Sunday, February 1, 2015

Do You Tattoo?

One evangelistic slogan found on T-shirts and bumper stickers is, “Body piercing saved my life.” That phrase is sometimes accompanied by a picture of a punctured hand symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus. This is a way of witnessing to the Goth community and others who are into body piercing.  

Two years before giving my life to the Lord, I had my ear pierced and wore an earring. Although I’ve since chosen not to wear it anymore, I still get irritated when earring-wearing men are criticized by religious folk, especially female ministers. Who decided that only women should have earrings? In Old Testament days, both men and women wore them (see Exodus 35:22).

Another trend that has infiltrated the church is tattoos. Until a generation ago, tattoos in Western countries were mostly seen on military men. Nowadays, both men and women from all backgrounds have them. When I first noticed tattoos becoming popular, I thought this could be paving the way for the mark of the beast. The mark may be a bar code or some other symbol permanently stamped on people’s hands and foreheads.

Jay Bakker (son of televangelist Jim Bakker) released an autobiography in 2001 called “Son of a Preacher Man.” You can see on the cover Jay has tattoos. A few years ago, I read Jay’s book and then emailed him about a man I know who had “666” tattooed on his hand before getting saved. Later, my friend had that tattoo redesigned so it now reads “777.” Jay replied by thanking me for loving people who have tattoos even though I don’t find them attractive at all.

Since then, I’ve met other ministers with tattoos. One of them is Todd Bentley, the Canadian-born evangelist who led the Florida Healing Outpouring meetings in Lakeland back in 2008. As far as I know, Todd got most (if not all) of his tattoos after he went into the ministry. I heard one pastor complain that some kids were inspired by Todd’s appearance to be rebellious and get tattoos against their parents’ wishes.

Ministers who preach against tattoos often quote Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” However, the previous verse says, “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.” Jay Bakker astutely pointed out in his book how ministers can be selective when preaching from the Law of Moses.

Some Christians believe tattoos can be used as witnessing tools. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers has tattoos of Scripture, symbols, and phrases honoring God. I even saw a video of a street evangelist named Todd White who uses other people’s tattoos to prophetically minister to them.

One could argue God Himself has tattoos. Isaiah 49:16 in the Amplified Bible says, “Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands.” Revelation 19:16 says Jesus has “...on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” On the other hand, I heard one minister testify of seeing tattoos supernaturally disappear!

I still don’t like tattoos but will not judge brethren who choose to get one. Nevertheless, if you are considering a visit to your local tattoo parlor, I advise you to pray first and examine your motives. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” I know Christians who got tattoos but then later regretted it.

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31

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