THE TRUTH ABOUT TATTOOS
People who would look at someone getting a tattoo as being ‘sinful’, unholy or irreverent are pre-supposing that God is against them. Some church culture’s in the past have polarized the tattoo wearing clan as being a bunch of demon-worshipping sinners but please show me one scripture that validates this perspective.
A further reason to believe Christians are free to tattoo their bodies is that New Testament believers are not bound by the Old Testament laws to gain or regain right relationship with God. If we were to obey the laws of the Old Testament we would also be bound by rules that would restrict shellfish and pork eating, hairstyling, wearing of clothes made from two different fabrics, even eating cheese on hamburgers (yes, it is true). Some also feel that modifying the body somehow defiles God’s creation, but if this was true would it be right to pierce ears, correct a club foot, cut hair, clip nails, get a tan or use orthodontia? Each of the previously mentioned practices modifies the way we were originally created, some permanently. Getting a tattoo is a deeply personal choice that falls in the category of personal appearance and is vitally connected to the freedom of the believer.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that the Old Testament Law was designed by God was to lead people toward Jesus. Now that Jesus has come and set us free, we are not under the law for our good standing with God. Our right standing before God comes from placing our trust in Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our debts, not on following the Old Testament regulations.
The tattoo of today is much different than it was for those who originally received the Pentateuch. Today tattoo is a decorative means of self expression. In our current culture people modify their appearance for beauty in many ways such as clothing choice, makeup, plastic surgery, haircutting and coloring, weight loss, bodybuilding, and ear piercing. Some of these practices have a history in ancient ritual and false religion, but in our cultural context they do not denote a connection with evil or false faith. In the same way tattoos today do not link the wearer to cultic worship practices and is not generally practiced for ancient religious purposes, tattoos today are for ornamentation.
I was reading Isaiah the other day and came across this verse in Isaiah 49:16,
“I have tattooed you on the palms of my hands” I think it’s interesting that God would use this wording to describe his love towards us and his commitment to never forget His people.
Further information about Jesus having a tattoo is revealed in Revelation 19:16,
“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS”.
Does God have a tattoo? Well, no, not exactly…not that we know of. But these passages do help us to be reminded of the permanent nature that we should put on having a relationship with Christ.
It might surprise you that about 25% of all tattoos in America have a religious meaning…
Many Christians today are tattooing themselves with love for the one true God and Creator. Many today utilize this permanent marking as a way of giving glory to God. Some find that Christian tattoos attract questions about faith and provide opportunities to give God glory by allowing the story-telling of His Love to those who aren’t convinced yet.
Tattoos of Christian symbols, such as the cross and the ‘Jesus fish’, are a common way for Christians to express their faith. Christian tattoos are the most popular form of religious tattoos, especially in North and South America. The most popular Christian symbols are crosses, praying hands, Jesus Christ, angels and doves. Other symbols worth mentioning are the virgin Mary, rosary beads, a crown of thorns and the crucifixion.
Tattoos of Jesus Christ are one of the most popular Religious tattoos. Most often Jesus is pictured on the cross. Other Jesus tattoos are a close up of his face with or without a crown of thorns or a halo.
The Jesus Fish Symbol, The Ichtys, aka “Jesus Fish” is one of the more abstract symbols. It is a stylized fish that is the symbol of Christ because of several Biblical references. Jesus once mentioned to his disciples that he would make them “fishers of men”. The fish is also mentioned at the feeding of the five thousand. Ichtys is an acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior” in ancient Greek. The early Christians used it as a secret symbol to find out if a person was a Christian or not. This happened by drawing one arc of the fish in the sand. If the other person drew the other arc, they knew that they both were Christians.
Cross Tattoos are not new. The crusaders had a small cross tattoo on their hand or arm to ensure they got a Christian burial when they died in some foreign country. A cross tattoo can be very basic because it is a strong symbol. In some tattoo designs Jesus is pictured on the cross, making the whole design considerably more complex. Other detailing might include a wood grain pattern on the cross, or the crown of thorns in the middle of the cross of hanging o one of the arms. Sometimes lettering is added to the image – such as the chapter and verse number of a certain Psalm or Bible verse. Other times, the cross itself is made of two crossed nails – large ones, such as those that were put through Christ’s hands and feet.
As a Christ-follower and a tattoo artist I never imagined the opportunity I would have to share in spreading the life of Jesus and my personal experiences as a Christian with my clients who desired to get tattooed. Realizing that God has called me to share in the spreading of the gospel to those who seek to know him, I have taken this calling very seriously.
As a member of Hope Baptist Church I have watched and experienced how God has began to work through me and through that over flow has allowed me to work in the lives of others. Feeling a calling to reach out to communities of people who weren’t experiencing the Love of the Lord, I couldn’t help but feel that my life was being used to expose people to the life of a Christ follower. I marveled in seeing how God was using me to open the eyes of my peers, friends, family and the clients I came in contact with on a daily basis. I never realized how allowing God to work in my life would transform into an opportunity to share with people how they themselves could join in a relationship with Christ. After years of hearing a negative stereotype put on those who had tattoos, I never thought God would use me or my talents to spread his love. Then a friend of mine told me about a Bible verse (Revelation 19:16) that opened my mind to a new possibility of sharing my life experience as a Christian.
As I went to work the following day God spoke clearly to me to share what I had heard with my clients at the tattoo shop. And sure enough the door opened and my appointment walked in and sat in the chair to get tattooed. As I began, what I thought was a normal tattoo session, my client shared with me about the troubles he had been facing since moving to Las Vegas, being new to Vegas myself I shared my experiences as well. As I told him about the new bible verse I had recently heard he was shocked to find out that I was not only attending Hope, I was also ushering at the church. This was just the start of what has turned out to be an on going conversation that I have had with many other clients since then and continue to have with people to this date.
With a new since of purpose in my life I am ready to take God’s message further than I could ever imagine. As a tattoo artist I am exposed to a whole group of people that seem to long to know the Lord on a more intimate basis. I want to make it a mission of mine to allow the over flow of God’s work in me to touch the lives of others.
By working with Hope and the Tattoo industry I am going to use tattooing and Tattoo Conventions as a platform to spread the Gospel. By utilizing marketing tools and promotional materials to engage the audience in an opportunity to share in a relationship with God on a more intimate and personal basis.
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