Many Christians have tattoos that remind them of their rebellious days; others an organization they served with; their life before they were converted; or something done on a whim. Whatever the reason, many of them knew little or nothing about what the Christian tradition or scripture has to say about them. I believe there are two causes for this. One is the lack of clear teaching in the church, and the other is the way many of us make everyday decisions.
We live in an age where the church as a whole has gone silent on a great number of things, and as a result, people are more easily led astray. The message of the church has in many cases, shifted from proclaiming the truth that we are sinners by literally identifying sin, while calling people to repentance, to a “seeker sensitive” message that will bend over backwards not to say anything that will offend. As a result, even the people who grow up in the church become quite comfortable with the things of the world. The church has adopted the terminology of the world, rather than the word. We say “living together”, “co-habitation” or “significant other”, instead of fornicators. “Intoxicated” or “under the influence” instead of drunk; “Cheater, instead of adulterer”. The term “Welcoming and Affirming Congregation” is not a church that welcomes people who are sinners who need the forgiveness of God. It is a description of a church that welcomes people without condemnation of sin at all. Over time it becomes harder to discern the difference between right and wrong, worldly or godly. When the power and authority of the Word of God is diminished in the church, there is a moral decline.
As individuals, we share a similar culpability. We really don’t mind not being called out on our sin, because we really don’t want to turn away from it. We all, when caught in a lie, would rather believe we were just kidding, or spoofing. This is what is described in 2 Timothy chapter 4: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. ”
The truth is, we are not so spiritually submitted to God, as to seek first his kingdom and righteousness in our daily choices. It is easy to not seek God’s will, his word, and make choices that may not honor him. We make choices about what to eat and drink; what movie to see; how to spend our money; what to say;…etc., without seeking God’s will. So, why would that be any different when deciding to get a tattoo?
It is the Christian parent, and the churches responsibility to give clear instruction and each of us are responsible for our own decisions from that point forward. To those whom much has been given, much will be required. Knowing the truth, and not acting in accordance with it, is not the same as an ignorant choice. The Lord treats us no different than we do our children. Here is a simple illustration. If a child uses profanity, but is innocently repeating a word heard on the school bus, it is not the same as a teen who cusses out his parents.
I want to make clear that by explaining why tattoos are wrong, I am not condemning people who have chosen to be tattooed. I am not labeling them rebels, or suggesting that Christians with tattoos are spiritually deficient. I am teaching, so that the people of God will know the truth of the matter and repent, or choose not to do it in the future. The challenge with tattoos is that we wear them visibly on our skin, not like other past sins which are easily forgotten.
While I am convicted that it is a sin to get a tattoo, I also believe it is a sin to judge a person by their appearance (a much more common sin in the church). We deceive ourselves if we value the truth in one scripture, but discount another. I don’t have any tattoos, but I have prejudged people by their outward appearance. However, you wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t told you. The good news is, that God does not judge a man for outward appearance 1 Samuel 16:7
How should Christians treat people with tattoos? We should be diligent to know their hearts, and love them as we would have them love us. It is the ultimate expression of hypocrisy to accept God’s forgiveness for our sins, and not be gracious to someone else. If you have difficulty with that, imagine how people would look at you if your sins were printed on your clothing. Would you feel loved if you were rejected because of your “appearance”?
So you are a Christian and have a tattoo: Put into practice that which you now know. Not only about tattoos, but the value of God’s word and how we should treat one another. Saul was a Christian killer, before he came to know Jesus! He didn’t keep on his way. He asked for forgiveness and changed his course. All of us have violated God’s laws, and are sinners, whether our transgression is visible or not. One visible mark I wear of sin is on my right knuckle. The scar is from the braces of the kid I punched in the mouth when I was in ninth grade. I repented for that sin, and know that I am forgiven. When I get to heaven, the scar will not be there. Until then, it serves as a reminder that I am a sinner…saved by the grace of God.
Wayne's Worldview is a place to share my unique perspective of the world as formed from my interpretation of the scriptures and my experience as a Christian. As a pastor, I am asked a lot of questions about current issues, life dilemmas, personal problems, politics, biblical interpretation...etc.I offer these "How I see it" thoughts in effort to challenge people to think about their worldview, and to stimulate good conversations that will help us become more whole.
Welcome to the conversation.
Welcome to the conversation.