First, let's remember that God forbade the Israelites from tattooing their bodies because this was a practice among the pagans. God wanted His people to be set apart, and not mimic the customs and behaviors of the gentiles. The New Testament tells us to treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are not raw material on which we simply carve graffiti.
Tattoos today point to the primary things people want to identify with. Even young women who mark their bodies with flowers or butterflies are aspiring to a certain identity. These things, however, are not the sort of things through which we are supposed to mark our identity. We are supposed to be primarily identified only with Christ. However, that does not mean we should get tattoos of Jesus on us either.
Christians need to ask themselves an important question — that is, what are (or should be) the marks of a Christian?
According to the New Testament, the marks of believers are faithfulness, patience, kindness, fortitude, and love. Hutchens writes these marks alter, not the skin, but the countenance of believers — so much so, he says, "that the faces of the saints can be distinguished by those who look upon them."
In other words, the marks of the Christian ought to be spiritually—etched into our souls, not etched onto our bodies.
Some believers argue that there's nothing wrong with a Christian-themed tattoo, like the cross. And some Christians who get tattoos do so out of love of Christ. However, believers ought to ask themselves which sort of mark God would prefer. Tattoos last a lifetime, unless they are removed, which is often painful or leaves scars or traces of the tattoo. But the spiritual marks of a Christian last through all eternity.
© Todd Tyszka
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