This article is taken from The Missionary Baptist News. Dr. Joseph Brown (assistant Editor) wrote this article and I was very impressed with how he handled this subject.
TATTOO OR NOT? ANSWER ISN’T REAL SIMPLE.
By Dr. Joseph Brown
To tattoo or not to tattoo, that is the question. The question seems simple enough, so what is the answer? The answer is a bit more difficult. The things we do in seeking to satisfy our desires are evident in life’s questions. We turn our world upside down to find the answer that will satisfy our “wants” and our Lord at the same time. So off we go in quest of the perfect answer – to satisfy our flesh as well as our spiritual man. But notice what Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).
It is difficult to ask the tough questions, isn’t it? Many don’t want to ask the tough questions because they are afraid that the answer does not align itself with their own personal desires. And when they muster the courage to ask the tough questions, the world just shrugs and tells them that “you” must search “your” heart and find “your” own answer. This leaves those who have the courage to ask not knowing which way to turn, because they have searched within and have asked the world and have come up empty.
Concerning the question, “To tattoo or not to tattoo?” the more serious questions we need to ask” 1. What is my mindset for wanting a tattoo? 2. What is my motivation for getting a tattoo? 3. What is my message having a tattoo?
WHAT IS MY MINDSET?
Am I following the Lord’s or the world’s example? Tattoos are not Christian neutral. Tattooing is not just an issue of what kind or where we allow it to be placed, but more importantly, it is an issue of the heart. Solomon declared, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Today when we reach wits end as we look for direction in life, we must understand that we need an inward direction only God can give. Many look to the world or to their own hearts for guidance. But Jeremiah cautions us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). When we ignore or minimize the deceitfulness of our own heart, we become like fish trying to live on land or humans trying to live on a planet that has no oxygen.
God told Israel, “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). He gave this command to the Israelites around 1444B.C. (right after the parting of the Red Sea) to forbid them from practicing the idolatrous customs they’d witnessed in Egyptian captivity. Their captors slashed themselves to express grief and to appease their plethora of imaginary deities. The Egyptians also tattooed their bodies with symbols of pagan gods.
The heart of God’s message isn’t about tattoos, but about reminding the Israelites they belong to him. They weren’t to adopt social norms of their time, an neither are Christians today. This passage in Leviticus, including the surrounding text, is specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the people living around the Israelites. God’s desire is to set his people apart from cultural norms. The focus of the commandment is prohibiting worldly living, pagan worship and heathen witchcraft. God forbids His holy people to engage in practices which imitate the lost people of the world.
The Bible tells what happens to us when we have a genuine encounter with the Lord. Paul wrote, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
Today many are searching their own hearts but where are the searches leading them? We must prepare our hearts to receive God’s instructions. This is no easy task. But God is willing to help.
WHAT IS MY MOTIVATION?
Am I seeking to glorify God or draw attention to myself? We are currently in an age of Christian narcissism. From worship styles, clothing, social drinking, bodily piercing and tattooing, many Christians are concerned with “Me, My, I and Myself.” They live out a life of – “It’s all about me – my wishes, my desires, my wants and my needs.” A mistaken belief is that a narcissist is in love with himself, but in reality he is in love with an image of himself. An image he creates and believes about himself that is based upon his perception of how he perceives that other people view him.
The Roman Caesar often had a slave as his constant companion, and the slave’s duty was to whisper in his master’s ear, “You are human.” Christians must constantly remind themselves of the change that has occurred in their lives. The word “human” is not enough. We need to remember Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Remember the focus of Christianity is not on “me,” it is on Jesus. The Christian life is not merely about what we do in life, it is about who we are in Christ.
Unfortunately, “Christians” often make God in their own image whenever the God of the Bible conflicts with what they desire to do. Though they agree with some parts of the Bible, they reject or ignore other parts that conflict with what they want to do. When you are faced with an important decision, you must remind yourself, “My body and soul belongs to Jesus. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. I must do, think, and say that which is pleasing to my Lord who owns me.” Don’t let society, the culture or other people’s sense of what is in vogue at the moment determine what’s right for you – let Jesus do that!
WHAT IS MY MESSAGE?
Will my tattoo advance the Gospel or my own agenda? Remember, Jesus intended for His disciples to have the maximum impact possible. He told them to go into the whole world and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything He had commanded them. God wants His church to have the maximum impact. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).
To have maximum impact salt must be pure. Much of the salt of the time of Jesus was impure – mixed with grit. On a picnic it only takes a few grains of sand to ruin your lunch. It only takes a few grains of impurity to ruin a witness. That is why we are committed to excellence in all we do as a Christian.
When writing to the Corinthian church Paul related the Christian life to the Isthmian Games, which were held every other year in Corinth. He declared, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself shoud be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:25-27). Paul pictures an athlete and the great self-control he exhibits in training. He gives up the normal pleasures of the day to condition his body for the race. he looks beyond the momentary pleasures of the body to something greater.
The words “striveth for the mastery” meant that the runner was willing to train hard, run hard and strain every muscle and nerve – every fiber of his being to win the race. you’ve got to be willing to pay the price. Christian achievements don’t “just happen”; there are no shortcuts to discipleship.
When running the race of life there should be no doubt that you’re running for Christ. Paul declared that he kept his body under subjection. The word “subjection” speaks of being a slave. he made his body a slave to spiritual desires rather than allowing his body to make him a slave to fleshly desires.
Paul fought with his fleshly desires until he knocked them out and let the Spirit of God control him. Are you that determined – that disciplined?
Whether we like it or not all of our lives are on public display. People are watching as we run the race of life. Paul warns us not to become a castaway. The word castaway speaks of someone being disqualified or disapprove. Paul didn’t want anyone to look at his life and say Christ and Christianity are a failure. It is possible to be disqualified in the Christian race because your testimony and life no longer impact those around you.
To tattoo or not to tattoo, that is the question. Avoiding tattoo parlours doesn’t make you spiritual. Nor does having a tattoo make you unspiritual. If you have one or more tattoos, do not quit working in the kingdom of God. you are not disqualified from the Lord’s work. In the end, the important question that we must all answer is, “Would Jesus tattoo?”
Technorati Tags: tattoo, Jeusus, subjection, Cesear, slave, Spirit, Spirit of God, God