After I became a Christian during my sophomore year of college, I remember having some conversations with a Christian friend about tattoos. In my attempt to convince my friend the err of his ways, I told him tattoos were sinful, as I misapplied Bible verses and took them out of context. I was convinced that getting a tattoo was a sinful act, and surely, one cannot walk faithfully with Jesus and willfully get a tattoo.
As I grew in my Christian faith, however, I began to better understand the Christian liberty my friend explained. Sure, not everyone agrees on the issue of tattoos, and they certainly can be sinful if they, just like anything else, dishonor God and glorify sin. The Bible, despite my early misunderstandings and many others’ misrepresentations, does not condemn those who get tattoos. Rather, there is freedom to get them or to not get them.
Now, this is not a post to defend the case for tattoos or condemn the practice. A short and potentially helpful article on battling with that in your own mind is here. Rather, I simply want to make the point that what I once thought to be a form of godliness (judging others on issues of liberty, like tattoos) was actually a great deal of spiritual immaturity and ungodliness.
Do you have issues in your life like that? Are you finding yourself stumbling spiritually over the freedoms of others? If the Bible is clear on something, then let us stand up for such Truth. When the Bible is unclear, though, let us not divide.
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching on the “Weaker Believer Syndrome” (1 Corinthians 8:8-9; Romans 14). “Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat” (1 Corinthians 8:8).
Are you letting debatable things like food (and tattoos) rise to the level of that which makes us “acceptable to God?” If so, you are struggling with what Bob Ingle calls “weaker believer syndrome.” By the grace of God and a growth in spiritual maturity, you can grow past such struggles of conscience and pursue biblical unity in the body of Christ.
No, I have no desire or plans to get a tattoo. While I used to tell my parents I was going to get one as soon as I turned 18 (because they would not let me as a child), that desire diminished. I am thankful for that because I had planned on getting a really silly one that I would certainly regret today. Still, I in no way think that a Christian who gets a tattoo (as long as motives are pure and God is honored) is any less faithful to God’s Word.
Telling a Christian he is in sin for getting a cross tattoo on his forearm is no different than that same Christian telling me I am in sin if I do not get the tattoo. We can feel differently, respecting one another’s freedoms while uniting in the gospel of Jesus Christ.