Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tattoo Testimonies

Tattoo's, currently a cultural phenomena, yet something that has a history! I received an email that got me thinking and the email went like this...

Hi Gerry,
Sunday {at Soul} I met a young woman who had an amazing Tattoo on her left arm. Chatting with her a little during the coffee break this crazy thought hit me. Could we do a "Tattoo Testimony" service . . . or something similar, where we get those folks from Soul with Ink to share the meaning behind their artwork.

This young woman had her Tattoo done in Indonesia, and although I didn't get any details, I walked away knowing there was a story behind it. It would be a very cool opportunity for people that aren't really "mainstream" in the church to get the opportunity to share their story and journey. I have three Tattoos and they all have meaning and a story to them.
So this got me thinking...why tattoos? and what is the story behind them? I would like to know...
Personally, there is no way that you would stick me a thousand times to leave a mark that Goof Off couldn't remove! Ok, fine...I hate needles....but I am still a man! So, I threw this thought out on Sunday and I promptly recieved and email that went like this...
"Pastor Gerry, On the topic of tattooing- I quote Lev.19:28 'You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you.' However, I do believe in the temporary kind of tattoo, the impression of my hand on the BUTT of my child. this kind of tattoo is visible for a short time but has lasting results in responsive children who now serve the Lord and minister to people. MOM ."
What are your thoughts?


Manetheren said...

As Christians, we are no longer under the law. We are free to eat pork, get tattoos, and touch our wives at "that time of the month" without having to do a massive purification afterwards. I think a tattoo testimony is a great idea. I personally don't have any and don't plan on getting any, but that's a personal thing and not a prohibition.

Tams said...


Well I have two tattoos that are visible to anyone to see, one on my left arm, one on my right. I have no problem walking into church and no problem knowing that God loves me all the same — no differently than He did prior to me getting them. They both have incredible deep meaning and I wouldn't remove them for anything.

And I may be wrong here, but wasn't there a bunch of other "laws/rules" mentioned in this passage that had to do with not wearing certain clothing and having certain hair styles?

It just makes me mad that someone would suggest leaving a hand print on a child is better than a tattoo.

Even with these two tattoos on my body I too still serve the Lord and minister to those around me the best that I can.

I would be proud to stand up on a Sunday morning and talk about my tattoo's!

SoulPastor said...


The "handprint" was a JOKE from my mom, who is just getting the hang of email!

Tams said...

Yeah I see that now, just got ahead of my emotions :)

Scott said...

I'm looking at getting one a cross my back, should to shoulder that says "Only God Can Judge Me" In Old English print. Have wanted this one since I became a Christian. Hopefully Soon!

SoulPastor said...

I saw that tattoo and almost put it on as my picture. But it got me thinking that when it comes to being judged, I prefer to be judged by people because the consequences are not eternal, not too mention that I can return the favour!

Stacey Chomiak said...

I think the idea of a Tattoo Testimony is awesome! I get so many questions about mine, and I always love hearing the stories behind other people's. I too have one that has a very deep meaning for me, and only decided to get a tattoo when I felt I found something that represented an aspect of my faith that I would want to reflect on for the rest of my life. Even at 80 I won't regret having it!

And I personally feel it has no negative impact on my walk with fact, I feel the opposite. As well, it has become an interesting way to witness to people!

However, being an artist I had to think long and hard about a design that I wouldn't hate in a month.... :)

KarlG said...

I always find it interesting that people say "We are no longer under the Law" yet never use Scripture to back it up. And if that is the case then why do we keep some aspects of the law and not others. We say you can't do this because its sin but you can do that because the law no longer applies.

Please don't misunderstand my position. I'm not arguing the fact that we are not under law but under grace.(Galatians 5:18) But are law and "the law" one and the same?

Some verses to think about
Mathew 5:17-19?
17Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.

18For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.

19Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 3:31
Do we then by [this] faith make the Law of no effect, overthrow it or make it a dead letter? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law.

1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are legitimate [permissible--and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

I know thats only a smattering of Scripture and that without reading the chapters as a whole you can take their meaning out of context. I'm just trying to point out that without reading what God's Word says it is far too easy to make statements that can lead other people astray.

In the end I think that if people wish to tattoo their bodies it is their decision. The Bible says to "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling".(Phil. 2:12). It's not our place to judge what people do with their lives or with their bodies. We are to judge the fruit of someones life not the person.

There are many believers with and without tattoos doing mighty things for God all over the world. Does having tattoos nullify or make them any less? Not at all. I love hearing that Tams KNOWS God loves him? her?(sorry not sure), tattoos and all. Would that all believers get to that point from believing to knowing.

And try to remember not to get mad when people think differently than you. Remember we are all unique and all come from different backgrounds and experiences. Its what makes being in the Family so wonderful.

Anonymous said...

New wine in old wine skins?
The letter of the law or the Spirit of the Law?

Lot's to contemplate in addition to the standard hypocrisy of the person marking with a spanking, I'm confident the individual is not living up to the Leviticus standard either.
Thankfully we stand before the Father with one heart.

SoulPastor said...


That's my mom!
Seriously, reread the post! She feels (rightly or wrongly) that tattoo's are not cool...the other part is humour!

That means have a laugh! :)

Scott said...

Another solid anonymous poster, real classy.

I see what you mean SP. But i also like to think that God will be the fair judge in the end, and the only judge that will matter in my life. Either way for me it is a statement that I attribute to my faith, i like what it means to me and how i see God.

SoulPastor said...


I agree...GOD will be fair! And I agree that He is the only judge that will matter! Thanks for sharing!

Dave Wood said...

I just like the story I just heard from a OBGYM doctor...

He was always interested when Ladies came in with a whale tattoo around their belly button when they are expecting and he is informed through tears that it was a dolphin... He further was reminded that after birth the whale becomes a prehistoric creature right out of the precambrian era, as the dolphin returns to it's new form.

Some decisions we make today...are just that...decisions that are for today, and should be able to be reconsidered in the bright light of tomorrow. Good luck with that tattoo


Misty B said...

See I knew you were going to get yourself into trouble when you mentioned that on Sunday;-)

I do think it is a fantastic idea! I love hearing people's stories... I have watched those tattoo shows on TLC and people tell some great stories of why they are choosing the image they are.

Karen said...

I just read your post today and find it interesting to see different people's take on the tattoo idea. What I find even more interesting is how people view "the law". Reading over Leviticus 19, I find it hard to believe anyone adheres to all those laws. When the Bible says we are not under the law anymore I thought that was just God's way of saying that grace has justified us. As Christians we are delivered (freed) from the penalty of our sin.(death and separation from God) Now, in our day, the usefulness of "the law" is that we become conscious of sin and our need of Jesus. There is no saving value in keeping all the laws. Not to say that following some rules is bad though :) just won't get you to heaven.

I really don't know anything about tattoos but some christians used to get upset when people got their ears pierced. There may be different reason why men get their ears pierced but the "story" of men getting their ears pierced is referred to in the Bible if you do some research. They were bond servants.

"Doulos is a Greek word meaning bond servant. In the New Testament, it was not uncommon for a freed slave to voluntarily re-enter service to the master he loved. The voluntary servitude was called bond service. Only a freed slave could become a bond servant and once he had entered that service, he could never be freed again, nor could he be sold into slavery to another master. He was bound to one master until death.

The ceremony for entering bond service was as follows. The freed slave was taken to the front entrance of the house, and his right ear was pressed against the doorpost. A nail was driven through his ear and a golden earring was placed in it. The earring served as a symbol to all that this man was a servant by choice and could neither be bought or sold.

Paul and Peter spoke of themselves as being bond-servants to Christ. It is interesting to note that bond service was/is a two way commitment. The freed slave chose to commit his live to the service of the master and the master committed himself to the bond servant, never to release or sell him. One person could not make the final decision. Both people had to agree.

Jesus has committed Himself to us. With His own blood, He paid our debt and freed us from the slavery of sin. We are free to serve whomever we choose. I choose Jesus, the one who loves me and gave Himself for me. He has made a commitment to care for me. I have made a commitment to serve only Him."

The man who wrote this article goes on to say.

"Years ago, as a small gesture to show my commitment, I got my ear pierced. It's a small thing between the Lord and I, but I know it matters to Him. Now you know why I have an earring."

I don't think we should concern ourselves too much with what other people think or with what laws they choose to live with. God knows our hearts and our motives. I'm glad when people can connect with God in unique ways that are meaningful to them. I'm looking forward to hearing the tattoo testimonies!

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

shantala said...

Hmmm thought provoking for sure. I have no tattoos... no real desire to have any... mainly because I don't want be a little old lady showing my grandkids my tats! having said that I do think they can be very beautiful. Every single person I know who has tattoos has a reason, a story behind every tattoo. I think the idea of doing a tatto testimonial is a wonderful idea. As far as what the bible has to say about putting marks on your bodies... I think that some of the things that were said about marking your bodies, covering your head, women being silent were contextual for the time it was written. They had everything to do with the culture and time frame. I don't think they necessarily apply today. That isn't to say we forget all about them or ignore that part of scripture... But we shouldn't get caught up on the small things of the law and forget the bigger picture of GRACE!!! God loves us just as we are, he has made a way for us to be free through his SON.

Tattoo or no tattoo God sees the heart of us. All have sinned fallen short of the glory of God, Through Christ Jesus we are Saved and redeemed.

kmawesome said...

i too have struggled with the whole leviticus thing because i have wanted to get a tatoo for a while now, but was not sure it was "okay" but i also know that i am not jewish and do not follow the mosaic law of old anyways (mmm...bacon) let alone know most of it.

i like to watch those tatooing shows too because i enjoy hearing the stories behind the tattoos people are getting.
i do agree that it could be a good witnessing tool.
your life and christianity are more about what is on the inside thatn the outside.
i agree with getting tatoos that have meaning behind then becasue you will not regret them they may change with your body over time but you will know the meaning and symblism behind it and it won't matter as much.

the bible says our body is a temple, some of us just want permanent decorations ;)

p.s i like the tattoo sunday idea!

Anonymous said...

Hey there,
Just my two cents on this issue: tattoo's are not for me so this doesn't come from a personal bias at all, but I fear that for the post modern questionning generation, this is the kind of issue that stears them away from the mercy of christ rather then including them. In the 80's it was men and long hair, earring and such, it is a phase and has no eternal consequences. as a side note, many many parents are not circumsizing their boys today, does this also go directly against old testament literature and law? we need to be so careful which laws we pick up and how they do or do not bring others closer to christ.
Just my two bits!

RosalieG said...

Late commenting on this blog, but finally came across an article that outlines why I don't like or encourage tatooing. If you allow links here is one that outlined valid points.

Yes we have freedom in Christ, but I think making impulsive decisions about something long-term and unchangeable shouldn't be taken lightly. Also the scientific studies about the connection between piercings and tatooes and inner turmoil in one's life should be taken into account.

I get the interest in the testimonies but I think as a church treds on dangerous ground. My personal opinion.

SoulPastor said...

Point taken. Went to the site as well and although I like what I saw, some of the points...were a little weak.

You hit the needle on the head when you said "the connection between piercings and tatooes and inner turmoil in one's life should be taken into account." That is the BINGO! And as believer's Chrsit should be glorified and seen as the overcomer in those situations. That is what makes it a part of the story.

Now, in no way am I advocating that we all get pin chushioned, but I would have to disagree that we would be treading on dangerous ground.

Adam said...

When we attempt to make a law for ourselves, cutting and pasting things that we “should do” and things that we “shouldn’t do”, we as Christians set ourselves up for failure. The purpose of the law, and even much of Jesus’ teaching, was not to show us how to live but rather to show us the need for a savior. The Pharisees thought that they were being righteous by following the Law, and so what does Jesus do? He says you think you’re good because you never committed adultery (paraphrase) “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” You see, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day missed the point of the Law also; it is not to save us but to show us the impossibility of achieving salvation apart from God. Most Christians don’t even follow the Ten-Commandments—number 4 being: remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We need to be free from the Law if we are to live victorious, because otherwise sin will take advantage of the Law that we make for ourselves and cause us to stumble. Paul says as much in Romans 7:

“I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”

By creating for ourselves the very thing that Christ came to fulfill for us, we find ourselves constantly racked with guilt and shame because we create a standard that we cannot keep. Instead of creating a checklist of do’s and don’ts, follow two commands: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. If you genuinely pursue God than He will change you from the inside out with His mighty power, instead of you trying to change yourself from the outside in through your inadequate power. I am not saying to sin. Instead I am saying that only by pursuing a relationship with God, instead of following externally created rules, can you truly be successful as a Christian.

mlangford64423 said...

Romans 19:16 has cleared up my view with tattoos. If you haven't read this passage, this secures my heart in knowing my Savior loves me based upon greater things than tattoos. I have tattoos and use them everyday in my ministry! When someone sees the color and artwork, they cannot resist themselves to ask why and what they mean. My tattoos are my testimony from my life prior to being a born again Christian. I'm working on a sleeve that starts with my past and works its way down my arm transitioning into my reborn life. It is a great witnessing tool, and it's hard for me to believe Christ will judge me based on art when it glorifies what He has sent me to do!