Recently, I was watching “Locked Up” on MSNBC and couldn’t help but notice the extreme body tattoos on one of the inmates being featured. In that connection, I was wondering what instruction God must have given concerning body piercing.
The Old Testament law commanded the Israelis, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). So, even though believers today are not under the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15), the fact that there was a command against tattoos should cause us to question. The New Testament does not say anything about whether a believer should or should not get a tattoo.
In relation to tattoos and body piercings, a good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use the particular activity for His own good purposes. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Bible does not command against tattoos or body piercings, but it also does not give us any reason to believe God would have us get tattoos or body piercings.
Another issue to consider is modesty. The Bible instructs us to dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:9). One aspect of dressing modestly is making sure everything that should be covered by clothing is adequately covered. However, the essential meaning of modesty is not drawing attention to oneself. People who dress modestly dress in such a way that they do not draw attention to themselves. Tattoos and body piercings most definitely draw attention. In this sense, tattoos and body piercings are not modest.
An important Scriptural principle on issues that the Bible does not specifically address is that if there is room for doubt as to whether it pleases God, then it is best to not engage in that activity. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God. Although 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 does not directly apply to tattoos or body piercings, it does give us a principle, “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.” This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies. If our bodies belong to God, we should make sure we have His clear “permission” before we “mark it up” with tattoos or body piercings.
In 1 Kings 18, we find the story of Elijah contesting the evil prophets of Baal (a false god of that day whose followers practiced witchcraft). The prophets of Baal worked themselves into a frenzy trying to get their god, Baal, to show himself mightier than the true and living God. However, the God of Elijah proved to be the true God. During the frenzy of the Baal worshipers they began to disfigure their bodies as we see from this scripture in, “And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.”
Another scripture that warns us not to disfigure our bodies is Deuteronomy 14:1 (Amp.): “You are the sons of the LORD your God: you shall not cut yourselves, or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead.” When it speaks here about doing this in relation to the dead; this was a witchcraft rite done to mourn or remember their dead, so cutting, piercing and tattooing have its origin in witchcraft practices. The verse below reveals a connection between foreign gods and earrings.
Genesis 35:2-4, “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.”
Perhaps a more well known scripture having to do with earrings is the record of the children of Israel falling into rebellion and worshiping the golden calf while Moses was up in the mount with God receiving the Ten Commandments. Here we find they took their earrings and cast them into the fire and made a golden idol out of them which greatly displeased the Lord.
PART II TOMORROW
If you are interested in developing a silver portfolio click here for free information.