What the Bible says about - "TATTOOS"
By: Pastor Rick Bickelhaupt
TATTOOS? SHOULD A CHRISTIAN RECEIVE ONE? It seems like every year the world is led into another fad of some sort. In the 50’s it was saddle shoes, bobby socks and greased back hair. In the 60’s, it was Beetle Mania and all the disgrace and debauchery that came along with it. The 70’s brought in the Acid Rock culture with the drugs, wild hard driving music, Tie-dyed Tee-shirts, beads and wild hair styles. The 80’s was the decade when Disco, and the New Age Movement made it big. And now we are in the end of the 90’s. This decade seems like it is marked with the philosophy that anything goes. Many feel, if they like it, no one should question or ridicule them. In the 1990’s we have seen a real resurgence of the tattoo industry.
There was a point in time when people took pride in taking care of their bodies, because they believed their body was the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” As in every area of the Christian life, the Bible must be our final authority for faith and practice. Just what does the Bible state about marking or “tattooing” your body? But before we look at what the Bible states about tattoos, we need to look at the historical origin of ‘tattoos” [Of Polynesian origin.]- tattoo´er noun- tattoo´ist noun Word History: The practice of tattooing the body is prehistoric, but the English word tattoo was introduced fairly recently. Our word came from Polynesian languages such as Tahitian and Samoan and was introduced to English speakers by the explorer Capt. James Cook (who also gave us the word taboo). The earliest use of the verb tattoo in English is found in 1769 in his account of a voyage around the world from 1768 to 1771. Cook also used a noun in his writings of 1769 but treated it as a native word so he is not given credit for the first use of the noun in English (recorded in 1777). In any event, sailors introduced the custom into Europe from the Pacific societies in which it was practiced, and it has remained associated with sailors, although many other people have tattoos as well.
The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © The body-marking techniques of tattooing, sanctification, and painting have been used in a vast range of cultures, both ancient and contemporary, for decoration and for communicative purposes. The markings may give information about group membership, rank, and status. Body painting may also indicate the particular social role one is playing at a given time and express social and religious values. Tattooing, the introduction of pigment through punctures in the skin to create patterns, was practiced in ancient Egypt. Some of the most elaborate tattoos have been found among the cultures of Oceania--for example, the MAORI of New Zealand tattoo complex spiral designs on the face and buttocks. Traditionally, fine tattoos have been to them a sign of good breeding.... Tattooing techniques vary widely--for example, the Eskimo use bone needles to draw soot-covered thread through the skin, and the Japanese use fine metal needles and multicolored pigments. Scarring, or cicatrization, is most common in the cultures of Africa, Australia, and Melanesia.
In the initiation rites of boys among the Nuer of the Sudan, six cuts are made across the forehead and remain for life as scars. Finer tattoo like patterns are chiseled onto the faces of young female initiates of the Kaoka-speakers of the Solomon Islands. In each case the practice serves to mark a new stage of life. In some African and Australian societies raised weals, or keloids, are created by rubbing irritants into a wound. Body painting is most commonly practiced for participation in ceremonies, feasting, and dancing. Among the people of Mount Hagen, New Guinea, it is used as part of a complex of personal decoration that may express the prestige and unity of a clan, individual health and wealth, and also may reflect links with the ancestors.
Painting for war is also widespread; in this case body-marking symbolizes radical change in the pattern of social relations. Christian Clerk Bibliography: Field, Henry, Body-Marking in Southwestern Asia (1958); Faris, James C., Nuba Personal Art (1972); Hambly, Wilfred D., The History of Tattooing and Its Significance (1925; repr. 1975); Strathern, Andrew and Marilyn, Self Decoration in Mount Hagen (1971)Now that we have looked at some of the history behind “Tattoos”, may I remind you that the cultures that started, developed, and promoted the “Tattoo” were pagan and heathenistic cultures. These people were not guided by the Bible, they did that which was pleasing to their own fleshly ideas.
As we look at the topic of “Tattoos” in light of the Scripture, there are several things we need to take into consideration.
I. THE BIBLE CLEARLY STATES WE ARE NOT TO MARK UPON OUR BODY! Leviticus 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” At the time of the writing of this passage of Scripture, many heathen cultures practiced self- mutilation as a sign of mourning for the dead. Many heathen cultures also marked or “tattooed” their bodies for various reasons. Now notice the Bible states that we are not to make cuttings in our flesh, nor are we to mark upon our flesh.
One day I was reading the news paper when I read about a church that was having Vacation Bible School. They had a special part of their program where they did “face painting” for the children. They painted, or tattooed little pictures on the sides of their face or temple!!! All body markings, regardless if it is painting on your body, receiving a tattoo, or even writing phone numbers in your hand, the Bible says don’t do it.
Regardless of how you feel about it, THE BIBLE STATES THAT MARKING ON YOUR FLESH IS WRONG!!! IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM, IT IS SINFUL!!!
II. THE BIBLE STATES THAT YOU ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD! Genesis 1:26 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. God created man in His own image. If God wanted you to have “MOM” wrote on your arm, or a ship on your chest, he would have created you that way. To receive a tattoo is to tell your Creator that you need to redecorate His work, because you did think it was good enough! What audacity!.
III. THE BIBLE STATES THAT YOUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Bible tells us that we are to take care of our body because it is the place, for the Christian, where the Holy Spirit resides. 1Co 6:19-20 “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?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
We that are saved have been bought with a price, and that price was the precious blood of Jesus Christ! This verse states, that “we are not our own”, i.e. we belong to the one that bought us. Because of this we are to think, act, dress, look, and even speak to glorify God! When a person tattoos their body, they are aliening themselves with the heathen cultures of the world, and not with the one that bought them. They are publicly advertising their defiance against God’s Word and His Authority.
By making this public declaration, they are declaring that God, nor the Holy Spirit are in control, nor are they abiding within. Christian, just because the world is doing it, doesn’t make it right!
IV. THE COMMON ACCEPTANCE OF TATTOOS IS DESENSITIZING THE WORLD FOR THE COMING MARK OF THE BEAST! During the 7 year Tribulation, the antichrist will force the people of the earth to receive the Mark of the Beast. Rev 13:16-18 states that all buying and selling will be conducted only if the “Mark” is received.“ And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six”.
The word for “mark” in Rev 13:16-17 comes from the word “charagma” (khar’-ag-mah), Gk Strongs # 5480; from the same a Greek # 5482 (charax); a scratching or etching, i.e., stamp (as a badge of servitude), or a sculptured figure (statue): graven, mark. It’s interesting to note that many of the new versions of the Bible state that the Mark of the Beast is “on” the right hand or forehead. The King James Version states the Mark of the Beast will be “in” the right hand or forehead. The reason the word is translated “IN”, (and I believe it is translated correctly), is because the Greek word gives the idea of that which has been scared, and permanent. If it is “on”, it is temporary, and removable, if it is “in” something that is permanent and not removable.The acceptance of the Tattoo craze in our present society is nothing more than desensitizing the people of the world to embrace just one more “mark” to their collection. Honestly, I don’t know if the mark of the beast will be some form of a “tattoo” or possibly a computer chip implant.
Regardless of what it is, be obedient to the Lord, and don’t mark on or “in” your body.