Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tattoos and Piercings

What is in vogue right now are tattoos and piercings. What is not in vogue right now are the things of God. Of course, other things are the things of the world. Dogs mark their territory by peeing on trees. Humans mark their turf by what is important in their life. Ink is one way many of mankind marks their turf. Indeed, tattoos were used by pagans for centuries to designate their tribes. That is tribalism, and that aspect has been restored by some in the modern age. In scripture, the prohibition of tattoos does not stand alone:
Leviticus 19:28 (MEV) "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord."
Cuttings are included. Those commands were dictated by God, and are His will. One may ask why God even cares. All scripture points toward mankind being our own gods. Elsewhere scripture also says: 
Deuteronomy 18:9 (ESV)  “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations."
What are some of the things which pagans do? Mark and cut their bodies. We're all familiar with colorful totem poles. They represent pagan gods. They are colorful and cut to make and idol of wood. When people mark and cut themselves, it's an idol of flesh which they paint and hew.

Of course you are now thinking, "That is not my reason for doing it!" and you may be getting a little angry right now. Remember, it's not my words, but Holy Scripture. Of course you don't intend to make yourself a god, and you don't intend to make your flesh an idol. As Jesus said about his assassins, "Forgive them, Father... they know not what they do!" (Luke 23:34). Those with artwork on their skin either do not consider what God desires of them or ignores God's will. Most Christians know God's will, and do what is right in their own eyes.
Proverbs 21:2  (ESV) "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart."
Of course, cutting and marking oneself is not of the same seriousness as cutting and marking the Savior! There are degrees of seriousness of sin. The prohibition against tattoos and cuttings are part of Mosaic Law, but murder is God's Law written on stone for the ages. God's Laws are all acts of love in some manner, and are focused on God and others. The command against tattoos focus directly on the self.  Essentially, it is not as serious because the people who do that are destroying their own idol. The problem lies in ignoring the true God in favor of their own false god.

The flesh is mankind's problem. It is the medium which transforms the things of the world into the dirt that contaminates the temple intended for God.
John 1:12 (ESV)  "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
Basically, the children of God are those, not of the flesh or man's own will, but of God! By cutting and piercing, children of God are certainly not doing the will of God, but their own will. The slogan of paganism is: "Do what thou wilt". In other words, if the flesh wants to do it, do it - there is no one stopping you! Not even God will stop you from marking yourself. It is your own choice! You won't even go to hell just for doing that.

Mosaic Laws are not essential laws. They are, however, still valid as an indication of what God wills. His will is that His children remain unmarked, but being a graceful God, His desire is that His children obey Him of their own choice. This is called Christian liberty.
1 Corinthians 10:29b "For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?"
You are at liberty to tattoo and mark yourself. I am not! It's my own conscience which dictates my own actions, and you yours. God made this rule. Obedience is between you and God. It is not my place to dictate to you what I deem to be wrong. If others accept my principles because I bully them in the name of Christ, they place my authority over God's. We are to do God's will, not the will of others. I can't tattoo and cut myself because I understand why God doesn't want me to - I decorate my own self-god if I do. On the other hand, you too are decorating your own god because you too are your own other god. What you do with your own god is none of my business. It doesn't bother me when you mark yourself. In fact, I am entertained that you would because I consider it self-indulgent.

To think all my will should be my God's will is silly. Your image should be in God's image by choice. God doesn't force compliance: he wills it. If we only obey because we must, then we are not in god's will - we are slaves to the Law and are in bondage.

Therefore, tattooing is an individual choice. If you have read scripture, you know that God's will is unmarked flesh. Other Christians should worry about their own selfish god, and not the god of others. We all are self-righteous at times, and wish others to do our will. That's not how it works!

How should Christians handle these entangling commands? We each should consider God's will, and examine wherein our own priorities lie: is it on the self or on God?

In all honesty, we all have greater sins than markings to worry about. Our hardest task is to love. There are no loopholes nor alternatives to that. My thought is that for me, obedience is one way to show God that His will is more important than mine.

At one time, my will was to tattoo my arm. My three hours of pain failed to mark me as ironically, I tortured my own other god. When I became mature in my understanding of God's will, my own will changed. I lost the desire to destroy the clean canvas which God gave me, and my new will was to please Him. Of course, there are other cuttings and markings with which I must deal. We all need to cut away the foreskin of the heart. That is the reasonable change which God expects:
Deuteronomy 10:16 "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn."
This is not a pagan ritual, it is of God. It means to have a change of heart, and that is a requirement for the new birth. When we are truly born again, we're more concerned with cutting away the dirty flesh of the heart than of the skin. New creatures are to be changed. Our desires are to do things God's way, not to be our own gods!

While we stand under the needle or submit to the piercing gun, billions remain unsaved. While we decorate our own god, billions are destined for hell! Our calling is not to focus on the self, but the world. The Great Commission, the main job of Christians, is to tell the world about Jesus and his salvation. I suppose a sign which we carry on our forearm may be one way to spread the word, bit honestly, are their better ways?

No comments:

Post a Comment