Jeff writes:

I would like to comment on your article about Tattoos and Piercings.  I have been a Christian for very many years and have heard many views regarding this issue, and I believe in the whole Bible--Old and New Testament as being the Word of God.  In your article, you mentioned passages in Deuteronomy and possibily Leviticus against such practice.  That is definitely the law God made for his people.  People were making marks for pagan ritual on their bodies and they MAY have been piercing themselves for similar reasons and God forbid it; however, in the VERY SAME passages God forbids the cutting of your beard and the eating of shellfish. 

Hi Jeff.  Thanks for writing.

It seems that about once a year or so sundry media likes to amuse us by revealing various antiquated laws that are still on the books somewhere.  For example, one of the first thoroughfares connecting the East side of Fort Worth with the West was a brick stone road now named Berry St.  The last I heard it is illegal to ride a horseless carriage on Berry St.  Having lived in Fort Worth most my life, I have never seen anything but horseless carriages on Berry St.

Yet, while we may be amused about the ordinance that no one enforces, I've not heard a single citizen yet to suggest that Fort Worth should abandon all the other laws on the books since there is a bad one there.

My point is not to suggest that the proper exercise is to argue over the applicability of every jot and tittle but rather to point out that 99 out of 100 who argue against Christians practicing tattooing invariable resort to something like, "People were making marks for pagan ritual on their bodies and they MAY have been piercing themselves for similar reasons and God forbid it; however, in the VERY SAME passages God forbids the cutting of your beard and the eating of shellfish"  as if our thoughts or feelings about one ordinance should bring us to a conclusion about another ordinance.

But that is fallacious reasoning.  If you want to debate over the validity of beard cutting and shell fish eating, then that is a whole different issue.  Let the issue of Christians and tattooing stand or fall based on its own merits.

The cutting of the beard and eating of shellfish may or may not have had pagan ties also at the time, but that is not the deeper reason God made it law.  The Bible clearly states the reason for the law in Romans 5:20- "The law was added so that sin might increase"--God made the law so that we would sin more!...but consequently, the main purpose was so that we would see how sinful we were because we can't follow the law perfectly and turn to Christ Jesus who makes us righteous in God's sight.  Romans 7:7 says "...Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law".  The law is good, but the purpose of the law isn't to be memorized and followed to perfection because it can't be. Instead it is there to remind is how much we need Jesus.

I don't know that I would say God made the law for us to sin "more" but I know what you mean and, for the most part, I agree.  But just because there is a "deeper" meaning or purpose of God's law (for arguments sake) doesn't mean that we forsake the "lesser" uses and benefits of knowing God's law.

No one is advocating the kind of legalism that Jesus spoke against to the Pharisees and Saducess, but what could be bad about memorizing God's law??  "Blessed [is] the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;   But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.   He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,..." Psalm 1 not to mention Psalm 119 and myriad of others.

    The Bible talks about in 1st Corinthians 8 that in the time of Paul, there was a popular issue much like that of tattooing and piercing; it was the eating of food sacrificed to idols (something mentioned alongside tattoos, shellfish, and beard-trimming in the hebrew laws).  That chapter says that we know God is the one and only true God and idols are nothing, therefore we can eat the meat because we know all things come from God, but some people without knowledge of our full freedom in Christ still think of the food as being sacrificed to an idol when they eat it, and it is thus a sin for them.  1 Corinthians 8:8 has a particularly important point, "Food does not bring us close to God, we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do."
    Some people may still think of pagan practice when they think of piercings or tattoos, and that DEFINITELY falls in line with what God said in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and it IS sin, but some people do not...we are no worse if we do get an ear/nose/etc. piecing, nor are we any better.  I am not saying it is right for everyone to do such.  Just as Paul said that it is not right for everyone to eat that meat.

I'm as much as an advocate for Christian Liberty as the next guy, but I'm not sure Paul's example of eating or abstaining from meat offered as sacrifice to an idol is 100% apples to apples.  Paul's situation was a matter of hospitality and the supremacy of God.  But somehow I have this idea that Paul would not have been pleased if Christians were taking their meat to the pagan temple and offering it as a sacrifice prior to preparing it for a meal for their guest.  Perhaps the Christian would argue with Paul, "Well, we want to have them as a guest in our home and maybe have a chance to witness to them but they insist that the meat they have for supper must first be offered as a sacrifice to their pagan god which is no real god afterall and, therefore, it really makes no difference if I go down there and go through the motions 'cause you know my hearts not really into that kind of thing ........."  ad infinitum.

Jeff, I think there's a difference.  As far as I can tell, these tattoos aren't just appearing out of no where on Christians.  They are pro actively securing tattoos.   

      The use of the word "mutilation" in the article sounds rather extreme and gross when in fact MOST "BM" nowadays is extremely sterile, smooth, and as painless as possible.  God did say that your body is your temple, and some people sin by masochism in things such as BM, but one could also say that one hurts the body by exercise, eating fatty food, or typing alot (which can cause arthritis).  If i was typing on my computer keyboard non-stop because I wanted to harm my fingers and wreck God's creation, then it would be a sin, but sitting here typing with the intent of simply sending a message is not, even if far in the future I do come down with arthritis. 

I agree with you.

As a Christian regarding issues such as tattoos and piercings or anything else that neither brings us closer to nor takes us further from God, the Holy Spirit lives in me and convicts me personally to steer clear of certain things...He does NOT convict other people through me. 

I don't believe anything is neutral.  Everything we do is to be done to the glory of God, that is, to the personification of His invisible attributes and eternal power.  While you are correct that the Holy Spirit lives and convicts of sin and righteousness, I'm sorry that you don't see yourself as an ambassador of our King even as a tool or messenger of sanctification for the good of other Christians.  For if He does NOT convict other people through you, then I suppose YOU are not convicted through other people and such individualism and isolationism is unbecoming to one called and ordained into the community of covenant believers. 

Thank you for your time.  I'll be praying for you and your ministry.  God Bless

God's grace to you and your family,


Pat Hurd




Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas

EST. 01/01/01