All right, here we go ladies and gents!
The popular verse that tattoo opponents like to use in their argument is Leviticus 19:28, which says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” In this verse it clearly does state that God’s people are not supposed to get tattoos. I am not going to say it doesn’t, but we must take a look at the context of the verse. You see, back in the Old Testament times the pagans would cut, carve, and burn tattoo marks into their bodies as an act of worship to their pagan gods. This verse is referring to the preparation for death in which many bodies were tattooed with pagan religious symbols. The pagan practice was to bleed and mark yourself up, because it was a way of mourning those who had died and to honor them. The pagans believed that by marking images and symbols on their bodies, that they would obtain special favor in the afterlife from their false gods, for themselves and for those who had just died. Since God’s commandments prohibit Jews and Christians from worshipping other gods, it would be logical that God would prohibit these death preparation tattoos. But the reason why God was telling people not to get tattoos was so that other nations would not confuse “Yaweh’s” people with the surrounding pagan nations. Also, we are not under the Old Testament laws anymore, but we are now under the New Covenant.
Now for those who still want to use this verse to go against getting tattoos, we cannot just pick one verse to follow and then ignore the others and with this being said, let’s take a look at the surrounding verses in Leviticus 19. Verses 26-27 says, “Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” So, if we were still under the Old Testament Laws, whoever eats their meat medium rare or for the men who go to the barber’s shop, those people would be in sin. Then in verses 23-25 say, “When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all of it’s fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.” So this is saying that if you’re eating any fruit that has not gone through a five-year cultivation process, you are also in sin. Again, we are not bound by the Old Testament Laws anymore.
When Jesus came and died on the cross, he brought us a whole new covenant with God. The new covenant gives us more freedoms to do certain things, but more importantly, we can have a personal relationship with God. We are called to share the Gospel and tattoos can be a great way to do that. We want to speak the language of our culture and our culture speaks in tattoos. God-honoring tattoos are conversation starters for fellow believers or for those who are not saved. Tattoos spark questions and once the question is answered, there has been a seed planted in that person’s life. Witness has to be personal, not something shoved down someone’s throat. I’m not saying that every Christian should get tatted up, but if that’s your thing, what an awesome way to share your faith and to testify how God has changed you. Christians talk about forming relationship with those who are not saved, but if they truly wish to engage the culture, they really need to start seeing the world in a new context. This is not only for the witnessing with tattoos, but in general.
We should honor the Lord with the entirety of ourselves, our bodies included. Tattooing is how some Christians have chosen to do this. Another verse that is commonly brought up is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which says, “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.” Again we’re going to take a look at the context of this verse. Here, Paul is warning the people of Corinth about the dangers of sexual promiscuity. He is showing that sexual immorality is a sin against the body, which houses the Holy Spirit, showing that sexual immorality is a sin committed directly against God. It has nothing to do with tattoos at all. It is strictly talking about sexual immorality and nothing else.
Now, while I was researching my argument, I also came across some cool imagery in the Bible about markings on the Lord’s people. No, these verses are not telling us to get tattoos, or talking about tattoos specifically; these verses are just about the outward signs of devotion to the Lord. In Isaiah 44:5 is says, “Some will say, “I belong to the LORD; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others write on their hand, “The Lord’s,’ and will take the name of Israel.” Isaiah is speaking God’s word to the more conscious minorities of Israel who, during their exile, are worried about becoming lost amidst the pagan people of Babylon. Then in Isaiah 49:16 it says, “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” All throughout the book of Isaiah, God is constantly reminding His people that he will never forget them because He loves them, and as proof He tells them that He has carved, He has written permanently on his hands a reminder to save them. In Galatians 6:17 it says, “From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Here, Paul is most likely talking about the beatings he suffered through for the sake of the Gospel. Then in Revelation 19:16 which says, “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” This verse shows Christ as the “Master of the Universe” whose name is more than just a title on a royal garment. It is something that belongs to Jesus alone and is linked to He who is Lord of all, through a unique marking on his body. How neat is that?