Dear Patrick

I am writing to you as I read the discussion that you had with Mike regarding tattooing and piercing. I am a little concerned by what I read as I am a Christian. I have three tattoos and they are celtic zoomorphics that were designed by my great grandfather. I had them as my way of showing my own personal appreciation for his work. I also listen to rock music and have my head shaved (mainly as my hair is thinning!!). While my appearance may make some people nervous, when they talk to me they are pleasantly surprised. You should never judge a book by it's cover! Basically, there are a couple of things that I would like your opinion on:

(1)    Because the tattoos are celtic and I suppose pagan in origin, does this affect my relationship  with Jesus?

(2)    Will Jesus look negatively on me for having these tattoos done?

(3)    Surely I won't be judged by God for this? This will not affect my soul getting into heaven?

 As God is all forgiving, surely I am okay and will not be frowned upon. I am a good Christian. I am good and faithful to my wife, I teach my children the ways of Christ and provide all for them both mentally and physically, I am good to my neighbour, I help with the elderly in my community, I live simply and avoid ostentation. I do community and charity work. Surely, all these things are more important. Rock music is not necessarily the Devil's music. Tattooing is not necessarily the work of the Devil either.

 With regard to Lev. 19:28, it never really refers to tattooing as such but does refer to beard trimming. The problem with people marking their skin was because they were worshipping false gods. While I don't think one should be able to pick and choose what laws are to be abided by, I think that the New Testament is more relevant to life today. Thought on certain subjects is changing and interpretation is also changing. Tattooing does not harm people. Putting the fear of God into people was done a lot here in Ireland and does harm people because a lot of abuse occurred, both sexual and mental. The Roman Catholic Church is seriously at fault in the manner in which it handled many cases regarding this.

 The Ten Commandments must never be questioned but I do have a problem with some other (what I describe as minor) laws. By the way, I hope that I am making sense, I do not claim to be an authority on theology, I am still searching and learning along the way. Christianity is such a broad subject and there are many conflicts between many different churches.

 My objectives in sending this e-mail were to get someone else's opinion, someone who has studied more than me. I am not arguing your points and respect your views. I hope that you may have the time to respond to this, it would be much appreciated.

 Thanking you in anticipation of your reply.

 God bless and take care

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 Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for writing and for your comments about Christians and tattoos.  I suspect you are writing from Ireland.  My older daughters have introduced the whole family to celtic music of which we greatly enjoy.

 As for the three questions you posed, I think it important to say that the actions and works of men are nothing more than a reflection of what is in their heart.  Even the regenerate heart battles with sin and rebellion and, thus, Godís law is the standard by which we can know that our life is producing works of righteousness as we have each been called to do.

 But one must consider the nature of Godís law or else be frustrated by its seemingly lack of modern relevance and, therefore, be left only to throw it away.  Godís law is the 10 Commandments:  ďYou shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.Ē   This is [the] first and great commandment.   And [the] second [is] like it: ďYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.Ē On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."  (Matt 22:37-40).  Jesus identified commandments 1-4 with loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you mind and 5-10 with loving your neighbor.

 So what of the other 600+ ďlaws?Ē  Those are ordinances and/or statutes that define or direct us to obedience to the original 10.  Thus I would propose that the prohibition of tattooing was for the purpose of guiding Godís people in obedience to the 1st Commandment.  If it was a true compass then, I submit that it is a true compass today as well.

 Understanding Godís law in this way relieves most (but not all) of your concern about the NT being more relevant today than the OT.  After all, if it was loving to my neighbor 6000 years ago to be sure my axe head was secure on the handle before using the axe (Deut 19:5), surely we learn from that statute that loving our neighbor means (among other things) to be sure the brakes on our car are working properly before driving.

 But as far as changing times, I suggest to you that God never changes and His truth and justice and righteous standards have and will never change.  Circumstances may change, progress, or regress but the standard by which truth, justice, and righteousness is judged will never change.  Godís law is that standard.

 You are right about the historical abuses of the church.  It is sad to know that good people were wronged by the supposed instrument of Godís work on earth.  But nevertheless, be assured that in spite of all that has been and is now wrong within the Church, God is sovereignly superintending the bride through history in preparation for the coming bridegroom.  May that day be soon.

 I donít know if I addressed all your thoughts or concerns about our position on tattooing.  If not, please write again.

 Godís grace to you and your family,

 Pat Hurd  

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Dear Jonathan,
 
Sorry to be so long to respond to you.
 
In a message jonathan writes:
With regard to your answers, you said that "the actions and works of men are nothing more than a reflection of what is in their heart", well, does that would mean that I have a bad heart for getting the tattoos done? I mentioned the work I do and how seriously I take my responsibilites as a husband, father and member of the rural community in which I live. I am one of God's children and surely I won't be judged for having tattoos? I did have concerns about things stopping me from getting into Heaven but a priest told me that you have to commit one of the three mortal sins for that to happen. I now think that my question to you regarding "will having tattoos stop me from getting into Heaven" is quite stupid on my part. What are your feelings on this?
I believe the Bible teaches us that the only merit for our salvation is the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The bible teaches us that we are to love the Lord God with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30)  It's not that the tattoo itself is the problem it's what is in the heart that motivates one to do something that is other than loving God with ALL one's heart, soul, mind, and strength.
 
Of course, one might argue that getting a tattoo is an expressive act of loving God and that's another discussion.  But if someone is obsessed with tattooing (or eating, or drinking, or lying, or stealing) then one might question what is in their heart that motivates them to be obsessed with such behavior.
 
A couple of things I read yesterday are quite interesting though. It said God himself is adorned with markings not dissimilar to tattoos. "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." Isaac 49:22. I have also read this using different wording but saying the same thing, that God made indelible marks on his hands. And like Father like Son, let's not forget the physical description given to a resurrected Jesus "On His robe & on his thigh he has the name written: KING OF KINGS & LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:16. It also refers to the fact that "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7. This would make clear that God would not judge you for tattooing because he looks at your heart. "Stop judging by mere appearances, & make a right judgment." Jesus Christ, John 7:21. Piercings were common place. In fact, nose rings were used as engagement pieces, to the extent that when God himself is speaking allegorically of her chosen people. He mentions betrothing her with this piercing,.... "I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms & a necklace on your neck, & I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears & a beautiful crown on your head." Ezekiel 16:11-12 ( also in Genesis 24:22, Genesis 24:30, Genesis 24:47, Genesis 35:4, & Exodus 32:2-3 ). This is a testament to the fact that these things went on. Pat, I am not trying to question your knowledge or your opinions but I am just trying to give a different interpretation on things and also show you that it is written that when these things happened, it was not all in a bad light.
It is in my humble opinion that we as God's creatures are to be very careful to recognize the difference between our creator and His creatures.  A creator/creature distinction.  Because of this distinction, what may be proper and right for the creator does not automatically translate as proper and right for the creature.  So I would not automatically assume that because there are references to markings or engravings on God or Jesus we as His creatures have the right to mark or engrave ourselves.
 
Likewise from the Ezekiel passage (of which the first 8 verses may be my very favorite in the whole Bible - "...so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," says the Lord GOD." )  it is one thing for our master and creator to adorn His bride.  It is a whole other thing for the bride to adorn herself as evidenced in verses 15ff, "" But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who [would have] it.   16 "You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. [Such] things should not happen, nor be.   17 "You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them."
 
 
Some things were in a bad light of course and I think that when "marking the skin or cutting the skin" is referred to, it all goes back to the time of people worshipping false gods or pagan gods and with this a lot of ill-doing took place. Whether it was blood-drinking, human sacrifice or all night orgies, these laws were put in place to outlaw all these activities and to say that they were not the ways of God. Thus, tattooing at the time was only really associated with this type of behaviour.
I believe that the OT prohibition to tattooing points back to the 1st Commandment, "" I [am] the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.   You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:2,3)   Not that the tattoos themselves are "other gods" but that they represent "other gods" in one's life and heart.
Nowadays, people from all walks of life get tattoos and are good people, good Christians or people from other religions. Surely, God would see that these things do not represent evil to the people getting them done. They are works of art or deeply personal things commemorating something that happened in their lives.
You are probably very right.  But I have to ask the confessing Christian whose God has, "... And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' " (Eze 16:6) and whose Lord commands His people to love Him with ALL their heart, soul, mind, and strength.....then what room is there for such personal adorning that glorifies the self?
 
Such is a question I think one must struggle with and resolve for himself.
 
I suppose I am battling with myself at present over my interpretations of some of the Laws. But I am careful not to reject things for my own selfish reasons, that is not right. I want to be able to stand proud and say wholehearedly that I am a true Christian, a child of God. I do believe that the work I do, my day-to-day life and the respect that I have from others in my community are all going a long way to me achieving my goals as a good citizen and a good Christian.
I agree and pray that you will always persevere in the good work for which our God has ordained for you from the beginning of time.
 
Again, I say that I mean no disrespect to you at all and I hope you think that my questioning is healthy and not trying to get at anyone's beliefs or interpretations. From one Christian to another, I hope that we both achieve all our spiritual goals in life.
I too pray that you receive my comments accordingly knowing that we are both seeking to know God better that we may be able to worship Him better each day.
 
Take care and God bless you and your family
 
Jonathan
God's grace to you and your family,
 
Pat Hurd

 

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