bible doesnt expressly forbid it anywhere, right? Same goes for canibalism, since there is no specific verse that says “do not eat human flesh”, it must be just fine, according to the arguments presented on this site. Dont you see how slippery that slope could be, if we take the attitude that “it must be okay, if there is no specific verse that forbids it.” Thank you for all your replies!

Jack Wellman July 25, 2013 at 3:14 am

Again Nick, thank you sir. Can we say that tattoos are not an essential to the faith issue? Many would seem to make be one. This is so true, “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.” The day we start to make tattoos an essential, we are not only on a slippery slope, we are throwing people down it. Nonetheless, I appreciate everyone’s comments.

Laura January 2, 2014 at 10:38 am

I was so incensed when I read this article and it said that abortion was a ‘grey area’ in Christianity. The writer is clearly not a man of God. How can any Christian make such statement? Murder by any other name is still murder.
You have said exactly what I wanted to say!

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Jack Wellman January 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Laura, just show me in this article where I stated that getting an abortion is a “grey area” in Christianity. Please show me where I wrote this. It is not in this article at all and in fact, I wrote an article that shows clearly that abortion is murder at this link:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-does-the-bible-say-about-abortion-a-christian-study/

What I did write about abortion was that it is sin and even though the Bible doesn’t say abortion is wrong, we know from the principle that killing is wrong and so that we know it is sin. Again, please show me where I wrote that abortion is a grey area? Its not in this sin and I am not claiming that I am a man of God but a sinner who has been saved by grace. Even so, you attacked me viciously by saying “The writer is clearly not a man of God. How can any Christian make such statement?” when I never wrote this so you are totally in the wrong. You have said exactly what is not true and are bearing false witness on me Laura. Again, read the link to see how clearly I stand that abortion is sin. It appears to me that you are not being very Christian in your words at all.

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John R. May 8, 2014 at 1:14 am

Actually, reading into the practices of ancient jews, a newborn wasn’t considered a person until they were joined to the community, i.e. circumcision and the initial rites of passage. If a child was stillborn or died within the first month of life, it was not considered a person and parents were not even allowed to mourn the loss of the child. The presumption that the Jews of the old testament didn’t actually recognize the fetus as a person. If two men get in a fight and accidentally kill a person during that act, it is still murder. Yet in Ex. 21:22 a similar situation where the fight causes a woman to abort, is treated as a civil law suit, a loss of PROPERTY, and then only when the HUSBAND files complaint.

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Heather April 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I have 2 tattoos 1 I have had for almost 7 years, the other I just got in Feb. I got saved a year ago last month. The 1 tattoo is a blue rose with my kid’s names on it and the other is a cross with my aunt and mother in laws initials and dob and dates they passed on and it also has a cancer ribbon around it. It don’t make me any less dedicated to God. I go to church every Sunday and I also help at my church. My body may b tattooed but my heart isn’t. He accepts us anyway he can get us cuz that’s 1 more won over and 1 more against Satan and the more we can win over the stronger we will b.

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Jack Wellman April 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Amen Heather. We can not judge from the exterior but it is the heart that God looks at. I love what you said, “My body may b tattooed but my heart isn’t.” That is an awesome line! Your such an encouragement to read. Thank you.

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Brad April 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I appologize is this is too strong(you are an immature/young believer and I don’t want to discourage you), but I am Hot and not Cold(Scripture) or wishy washy as I believe God is clear on all issues(He is not author of confusion). That said, you do sound rebellious. I pray that you become selfless, humble and obedient. Read Gods word daily and ask for forgiveness. We are to obstain from ALL appearace of Evil (1Thess 5:22,23). Tattoos are NEVER necessary and they do cause others to look & form some sort of opinion/judgement. You are drawing unnecessary extra attention to yourself, and not living Modestly(If you were called(born again) while circumcised (tattooed) thats’ one thing). I can’t and will not condemn you or any tattooed person(That would be Sinful as well), with Gods word as my witness, I can not condone Tattoos. Look up Spot,Stain,Blemish,Defile,tattoo,pure,holy,modest,Temple etc… the Theme is VERY clear throughout all scripture in relation to Lev. 19:28(which says NOT to get tattoos for the EXACT REASON YOU CHOSE TO). Also Do we prostitue our daughters? or Practice beastiality?.. they too are only found in the Old Testament Law. So now under grace, do we justify beastiality?.. Child prostitution?.. (Read Matt. 5:17- about the law) We are NOT our Own, we have been bought at a price, therefore, glorify & immitate Christ(Be Holy,Undefiled,one with out spot, stain or blemish) with your body, soul and mind. Do Nothing out of selfish ambition that would cause another child of God to stumble. (Proverbs 27:6) “Faithful are the wounds of a Friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy”. I do pray that this is for your Benefit and not condemnation, for restoration, correction and long term joy and profit. In Christ

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Adam April 24, 2013 at 9:33 am

“but I am Hot and not Cold(Scripture)” It’s actually OK to be cold. Just not luke warm. Hot water is very useful (as in a comfortable bath) So is cold water (a refreshing drink).

Lukewarm = useless

I’d like to think of tatt’d people as being cold (refreshing) water splashed on the face of the old guard who cling to traditions over truth.

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Ange Alexandre August 6, 2013 at 2:42 am

God also said if you love me keep my commandments. Why is it so hard for Christians to obey and live by God’s rules, WHY? Most Christians will definitely do anything to keep their Jobs, for example if their boss required them to put, or not to put certain stuff on them for work, they will do it, but when it comes to the words of God, every one try to come up with their own opinions. We as Christians should try our best to obey God’s word. God bless.

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Amanda April 17, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Thanks so much for the article, I particularly liked that it was unbiased and nonjudgmental. I have a friend who is conflicted as to whether or not she should get one and I pray this article will help her make her mind. God Bless

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Jack Wellman April 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Thank you Amanda. I do pray it helps Maybe you can forward it to them. I believe what comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart and that with our words we are either condemned or not. Thanks for your encouragement.

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harold April 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Lev 19:28 is speaking about getting tattooed ( key word) FOR the dead not that a person cant get one. People need to stop using that scripture to condem people. The reason not to get a tattoo is because the focus of the verses is pleading with believers not to learn the ways of the heathen because doing the things they do will ultimately cause you to look and become like them. A christian should not get a tattoo because it is apart of the ways of a heathen. And there are plenty of scriptures where god spoke against cutting yourself because it is learning their ways.

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Paul N May 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

It also speaks about not cutting your body. Are you saying that it is ok for believers to cut our bodies if it is not FOR the dead?

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Jack Wellman May 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Wow Paul, since you are still in the Old Covenant, I suppose you would have these people stoned!

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Paul N July 31, 2013 at 9:57 am

WOW.

Late response, but Mr. Wellman, with all due respect, your comment is deflecting from the point I made. And, why would anyone have to be stoned when Christ took our place. The two have nothing in common at all.

I am also sure that you are not suggesting that the OT has no merit as far as how we should live?

Mr Wellman, you seem to have separated the verse and said that marking ones body is ok but dodged the cutting of ones body. It is either both are ok or both are not.

And what about health and Tattoos and also if God is ok with one marking or cutting their bodies, what body parts are ok to do it or can we mark or cut anywhere?

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Jordan Dietrich July 31, 2013 at 11:41 am

I don’t think he was saying, nor did I see him at any point, say it was “okay” to get a tattoo.
Anyways, to answer your question, somewhat…
I’m guessing that the majority of women (and some men) believe that the “earlobe” is acceptable for cutting at least, although never heard anyone give an acceptable locale for marking/tattooing. Why is that?
Please forgive the sarcasm, but I feel like this is leaning heavily toward being legalistic and it all seems to be detracting from the purpose we, as believers, were tasked with when we accepted Christ (i.e. sharing the Truth of Christ and the redemptive power of His blood). Yes, we should be calling our brothers and sisters out when they are doing something against the will of God (i.e. sinning), and there are many sins for which there is no question or debate about (lying, murder, adultery, etc.), although I believe ALL sin is but one (Disobedience), but on an issue that is not necessarily so cut and dry/black and white, we should be careful not to make a judgement which we are not 100% certain what God has to say on the subject. Just to clarify, I am not using the tired old argument of misusing the passage “Judge not lest ye be judged”. I do not believe that we are Not to make ANY judgements at all as scripture also tells us
“But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.” …1 Cor 2:15 &
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” …John 7:24 ( to name a couple)
Clearly we ARE to judge, but righteously (not self-righteously).
There are laws that were laid out in Leviticus that were for the priests as well as other laws. Not all, during that time, were required to follow the laws that were set out specifically for those within the Levitical Priesthood though.
I’m not saying that some are allowed to break certain rules and some are allowed to commit sin where others aren’t, but some are absolutely held to higher standards and will be judged more harshly according to said standards. Case and point:
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
…James 3:1
The bottom line is that this seems to be going back to Laws set forth in the Old Testament and we as believers in Christ are no longer under the law. We are not saved by works, but it is “by grace you have been saved through faith.” If we go back to the law and rely on it as a measuring stick, we have then truly “fallen from grace”, although not lost our salvation by Any means as this passage does not say “fallen from salvation” as grace is not = salvation. We received our salvation “by/through” the grace of God. Simply, we have fallen from relying on God’s saving grace, which is absolutely sufficient, and are then relying on “our” works as what guarantees our salvation instead of trusting in the work that was completed on the cross, which, again I believe is being legalistic. I mentioned in another post that I am not advocating tattoos, nor am I condemning them or someone who has/gets a tattoo. I will just say this:
If someone is considering a tattoo, first pray and listen, with an open heart, to what the Holy Spirit has to say and I believe the answer might surprise some who earnestly pray for an “answer” and not a “permission slip”. ;)

Thank you and God bless brother.

Jack Wellman July 31, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Thank you again sir…where sir did I say that marking one’s body is okay and that cutting ones body was dodged. I am going to leave this alone for we are getting nowhere. Have you read the article sir? I never say that I suggest getting one but if someone has one, neither will I judge the for it. All who are sinners are welcome in the church except for those who are practicing and not repented of those that will not inherit the Kingdom, like drunkenness, thieves, and so on. Thanks for you comment just the same sir.

Laura January 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

Reply to Jordan Dietrich:

Whenever someone doesn’t want to obey God, the old ‘legalist’ argument is trotted out. If you borrowed someone’s car, do you think the owner would be pleased if you painted pretty pictures of flowers and crosses, or whatever, on it?
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Michael June 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Yes, your answer was very helpful. I am a old man, but a young 2 year old CHRISTIAN,if I have more questions can seek an answer in this forum?

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Jack Wellman June 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

Hello Michael. On the top of this website’s homepage there is a box to submit questions and so type your question in the box and click and you will receive many articles that address your question OR you can just ask a question on the comments like where you have made yours and in time, it will be answered. Thanks much.

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Jordan Dietrich June 11, 2013 at 10:06 am

I am not going to say that getting a tattoo glorifies God or not. I do know that most people get them for personal glorification or for some other “worldly” reason, so I think that would let you know where I stand, for the most part, but the motive is what matters and 100% has to do with the heart, which is what God judges (But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” …1 Samuel 16:7). As was mentioned previously, regarding OT and what it states as far as tattoos in Leviticus, this verse was referring to specific practices of heathens and their reasons for the tattoos they received. We must be careful to read the “whole” of scripture and not take things out of context to make a point “we” want to make, which many times is not what’s intended when the surrounding text is taken into consideration and put in its correct context. Case and point: Every promise in the Bible is not speaking to “every” believer. You cannot claim promises that are/were not made to you. You must learn to rightly divide the word, know where to make cuts, and put things in their correct context. ;)

In any case, I must tell you that I have probably just as much ink on my body as bare skin, but this is a result of the life that I have lived and am Very Much a new creation in Christ. I now work for an organization that combats Human Trafficking and rescues girls who have been taken and sold as sex slaves. Once we go in and rescue these girls from their captors, we are first and foremost about sharing the truth of Christ and giving them their identity back and teaching them that they have an “eternal” identity in Christ. These girls have been drugged, brainwashed, and treated as property and most do not feel they have the “right” to have an identity of their own due to it being stolen by truly evil men in this world, who are led and misguided by the Evil One himself.
My reason for explaining this is that we must first do recon and investigative/surveillance work to find out where girls are being held and if I did not look the way I do, it would not be easy for me to blend in to gain the locations to help these young girls (and young boys!). I searched and prayed for years, after finding my way back to the path that I was set on as a young boy (but strayed), trying to find out what purpose God had for me and why I was allowed to stray for so long and go down the dark roads I ventured down and do the things I did. I wondered how could someone so broken and “marked” be of use to God in my present state, although God uses the broken before the strong as you are “pliable” when broken. My question was answered when my 13yr old niece fell victim to this very evil, but truly by the prayers of thousands, she was rescued after 2 weeks of abuse, literally “seconds” before being handed off to the buyers, where she was bound for Mexico to be lost forever in the world of Human Trafficking. This was, indeed, a BRIGHT LIGHT on the path of what He had/has for me. Things we do that are not “holy” and are many times the product of allowing ourselves to fall into the temptations of Satan and his minions, can be used by God for His Glory! May I remind you of Joseph and His brothers selling him into slavery? What was his response when his brother’s sent messengers to beg forgiveness? (But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive). Am I trying to say that you should go get a tattoo and then God will find a way to use it to glorify Himself? Negative. Not in the least! Nor am I trying to liken my life events to those of Joseph’s. I am simply stating that we are not privy to why God allows certain things to happen or why certain people are allowed to do what they do, but we can always trust that God knows why and knows our choices before we make them and has a plan, which will always Glorify Himself and the Truth of His beautiful Son, My KING!

Quite simply, we are to share the truth of the Gospel and not make it “our” job to convict people. God’s word is powerful, perfect, and sufficient and “it” convicts. Let it do its job and just keep sharing the good news that Christ came to pay the penalty for our sins, past, present, and future, in order to reconcile us to our Father in Heaven and provide a way “home”…all out of His perfect love for us. Amen

May the peace of Christ abound in your hearts always, brothers and sisters

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Jack Wellman June 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

Nicely done Jordan. This is an article in itself and most certainly biblically-centered. You are displaying such grace and love in your words that we would all do well to internalize them and then, when we are tempted to cast stones, we would first look in the mirror and see our primary target.

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Peggy July 23, 2013 at 8:52 am

Hi after reading all these comments, I too had the question as to whether it is ok to get tattoos or not. For the ones that got tattoos before they were born again, they usually do it out of ignorance and immaturity. But I believe after one is born again, we should realize that we are not our own anymore, we belong to Christ. A friend of the world is an enemy of God. We are suppose to be sanctified, set apart from the ways of the world and shun evil. We are not suppose to judge others but we do judge the sin. First of all you are taking a risk, anytime you get cut or injured, you could get infection. But most of all, you are bringing attention to yourself and it does NOT glorify God. Once we are born again, we are suppose to crucify the old man and embrace the new. I’m not saying that one will go to hell for getting them, but who are you representing? Christ, the world, the devil, or yourself? God doesn’t look at the outward appearance, He looks at the heart, but people still look at the outward appearance. I know some great people right now that have tattoos and can’t get a decent job. They wished they had never gotten them, and some places require you to wear a long sleeve because you represent their business. Again, yes, God looks at the heart but man still looks at the outward appearance. We are responsible for making our own choices whether right or wrong and we will reap the consequences of our choices whether we like it or not. God is still a God of Integrity and order, He does not change and I believe if we are seeking to be like Him, we will not even consider doing this. Just my opinion. God still loves you if you have tattoos, but you look much better without them.

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Jack Wellman July 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Thank you Peggy for your comment. If someone came into our church with tattoos…and they have, I looked at the person, not what is on the outside. Would you say something to someone who had or wanted to get a tattoo at your church. I believe God’s Word and God said that He is near those who are of a broken spirit and near those who are humble and contrite. Why did Paul never write or command against this since many who were pagans coming to faith in Christ had tattoo’s and not one time did he mention this?

This is not one of those mentioned by Paul or by John in the Book of Revelation about those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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Tim Fetterhoff July 30, 2013 at 1:45 am

I haven’t read through all the comments so I do know what all is saying, but I have a question. Is the mark on Jesus’s thigh (Rev 19:16) different from what we are talking about in the article? And I need some clarification on 1 Cor 6: 19-20. Would that fit in to the topic in this article?

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Jack Wellman July 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Thank you Mr. Fetterhoff.. No, I do not believe that 1 Cor 6:19-20 fits in the context of tattoos at all. Was this about tattoos? Read the entire context please:

“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”

About what is Paul speaking here? About foods? About smoking? About tatoos? None of these but he is talking about sexual immorality and so are you equating someone getting a tatoo with the same kind of defilement as sexual immorality? Context in Scripture is always critical or it makes it a pretext. Are those who get tatoos, and I have not suggested in this article, of whom I am the author, that anyone should get one but do we put those who do in the same category of sexual immorality? I hope you are not. I will not. Are you saying they might lose their salvation over this? I would be cautious for none of us are without sin but to equate defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit (our bodies) to that of sexual immorality is clearly wrong and is not good exegesis. Do you agree sir?

As for Rev 19:16, it says, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” This is clearly not a tattoo at all but a name given Him because you might notices that is was “On his robe and on his thigh” a name “King of kings and Lord of Lords” If you read all of Revelation chapter 19 you will see that He is clothed in a robe of rightouesness and that this means that he had no skin showing because if he was clothed in this, why would his legs be bare? This “On his thigh” then had to be on the thigh portion of His robe and not on His bare skin.

Does this answer your question Mr. Fetterhoff? Thank you for visiting us.

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Tim Fetterhoff July 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I was not implying that we could lose our salvation. When we get saved God has us. No man can pluck them out of His hand. I just wanted to know because at college and other places it is a topic that that is debated and I wanted to hear your take on it. We do have to look at the context because “Context determines meaning”. Your “Revelation” response does help. Again I just wanted to see what was your take and I wanted to get clarified on it. Me in my opinion, if God wanted us to have tattoos on our bodies, I think he would have given us them while we were in the womb and as we came out, we would have had our tattoo.

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Jack Wellman July 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Thank you Mr. Fetterhoff. I see that you are set against tattoos and I have not said anything about whether a person should have one or not but I have also not set judgment on those who do have them or have gotten them since saved.

You said, “if God wanted us to have tattoos on our bodies, I think he would have given us them while we were in the womb and as we came out, we would have had our tattoo” but don’t we also fly and so by this reasoning, we could say that if God had intended for us to fly He would have given us wings while we were in the womb and so I have a hard time (maybe its me) with this analolgy. God doesn’t want us to sin but we are born into sin and so if God wanted us to be sinless He would have made us come out of the womb sinless. If God didn’t want us to come out of the body with marks, then why was my daughter born with birthmarks? See my reasoning sir? Be blessed.

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Kay August 2, 2013 at 4:55 am

Thank you for your insightful article Pastor Wellman! I just had a question concerning cutting. How could I explain to someone the difference between tattoos and cutting in terms of self mutilation? I apologize if I come across as rigid and legalistic, that is not my intention this is just something I thought of.

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Jack Wellman August 2, 2013 at 6:27 am

Thank you Kay for your question. Some people just will not accept things that are grey area or non-essential issues with grace but are legalistic and look to tie certain things we do today to things taught to Israel in the Old Testament. You may just have to learn to accept their rejection of anything you might attempt to tell them. Jesus said that it was not what goes into a man or woman that pollutes them but what comes out of the heart, meaning that what comes out of the mouth reveals the condition of our hearts and God looks at the heart and not the exterior.

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DNA August 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

Today I was really tempted to get a Tattoo yet God’s Spirit was stronger .By the way I live in one of the greatest red light district inEurope,yet I am bornagain and do not contribute in this obsessive ways people live there.But what I have seen the most here in summer,are overall tattooed people male,female whatever… .Even my bornagain brother at work is pierced with Tattoos.So my conclusion was simply to glorify Jesus by Tattoo !
But God ist holy,alive and not stupid!He is wise to any child of his flock !

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Tim Ryan August 24, 2013 at 7:23 am

Excellent article Mr. Wellman, refreshing to see someone not hung up on trivialities and gray areas but instead focused on the gospel. If some people spent as much time studying the gospel of Christ as they did finding ways to condemn believers and non-believers we would be better off.

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Jack Wellman August 24, 2013 at 10:46 am

Thank you very much Mr. Ryan. You are a rare Christian that sees the point that I made here…that we can not judge what is on the outside but let God alone judge what He sees on the inside. You are very encouraging sir.

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Kaylee September 14, 2013 at 3:01 am

As Christians I think we all need to stand together as ONE and not argue or bicker. We are all going to have our opinions so let’s not try to force them down each others throats . Christians need to stick together now more than ever! We don’t need to be divided.

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Mitch September 25, 2013 at 2:44 am

The comments I read today, it reminded me the debate of the early christians in the Bible.
I remember this bible verses or if you read the book of Acts about the debate if the gentile believers should be circumcised or not because for the Jews they are still following the mosaic law, law of moses. as the Jews/Israel are the chosen people of God.
But in the end as they wrote the letter that gentiles not need to be burden upon the circumcision-Acts 15: 28-29 but It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
Farewell.
Then before that letter was sent to the gentile believers Peter mentioned in:
Acts15:11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Indeed we are save by Grace.
So if the debate about having a tattoo or not?, it should be a personal decision for you to make especially for the new believers. As God looks at the heart and He knows your thoughts and He will be the one to judge you.. Let’s just examine these following questions in having a tattoo: 1. Does it Glorify God? 2. Do you become a stumbling block especially to a new believers? 3. If there is conviction? The Holy spirit will tells us what to do.
So for me, it tells me not to put tattoo now that I am a believer, it’s okay when you were still unbeliever to have one. My pastor before he became a christian he has a tattoo. We asked him about if we can still have tattoo now we are christians?. He said having a tattoo is not a sin, but if it becomes a stumbling block to others and there is conviction, better not to have one. Romans 14:13
New International Version
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Still the decision is on you. Also pray before making a decision.
Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

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Paul Davis October 19, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Are you crazy, the Bible is clear about abortion. Don’t murder. Life begins at conception. DUH!

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Mari November 28, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I want 2 tattoos and I have thought long and hard about what I want. And I came to the decision that I want one on each of my wrist, my left a verse about patience, because it is my weak arm and it take time to get strong and that verse I want to be Isaiah 40:31. And on my right I want the verse Philippians 4:13. And both reminding me that I need to pray for the strength to be patient. What is your opinion?

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Jack Wellman November 28, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I cannot speak for you my friend. I like the verses and their meanings but you realize that many Christians will judge you for this. I won’t. I would say that it is a non-essential issue to a person’s faith in Christ. I don’t see anything wrong with it but you know some people will but perhaps that is their problem and not yours. I appreciate your comment and question and would respect your decision entirely.

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matt May 5, 2014 at 11:30 pm

I have several tattoos and have been studying the art in its artistic form I’m turned off by art of demons and death and believe if u do decided to get a tattoo it should be presentable I am torn between whether or not to get anymore as I am tryin to become a better Christian there are so many articles putting down the art and others saying it’s ok and that’s where things in Christ get very frustrating what of the verse that states we are not bound by the laws of the old testament and those that put down someone for having a tattoo and use the old testament as their reasoning I’m assuming all the meat they eat has been drained of blood and they do not cut their hair or shave their face what bout it clothes are they made from one material not justifying my tats or saying it’s wrong how many Christian women have their ears pierced but put down tattoos I confuse easily and want to live right by God and please him every day and bible so talks bout gluttony and and if it body is God’s temple y don’t u take care of it I see many devout Christians who smoke and are extremely over weight and don’t take care of their temple sorry no I’m rambling just trying to understand

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Jack Wellman May 6, 2014 at 8:05 am

Hello Matt. Thank you my friend. IF it troubles you to get another tattoo, then I wouldn’t and for some non-believers, they do not see it as befitting a belief in God. I agree that the Old Testament references may be not for us but the point was that we are not of the world and this means that we should not try to fit in or look like the world. I am not saying that is why you want another tattoo though so don’t misunderstand me, I am not judging you Matt. I cannot tell you what I would do but also we are not to do things by saying that other believers are extremely overweight (and Bible mentions gluttony) and ears pierced and so on but we are not to compare what we do with what others do for there is a danger of justifying what we do is “not as bad as what others do, even Christians.” Have you spoken with your pastor about this?

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Pentti May 8, 2014 at 7:05 am

Can a Christian smoke marijuana?
Can a Christian snort cocaine?
Why not,after all nowhere in the Bible does it say a Christian can’t marijuana or cocaine
Can a Christian……… get a tattoo?

Well did Jesus have tattoos? Do you think if he really was around today he would get one?

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gudde justin June 22, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I am probably going to get in trouble for this question and comment I’m going to make. but that’s okay I’m a big boy I can handle the criticism.
I am So this comment is coming from someone who does not have or has no one in my family that has a tatoo so I think I’m a little more objective in my view of this topic.
I have no problem with someone getting a tatoo or piercing BIBLICALLY. the Lev. Passage is speaking about “worldly or pagan” rituals. I have heard the vers thrown around in this discussion about our bodies being the ” temple of the Holy Spirit” 1corinthians 6:19. I wholeheartedly agree with this. But in context this vers is speaking of sexual immorality, but if you are set on bringing this verse into this conversation in the context you are using it with just make sure you are being consistent in ever aspect of the bodies/temples well being.
With all that said here is the question I propose. if you really believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that verse is to pertain to this discussion, Can I ask of anyone who has put up a negative view of this subject how many of you are overweight or obese or are in bad health because of decisions you have made.
I have seen this in many church circles and I have been around the country and seen many where the pastor or people in the church general will rant and rave about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit in regards to alcohol, smoking, tattoos, or piercings. And from what I have seen they have a few additions on to their temple.
Mathew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but udo not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
I do you think this verse applies to this context very well okay I’m finished.

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Spencer Le Blanc May 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

Thanks Jack,

I’ve been struggling with this since I read this in Leviticus last week. I’m a reborn Christian now and was lining up a Armour Of God Ephesians tattoo but then doubted I should after finishing Leviticus. I have 3 tattoos prior to my reborn faith in Christ. 2 out of the 3 I am now not proud of.
I wanted to get my Armour of God tattoo on my right shoulder / arm, and my favourite scripture tattooed on my forearm – Matthew 11:28. I want these for a few reasons. 1.To show and honour my faith to others, 2. To remind myself every morning to put on my Armour daily as so I can stand firm in our spiritual war, and 3. In hope that these tattoos would open up a chance to witness if it peaked others interest. Thanks again, your article was insightful. God Bless

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Jack Wellman May 31, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Thank you so much Spencer for your encouraging comment. I agree with you. I once witnessed to a man who worked in a place where I was a janitor and this man had tattoos everywhere and rode a Harley, yet I tried to be like God and not look at the outside but try and see this man as someone who God wanted to be saved. It turned out that he was already saved! You cannot judge a book by its cover anymore than you can a person’s heart. I agree with you but be prepared for a few Christians who will judge you unfairly and they will look at the outside and not what is in your heart (which they can’t see anyway!). If these tattoos save even one soul, would it not be worth all the tattoo parlors in the world!? Yes, of course it would. I thank God for you brother and please do keep in touch and let us help you in any way we can as we have over a thousand biblical articles on various subjects of all kinds for the Christian’s walk with Christ.

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M June 16, 2014 at 12:26 am

Well, a lot of Christians find a Bible ref. or other faith based tattoo can be an effective conversation-starter. Tattoos used to be a male domain mainly. But now 59% – 70% of parlor clients in North America are female; and in some areas the proportion is even greater. Whatever people may think of tattoos in general or in particular, there is no need to be surprised that people — especially women — get them, Christians or not. (My 2c.)

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Rachel June 21, 2014 at 10:47 am

Jack,
Thank you for your article, it’s very refreshing. You are absolutely right, the bottom line is the condition of the persons heart and whether or not they are saved. When we start splitting hairs as Christians and looking down our noses at those who don’t look and act the way we do we have become a judge of that person. That is never what we were called to be. Jesus was concerned about the state of people’s hearts. I do have tattoos, so obviously I don’t have a problem with Christians getting them. I don’t think Christians should drink or smoke, but, as you correctly stated that these are gray areas in which we should have liberty and charity. These things aren’t the issue and when we make them the issue we are missing the point. Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost and that should still be the focus of our Christian walk today.

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Jack Wellman June 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

Rachel, thank you so much for your kind words. Sadly, too many Christians major in the minors and minor in the majors and we are trampling on Christian liberty and I wonder if many believers have torn out Rom 12 and 1 Cor 13 out of their Bibles, if you know what I mean.

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gudde justin June 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I am probably going to get in trouble for this question and comment I’m going to make. but that’s okay I’m a big boy I can handle the criticism.
So this comment is coming from someone who does not have or has no one in my family that has a tatoo so I think I’m a little more objective in my view of this topic.
I have no problem with someone getting a tatoo or piercing BIBLICALLY. the Lev. Passage is speaking about “worldly or pagan” rituals. I have heard the vers thrown around in this discussion about our bodies being the ” temple of the Holy Spirit” 1corinthians 6:19. I wholeheartedly agree with this. But in context this vers is speaking of sexual immorality, but if you are set on bringing this verse into this conversation in the context you are using it with just make sure you are being consistent in ever aspect of the bodies/temples well being.
With all that said here is the question I propose. if you really believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that verse is to pertain to this discussion, Can I ask of anyone who has put up a negative view of this subject how many of you are overweight or obese or are in bad health because of decisions you have made.
I have seen this in many church circles and I have been around the country and seen many where the pastor or people in the church general will rant and rave about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit in regards to alcohol, smoking, tattoos, or piercings. And from what I have seen they have a few additions on to their temple.
Mathew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but udo not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
do you think this verse applies to this context very well okay I’m finished.

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Jack Wellman June 22, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Thank you Gudde Justin…hey, let’s get in trouble together, okay? I agree. You are spot on the mark my friend. That 1 Cor 6:19 was speaking about sexual immorality and has nothing to do with the outside of the body so I am in agreement but you and I know that there are those who will try to drag up Old Testament laws or take the text of 1 Cor 6:19 out of context to make it a pretext but I too can take it. I love what you wrote and I believe that you must be a great addition to any church and I covet such believers like you in the church where I am the under-shepherd to the Great Shepherd. Great, great observations and you got the spirit of this article right on the target. Thank you so much.

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Tim July 2, 2014 at 10:55 am

Hello,

I have a few tattoo’s that I got before I made the decision to live for Christ so I wouldn’t dare judge a person who has made the decision to get any tattoo or any Christians who are planning to get tattoo’s, that’s your decision between you and Christ. I personally don’t feel the need to get any more though since I am a Christian and living for God whole heartedly, not to please myself or own desires but for him. So I think that getting a tattoo after making the decision to live for Christ would literally be for your own self desires and not for the glory of God. People try and justify their decision to get a tattoo by saying they can reach others in certain places better with the tattoo then without them but God does not need you to mark your body to do that, you can do that without them

If you were to say go into a bar, club, gang neighborhood, etc and found that you were unsuccessful in reaching them because they can’t relate to you, then praise God you tried and the word never said that you would reach everyone but there are many others out there who are able to reach them and hopefully will but you shouldn’t change your appearance and tell God your getting tattoo for him and his glory cause he doesn’t need you for that.

Again I don’t judge anyone who decides to get them, and if you got them before conversion then you would be one of the blessed ones that would be able to reach some that others can’t. but lets live by the word, not our own desires. THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO FIND SCRIPTURE JUST TO JUSTIFY THE LIFESTYLE THEY WANT TO LIVE INSTEAD OF TAKING THE WORD OF GOD FOR WHAT IT SAYS AND JUST UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT SEEM HARMLESS BUT GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO PARTAKE OF. LIVE A LIFE SET APART FROM THE WORLD, NOT COMPROMISE TO REACH THEM, BECAUSE IF YOU COMPROMISE YOUR LIFE, STANDARDS, APPERANCE, ETC., THEN WHO REACHED WHO? THINK ABOUT IT.

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Spencer Le Blanc July 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Tim,

Awesome advice and your right about personal desires vs Christ desires of us in living righteously.
My tattoo time is lined up for November 15th.
You definitely have me rethinking my decision.
This is why this is a wonderful site and forum. Fellow Christians helping each other. Thanks brother & God Bless
– Spencer

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Brian July 9, 2014 at 8:09 am

The reference in Leviticus has to do more with the Israelites being separated from the world. To show that they stood out from the crowd. The tattoos were worldly and God said to not do that for the Israelites. He wanted to make sure that when it came to worshipping the True God, that there would be no confusion that the Israelites were worshipping a different God than the world did. Now fast forward to our times today. The world is filled with a hatred for God. Tattoos depicting Satan and his minions adorns the walls of all of these shops where tattoos are put on people. I believe God’s Word when He says our body is the Temple of God. I believe that when He says, be holy, just as I am holy. be righteous, just as He is righteous. There is a purity that God desires of us. The purity comes not only on the outside but from the inside. God can and does create in us a new heart. He takes away the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Discernment is greatly missing when it comes to God and His Word. Are we to have fellowship with the things of the world, or are we to separate ourselves from it? (when I say separate it is not that we are not to live in the world, but that we are not to do the things of the world that glorify Satan). When a person pays money to a tattoo artist, he is helping this person continue in his living. Look at the majority of tattoos that this guy does — the vast majority of his tattoos glorify Satan and the Devil. They are vulgar and disgusting. For a “Christian” to even walk into a place like this should have bells and whistles blowing as a warning. A huge red flag should go up as soon as any mention of the devil is in place either on the walls, or in his books or on his body. And yet, many “Christians” will willfully and with premeditation, go into the den of the devil just so he can get a tattoo of a cross. Where is the glorifying of God in this? Our nation is so far removed from being biblical, so far removed from being holy towards God in both attitude and in deed. Instead of going out of our way to show the world that we are just like them, we should separate ourselves from the very people making a living off of promoting the devil and his works. This does not mean that we don’t witness to these people in love of Christ, it means we do not show that what they do is acceptable. It should never be acceptable to wish a devil worshipper a good day. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 2 John 1:10. If God’s Word says we are not to receive them, then how do we Christians of today feel it is okay to go to them in their business and encourage them to continue serving false gods? I understand what you are saying. We live in a time of grace. AMEN. But without a biblical fear of God we will do whatever we feel is right with no thought whatsoever as to what God thinks. Just because something is in a gray area, our first and ONLY thought should be to please God. To glorify God. To lift up the name of God. And to shun evil and even the very appearance of evil from our lives.
Mark 8:33

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

what do you strive for today? The things that be of God or the things that be of men?

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

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Jack Wellman July 23, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Thank you Joe. As I have said to other before, I wonder if someone came into our church with tattoos…and they have, would I criticize their tattoo? NO! They would be most welcome but if they were practicing homosexuals, drunkards, theifs, etc. then I would say something because this is not one of those things mentioned by Paul or by John in the Book of Revelation about those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. I looked at the person, not what is on the outside yet many do say something to someone who had or wanted to get a tattoo at church and drove them away since they came across as “holier than thou.” I upfront tell my church I am a pastor, yet a train wreck, sinner, and wretch and no better than anyone there. I believe God’s Word and God said that He is near those who are of a broken spirit and near those who are humble and contrite. Why did Paul never write or command against this since many who were pagans coming to faith in Christ had tattoo’s and not one time did he mention this?

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Jack Wellman January 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Laura, thank you for your comment. Do you believe that getting a tattoo sends someone to hell? Of course not (I hope you would say) because this is a non-essential to salvation issue, right? What is the context about which Paul speaks about in 1 Cor 6:19-10? It is sexual immorality which WILL send people to hell if unrepented of. You are taking these verses out of context and applying them to something that Paul never intended and that makes your argument a pretext out of context. I believe I would not get a tattoo but I will not judge others for getting one because God loves them and yes, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit but Paul wrote this because of sexual immorality and not tattoos. To take text out of context it makes it a pretext and a false one at that.

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