The Naked Lady

I still chuckle when I think about Don’s * tattoo.  He was raised in a godly, but strict southern home, where tattoos were regarded as worldly and unacceptable.  He often heard, “Only those kind of people allow their bodies to be pierced with needles.”  At any rate, Don joined the army after high school.  Following some heavy drinking one night, he joined several of his buddies at an off-base tattoo parlor.  Before the night and alcohol wore off, Don proudly displayed a naked woman on his forearm. 
As time passed, Don of course, got out of the Army and returned home with his “lady.”  Eventually, he met a wonderful Christ-loving girl, who was less than impressed with his naked spectacle.  Don and she fell in love and subsequently the subject of marriage arose.  Jean happily accepted his marriage proposal, but with condition.  “I’ll marry you if you’ll get a dress tattooed on your arm to cover her nakedness.  I WILL NOT marry you until she’s covered up!”
The rest of his life, Don’s original design was covered by a frilly green dress!  I fondly think of him most every time I see a tattoo.
I’m often asked, “What do you think about tattoos?   My answer:  “They’re not for me, but I don’t put my personal preference onto others.”  Anti-tattoo proponents usually quote Leviticus 19:28 to support their stand:  “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves; I am the Lord.”
A proper exegesis must be done on this passage before we take a stand either way.  Proper biblical interpretation requires that we look at individual passages in light of the intended original readers and cultural practices of the day.  The Bible seems to approach this subject as a “side issue,” one that is not addressed head on.  Only the above passage seems to teach against such things.
However, only nine verses earlier in the same chapter, the people of Israel were also commanded to avoid mixing fibers in garments:  “Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you” (19:19).  Therefore, if people consider a tattoo sinful, then they have to throw away all their cotton/polyester clothing, too!
God originally set aside the Jewish people as a “higher standard” among the pagan nations, through whom the Messiah would come.  As a result, many of their laws were given to wean them from pagan customs.  The book of Romans (and the rest of the New Testament) emphasizes that we are no longer under the Law.  Jesus paid for our sins, so people no longer have to try “cleaning themselves” to be worthy of being around a holy God.  Stated another way, the Old Testament made it clear that individuals could NOT stay clean on their own, so God sent His Son, who could and did live a sinless, “clean” life.  By accepting Christ, we benefit from His work, not ours.
For that reason, the “ceremonial cleanliness” laws were done away with once Christ provided a new way to get right with God.  Still, some laws were not ceremonial or fashionable in nature (to set people apart from other nations) but rather civil and moral.  Those laws are still valid and many of them were repeated often in the New Testament. The bottom line is that the Bible does not clearly define tattoos and body piercings as a sin. 
One thing to consider:  Although tattoos are easy target for naysayers, Christians, in my opinion, should look at tattoos as a “matter of conscience.”  Don* had a dress tattooed on his naked lady, as a matter of conscience and to protect his Christian testimony.  I personally believe that dirty, demonic or distasteful tattoosshould be avoided by Christ followers, as a matter of conscience.  Take the time to Read Romans 14:1—15:6 and modify your appearance or behavior accordingly.  (Copyright 1999 by Clarifying Christianity)
*Don—Not his real name.



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