What does God say about tattoos?

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Leviticus 19:28, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24,31, Isaiah 49:16

What does God say about tattoos?

Tattoos really fall into a category known as Adiaphora: things that are neither commanded nor forbidden by God.

But wait, I thought tattoos are mentioned in the Bible. Even forbidden in the Bible.

In Leviticus chapter 19 verse 28 it says this:

Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord. –Leviticus 19:28

During the time of the children of Israel, there were people that were making tattoo marks on their body. It seems likely that it was for religious reasons or cults for the dead.

One way God wanted the children of Israel to set themselves apart from these other nations was to not tattoo themselves. Just as he instructed them to not eat pork or to circumcise their boys. All of these things were to set apart his people as a special and holy nation.

In the New Testament God tells us that concerning such things, we put into a category known as ceremonial laws, the Christians today have freedom. He tells us in his word that those ceremonial laws are worship laws to set apart the children of Israel were for a specific people at a specific time. And they pointed to Christ. Now that Christ has come we have freedom in these things.

This is the reason why we as Christians today don’t care whether or not we eat pork, this is why we don’t sacrifice animals at our worship services. They were all part of God’s ceremonial laws for the children of Israel at a specific time. In the New Testament we as Christians are very much so held to God’s moral law: the Ten Commandments as he’s given for all people for all time, but concerning ceremonial law we have freedom.

God gives guidance for us concerning our Christian freedom in 1st Corinthians chapter 10 verses 23 and 24 Paul writes this:

“Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.Nobody should seek his own good,but the good of others. –1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Instead of us thinking well how can I use my Christian freedom to get as many tattoos as I want, it’s good for us to consider the effect it might have on fellow believers, or those weak in the faith. Will it cause maybe some to sin against their conscience?

St. Paul also tells us in st Corinthians 10 verse 31:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. –1 Corinthians 10:31

It is amazing that in Isaiah chapter 49 God uses a gospel picture that includes tattooing as he says these words:

See I have engraved you on the palms ofmy hands. –Isaiah 49:16

Certainly a precious message, a way to remind us that God has not forgotten about us and will never forget about us.

So when it comes to tattoos: it’s adiaphora. Things that aren’t commanded or forbidden by God, but God would have us consider even in our Christian freedom, how does this bring glory to God? And how can I use this to the benefit and blessing of the fellow Christian?

May God bless your week. Amen.

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