Some of your comments to one of my previous posts made me want to talk a little bit about the biblical “condemnation” of tattoos. It amuses me how so many people claim to be biblical specialists when in reality they’re just English Bible specialists. If they were to study the scripture in the original language and consider the context, their findings would be altogether different. We’re too often guided by our pre-concieved preferences as opposed to scripture. I need to also clarify that I’m no biblical expert either. What I have committed to doing, however, is studying as many resources as possbile to come to an unbiased, biblical, position on a given topic. I’ve attempted to do so with this topic.
A prime example of this scriptural misunderstanding would be our treatment of tattoos. The passage reffered to most often in this argument is Lev. 19:28 which states,
“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” (NKJV)
This passage is found in context in a larger section that deals with a variety of stipulations. Consider with me a few of the other stipulations found in this passage:
1. You cannot sow multiple types of seed in a field.
2. You cannot sew different types of cloth together with each other.
3. If you plant new fruit trees you must not eat any of their fruit until they have born fruit for at least 3 years and then you may eat beginning in the 4th year.
The reason I mention these is because it’s easy to understand after reading these that they are not prescriptive for us today. They had specific meanings for specific situations that were prevalent in their culture at that time.
The tattoo statement also had a specific meaning for their culture. At the time one of the common practices among pagan religions was for their followers to cut themselves deeply as a sign of respect for the dead. They also regularly gave themselves tattoos of their god’s names so that they would show permanent allegiance to their gods. So, in other words, this indictment of tattoos really had nothing to do with the tattoos themselves but rather with the Nation of Israel prostituting themselves before other gods.