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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Religious Tattoos; An Exception?

This is one article I wrote sometimes last year for the Youth Blog of my Church (http://victoriousyouths.blogspot.com/2009/06/religious-tatoo.html) . If memory serves right and the calendar is not lying, then it should be about a year ago now. One might think my views about this topic should had have at least changed in the space of this period, but....I think NOT.

DISCLAIMER - This article is only meant for people that profess the Christian Faith. Why? Because as  Christians, we are /should be aware of the fact that their life or bodies does not belong to us.  Others have options, and I won't be the one to say anything about them, lest they say I'm being judgmental.  Not a Christian, feel free to read anyways. There is ONLY ONE God, and I strongly believe he requires the same  thing from everyone. These are my opinions though, as aligned to my understanding of the Bible, the word of God.

Enjoy the article below.....
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The reason for writing this blog is the recent obsession that I have noticed in “Christians” nowadays. The recent obsession or practice is nothing other than tattoos. We can see even “Christians” nowadays adorning themselves with tattoos (even though the process is painful). Tattoos are meant for artistic purposes, to beautify and also to express oneself and identity.

Well, I know for some people, it is something that has been done in the past before they actually came to meet the Lord, but this blog is however directed to people, who after having enjoyed his presence and listened to his teachings, have also gone into the practice.
I will not be talking about just about any kind of tattoos, but body marks that have to do with the Christian faith, e.g. Jesus hanging on the cross, Jesus Christ, Praying Hand, The Cross, Patrons of Faith like Paul, Abraham, etc.

The community we live in, or rather the world is so much filled up with barrage of information about a personal identity and self-expression. For some people, this is a way they can actually express who they really are, i.e., what they feel or believe in (in order words, their life philosophy). Each tattoo tells a different kind of story and brings about scenes from the past. Now, it really does make me wonder why someone would want to go back to the past when the events have already passed away, “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone”. Even for those who already have the tattoos before giving their lives to Christ, it should be important that they try as much as possible to conceal the appearance of these tattoos on their body, but it is so strange that even people flaunt (for lack of word) these religious tattoos at every opportunity that they get.


Now, what does the bible really say about tattoos? The bible passage that readily comes to mind when the issue of tattoos come about is Leviticus 19:28 which says “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Some have argued that the passage really does not have anything to do with the present society that we live in today, claiming that it has to do with the idol worship and pagan worship of the children of Israel, but I remember the words of Jesus that says “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall not”.

Some people even say that we are in a new dispensation and that not everything in the Old Testament is applicable to us, but I’m very sure that most people quote the old testament bible passages that talk about God’s Blessings, Prosperity and other things – one of which is Deuteronomy 28:13. Now wait a minute, I think I can still remember that Proverbs and Psalms is in the Old Testament (if I’m not wrong) and most folks know virtually every words of wisdom present in this book, which is applicable for almost every area of our life, ranging from business to companionship to academics to interaction with others to living life in honor to God and so many other godly principles. Yet we fail not to comply with some of the laws present in the Book.
It is however true that even though the bible makes mention of so many things that he forbade the Children of Israel to do, like eating meat that has not been drained from its blood, trimming off the hair of your temple or beard, we must be well aware that God forbids his holy people to engage in idolatrous, pagan worship and sorcery which imitates the heathens. He does this out of protection, because he knows this will lead them away from the one true God.

So, the important question remains, is getting a tattoo a form of pagan, worldly worship still forbidden by God today? I think to really answer that question; you must ask yourself the motive for getting a tattoo in the first instance. Below is a self-examination on whether it is appropriate for you (there is no need to generalize about Christians at this point) to get a tattoo. But remember, Jesus Christ told his disciples that if they truly love him, they will keep his commandments.

If you are thinking about Galatians 6:17 to emphasize the fact that you want to tell your own story by having a tattoo of the cross or tattoo of Jesus, then it really doesn’t make sense because Tattoo as defined by the proposers of the Christian and religious tattoos is that it is a form of self- art, therefore since it is, your tattoos might not even strike a conversation (if that’s what you’re thinking) and people would just treat it the same way they would treat an ordinary tattoo, a self-art. Now would you really like to go that extra mile so that you could show that you are a Christian? There are several ways by which people can see the image and the light of God through you (other than this medium). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. The Bible also says that “by their fruits, ye shall know them”.

Then, if this is your way of sharing in the punishment of Christ, then you are really wrong, because our salvation does not really have anything to do with us, it is by grace, and whatever it is that we might do on earth has no capacity and can never pay that price that he has paid on the cross.

That is why he has the stripes through which we are healed, and “ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 2nd (Cor. 8:9). Therefore whatever he has gone through, we do not have to go through, and by his mercies and grace can he make us stand worthy and acceptable unto God, his father.

Now for the Self- examination that I know that y’all are waiting for (gotten from the about.com website):
1. How does my heart and my conscience convict me? Do I have freedom in Christ and a clear conscience before the Lord regarding the decision to get a tattoo?
2. Am I passing judgment on a brother or sister because I don't have freedom in Christ to receive a tattoo?
3. Will I still want this tattoo, years from now?
4. Will my parents and family approve, and/or will my future spouse want me to have this tattoo?
5. Will I cause a weaker brother to stumble if I receive a tattoo?
6. Is my decision based on faith and will the result be glorifying to God?


Nevertheless, in any case, to get a tattoo as a “Christian”, you must have a strong conviction and it is left with you and God to settle whatever it is that you need to settle regarding this and any other decision you might want to make in the nearest future. Take some time to honestly answer these questions, pray to the Lord for guidance and the Lord will surely show you what to do. 

Article written by Ayokunle Falomo


2 comments:

Funmi said...

This has always been a question in my mind? Am glad you addressed it, in this article. very well put together!

Fellow Writer (Ayokunle Falomo) said...

Hey Funmi, Thanks for reading this. I'm glad it enlightened you, if just a bit. Remain blessed.