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A pastor of a Montrose-area church recently challenged members of his congregation to live out their faith in an atypical way by getting tattoos that represent different Stations of the Cross, images of Christ’s journey from condemnation to resurrection.
These faith-inspired tattoos are a great outward demonstration of a person’s inward faith.
Some Christians balk at this idea, saying that tattoos are condemned in Scripture. Many cite verses that supposedly prohibit tattoos like Leviticus 19:28, which says, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves.”
It is important to understand the context of this verse. Pagan spiritual practices involved getting tattoos of a deceased relative’s likeness to show honor to that person and the pagan god he or she worshipped, according to “Spiritual Tattoo: A Cultural History of Tattooing, Piercing, Scarification, Branding and Implants” by John Rush. When God made this rule in the book of Leviticus, he was simply protecting the Israelites from temptation by forbidding them to take part in anything resembling a pagan ritual or practice.
All tattoos are OK as long as the person has a positive and significant reason for wanting to represent something on his or her body in this way. What matters most in the modern world is that the person is clear about his or her reasons for wanting the tattoo, whether that be to honor a loved one, remember a significant time in his or her life or profess an important religious message.
The Bible also seems to support this act. Isaiah 44:5 states that those who profess Christ will one day show that physically on their bodies: “And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the Lord.’”
Tattoos are becoming more acceptable in today’s culture, and Christians can use this to help with ministry. These images can be used as conversation starters when people ask to hear the significance behind a person’s tattoo, and that might just lead to someone becoming a believer.
Tattoos are a great way for Christians to take part in a popular component of mainstream culture. The difference between Christians and others is the positive and uplifting message presented by inked body parts.