Well, yes. Yes, I did.
Now, some of you are thinking, “Good for you. So what?” Others are shocked and appalled. I would like to address those in the second category. First of all, I want you to know that I never do anything without careful consideration and searching the Word of God to know His will. That having been said, I feel absolutely confident that getting a tattoo is not a sin or anything of which I should be ashamed. Let me explain why.
When Christians oppose the practice of tattoos, they generally quote Leviticus 19: 28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” When understanding the scriptures, one must always look at context. When was it written, and to whom? The book of Leviticus was written by Moses about 1445-1444 B.C. to the chosen people of God, (also known as the Hebrews, Israelites, or Jews), after they had been delivered from slavery in Egypt. The first half of the book is historical narrative, the second half is law meant to teach God’s people how to live separate and apart from the ungodly cultures surrounding them.
It’s important to understand that these laws were given for a purpose, so that the Hebrews would stand out as different from the cultures around them, as God’s chosen people. Through them, God would reveal Himself to the whole world. Under the law, forgiveness of sins could only be achieved through the shedding of blood in animal sacrifice. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Law and was the sacrificial lamb for all of humanity who choose to believe in Him. (John 3:16).
After Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension, his disciples shared this message to the Jews and to the people groups throughout the known world. Even among his disciples, however, there was some confusion about what parts of the Law carried over. Acts 15 tells us that “Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’” (If you don’t know what circumcision is, I’ll let you look it up for yourself.)
An assembly of elders and apostles considered the question and the Apostle Peter told them, “God did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are… It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”
The Apostle Paul taught in Romans 3:28 – 30, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.”
If we put our faith in the work of Jesus Christ, we are not under the Law, but under Grace. John 8:36 says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” To clarify, we are free from the consequences of sin (eternity in Hell) through our faith in Jesus Christ, as well as from the requirements of the Law.
Paul addressed this concept in I Corinthians 10:23. “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” If something falls outside of direct teaching in the Bible, which is the final authority on morality, then we must personally evaluate if what we wish to do is beneficial and constructive. (See also Romans 14.) If you claim to be a follower of Christ, give thoughtful consideration before you tattoo your body, but don’t fall into the trap of legalism.
2 Corinthians 3 and Matthew 5 both address the issue of obeying the letter of the law without obeying the spirit of it. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” And in Galatians 5, Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” But he issues a word of warning: “Only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Another common arguments Christians have against tattoos is that as followers of Christ, we should look different than the world. Romans 12: 2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The pattern of the world refers to pagan practices and mindsets, embracing things in the culture that are counter to the teachings of Christ. When it comes to outward appearance, the only people I know who look different from the world are Mennonites and Amish. During biblical times, tattoos were a way of identifying with false gods such as Molech, Asherah, or Baal. In current society, tattoos are body art, plain and simple. We can have something tattooed on us that means something evil, means nothing at all, or that means something profound.
So yes, I got a tattoo. And yes, I recently went blonde. Am I going through a mid-life crisis? Maybe… Or maybe I am celebrating this season of life, of breaking free from the expectations which have been imposed upon me. I feel fresh breath filling my lungs and a new sense of hope as I embrace the future.
God has been with me through four decades of struggles and trials, and I know He will be with me through whatever lies ahead. The dove is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, based on Mark 1:10 when the Spirit is said to have descended like a dove. Whenever I am tempted to feel as though I am alone, all I have to do is look down and see the dove on my arm to be reminded that the Holy Spirit lives within me. I am never alone.
John 14: 26 says, “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Do I plan on getting another tattoo in the future?
Well, yes. Yes, I do.
(Also see: Romans 14, Matthew 15:11, I Samuel 16:7)