Friday, April 15, 2011

To Tattoo or not to Tattoo - Biblical Principles for a Godly Decision

Recently a young person asked me what I thought about him getting a tattoo. He wanted a nice Christian symbol permanently inked into his body. I greatly admired the fact that he was truly seeking Godly counsel before making this very important decision. Rather than give him an “I am for it or against it” answer, I provided him with the following biblical principles to use in his decision:

1. Ask your parents what they think. After all, one of the 10 Commandments is to “honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12).

2. Consider your influence on others, “for all things are lawful but not all things are profitable” (1 Cor. 10:23). Make a list of all the possible effects this might have on others, young and old alike.

3. Consider the permanence of this, and ask yourself, “Is this something I want on my body when I am 50, 60, 70, or 80 years old?” It may be “cool” now but what about then?

4. What will your present or future spouse think about it? After all, when married your body does not belong to you alone but also to him/her (see 1 Cor. 7:4). What would it be like to be married to someone who did not like your tattoo and always had a bit of resentment toward it?

5. What will your future boss think about it? If the tattoo is not visible, this is not an issue. However, if the tattoo is quite visible to others, it could cost you a job. I know of employers who have interviewed potential employees, and upon seeing their tattoo offered the job to someone else. Whether right or wrong, this does happen.

6. Think through your future counsel and influence upon your children one day. What if your future child wants to get a tattoo and it isn’t a Christian symbol, and after you say “no” he says, “But you have one. It just looks a little different than the one I want to get”?

7. Be sure to evaluate your motives. It is always a good question to ask ourselves, “Why do I really want this? Am I doing this to be cool, to fit in, or to get acceptance from others?”

8. Be willing to give it more time before deciding. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31). You never go wrong waiting, but you can go wrong rushing a decision like this. I give this same advice to those unsure of marriage!

9. Last, but certainly not least, is to ask the Lord what He thinks. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

One final thought: I know some will point to the following passage to say that all tattoos are sinful – “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:28). However, I think a careful study of this passage will reveal that tattoos at the time of this prohibition were clearly connected with pagan worship. While some tattoos today would certainly fit that context, not all do, and therefore, this passage cannot be used to forbid any and all tattoos.

We must be prayerful, biblical and wise and in all our decisions.