Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tattoos: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

If you are one of the 45 million Americans with a tattoo, you may ask yourself why you should read this article written by a tattooless Christian. You may assume I'm going to fling a bunch of Bible verses at you, and you've heard it all before. The answer is — because you are most likely to get another one, and there is much more to tattoos than what meets the eye. More importantly, the one who created you in His image would like very much for you to read on whether you believe in Him or not. If you are a Muslim or a Jew, it is unlikely that you are even on this page, as tattoos are clearly against your religion. If you are a Christian, you may be searching for an answer to the question — Are we to be keeping a law intended for the Old Testament Israelites? Let’s dig in and let the flinging begin! 
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 18:1-5) Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:28)

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that the God of the Old Testament is the same God we have today! Secondly, as partakers of salvation through His son, we are his children…. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; (Romans 8:17) In other words, we have been adopted into the family of the Old Testament Jews. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also (Romans 3:29) Is it too much, then, to arrive at the thought that if God made a law for the Old Testament Jews that it would be prudent for us to follow as well? 

One may argue that the Egyptians and the Canaanites were cutting themselves for the dead, a pagan ritual we no longer perform and therefore a moot point: an outdated law. Alas — this practice is indeed still around. 

These are just some practical examples of tattoos for the dead, but aren’t most tattoos dedicated to death in general?

In ancient times, it was also customary for idol-worshippers to tattoo themselves as a sign of commitment to their deity—much like an animal that is branded by its owner. Again, this is still sometimes the case today.

People who are especially passionate about their god start to look like them.

There are, however, many people sporting tattoo designs that are seemingly harmless. There are butterflies, snakes, the sun and the moon, angels and even Jesus!  With no connection to death, pagan gods or tribal rituals, how could any of these images possibly be wrong? If you look at a list of the most popular designs, many of them appear to fall into one very interesting category…the second commandment.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, 

 or that is in the earth beneath, 

or that is in the water under the earth: 

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

But we are no longer under the law!

The Apostle Paul said, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28) There it is as plain as day — we are justified by faith in Jesus as our Saviour, and the laws no longer apply! However, he goes on to say, Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3: 28&31)
Recently, I asked a young man if he had any tattoos. His response was, “No, my mom and dad would kill me!” He went on to say that he was Jewish, and it was against his religion. What was interesting was the fact that this young man looked to be in his late twenties. He wasn’t avoiding a tattoo because he would get his car taken away, he was simply honoring his father and mother. In other words, he is no longer under his parents rules, but is keeping them all the same simply because he loves them.
 If ye love me, keep my commandments. -Jesus (John 14:15)
How is it that our parents always seem to know what is best for us? All their rules, from look both ways before you cross the street - to being home before the fun starts, were for our own good.  Could our heavenly father be thinking of our well-being with His rules? Did he know something about tattoos when He made the law against them over 3,500 years ago that might hurt us still today?

 It’s all about the Blood 

And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. (Genesis 4:9&19) 
Isn’t it intriguing that Abel’s blood cried unto God from the ground. Abel was dead — was his blood still alive?  Did it speak? Nineteenth century Pastor and author Charles Spurgeon put it this way: “All blood has a voice, for God is jealous for its preservation, the blood of excellent and just men has a still more heavenly speech, but the voice of the blood of Jesus far surpasses all.” 
For a Christian, it is the very blood of Jesus that washes us from our sin. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) For children of God - there is indeed power in the blood. 
Those who serve another god agree: “Called the "river of life", blood is identified with the soul and is the vehicle that carries the vital energy of the universe through the body. In magic, blood is revered and feared for the miraculous power it possesses and confers. Blood that is let is believed to unleash power." (Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft)
‘Blood that is let’ refers to the practice of ‘blood-letting’ which literally means to allow the blood to come, or pass. It is one of the oldest and most common satanic practices. Throughout history, cutting of the flesh and blood-letting were rituals performed to unleash demonic and supernatural powers. Almost 600 years after the Israelites were warned against cutting themselves, we see it again with the prophets of Baal. (a.k.a. Satan) 
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. (1Kings 18:26-28)
The tattooing procedure involves cutting the flesh with a sharp needle or instrument in order to carve out or make designs. The procedure lets out blood. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that one is cutting their flesh, and practicing blood-letting. Ignorance of this truth does not exempt us from it. People who smoke cigarettes without the knowledge of increased lung cancer risk still get lung cancer. As Jesus said, “Ye worship ye know not what” (John 4:22)

Now some people are going further by scarring themselves by cutting or branding their skin—a process known as scarification.
God has always wanted to keep his people from harm’s way, including disease. Blood can transmit almost any major virus/bacteria in the world. Modern physicians warn that tattoos and body-piercing carry a risk for contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and HIV/AIDS (International Journal of Infectious Disease, 2001) God, the author of Biblical health laws, does not change, nor do the laws of biology. The same factors that caused or prevented disease in 1,490 BC (when He proclaimed His law against getting tattoos) still operate today. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: (Leviticus 17:11)

I want to become more Spiritual

If becoming more ‘spiritual’ is your thing, I beg you to question the type of spirits you may be inviting into your life. I would strongly urge anyone thinking of cutting themselves to read this passage from Mark chapter 5: 
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. 
Interesting, isn’t it, that the unclean spirit (demon) in this man referred to Jesus as “Son of the most high God”? This not only points us to the fact that there is not a spirit out there that is higher than God, but that the spirits themselves know so. Who do you therefore want to invite into your life — Legion and his many unclean spirits, or the spirit of the most high God — The Holy Spirit?

I already have tattoos

Ah - this is where we finally get to the good part — Jesus wants you just as you are! Tatted up or not, he wants you to believe on him so so badly that he sweat drops of his saving blood in an agony for you! (Luke 22:44) Whether you have one or many tattoos and are concerned about disease or spiritual warfare, it is only through Jesus that we receive true healing and deliverance. God looks at a person’s heart. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Where is your heart today? Is it toward the most high God? 

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. 

(Matthew 22:36-38)

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
                                       -Char­lotte El­li­ott

Please remember, BIBLE BAIT is written by a novice Bible study student, not a Bible scholar. If something doesn't look quite right to you, dig into God's word. The one thing I promise you is that you won't get bored! 


Alan Wilhelm said...


I think your article on tattoos was outstanding! Keep up the good work young lady.

Your watchman on the Wall

Anonymous said...

A few grammatical errors such as "believe on," which should be "believe in." ;)

Tamara Schmitz said...

Believe 'on' verses believe 'in' - That is a great thing to notice! Satan believes in Jesus, as do many people. To believe 'on' Him means accepting His sacrifice for your own sins. Below are some verses that use believe 'on'. Thanks for commenting!

John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 6:29
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

John 7:39
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 9:35
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

John 9:36
He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

John 11:48
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

John 17:20
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Acts 16:31
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 19:4
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:24
But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Philippians 1:29
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

1 Timothy 1:16
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.