body art, and why jesus (probably) doesn’t care

Sometime during the spring semester, a friend, who is a devout Christian, mentioned her recent desire to get a tattoo after spotting my most visible one of my three tattoos (located on my right inner calf).  She told me she wanted to get a cross on her ankle, but she didn’t know if her “religion would allow it.”  I told her I’d ask my roommate, who’s the daughter of a pastor and knows more about the Bible than anyone I’ve met save for perhaps my father (who is no longer alive to be asked).  Friend and I quit talking, paid attention in class, and I travelled back to the dorm room to ask Charity’s opinion.

Charity said the predictable and true “every denomination interprets the Bible differently and some are more formal than others,” speech, but consulted the online Bible for confirmation of such a passage existing.  Of course, she looked up Leviticus first, because that’s where the majority of the “DON’T YOU DARE DO THIS” laws are, as well as extensive — and I do mean extensive — guidelines for preparing altar sacrifices and food consumption, at least ten chapters’ worth.  Of course, I assume these guidelines are what constitute kosher guidelines.  Anyway, to get back on topic, Charity did find a passage relating to body markings:

” ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:28)

Okay, fair enough.  There is a line about that.  However, there is no mention of ‘tattoo’ in the New Testament, according to http://www.biblegateway.com, and so the general rule of thumb (according to Charity) is that it is still practiced or at least encouraged if not reinforced or debunked in the NT.

And then she brought up a good point: what about piercing?  And if tattoos and piercings are unacceptable, this law must still apply as well:

” ‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” (Leviticus 19:27)

Of course, this is a practice few men follow in modern times.

Another point I thought up is the fact that this girl is a Christian, and I highly doubt Christ really cared about tattoos (and piercings).  For Christ’s sake, he touched lepers.  I think tattoos are fine.  There may  be a verse from the NT I’m missing for reinforcement of this thought, but Charity didn’t present any NT reinforcements/debunking.

Anyway, the point is that, spiritual leanings aside (spiritual leanings I can’t even settle on!), I think if you’re going to get a tattoo, especially one of a cross in the case of Christianity, or another symbol of your religion, it is only showing respect for such a thing and is no worse than wearing a rosary, or a crucifix necklace, or having cross earrings (or any symbol of your choice/beliefs).

Unless, of course, you’re getting the tattoo to strengthen your beliefs, in which case you may need to reexamine your sincerity.

For further reading from people who most likely have more gospel experience than I do, check out this–

http://www.gospel.com/blog/index.php/2009/11/05/do-old-testament-laws-and-restrictions-still-apply-to-us-today/

But think about it this way: instead of worrying about whether or not you’ll still get accepted into Heaven, all because of a tattoo, worry about doing what you read Jesus preached — like tending to the sick, helping the needy, or, you know, treating others as you’d want to be treated.

This is just a shot in the dark, but I bet Jesus doesn’t care about your tattoo one way or another.  On the other hand, I wonder if he ever laughs at some of the more ridiculous tattoos out there.

Inquiring minds…

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2 thoughts on “body art, and why jesus (probably) doesn’t care

  1. Tattoos have some interesting history that somewhat ties into the scripture. Before Constantine, facial tattoos were fairly common, especially among slaves, gladiators, and soldiers (facial markings were used as punishment to point out criminals to others). When Constantine came along and approved Christianity, he banned facial tattoos. The actual text from the Theodosian Code:

    “If someone has been condemned to a gladiatorial school or to the mines for the crimes he has been caught committing, let him not be marked on his face, since the penalty of his condemnation can be expressed both on his hands and on his calves, and so that his face, which has been fashioned in the likeness of the divine beauty, may not be disgraced.”

    • Whoa, interesting! Even nowadays a lot of prison tattoos are done on the face, as well as gang-related tattoos, so I can understand why people are prejudiced to an extent. I just really don’t think Jesus will ban you to hell forever just because you have a tattoo.

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