When the Lord brought his people out of Egypt to bring them to a new land, he cautioned them against taking up any of their practices. “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). God did not want the ancient Israelites to mark their bodies with images, whether by cutting or printing. Sounds like tattoos, doesn’t it?
He also gave them a reason for the prohibition: “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). God’s holiness means that he is not tainted by the many cultural mores and passing fads of our world. If holiness should motivate our choices, then how do we address tattoos? Well, why do people wear tattoos? For some, it’s fun. For others, it’s a way to be unique. Still others do it to belong to a group.
We belong to a holy God who is unimpressed by tattoos. Do we want to be different? Do we want to feel like we belong? Then we should live differently than the people around us – love them, serve them, thank God before meals in public places, be patient and kind in trials while others fly off the handle. In these ways we show that we belong to the Lord and desire to be holy as he is holy.
If this is not our aim in life – to be separated to the Lord as servants who are untainted by the world – then we might be asking about tattoos and other things merely to see what we can get away with. Instead of staining your body with tattoos, join him whose body was stained with blood to save us from this world.
What Do You Think?
a. If you wanted a tattoo, what reasons would you give to convince yourself to get one?
b. Why do church members sometimes try to cover their tattoos, which they obtained before they became Christians, with long-armed shirts?