Contend Earnestly: Jesus Loves Me and My Tattoos

Monday, November 09, 2009

Jesus Loves Me and My Tattoos

I recently have added to my tattoo repertoire and this one is the one I am excited about most. Has a lot of meaning behind it and will look amazing when done. It will be one of those tats that when someone says, "your tat looks pimp" I will just have to respond by saying, "I know." I put up the first pics of the outline on Facebook and was then emailed the following from someone that I don't know personally:

Out of curiosity, would you consider yourself a Christian? I'm curious to know your thinking on getting tattoos in light of Leviticus 19:28...

Now, this seems to be an honest question and so I will not respond in a sarcastic light. As long as honesty is prevalent, I will respond in like form. Which sucks for my readers, but for the questioner, is out of respect.

So, here is the verse in question:

You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (NASB)

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD (KJV)

These two really sum up the correct translation of this Old Testament verse. It seems pretty cut and dry that one should abstain from tattoo marks or print marks on the body. But is it?

In Bible interpretation, one of the first things you must seek is context. If you don't look in context you will make some grave errors. One of the easiest ways to point this out, in an elementary form, is that the Bible says, "There is no God." Of course context shows that the verse actually says, "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." (Psalm 14:1) I know that is basic, but so is the look at our verse above that mentions tattoos or marks on the body.

It is widely believed among Biblical scholars that Leviticus 19:28 refers to an ancient practice in the Middle East of people cutting themselves and rubbing in ash when in a period of mourning after an individual had died. It was a sign of respect for the dead and a symbol of respect and reverence and a sense of profound loss for the newly departed; and it is surmised that the ash that was rubbed into the self-inflicted wounds came from the actual funeral pyres that were used to cremate the bodies. In essence, people were literally carrying with them a reminder of the recently deceased in the form of tattoos created by ash being rubbed into shallow wounds cut or slashed into the body, usually the forearms. This rite would have been part of a culturally accepted process of grieving. (via Tattoo Culture Online)

Not only was this the practice but we also see that cutting was a practice by the prophets of Baal while Elijah mocked them on Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 18).

It seems as though the practice had to do with actual worship to another god or gods. Even in the verse that is brought up in Leviticus 19:28, the verse is pointing to some sort of ancient practice of cutting for the worship or honor of the dead, not in the mere deed of cutting or tattooing oneself.

But, even with all this thought, it still says not to do it. But now we come to context of the verse. This chapter, and even the book of Leviticus is set up in many ways as a complete shadow of Christ, in the laws and regulations for the nation of Israel. Therefore, we must look at these laws and separate them from civil laws and moral laws. The question really is, "Which laws are binding only on the nation of Israel, and which ones are still binding on us today?" The reason this is the question at hand is because there are many laws put into effect in Leviticus that we break all the time. Look at some of these:

1. You can't eat shrimp or other unclean animals (Leviticus 11)

2. You can't wear polyester or other garments with two kinds of material mixed together (Leviticus 19:19)

3. You can't shave the corners of your head's hair or shave your beard (Leviticus 19:27)

These are just three proofs that something else is at play here. We would though also say that there are some things in Leviticus that we should follow, such as not making our children prostitutes and not going to mediums and spiritists.

So what is the difference? The difference comes in the practice themselves. Are they for the nation of Israel or for all people for all time? Meaning, is there a moral grounding in the law that is to continually be forbidden?

The answer for Tattoos is "yes and no." But, I believe that the answer to most laws in the Old Testament and our actions in our lives are a "yes and no." Think of this. Are there ways to make money for the glory of God or the glory of self? Are there ways to have sex for the glory of God or for the glory of self? Are there ways to eat or drink to the glory of God or for the glory of self? And when I say, "glory of self" that is the essence of worshiping a false god, which is ourselves. We find this very clearly in Romans 14:23 when it states,

...and whatever is not from faith is sin.

If one gets a tattoo to worship another god, then that is sin. If someone eats meat to worship another god, that is sin. But, if someone gets a tattoo or eats for the glory of God, then that is fine in the eyes of God and he actually loves it, because it is done to show worship to our God.

The verse has even more thought put towards it when we find that Jesus Christ himself has some sort of marking on him when he returns to put a beat down on all pagans and their gods.

Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter."He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. "

Revelation 19:15-16

If tattooing is considered evil, I hope that same person doesn't wear polyester and has a pretty rad beard down to their knees with some ratty hair. This is the crux of the matter in dealing with Leviticus 19, but I will also put up another post on how I can bring glory to God in getting a tattoo and defend tattoos against other arguments in the New Testament. Such as, "Isn't your body a temple?", "Aren't you being worldly by getting tattoos?" and "Aren't you making those who are against tattoos stumble?"

The body of Christ needs to do all things for the glory of God. Tattooing is no different and neither is picking out a shirt to wear for the day or whether or not to eat a hot dog at Costco.


Anonymous said...

I just wonder though, is tattooing yourself, using rough, and in my opinon inappropriate language, (pimping, sucks...) letting your pants sag... are these things profitable in your opinion for the Lord? For furthering Christianity?Or, are you just being rebellious? Are you trying to offend those whom call themselves Christians just because, in your opinion, they (me included) are judgemental Chirstians whom you consider unloving and legalistic? My question, Why go out of your way to offend anyone? Why be disrespectful or cause anyone to stumble just because you have the right?

Seth McBee said...

Thanks for coming by and using your computer to anonymously try and call someone out. I love when people enjoy saying stuff with anonymity...are you really that brash as to not want someone to know who you are? That is brutal.

Now, to respond to your "questions" which I believe are more a rant than actual questions...


I just wonder though, is tattooing yourself, using rough, and in my opinon inappropriate language, (pimping, sucks...) letting your pants sag... are these things profitable in your opinion for the Lord?


Letting my pants sag? Not sure what you mean here, are you referring to me specifically?

Are words and the tattoos profitable for God? Yes. The same way that eating chicken and listening to music is. All things, unless forbidden, can be used for the glory of God.

For furthering Christianity?Or, are you just being rebellious?

Me: are you being rebellious if you wear ugly clothing that is outdated? Yes. Because it is aesthetically ugly. Both are dumb ways of answering the question, "Is this or that furthering Christianity or rebellious?" The question doesn't make sense in any way. Being rebellious because I don't dress or look like you?

Are you the norm? Am I supposed to come to you my anonymous guru for instruction on how to look "normal" or do you think that you might be overstepping your bounds here on what it looks like to be a Christian? Just food for thought.

Are you trying to offend those whom call themselves Christians just because, in your opinion, they (me included) are judgemental Chirstians whom you consider unloving and legalistic?

Me: Trying to offend? No, I am not trying to offend anyone, I am trying to live my life for the glory of God...if that offends you...not my deal unless I am in sin.

You are both judgmental and legalistic if you look at someone and call say that they are unChristian or not profiting God's cause by their appearance...that is the definition of judgmental and yes...that is exactly what you are being.

My question, Why go out of your way to offend anyone? Why be disrespectful or cause anyone to stumble just because you have the right?

I am doing neither. If I know that a specific person doesn't like tattoos...I try to do my best in covering them. Making someone stumble? How? Do my tats and the way I dress make you want to commit a felony or rob God of his glory? Confused.

I don't mind answering your questions...but for you to come anonymously and rant on the site, when I can be found who I am easily is pretty poor. Shows you just want to rant and don't really care to learn or discuss honestly.

Jacob A. Allee said...

Yep, I have three tattoo's (A cross on my left shoulder, trinity symbol on the right and a Christian fish on my leg. It has started gospel conversations before.

I also have three earrings and can walk up to people and talk to them about Christ in a way that a more straight laced, clean cut individual couldn't.

It takes all of us with our different backgrounds, styles and appearances to reach the world for Christ. Loyalty to God an His word, and let's not judge others on gray area's.

michael said...

Man good stuff!! I appreciate the way you wrote this. I have 17 tattoos and my ears are stretched to 1/2", and i love Christ with all my heart. Me personally i dont think tattooing is wrong. I like how you did go to the old testament. I have had this similar conversation with peeps. To me, Religion gets in the way. Seth this post was totally for me. I will definitely be pushing this one out.

I totally agree with you!

tallmanwriting said...

Here's my question after reading your post: If my tattoo is not about God, does not glorify God, does that make it wrong?

If I get a fatty tat of the Green Bay Packers logo on my ample pectorals, wouldn't that be giving props to a small g god...for the rest of my life...right on my holy spirit temple?

You concluded your post by saying: "The body of Christ needs to do all things for the glory of God. Tattooing is no different..."

How is plastering a Packers tat (or other corporate entity, or chinese symbols, or my mom's name, etc.) bringing glory to God?

Seth McBee said...

The Other Seth.

This is a great question, because the natural inclination, because of our stupidity in the West, is to think that only those things with God's name or a symbol of Christianity can glorify God. So, one must listen to Christian music, watch Christian music, hang with Christian friends and read Christian books to glorify God.

This is messed up. Especially in light of 1 Cor 10:31 which says that we can glorify God when we eat and drink. How? Do we only eat cows that love Jesus or drink only Welch's Grape Juice that has a Jesus fish dotting the "i" in Juice?

Glorifying God in all we do is understanding the weight and thanking God for his bountiful gifts he has given us. In tats, which I will put forth more clearly tomorrow in a post, it is thanking God for his artistry in creation and through the people that have his Imago Dei. So, I can glorify God in my tat because he has created the artistry that the artist employs to tattoo me. It is the same when you see a sunset or a painting and glorify God. Everything points to God, unless inherently sinful.

It is one's position before God because of Christ that allows one to glorify God in all they do.

And for is another reason to praise Jesus for his cross and resurrection.

Unknown said...

got here by way of twitter. love tats. love the post. and really love the discussion in the comments.

mcbee, you are right on. thank you for speaking to this respectfully and from a biblical view.

Shoe said...

Good stuff. Seth, I'm sorry Mr. Anonymous hid while throwing stones. I don't have any tats at the moment and may never get one - but I might if the right one hits me...

I agree with your idea that it is a matter of the heart. Everything in the New Testament redefined the physical restrictions, the "do's & dont's" of the Old Testament from the "physical act of" to the "spiritual why of"...

Mr. Anonymous - I have a question. What do you to with the guy/gal who got all tatted up
before coming to Christ? Are you in the places where they are at? Jesus was - Jesus is... Isn't this where Jesus met people? Isn't this what grace and mercy is all about?

Mr. Anonymous - if tats bother you so much, have you ever asked yourself - or better yet, asked Holy Spirit - "Why do they bother me?" That would likely be a very revealing answer.

Phil 2:1-8. Really hard few verses to live.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,1 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,2 being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

Dying to our selves is the most difficult thing we can do - that's why Jesus modeled it...

Well done Seth - bring glory to Him who is worthy of the glory...

Anonymous said...

Me, Anonymous again,

J Allee, I agree with you that it takes all kinds,and I don't mind tatto's, earrings, saggy pants... and different backgorunded type individuals serving the Lord in love.

But Seth, in your response, where is the love? I was not ranting, just sharing a very different perspective... I was not talking about YOUR pants or YOUR tatto or how YOU speak specifically (well maybe some of the specific language you use when making a point)only that you seem to be hitting on topics that you seem quite aware could come off as offensive to many Christians and which you seem to have very little tolerence for. You seem to have little love for those whom disagree with you.

When you say: Trying to offend? and then continue with:
...if that offends you...not my deal unless I am in sin.

I think your attitude is in sin! It is your deal! TO LOVE...To love the unloveable or you are in the wrong field! It is your deal to treat all with love and respect even if they are sinners, even if they are wrong. Even if they (me) are wrong, don't you still have a obligation before God to love? You say: Not my deal? Then what is your deal? Have you missed the point of loving the brothern as you would like to be loved. Have you missed the point of loving individuals to the Lord? Where is the love in your response? Is your love only for those who agree with you? Where is your love for the straight laced, clean cut individuals J Allee wrote about?

Seth McBee said...

Shoe and Tam.
Thanks for the encouraging words and stopping by. May we glorify God above self until we die...but when we don't, thank God He sent Jesus so it isn't dependant on us, but on him and through him.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Seth McBee said...

Anonymous or should I call you Judy? Not sure...just a thought.

Jesus cared for those were messed up and those who didn't know that they were...but can we hold Jesus accountable for those righteous people who kept harping on him because of his appearance? i.e. hanging with the thugs of his day?

You say I only hit subjects that are offensive to others, but if one reads this blog all the time, one will find that quite the overstatement. I write about my life and about my process in sanctification.

Where is the love for those who are legalists and judgmental? It is found in my sharp words to return to the Scriptures...that is love, jost not in the form you would like. You would like it to sound differently, but in the Scriptures when Christ or the prophets dealt with a people who were all about appearances and outward acts, he made sure they heard his strong words so that they would return to the Scriptures...

That is what I am doing to you. Return to the Scriptures and quit judging with your eyes only. You sound more like a Pharisee than you do Jesus. Dangerous.

That is love, me telling you the truth doesn't come with rainbows and flowers though...sorry...

But, neither did Christ's.

Unknown said...

just a thought here...its fresh on my mind cuz my hubs and i are dealing with this attitude on our worship team right now but..."christians" who act as if their failings and fallings are other christians fault is getting out of control. why should that be our "deal". its exhausting and time consuming. its irresponsible and immature. it distracts those who want to go out into the world and rub shoulders with those who have run from the church and God because of what they see in "us". it distracts those from "loving individuals to the Lord" cuz we're so busy arguing over non-essentials. sad.

to anonymous...loving our brother doesnt mean that if the truth hurts we dont speak it, does it? i dont believe seth is out to hurt someone or act unloving. he is clearly confident in who he is in the Lord and living in a way that he only longs to honor Him in what he does. i dont see it any other way.

Seth McBee said...


Exactly right. What if someone started to think it was a sin to wear plaid shirts because it made them stumble. Do we just give in to this? Or show them that they are being responsible with the gospel and Christ's death and resurrection?

It gets ridiculous the lengths some will go to say that they, or someone they know, might "stumble".

Unknown said...

it does get ridiculous. and i say...shame on the believer that cant get over themselves enough to air on the side of grace or even try to understand where the other is coming from. all the wasted energy from staying hell bent on a matter that theyve turned into gospel is quite disappointing.

keep on keeping on seth!

tallmanwriting said...

Henceforth, all plaid shirts shall be outlawed in Kitsap County, Pierce County and King County, Washington. I frequent these counties and when I see plaid shirts (aka The Shirt of the Lumberjack) I start having all kinds of weird feelings.

My heart starts pounding. I start getting exited about trees.

Also: everyone in the aforementioned counties shall refrain from contractions (they aren't cool!), driving hybrid vehicles (they make me think of electricity! elecricity makes me think of sex!) and of using the term SICK when talking about something in the positive (ie. That half pipe was SICK!). When people use that term (even in the positive!) I start thinking about alcohol again.

Thank you for your consideration. Respect my authority!

The Stumbler

P.S. Also, DO NOT send me invitations to Pampered Chef parties. The word PAMPERED is far too racy for me!

Seth McBee said...

by the way...that last comment isn't from the blog author Seth, but another...

and is a funny comment that is as ridiculous as someone else's.

Locu5tBot said...

Hey this is Justin (Locu5tBot). My thoughts are summed up in general by 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Paul explains that the law now is only for the unrepentant. The leviticus text (19:28 I think) is part of the law. It has no bearing on repentant confessing Christians. That's how I understand it anyhow. That's not an argument for lasciviousness of course because the old ways have been replaced with "the law of Christ". He is our standard and model and Christ was not lascivious in the least. My thoughts. Probably not news to anyone. (I have three tattoos and am thinking up a fourth. W00t!)

Anonymous said...

Seth, Me again. Mr. Anonymous

Reading my first post I see it does not come out as I intended. I apollogize. My name is John Hand since names seem so important. I do not know you and you do not know me. This is not important.

When I wrote, it was not an attack or rant, I was conerned about stumbling blocks. I believe you have the liberty to have a tatto without it being sin.

My conern: The example in the bible of liberty and the abuse of liberty at the expense of the weaker brother. I am sure you are ready to respond to this verse.

1 Cor 8:1-13
1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Seth, I think we would both agree that tattos are not within themselves sinful, neither are words. But I hope we can also agree it is viewed by many as a area men stumble.

There are many good Christian Brothers and Sisters in the body for whom I believe you understand that tatto's, or corse language many be stumbling blocks that take someone's focus off Christ and His love and put it on the stumbling block of a tatto or corse language.

How should we deal with this? Within the Christian Church hu Tam? With an in your face attitude? "Hay! I have the right!!!! I have Liberty to do as I please... with a sarcastic reply! Or lovingly, acknowleding it may be a stumbling block to some and step back and allow for growth lovingly.

Seth, you say: If one gets a tattoo to worship another god, then that is sin. If someone eats meat to worship another god, that is sin. ""But, if someone gets a tattoo or eats for the glory of God, then that is fine in the eyes of God and he actually loves it,""

Is that what 1 Cor. really said?

13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Seth you have said you are a youth pastor. Youth follow you, see you as wise...Do they have the clear understanding of liberty as you? Will they use corse langaue or tattos for the honor of God or demand liberty with an in your face response? This is what I think about.

I too am a youth pastor. I too care about my example and were I might lead the weaker brother I lead. For God's glory.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, first I everyone else does not respect you at all because you are hiding and throwing rocks like a little boy.

Secondly, I am saddened to see that moralism has taken over your life. It is interesting how your have taken things that you do not like and make them into stumbling blocks. However if you like something it is not a stumbling block. I bet if we went through your life we could find things that we don't like and call them stumbling blocks.

Thirdly your exposition of 1 Cor. 8:1-13 is terrible and has made it completely about moralism.

Seth McBee said...

Mike VanDrie...

Completely agree.

Mr. Hand.

Not sure you understand what "stumbling" means or the context of what Paul is intending. For one, Paul's use of hyperbolic language (he would never eat meat again) shouldn't be taken as normative for us to employ. He is trying to make a point. Second, Paul's use of stumbling is on sin issues within a particular culture. So, if I go to a culture, or someone's house, that I know is deeply entrenched in pagan worship through tattoos, I would be very careful. This is why Paul was speaking of stumbling in regards to meat. If we used your interpretation then how could you ever eat anything among a fat person that had fat or sugar in them? Aren't you afraid that you might make them stumble?

We need to be careful around those who truly struggle with certain things, as with alcoholism, et al, but to refrain from such things because one is uncomfortable with them is ludicrous and not gospeling someone, but allowing them to remain in their box of legalistic hate.

You then state this:

Seth you have said you are a youth pastor. Youth follow you, see you as wise...Do they have the clear understanding of liberty as you? Will they use corse langaue or tattos for the honor of God or demand liberty with an in your face response? This is what I think about.

I too am a youth pastor. I too care about my example and were I might lead the weaker brother I lead. For God's glory.

I am no longer a youth pastor, but when I was, I continually pointed people to their parents for the parents rules within their own household, but also pointed to the true gospel instead of rules formulated by man to keep one under their hand of reproof. These lists are dangerous and make men stumble, not the liberty and freedom found in the truth of grace.

Again, someone being uncomfortable doesn't mean that they "stumble", it just means that they are uncomfortable because of how they have grown up or the rules that have been handed down by idolatrous generations.


Mr. Hand...I ask you to seek the Scriptures and the Gospel of grace and not to stand on the Contemporary Christians' foundations of idolatry and back breaking yokes.

Seth McBee said...

Mr. Hand.
Also, how does a tattoo make someone stumble into sin?

Justin (Locu5tBot) said...

Most of the time when people say something will cause someone to stumble, they do not mean it in the biblical sense. What they mean is that it will cause someone to judge you. That's functionally what they mean. My understanding (I could be wrong) is that a stumbling block is something that tempts someone to sin against their conscience. I sincerely doubt my Christ exalting Gospel telling tattoos tempt someone to get tattoos against their conscience.

Unknown said...

How should we deal with this? Within the Christian Church hu Tam?

i dont think the people with tattoos are the issue here. i think its the ones with the issues. so, within the church i can not, nor can/should the pastor, babysit and hold the hand of every believer that walks thru the door that might be offended by someones body art. that is a personal issue they need to handle individually. if i knew you didnt eat meat...i wouldnt invite you over for a prime rib dinner. if i knew you didnt like tattoos, i wouldnt call you up and have you go down to the shop with me to sit while i got a new tattoo. that would be inconsiderate. but simply not liking someone or blaming them for you stumbling cuz they have a tattoo is ridiculous. what about piercings? nose? lip? ears? do they fall into this category as well?

With an in your face attitude?

um. no. why would someone respond that way? why should anger and immaturity be involved at all?

"Hay! I have the right!!!! I have Liberty to do as I please... with a sarcastic reply!

thats just silly. and a silly question...with all due respect.

Or lovingly, acknowleding it may be a stumbling block to some and step back and allow for growth lovingly.

ding. ding. ding. emphasis on allowing for growth - which suggests the offended person has some growing to do in that area.

Justin (Locu5tBot) said...

On a side note I hate how someone will play the "stumble" card to make everyone look and act like the one complaining. I could just as easy say its (in the nonbiblical sense) a stumbling block to me that someone is judging me or offended by my tattoos. Where does it end? The problem lies in the misdefinition of a stumbling block. No I'm not obsessed with flaunting my christian liberties, but I've had too many people try to yoke me and burden me with fictitious and moralistic crap rules that do nothing for sanctification but merely makes others around me happy because now I'm a whitewashed tomb too.

Jake said...

One other thought on this idea of the "weaker brother" from Rom. 14.

The text is dealing with issues where some Christians have qualms with a behavior and others do not. Yet interestingly, the "weaker" brother of the text is not the one without qualms (IE the one who drinks wine, smokes cigarettes, or has tattoos), the one Paul considers "weaker" is the one with qualms about a behavior that is ultimately a matter of conscience. In other words, the "weaker" brother of Romans 14 is the tee-totaler, the one who judges smoking as "sinful," or the one who thinks getting a tattoo is sinful.

Just something that I think is important to keep in mind if we're going to throw out that "weaker brother" language.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Jake gets it! The weaker brother is the tea totaler! You may not have problems with tattoos being sinful but a weaker brother may. That is what I am considering here! A weaker brother may have a concern with you eating meat offered to idols and even though you know the meat is good to eat, 1 Cor. suggests that pass up eating the meat for the good of the weaker brother whom may see it as sinful so that the weaker brother does not stumble. Seth, it is not you that will stumble, it is a weaker brother whom may see your boldness as sin. May see what he believes is you sinning with no concern, whom needs to be matured and not shocked into your understanding of liberty.

Justin (Locu5tBot) said...

That's why I wouldn't take someone with me to get a tattoo. But I doubt I would be tempting them to sin against their conscience to get a tattoo thenselves.

Unknown said...

if we're gonna use "causing your weaker brother to sin" as an argument then we're all screwed.

women who wear strapless evening gowns to Galas - may cause a weaker brother to sin cuz he cant handle looking at a shoulder w/out having lustful thoughts.

my daughter and son love listening to august burns red but dang it, it may cause a weaker brother to wanta commit a crime cuz screamo music is of the devil.

my husband wears flip flops on stage at church as he leads worship - but...that may cause a weaker brother to dress down therefor no longer show reverence to God. yes, some struggle with that...

but thats the point. none of those things are wrong in and of themselves. its the one who finds fault in those things that need to deal with their issues. i mean no disrespect here either but you can not hold one responsible or liable for your weaknesses when those things are not sinful nor go against God.

its a heart issue. plain and simple.

Justin (Locu5tBot) said...

I LOVE August Burns Red! Saw them in concert and they were perfect! Sounded like the studio recording only LOUDER! I highly recommend taking your kids to one of their concerts!

Justing (Locu5tBot) said...

Here's the issue what if I all of the sudden decided it was a "stumbling block" (in the popular sense not the biblical sense) for me to see people dressing up at church because it reminds me of the whole whitewashed tomb issue? I start chiding people because it makes me think they are doing it to try to look good on the outside but inside are full of dead mens bones. I know the answer from 99 percent of the churchs would be "get over it" basically. The problem here is that they are using stumbling block to mean something that is outside of my cultural or socio-economical comfort zone that I won't like and therefore judge you about.

Unknown said...

i agree Justing, totally. was thinking earlier that the weaker brother who claims is being caused to stumble over such things is contending that the "issue" is spiritual and sin when more often than not it is a perceived and enforced idea, typically taught/learned from tradition.

what i see more of in the church and among believers is this hiding behind phrases and complaints such as "causing me to stumble" and "youre a stumbling block" as a way to judge...just like you pointed out.

my husband, who is a worship/arts pastor is asked every week why he doesnt sing more hymns. "the sacred and reverent music." really?? oy. its preference. i could ask that same person why do they insist on wearing permanent pleated polyester pants instead of easing into todays culture and being more relevant and relatable (i know thats not a word) but that would be so judgmental of me to say and wrong on every level. fact is...theyre reaching a part of culture that i cant, at least not yet. so who they are in personality is needed. as is who i am, you, seth anyone else. so long as our lives are spent passionately to bring God the glory and honor and not self. and when we start making these little things "issues" we begin making them about ourselves and we take the focus off of God. im choosing not to play that game.

Seth McBee said...

Just so you guys know, I decided to write a post on What does it mean to make a brother stumble?

Hope you guys will read and interject. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Seth. This is really good man. You should write a book hahaha

I ran into the whole "Aren't you making other Christians stumble by playing that "screamo/metal" music?

And the same with my Tattoos.

But in regards to playing metal, I've had so many opportunities to be an example to friends I've made through music. And I've also spoke the Love Mercy and Grace of Jesus Christ to people from the stage, in between songs. My lyrics were full of praise towards God and it opened so many doors into unsaved lives. And one of the biggest conversation starters were on my tattoos. It seemed like they allowed me entrance into their lives because my music and tattoos. I know that if i went into those metal venues with a tie and slacks on with nice and prim and proper hair singing John Denver they would have booed us off the stage hahaha So another argument for you is no one person will ever be accepted by everyone and just because you and I aren't focused on saving the same demographic as mr./mrs. anonymous doesn't mean we're making people stumble but on the contrary we may be helping the lesser succeed haha make sense?

Tim Evett said...

good article, and that tattoo looks awesome! many people blow this subject out of the water. I am convinced most of them find tattoos to be so opposite of whatever the "norm" is, that they are strangely offended. I feel many should pay more attention to what Jesus has to say about being the "norm"...The context definitely needs to be taken into consideration. I mean its like people forget what Christ coming to the earth actually meant! If you have never checked it out, you should check out skate church and XXX church. Lots of tattoos! cool stuff.

Tabitha said...

Hi everyone,
I've really enjoy this thread, it's an issue that been on my heart lately and I praise God that he gave you guys intellect and judgment to discuss these things, I surely feel both challenged and edified and spurred on to keep seeking God's wisdom through the word. Hallelujah!

I have five tattoos, two of which I got after I had been saved by grace and given my life to Jesus for Jesus. One says "grace" and the other "Beloved" To remind me that apart from
his grace I am doomed because of my sin and to remind me that now because of Jesus'
blood I am not condemned and I am the beloved daughter of God.

One thing if I may share my thoughts is that I have indeed questioned the heart behind which I got my tattoos and found that my primary reason was not to glorify our most awesome God but to draw attention to myself, I cannot deny that my tattoo were not intended to remain hidden and for my eyes only but with the desire for others to notice them. Which by the Holy Spirit I have felt convicted that is the heart with which I have on occasion led worship and Bible Studies at church, not to glorify the only One who is worthy of glory but to glorify myself and seek my satisfaction rather than humbling myself and giving the glory to God. Also that I went expressly against parents wishes and deliberately disobeyed them when I got the tattoos definitely not honouring them as commanded to me in the Word for this I have repented and sought forgiveness.

Not sure whether this can be classified as a stumbling block but I know that sometime my tattoos interfere when I worship in church as the attention from other brothers and sisters who notice my tattoos is quite distracting and I struggle to focus on the awesomeness of my God when I am busy fighting the fleshly pleasure of having everyone's eyes on me. This is a big struggle for me and by God's unlimited grace and discipline I continue to battle and put it to death.

However having spoken I praise God once again for his kindness to me, he does not condemn me for my disobedience in getting tattoos nor does he require that I hide them, feel shame from them or remove them, rather in his sovereignty he uses even my tattoos for his glory, yes they have led to conversations where I can talk about Jesus, though until now I have done so only feebly and without boldness. So I thank the brother who mentioned above that they can be conversation starters and used for witnessing, for this timely reminder of my life's true purpose.

Please if anyone could give advice or point me the verses in the word that I can meditate on regarding this I would most greatly appreciate :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Tabitha said...

P.S. Seth thank you for this forum and praise our awesome God. We all united because we are reconciled to God through blood of Jesus. Even in our disagreement I see that we are all one in Jesus.

Also may I please share a Word that God in his providence had spoken to me through my pastor last month, that is, 1 Corinthians 13. Surely it is possible to do much for the glory of God, even tattoos, even speaking tongues, even prophesy or martyrdom, however if love is not the driving force and motive, the love which comes from God, it is all but useless.

Praise Him!

Cameron Duke said...

I have just stumbled on this blog when i was looking for a tattoo design i am planning on getting my third tattoo. I have a cross with my fathers initals in it he passed away when i was young and when i look at it i think how blessed i was when God chose him to be my father. For my other one it i have my mothers initals on my other arm because with out her pushing me to go back to church after i lost my dad i would still be a lost soul. My third one is going to be Soli Deo Gloria and that is how i found this blog and i started to read and i enjoy what you have to say on the topic. Me and my sister have the same belief that in the Bible it says your body is a temple, and when people throw that at us we say we are using our body to glorify God. I fully support what you have to say on the subject. It has also showed me things that i have took out of context as well. I thank you for putting this online to show people somethings in the Bible that people take out of context. I also say to people reading these blogs, Seth has made, learn not to judge people by the way they look because we are all made in the image of God so think next time you make fun of someone cause they aren't the prettiest or smartest or the most athletic. I think if you make fun of someone because of that then your making fun of someone who was created in God's image.

the Rambler said...

Hey Seth -
I was actually searching for some ideas for a new tattoo i'd like to get and came across your site. Great insight in your post here.
On another note... anyone have a cool idea for a "5 Solas" tattoo? I am planning to get it on my upper left arm ... but not really sure how it should look. Just a list? Or a list on a scroll? Or a list carved into rock? Would love some thoughts!

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