Is the prohibition on tatoos moral law or judicial law?

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reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
We do have stewardship over our own bodies, and we decorate them constantly. I assume you get haircuts. Is this not public and vainglorious? If you care nothing for what people think, then why not grab a pair of scissors and just hack it off that way? If you spend money on a nice suit for church, is that not prideful? Do you have the right to do as you please that way with your money, which ultimately belongs to the Lord? I say this tongue-in-cheek obviously, but you get my point. Walk into any church and you will see people who spent money to look what they perceive to be better. You will see girls in decorative high heels and guys wearing ties (what exactly is the point of a tie? what function does it serve beyond decoration?)
It is very important what people think of us. In the morning, before I get out, I contemplate that I am a son of the the one true God. Is it not going to influence how I dress? Of course it is. I did not wear suits before, but I am a born again, blood washed follower of Jesus Christ, I have outmost respect for my brothers and sisters in Christ and I am a representative of our High Lord to the lost world around. So I wear a suit and a tie. And when I buy a suit, I choose one that looks good enough and does not cost more than it should.

I know I will one day be stoned to death by a group of ladies, but I do not see wearing high heels as coming out of respect for others or out of representation of the Lord's people. They promote the frame of a woman's body. Pants also do that, by the way.
:2cents:
What this boils down to, though, is, "My body decorations are sanctified, and those of others are not." There is nothing in the Bible that says men should wear ties. Jesus did not. Some women consider wearing heels to be respectful. In fact, if you look at pictures of church camps in the 1930's and 1940's here in the USA, all women wore heels even while hiking because that was considered appropriate and respectful for church events of all kinds, including camps.

I used to be in a church that claimed that pants on a woman made men lust and should not be allowed. In practice, I wondered whether some of the men in the church actually preferred skirts on women because they allowed more immodesty. They really seemed to enjoy work days when the women in their skirts had to be up on ladders cleaning the windows. There were also lots of displays on windy days when skirts blew over women's heads at the Sunday school picnic.

My point here is that arguments can be made both ways. I always encourage my daughters to wear pants in order to be more modest. Ever since I stopped wearing skirts, I stopped accidentally flashing people, and I prefer it that way.

But I don't judge women who wear skirts or think that they are intentionally causing men to lust.

These kinds of arguments about what is "respectful" can go on forever. My husband is a painting and wallpaper contractor. He'd look pretty silly doing that in a suit. There's a lot of context to things. I don't know how it is in Russia, but here in the USA, tattoos are pretty well main-streamed in a lot of places. Nobody thinks twice about a tattoo or thinks it means much of anything unless it is in some way extreme.
Caroline, are you sure that your insistence upon your daughters wearing pants over skirts and you marking your body with ink under the umbrella of Christian liberty is not in some way psychologically connected to your past history of legalism? There is a tendency for someone like yourself to go to the other end of the pendulum in rebellion against their spiritual bondage, which in your case was a legalistic church. Sometimes, we have to bring ourselves back after we have stepped across the edge from both extremes. If this is true, you would not be the only one. However, if you can honestly say that this is not true, and can justify your actions by God's Word and sound reason then just ignore what I just said. :2cents:
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
Well, that is a good question. I actually don't insist on my daughters wearing pants--except when they will be in situations likely to expose themselves in skirts. I bought my younger daughter a pretty sundress that she wanted just yesterday, although I will probably advise her to wear shorts under it if we are going out.

My tattoo may be in part a reaction, but I'm okay with that. We are allowed to react in non-sinful ways, I think. I painted the wall of my office orange in part as a reaction to dull, bland, colorlessness of legalism that won't let you decide anything for yourself and try anything new. I think it looks pretty.

I think a whole paper could be written about how people react to things in their past and it is a very interest topic when you bring it up. People's past makes them what they are, and I think reactions can be categorized all kinds of ways. But that is probably for another thread.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
How did my response to Scott end up ahead of Scott's comment? I suddenly feel like maybe I have the gift of prophecy like my Pentecostal mama always said. :wow:

:D
You should know those gifts have ceased, are given to ecclesiastical office, etc. (ha,ha),

No, all that happened is your post somehow got sandwiched between a double post that was deleted. (I was wondering that as well).:)
 

Vladimir

Puritan Board Freshman
These kinds of arguments about what is "respectful" can go on forever. My husband is a painting and wallpaper contractor. He'd look pretty silly doing that in a suit.
Now, you're misinterpreting my words.
Some women consider wearing heels to be respectful. In fact, if you look at pictures of church camps in the 1930's and 1940's here in the USA, all women wore heels even while hiking because that was considered appropriate and respectful for church events of all kinds, including camps.
I did not know that. I apologize.
In practice, I wondered whether some of the men in the church actually preferred skirts on women because they allowed more immodesty. They really seemed to enjoy work days when the women in their skirts had to be up on ladders cleaning the windows.
Women used to wear pants or shorts under skirts when working in the field. There is also other legwear that provides covering while not promoting the frame of the body.
There were also lots of displays on windy days when skirts blew over women's heads at the Sunday school picnic.
Why I wear skirts all the time… - there are women dealing with the issue. Can you honestly call pants more modest than sticking with skirts and trying to work it out, like generations and generations did in the past? I can't. Pants, tight skirts and dresses were candy for my eyes most of my life before I was converted.
But I don't judge women who wear skirts or think that they are intentionally causing men to lust.
I did not say I judge anyone's intentions. I think a lot of it is unintentional. And I think the issue has been given less attention than it's ought to be given.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Hey! I don't have any tattoos - but for a sinful reason. That being at an early age being asked by a uniformed representative of the state, as he was snapping those cute little bracelets on my wrists, if I had any identifying marks, scars, or tattoos. Being at that time one who wanted to maintain my freedoms while engaged in activities that should have caused them to be relinquished, I chose to have as few of those as possible. I was allergic to cops - whenever I was around them I tended to break out in handcuffs. Perhaps I should repent and go get the "Texan 'Til I Die" over an armadillo tat I was mulling over way back when.

This is a silly discussion. I can't believe that brothers, even Pastors and Officers of our Lord's Bride, are being impugned, and their qualifications disdained, over tattoos. Puh-leeze.
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
The whole Reformation Distinctives series in our afternoon worship service is intended to fight against the notion of having an implicit faith in the doctrines taught in our Confession of Faith, and to prove those doctrines out by sound Scriptural interpretation, etc. So, people were given opportunity to add questions to a list, among which were subjects such as "Why Exclusive Psalmody," or "Why do we come to a table for the Lord's Supper?," and other such things. One question pertained to Christian Liberty and Tattoos. Working up to his sub-series on Liberty of Conscience in our Reformation Distinctives Series, then, the Pastor addressed the question of Tattoos, Piercings, and other Bodily Modifications in the following two sermons. They address the idea of the moral principle of separation and doctrine & practice by way of necessary inference. Whatever conclusion one comes to, he/she may still find these helpful and informative on the subject.

Who Owns Our Bodies? - Pt. 1 (1 Cor. 6:12-20)
Who Owns Our Bodies? - Pt. 2 (Lev. 19:1-29)

I found the second sermon particularly helpful... Thanks!
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think because of its permanency it's unwise, including in the light of the Israelites being told to eschew them.

There also may be sometimes a sense of claiming the body from God, as one's own to do with as one likes.

Impermanent or semi-permanent tatoos seem wiser.

There are probably more important things to make a fuss of than one or two discreet tatoos, unless someone is making a complete mess of their body or face with piercings, tatoos, etc. Aesthetically-speaking, if not morally-speaking, some of these people are - no offence to anyone here who has some tatoos - fools.
 

SinnerSavedByChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
HOWEVER, I don't see a Biblical prohibition against tattoos. I want to see one, I wish there was a clear extrinsic teaching but it's just not there.
Amen.
Tats are a big turn off for me. When I see a beautiful woman with a tat I just want to cry over the spoiled canvas that God has given her. Tats on men and women tell me that there is a short coming in their character, something that they are compensating for. It also seems to be a glorying in one's own flesh and a desecration of it.
Amen

I think we have to be very careful: we eisegete heavily if we read into this tatoo law from leviticus too far. If we take it as moral law, then there's heaps of stuff in the same passage about clothes, farming and all kinds of stuff which belong entirely to the Old Covenant. The perishable things have passed - we have a glorious liberty.

"...as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God." ( 1 Peter 2)

To a kid who walks up to me and asks "Brother, what does the bible say about me getting this mad-tatoo?" I would answer:
"Son, what are your motivations? If it's to be cool, get attention, decorate your body, then the God says don't do it. Secondly, how does this tatoo glorify God? If it doesn't glorify God, then what profit is there?"

But if this kid has been convicted by such a verse in scripture such as 2 Corinthians 5:21 "He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become in Him the righteousness of God", and he wanted a daily reminder on his forearm, I say "Well if you've really thought through this and want the tat - then pray about it. If your conscience is not provoked, then get a small one to start with. Because they tend to be quite irreversible... you won't want to pay a plastic surgeon years later to take it off!!!
 

reformedminister

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hey! I don't have any tattoos - but for a sinful reason. That being at an early age being asked by a uniformed representative of the state, as he was snapping those cute little bracelets on my wrists, if I had any identifying marks, scars, or tattoos. Being at that time one who wanted to maintain my freedoms while engaged in activities that should have caused them to be relinquished, I chose to have as few of those as possible. I was allergic to cops - whenever I was around them I tended to break out in handcuffs. Perhaps I should repent and go get the "Texan 'Til I Die" over an armadillo tat I was mulling over way back when.

This is a silly discussion. I can't believe that brothers, even Pastors and Officers of our Lord's Bride, are being impugned, and their qualifications disdained, over tattoos. Puh-leeze.
Just take a good look at the church and the world around you. What you may deem as "silly" can be healthy and good to talk about. While discussions may get heated at times, it is better than SILENCE, which is part of the problem with the church today. Yes, I agree that there may be topics more important to discuss but that does not take away from the need to talk about this one.
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
My brother has a tattoo "In memory of" his best friend who died in high school... His is a tattoo "for the dead." He calls himself a deist but lives like an atheist so any appeal to Scripture, to moral law or nature... was in one ear & out the other! When I tried to talk to him before he got it, the argument he gave for why he was going to get it was very "emotional" but rather pathetic. My sister got her tattoo while she was drunk as a skunk at Myrtle Beach & my mother got hers when she was in the Navy.

I personally don't know of any Confessional Christians (who are staunchly "Reformed") that got tattooed because it was Scripturally advisable or edifying to other Brothers & Sisters. The few in this thread that are tattooed have argued that they "look cool" & they "like them." I do not believe we should marginalize those that are tattooed or make generalizations but the fact of the matter is though it may be permissable, it is not advisable. This topic kind of reminds me of a quote about the lovers of books...

Are the lovers of tattoos, the greatest lovers of God?

I see no arguments from the Puritans that indicate any of them promoted putting permanent markings on the body. I see no argument from the Apostles that promote or encourage tattoos. And, I don't see anywhere in Scripture where tattooing is looked upon favorable.

PS - Not that it maters but I do not wear high heels or makeup & my husband doesn't wear a tie! ;)
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
The next generation of Christians will all have tats because culture is strong. I accept that.
I think this comment is very telling. Culture is strong. Where does the impetus come from when thinking of tattooing one's self? I can't think of anyone saying with a straight face that it was from the Bible or from the church fathers or something that I read in the Institutes. It's the culture. It's the world. I am not going to cast a sweeping condemnation on every soul who has a tattoo, but let's not try to waffle or tiptoe around where the idea comes from.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
While Leviticus 19:28 prohibited God's people Israel from defacing their bodies with things like tattoos, identifying with the darkness of the Gentile world, the New Testament discussion for us begins with God's revealed will here:

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Mark 12
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Romans 14
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
I Thessalonians 5

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
I Peter 3
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
With respect, Rev. Andy Eppard, I may be wrong, but I think that Brad's comment about this discussion being "silly" spoke more about the manner of how it has been conducted in some posts, and not the topic.

In Christ,
Matt
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
While Leviticus 19:28 prohibited God's people Israel from defacing their bodies with things like tattoos, identifying with the darkness of the Gentile world, the New Testament discussion for us begins with God's revealed will here:

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Mark 12
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Is this meant to be a refutation against tattoos? An exposition of these verses would be helpful because both sides of the debate undoubtedly accept these verses as inspired and authoritative in what they are teaching but disagree about what they are teaching.

It seems to me like the majority of arguments against tattoos (if not all) are pragmatic rather than Scriptural. Asking questions like "Do tattoos do the most glorifying of God?" just beg the question. If they're not sinful inherently or by their content (a blasphemous tattoo would undoubtedly be sinful) or done with a sinful motive, then yes they do. But if they are inherently sinful, then no they don't. Cultural perceptions about tattoos change. If something is said to be inherently sinful, then it must be proven through exposition of Scripture, not the perceived motives of the person.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Not narrowly, Leah.

The way in which we look at the vainglorious display of imagines on the bodies God gave us is the context of its purpose.

Our sinful natures think it utterly outrageous that God has a claim on our bodies, that what He says matters, or how it will affect others matters.

This really is the principle application of Old Testament laws that are not strictly binding on us today.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
"Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I [am] the LORD. Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I [am] the LORD your God." Leviticus 19:29-31

I guess we should just ignore these passages as well? As has been mentioned, some of these judicial commandments are based on moral principles. I don't think that Leviticus 19:28 should be a proof text to prohibit tattoos. However, given the nature of their prominence in our society and the history of tattooing in general being pagan, we must ask ourselves does it promote godliness? Or, is it just a way for people to justify their carnal desires to fit in with the world? By the way the passage is not clear that the marks printed on a person was "for the dead." The cuttings in the flesh was for the dead. We must ask why God did not want people putting ink on their bodies? Let us at least be affirmative that this was a PAGAN practice. What makes it different today? It's history and popularity is pagan all the same. Let's not Christianize it for the sake of fitting in and justifying it on the grounds of Christian liberty.

"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." 1 Cor. 10:23
You can't escape making your daughter an adulterer/fornicator if you compel her to be a prostitute. It seems more difficult to appeal so directly to God's moral law through the lens of inking skin in v28.

If the argument is therefore more about not Christianising pagan practices, then we would all be forced to give up Christmas and Easter!!

Matt
 

Boosterseat_91

Puritan Board Freshman
Not narrowly, Leah.

The way in which we look at the vainglorious display of imagines on the bodies God gave us is the context of its purpose.

Our sinful natures think it utterly outrageous that God has a claim on our bodies, that what He says matters, or how it will affect others matters.

This really is the principle application of Old Testament laws that are not strictly binding on us today.
This post is still not very clearly. I only know that you are arguing against tattoos in some way because of your previous posts. I think that one can consistently confirm that God is Lord over our bodies and still get a tattoo. How do you know that all tattoos are inherently vainglorious displays and therefore sinful? Where does Scripture ever say that something becomes inherently sinful because some people have a negative reaction to it?

We both agree that tattoos can be sinful because of either (1) their content or (2) the motivation for getting it. But in order to prove that they are inherently sinful needs a proper explication of Scripture that shows tattoos are forbidden in all cases.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
In Genesis 24 we have Rebekah given jewelry, to include a nose ring, as a gift. It seems some degree of adornment, beautification and even piercing is permitted and is not merely a vainglorious display:

Gen. 24:20 So [Rebekah] quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21Without saying a word, the man [Abraham's servant] watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
22When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka [1/5 oz.] and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels [4 oz.]. 23 Then he asked, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?"


Earrings and nose-rings appear in Scripture, not always in a negative sense (Ezekial 16, for example). A hole in the ear or the nose is, to some degree, body modification. When these practices are done for purposes of grieving/mutilation, or for the dead, or for one to wear amulets (maybe the reason earrings where removed in Gen. 35:2), then it seems forbidden. But for beauty, piercing or other adornments (to which I would include tattoos) there is no general prohibition (although caution and wisdom should be exercised in all that we wear and all that we do with and to our bodies).
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
We could solve all of this by just passing a law that states that no one may acquire a tattoo until they have reached 30 years of age.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think that one can consistently confirm that God is Lord over our bodies and still get a tattoo.
It's more than intellectually acknowledging that "God is Lord over our bodies." It might be more correct to say, biblically, our bodies are not our own, but are the temples of the Holy Spirit (cf earlier Scriptures).

Nor is it the mere act of getting a tattoo.

What is it for? To show off a defacement of the body with permanent (or semi-permanent) scarring, so the public can see an image not naturally part of the human body.

Is the sole criteria one thinks it is beautiful. Or whether it will attract attention to ones self?

How do you know that all tattoos are inherently vainglorious displays and therefore sinful?
What's the reason for an unnatural scarring of the skin with flamboyant color? It's to show off something (to who?)
something becomes inherently sinful because some people have a negative reaction to it?
You may find helpful going back and looking at the Scriptural principles cited in post#77.
Christians have a duty not to create an appearance of evil, not to cause a weaker brother to stumble, to witness the truth God owns our body, to not exhibit worldliness. Again, its not mere the act of getting a tattoo.

It's much more than a case of I want to do it because I think it will look beautiful to me, and attract other people's attention to me, and the Old Testament prohibition doesn't apply to me, and if another brother is offended it's his problem because it's my body and what I do is all about me, and what I think.

(This is the way the fallen mind, centered in self measures all things, it is not the way of the redeemed.)

But understand, it was prohibited for God's people (Israel) in the Old Testament.
The question really is, since that law is not strictly applicable to God's people not living as a "church under age" as was ancient Israel,
are there New Testament principles that continue? (Clearly, there are at least many, many qualifications- including what does it show to our neighbor).

I would allow that we could construct a hypothetical situation that might simplistically seem to not be sin.

But for the vast majority of cases, there is harm to self, neighbor and witness,

and even before we get to the hygiene and medical reasons.
(Many in old age regret the defacement of their skin, and health and medical problems that later can stem from it, but that's another story)
 
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Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
We could solve all of this by just passing a law that states that no one may acquire a tattoo until they have reached 30 years of age.
Because legislation is the solution to all debate.
I was not being serious, but my point was that people tend to do stupid things when they are in their teens and twenties that would not have done in their thirties and beyond.
I know. :) If I thought you were being serious I wouldn't have given a snide one-liner in response.
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
We could solve all of this by just passing a law that states that no one may acquire a tattoo until they have reached 30 years of age.
Because legislation is the solution to all debate.
I was not being serious, but my point was that people tend to do stupid things when they are in their teens and twenties that would not have done in their thirties and beyond.
I know. :) If I thought you were being serious I wouldn't have given a snide one-liner in response.
Actually, I was 34 when I got my first tattoo. I had always wanted one, and people kept saying I'd regret it. Then I met this old lady who had a cool tattoo, and she said she loved it and had never regretted it for a second. That made me realize that not everybody is the same. Some people never do regret their tattoos. I'd advise anyone away from being impulsive about it, though. If you want one, wait a year. If you still want it, make an appointment for six months away. And then, if you STILL want the SAME tattoo (and your spouse has no problem with it), then go for it. But I'd also advise people to put it somewhere not obvious. Contrary to what Scott thinks, most people aren't showing off with their tattoos, and the best advice is to remember that some people WILL be judgmental, so make sure it is somewhere that you can cover with socks or shirt sleeves to humor those who are inclined to snap character judgments. It is sad that people are so inclined to belittle others over something so insignificant, but unfortunately, such is human nature.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
most people aren't showing off with their tattoos
Granted, that is anecdotal. "Most people," in my experience, are intending their tattoo to be seen by others, but that too, is anecdotal. One does wonder what the purpose generally is if it is not to be seen by others, at least sometime.


some people WILL be judgmental
The biblical standard is not really someone being judgmental,
it is, does it give appearance of worldliness, appear to countenance lust, immorality, curiosity of occult, promote violence, etc.
Or does, it reflect that persons propensity toward it.

That goes for a lot of things, because after all, our bodies are not our own.

Indeed, our lives are not our own.

And this world is not our home.

And modesty in dress and appearance are biblical virtues.
 
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