Looking for Truth in a
by Eric Barger
It is no secret
that over the past decade there has been an explosion of tattoos and
body piercings in our culture. While the information here is intended to
help Christians make sound decisions from a biblical worldview,
hopefully these words might also help lead others away from tattoo
parlors and toward the Lord. Also, I have written and re-written to edit
this down to fit printable page size for one 8.5x11 sheet, so be aware that there is much more to be
said on this subject than space here allows.
past, tattoos were reserved for a very small number of people. The word
represents the Samoan word meaning "open wound." The ancient origins of
this practice could go back before the seventh century
b.c. and are related to
religious ceremonies and traditional rites of passage. Through the
centuries, tattooing has been the most common way of marking prisoners.
The British tattooed deserters and Hitler's thugs so marked those
interned in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Always accompanied
with negative connotations, tattoos were seen primarily on sailors,
homosexuals, Hell's Angel biker-types, gangs, and assorted criminals.
that has all changed. The stigma has faded and what was once clearly
disdained by many cultures has become fashionable. Tattoo artists have
sprung up in communities large and small to keep up with the demand.
Tattoo and body piercing parlors are indeed everywhere and, according to
a 2006 survey taken by the
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
an estimated 36% of Americans aged 18-29 now sport tattoos.1
A Harris Interactive poll conducted in January 2008 concluded that 14%
of all adults in the United States have a tattoo, with the highest
incidence (25%) found among gays, lesbians and bisexuals.2
Tattooing is a
craze, to say the least, and the demographics of those currently craving
tattoos seem to have no bounds. Though most states have age limit laws
concerning tattoos, now pre-teen girls across America are either begging
to be tattooed or just going behind their parents' backs to attempt
acquiring "body art." Aiding the craze is the fact that a majority of
sports, music, and movie stars have them. It is unquestionably the
trendy mark of being "cool" and is accepted in many circles today. Often
accompanied by body piercings, tattoos have become status symbols, and
even the identifiers of a new generation.
think . . . ?
suppose that everybody in the church is on the same page concerning
tattoos and piercings. The Internet is replete with sites defending
tattooing as not only acceptable
Some justify tattooing for believers by discounting Old Testament
passages such as 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").
These people would claim that simply because the passage is Old
Testament "law" it has no application or bearing whatsoever in the
life of the Christian today! While we do not live under the Mosaic law,
biblically-minded Christians indeed should glean information and godly
insight on how to live life as we examine the Old Covenant. There are
also some Christians who are making stands completely against the
growing tattoo/piercings culture, but are doing so in such a way as to
never come close to effectively communicating with tattoo advocates. As
well-intentioned (and even right) as some in opposition may be,
heavy-handed legalism such as "a tattoo is a ticket to Hell" is likely
to do little in making substantial progress in communicating truth on
this highly charged issue. Regardless, make no mistake that there is a
sizeable faction of folks claiming to be Christians who are lobbying in
favor of tattoos today, including some who may even claim that tattoos
are witnessing tools. Though I haven't personally seen it yet, it is not
outside the realm of possibility that some church somewhere may at some
time elect to offer discount coupons for "Christian" tattoos in their
So, with such a
shift in the supposed public perception and accessibility of tattoos and
with such completely differing opinions in the church, what position
should the Christian take? While I am not intimating that merely having
a tattoo is a sure sign of eternal destruction, please carefully
consider the following points.
It . . .
I do not want my words here to be divisive in themselves, I know that this topic is itself
polarizing - especially if you have a tattoo. It's either love 'em or hate
'em, and I don't want to fail to point out that what is said here is in
no way intended to inflict guilt on someone who has already marked his
or her body in this way. Once you've done it - it's
cannot be undone without considerable doing! We all make bad decisions,
and though many may want to justify something like this, one common
statement kept coming up while I was researching this. Over and over,
again and again, people said, "I wish I hadn't done it." Though tattoo
removal is possible, it is expensive, painful, and sometimes not
completely successful. What I am trying to get across here is that
before anyone allows a tattoo to be inscribed on his or her body, they need
to weigh the decision carefully and possibly go against the culture and
peer pressure that factor into this issue.
surveys also show that a person who tattoos himself is immediately
handicapped for employment. While an NBA star or #1 NFL draft pick can
probably tattoo themselves all he likes, the person looking for an
accounting career may find that his or her position at the office may be
hamstrung by tattoos - if indeed they are even able to land the job they
A 2007 survey by
Vault, a company that publishes career information, states that 85% of
employees say tattoos and body piercings impede a person's chances
of finding a job, let alone a career.
The Vault survey
discovered that workers with tattoos can expect over 42% of co-workers
to have lowered opinions of them. Additionally, while only 18% of those
with tattoos believe that body art has hindered their careers (with .06%
saying it helped), the Vault survey indicated that 66.9% of persons with
tattoos conceal them while at work.3
A Real "Stand-Out
. . ."
Many argue that a
tattoo is a way of making a statement or being an "individual." No, not
really. Those of us in the original 1960s hippie movement (such as
myself) made those same rebellious and lame statements about long hair,
bell bottoms, and marijuana. The fact is that marking and piercing one's
body surely doesn't separate anybody from the crowd. But it goes a long
way toward identifying a person in some negative ways. Regardless of how
popular sporting a tattoo may be in some circles, just having them can
include some very detrimental consequences.
tattooed or piercing a body part doesn't mark you as a leader, either.
Instead, it merely identifies you as yet another follower. The cold fact
is that the majority of those who make the decision to be tattooed
before maturing and giving long and calculated thought to doing so will
sooner or later likely regret it. But again, please hear my heart. If
you have a tattoo - and
what I have said already rings true to you
words aren't intended to rub salt in the wound (no pun intended) or to
somehow pronounce eternal judgment on you.
If you don't already have one, I suggest
that before you follow others in this fad you stop and carefully examine
this craze in context of the prophetic end-days in which we live.
from a tattoo parlor will not send you to Hell, but one in the future just might.
More on that later.
Consider the following, as even the pro-tattoo website SacredInk.net sounds this
is a significant life-choice and should be only entered into with a
great deal of forethought. Some questions to ask if you are young and
considering a tattoo are:
Am I legally of an age to
get a tattoo?
If I live with my parents,
would my parents support my decision?
Would I be defying the
authority God gave my parents over me at my current age?
Would I still want this
particular image when I get older?
What if my future mate
wouldn't like having to see this image for a lifetime?
Would this tattoo be in an
area of my body that would be plainly visible? - Many people do unfairly
judge people with tattoos as being "second-class."
Would this image bring God
Do I feel fully convinced
that tattoos are allowable for Christians?"4
issues raised here need to be considered:
we not the Temple of the Holy Spirit? (I Cor. 3:16, 6:19)
there something wrong with the way God created us without
Would tattooing affect or influence your future spouse or even your
getting a tattoo actually more about defying authority (spirit of
rebellion) than about having the actual tattoo itself?
· - Are
Christians who defend and promote tattooing coming from a truly biblical
viewpoint, or are some defending tattoos because they have marked their
own bodies and want others to join them in their often rebellion-laced
God did not originate tattoos.
When one thinks of things being done "on earth as they are in heaven"
(Matt 6:10), it is hard to imagine a tattoo parlor behind the pearly gates!
I feel confidant that there will be no tattoos in Heaven.
advocate for tattooing need to look around at not only who they are
identifying with, but also at the associated health risks. In 2001,
research done by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
indicated that those who received a tattoo in a commercial tattoo parlor
were nine times more likely to contact hepatitis C than people who did
not mark their bodies.5
Many in our
culture live only for the pleasure of the moment, and just as I once
thought nothing about the future, having one's body inscribed with
permanent ink is a decision that will, in many cases, last a lifetime.
Without even discussing
particular tattoo may represent (i.e. occult symbols, naked bodies,
etc.), just having one may sooner or later turn from exhilaration to
despair. It did so for All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton of the Texas
is one of mountaintops and valleys. From the number-one pick in the 1999
Major League Baseball draft with a four million dollar signing bonus, to
hopeless drug addict, estranged from his wife and family, Hamilton marks
the beginning of his downward spiral by "hanging out with the wrong
people in tattoo parlors" where he was first introduced to cocaine.
During a recent interview, Hamilton repeatedly reiterated the price of
the fateful decision he made to have himself tattooed.6
He related that associating with the wrong people and being in the wrong
place was completely influential in his fall into drugs and then out of
baseball for three years in 2003. Finally, at his lowest point, Hamilton
showed up on his grandmother's porch asking for a place to stay. Though
at first glance she didn't even recognize that it was Josh, she took him
in, helped him clean up, and began presenting the gospel to him.
Accepting Christ as Savior, Hamilton successfully battled through the demonic dreams
and night sweats brought on from drug withdrawal, and fought his way back to baseball
- and his wife.
Victoriously, in 2007 he was elected to the American League All-Star
team and amazed fans during the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Hamilton has become a walking testimony of God's great delivering power.
He is also a billboard for what can happen to even the most talented and
gifted who innocently start "hanging out" in tattoo parlors. One
lingering reminder of just how low he had gone are the 26 tattoos that
cover Hamilton's arms, torso, and neck, including one of Satan on his
left elbow. Regardless of the Texas heat, when Josh takes the field he now goes out of his way
to cover as much of his skin as possible to hide the hideous nature of
the tattoos he acquired while heading toward the bottom.
He now regrets
getting every one of them.7
Why Now? - Preparing
for "The Mark"
Why has there
been such an increase in both the acceptance of and the acquiring of
tattoos during our day? When considered
in the light of Bible prophecy, the explosion of tattooing and the
exponential increase of thirst for demonic supernaturalism are, I
believe, no accident. This is a calculated, demonic, end-time phenomena,
the purpose of which is to desensitize as many as possible concerning
markings on their bodies.
Just hours before
finalizing this piece, I decided to have dinner and then give this
article one last read-through. While out of the office, I received a
question emailed from a gentleman named Mike whom I've known for several
years. He has never before communicated anything to me on the subject of
tattoos - until tonight. If circumstances had been slightly different,
this article would have been finished before receiving Mike's email.
However, as I answered Mike's note (which shared his concern about a
kid's tattoo machine his granddaughter had received as a gift) I
realized that I was writing the finishing lines of the article as well.
"Your timing is uncanny, Brother Mike.
Tonight I am finishing the final edit of a article I'm writing for
Southwest Radio Ministries. They want to format and print the first run
of it this week. In three weeks they are airing a program that Brother
Noah Hutchings and I pre-recorded some time ago on tattoos.
"Though there is very little in Scripture
dealing directly with tattoos, there is one somewhat controversial
passage in Leviticus 19, the context about which both liberals and
conservatives completely disagree. (Most of the arguments revolve around
accepting an admonition not to mark oneself that comes from the law, in
particular, Leviticus.) However, though the New Testament seems to be
mute on directly addressing tattoos and piercings, you are exactly right
in mentioning the rebellion factor involved. We also have the strong
admonition to abstain from any appearances of evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22).
(Think about some of the demonic, gang related, and just plain sick
stuff that has been called ‘body art.')
"But as important as issues like overt
rebellion and demonic art may be, I believe an even bigger concern is
the fact that the entire tattoo craze is methodically conditioning and
preparing the mindset of many in our world concerning the acceptance of
a future mandated mark on their body. Now that a growing percentage of
people have undertaken having themselves tattooed, would it be any
stretch to imagine how much more readily these people might accept a
similar mark which would provide them the ability to buy, sell and
"Mike, for twenty years I have been saying
that Satan's predicted Mark of the Beast could be a tattoo. Whether it's
an implanted i.c. (integrated circuit) chip, a tattoo, or something we don't even know of at
this point, it WILL be some sort of mark on the hand or
forehead, and accepting it will doom untold millions to an eternity in
Hell at the hands and direction of Antichrist.
For anyone who studies the end-times and
biblical prophecy, I think it is a near certainty that tattooing is not
some harmless, meaningless fad. To me, there is little doubt that the
skyrocketing acceptance and popularity of tattoos and body piercing in
these end-days is leading to a climax found in the thirteenth chapter of
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the
image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would
not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
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.
- Revelation 13:15-18
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