When I was little, one of my mothers friends had a traditional tattoo, in dark green ink, around her neck and chin. Seeing the repetitive patterns and cross on her skin, made me view tattooing as if it were a largely socially acceptable thing. Years later, when I first mentioned wanting to get a tattoo to my cousin, she cried out in shock and did not pause before she told me how getting tattooed was against the bible, and that only people who grew up in the villages wore ink. After hearing this, I began research to try and understand why God would not want me, as a Christian, to get tattooed.
The first person I went to was my mother, who pulled out the verse from Leviticus 19:28, which is a very clear command where God tells the Israelites to not put tattoo marks upon their bodies. Years later, In an Old Testament class, I would later find out from my teacher that the historical context in which the word ‘Tattoo’ was being used, was a very different one to what tattoos mean now. Tattoos in the context of the Old Testament refer to ritualistic Pagan markings of the skin, as modern tattooing was not around at this time. Also, if one looks around the passage in which this verse is found, one finds that there are other rules the Israelites were given in order to set them apart as God’s people. Knowing this, we can conclude that simply using this verse as evidence to support God’s supposed damnation of tattoos is not possible.
When reading an article written on crosswalk.com , I came across an interesting point that the article was urging tattoo loving Christians to think through before inking. It focused a lot on the importance of thinking over what it is that we want to communicate to the world through our skin, before making a permanent decision. While I personally think that putting artwork on one’s skin, even if it has no significant meaning, is completely okay, their question did make me think about the importance of paying attention to the kind of messages that we will give through tattooing. I agree that tattoos rooted in spiritual beliefs are a fantastic way of expressing oneself and glorifying God, I also don’t think that in order for a tattoo to be acceptable to God, it must explicitly advertise him.
As the bible has nothing to say about the exact form of tattooing we have today,it is very difficult to decide whether or not it is acceptable to him. The most important thing, is to make sure that, as Christians, whatever we decide to do when it comes to decorating our bodies – our homes – is in some way, shape, or form glorifying God by expressing ourselves, and who he has made us to be.