IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from April Duty, a friend of mine. She wins a free book from the choices listed here:
What does God have to say to us today concerning tattoos?
As far as I can tell in reading the Old Testament law, God agrees with me:
My daughter should not have that tattoo.
She not only got a tattoo, with the pastor’s approval and without my knowledge, she got the one and only kind of tattoo that the Old Testament law prohibits:
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28 NLT).
That sounds a little like me:
“Do not get a tattoo. I am your dad. And as long as you live under my roof…”
When my daughter turned 21, and not a day before, she decided to get tattooed on the small of her back a tombstone honoring my dead dad.
I assured her that the tombstone probably made Dad roll over in his grave. He didn’t like tattoos, either.
My daughter’s tattoo isn’t actually a picture of a tombstone. It’s simply my dead dad’s initials, along with the dates of his birth and death.
In other words, reminiscent of Holy Scripture, my daughter cut her body for the dead.
My mind is a bit fuzzy regarding how I reacted when I first saw it.
I tend to forget moments of temporary insanity.
I think I may have threatened to defund her college education unless she had that blasted thing erased.
I calmed down. Eventually. A few years later.
I love my daughter. Even when I’m insane, I think.
The Leviticus passage comes from what Christians call the old covenant – what the New Testament describes as God’s outdated and now obsolete agreement with his people.
God’s new covenant, represented in the teachings of the New Testament, says squat about tattoos.
It gives me nothing I can use to clobber some sense into my dearly beloved daughter, who still has that tattoo, several years later.
From a biblical perspective, I don’t think anyone can make a strong case against tattoos.
They might, however, make an argument from an artistic point of view.
Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this particular beholder thinks of tattoos like an art connoisseur might think of a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
To me, tattoos look like graffiti scribbled on a masterpiece. That’s how I see the human body. God’s masterpiece.
- “Didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit….The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body” (1 Corinthians 16:19-20, The Message).
- “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him” (Romans 12:1, GWT).
That said, however, it seems a tad lame to diss tattoos based on those verses, taken out of context. Paul didn’t have tattoos in mind when he wrote those two letters.
I’d rather diss tattoos because of what they look like on old people:
They look like Grandma and Grandpa fell asleep in a kindergarten class full of little boys and girls practicing their penmanship.
But that’s just me.
As for God, he seems to be saying nothing – which, as far as many Christians are concerned, is pretty much saying, “Knock yourself out.”
I, however, say this:
April, if you promise not to get another tattoo, I will give you two free books instead of one.