Besides my last posts on "Making a Brother Stumble" and "The Leviticus 19:28 defense" the other two widely used defenses against tattoos would be, "Aren't you ruining the temple of God?" and "Aren't you being worldly?" Besides these arguments, I don't know of any other problems people have with tattoos. If there are other arguments that you have yourself, or that you have heard, please let me know and I can address them.
These two arguments that are easily shown to be illogical when looking at the Christian walk overall, and are really a response by people who don't like tattoos and want to proof text to try and show great biblical knowledge of the subject.
Aren't You Ruining the Temple of God?
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This passage's focus isn't on smoking, drinking or tattoos (which this verse has been used to take issue with each one of these). This passage is about the Corinthians use of prostitution and how that outward act, is actually spiritually sinful because you have now become one flesh with another, instead of God who bought you with a price.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
This passage speaks directly toward one building their temple upon the foundation of Christ or the foundation of idols. Paul tells the Corinthians that they must seek to build their temple of God upon the true Cornerstone and the true foundation which is Christ, not upon the many idols found, not only within Corinth, but within their own selfish ambitions and desires. Specifically, Paul says not to build your foundation upon your own work instead of the work of the Christ. Again...nothing about tattoos.
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
2 Corinthians 6:16
This passage is specifically speaking on being unequally yoked to unbelievers and the point God makes is that His temple has no business with idols, so therefore, we, who are the new temple of God should not be yoked with those who do not love God. Again, nothing to do with tattoos.
One can see that we are yes, the temple of God and we are to take this seriously. We are to devote ourselves to what the original temple was devoted to, to shine the glory of God to all. This is our purpose. We are to show off the God of Abraham to all people in our outward response to our God.
I, as with others with tattoos, have decided to do some decoration in God's temple to make it as beautiful as we can. This is the same reason that women wear make up and why you shouldn't wear clothes from the 1950's. Just as you can glorify God with what you wear, so you can with tattoos as well. One isn't destroying the temple of God with tattoos, just decorating it. If one thinks you are destroying the body because you might get "ink poisoning" then the same thing could be used on why not to eat sugar, fats and caffeine because all these things can lead to ways in which your body could decay. Ink poisoning is very rare with tattoos and isn't even a defense. It would be like someone having an issue with you driving a car because you might get in an accident and die or destroy the temple of God.
Aren't You Being Worldly?
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17
Usually the one that brings forth this argument thinks they have an open and shut case in regards to tattoos. It is their height of argument, saved to put the nail in the coffin. But what is John speaking of? John actually defines what love of the world is. He defines it as:
the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
It is really idolatry shown through lust of the things in this world, not getting tattoos. Now, can a person getting tattoos be worldly? Yes, of course, they can decide to go against their parents and get one, a wife or husband can ignore their spouses wishes and get one because they have a lust for their own life ahead of those in their authority or those that they have become one flesh with. When I was 18, living in my father's house, I went to him to ask his permission to get my first tattoo. I was "of age" and could legally do what I wanted to, but instead went to my father and asked permission. He said, "although I don't like tattoos, I have no issue of you getting one if you want to." Since I have been married, all thoughts of tattoos go through my wife first and prayer to Christ in my decisions. It is through submission that I get my tattoos, not through pride or rebellion.
Some will still say, "Okay, but aren't you just being like the world when you get those?" Being a part of a culture isn't wrong and it isn't worldly. Again, John told us what is worldly in the direct context of his teachings. His reason for writing that passage was to get followers of Christ to do the will of God and worship and give Him glory, instead of following the lusts of the world and giving self glory. If merely getting a tattoo is being "of the world" then so is buying a big house, driving a car, wearing a suit (or not wearing a suit), putting on make up, wearing cowboy hats in Montana and wearing a Seahawks hat at Qwest Field. That's what the world is, and we look like the world, so it must be sin. No. We are just displaying the culture that we live in.
This is what Christ did. He lived among those and wore and looked like what the culture reflected. That's why Jesus probably had a beard, wore sandals and a funky long robe and undergarment. Because that was what his culture reflected. He would look very different if he were walking amongst us today. Don't think Jesus has some dress on if he visited us today. He would be a representative of our culture, as are we. What you wear or look like doesn't make you worldly, it just reflects your culture. When we went to the South last year, it was funny what that culture reflects down there. 8 out of every 10 women were wearing those velour jogging suits. It made Stacy and I laugh because no one would be caught dead in one of those up here in Seattle. It was definitely a part of their culture.
Just because tattoos haven't been a part of the culture that you grew up in, doesn't make it worldly. Sadly, I sometimes wish I could use that logic so I could make more fun of those that wear velour jogging suits and call it sin.
These are the main arguments against tattoos and hopefully you can see how shallow these arguments are. We are to be the temples of God, living in our culture, displaying the glory of our God. If we were to take these verses as some would want, they would actually take on the dogmas of another major religion: Islam. They dress and do much of the same things that Mohammad's culture took on. That is what Christians are trying to do as they make these Scriptures their proof texts against tattoos, how people dress or look like in general.
I just can't wait for them to start wearing long robes so that their theology fits their practice.
Consider Your Calling
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