Monday, February 13, 2006

Reflection about Tattoos...

"If you had a tattoo, can you still go to Heaven?"

That was a question posted by one of my youths. I couldn't really focus on the addressing the question at that time, as my mind was in too many places (sorry, friend). I have some thoughts about it now, and I would like to open up the discussion to whoever that comes by this page. And for the sake of discussion, I have added some questions myself. My youth only asked that one question above.

Could you go to Heaven if you have a tattoo? I certainly think so. There is no stain too great that God cannot wash away. Jesus won't love you less, or more. Besides, having a tattoo doesn't make you a bad person. The words or images that you wear on your skin doesn't determine your righteousness or holiness. I personally know a former drug addict, now a frevent servant of God and the HIV community. He has tattoos all over his body, but I'm sure he's going to heaven and not lose out on his share of the Kingdom.

Is a Christian allowed to have tattoos? I'm positive that there's a scripture in the old testament that deals with this - Leviticus 19:28. God's only explanation as to why you shouldn't have a tattoo - "because I am God, and I say so". Sounds good enough for me, haha. He didn't bother to explain why, so maybe I shouldn't too. Haha, not much of a discussion, ei? (Of course, the relevance of this law in relation to its context should be taken into account. That, however, would require a lot of study.)

So we look to the new testament, something closer to home and more solid (in my opinion lah). Another scripture that can be helpful is found in 1 Corinthians 6:12-15. That particular context is about sexual immorality, but there are some relevency to our discussion here - "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body" - and also - "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?" . Here it clearly shows that our bodies are not our own, therefore all things that we do with it, we must do it for the Master.

But can't I just have a tattoo to look cool? The outward appearance doesn't really matter, as long as my heart loves Jesus, am I not right? If that is your question, then my question to you is this - "Can you love Jesus enough to forgo the tattoo idea?". I think the outward appearance does speak volumes about our love, our passion.

I'll stop here for now. What do you think?

22 February, 2006

I've been looking around for answers as to whether we should still obey the old testament law. I've asked for opinions, googled and got linked to a website that supports homosexuality.... Finally I ended up with the bible. Funny how that was my last resource. I also feel ashame that after being a Christian for so long, I've never realised this. I'm learning more and more about the implications of grace!!

Anyway, I'm still processing my thoughts, so I won't give my thoughts about this matter. Rather, I'll refer you to the bible - click here. I've found it to be extremely helpful. I'll also be studying on the responses of Jesus towards the law.


Gina said...

Joash, I'm honored that you asked my thoughts on the subject. I don't have time tonight to post, but I will look up some verses and get back to you.

jimmy said...

Hi Joash, Gina let me know about your conversation here. I'll throw in my opinion.

The Bible is more than a rule book, more than regulations. It is a book about the character of God. The rules and regulations of the old testament were there to show us that there is no way that we could ever live up to the standard on our own. The law is there to show us our need for a Savior. Jesus came to free us from that law!
It's also important to look at the social and historical context of the particular passage that you are reading. The verse in Leviticus says not to mark your body "for the dead". This was a pagan practice where people would slash themselves as an act of mourning for the dead. It has no mention of tattooing for any other reason. If you take the verse on tattoos at face value and say, "we must not tattoo, it says not to right here". Then you must follow other regulations with the same fervor right? In the 19th chapter of Leviticus there are several other rules and regulations that are listed as well as the prohibition against tattoos: There are rules about making peace offerings and consuming the meat from the offerings. When was the last time you made a peace offering? There is a rule that says you cannot wear clothes that mix linel and wool, no polyester for you my friend. There are regulations that say you may not cut the corners of your beard or hair. So we should all look like Hasidic Jews right? It also says that when you sin you should sacrifice a Ram for your atonement, we don't do that anymore though. And these are just the rules in the same chapter that you mentioned. In other places there are even rules that say that if you have imperfect vision you are not fit to handle the word of God. Do you wear glasses?

Another interesting thought. Historians tell us that at the time Jesus was born Middle Eastern women had elaborate facial tattoos. A woman with many facial tattoos was seen as beautiful. Young women would get these tattoos to attract a mate. It's entirely possible that the Virgin Mary had facial tattoos. You don't see that on the nativity scene figurines!

So, back to the original point. The Bible is a book about the character of God. There is no way we could ever live up to all the rules and regulations and God knows that so He sends his Son to fulfill the letter of the law so that we don't have to. We are found righteous through Him! Not through anything we did or didn't do.

Thanks for letting me share.

grace and peace, jimmy

Gina said...

Joash, Jesus said that the two most important commands were to love God and love eachother. I like to take everything in my life back to that and see if it measures up. If my motives are about loving God, loving others and sharing the gospel, then I know I'm living by Kingdom rules (the new covenant). Like Jimmy was pointing out, there are a lot of rules in the Old Testament that we don't follow anymore--like stoning our children when they disobey or disrespect us, or a man having many wives. We cannot pick and choose what rules we want to follow and those we don't. It's all a heart matter. I've been looking up some verses about the temple and rituals lately and I'm going to try to post some of it on my blog soon. It applies to this subject as well. In the Old Testament, God first looked at the outward (appearances, rituals, rules) and then the inward (the heart). In the New Testament, Jesus changed that. Jesus took care of the outward (humbled himself and died) so we can focus our energy on the inward (heart, motive, etc.). For some people, getting a tattoo may not be right, but for some it may be fine. It's an issue that has to be between you and God.

jimmy said...

Which verse was that Gina? I'm totally gonna get that tattooed on my back.

just kidding...

Joash Chan said...

Jimmy and Gina,

Thank you so much for your input. I appreciate it so much. Honestly, I don't have an opinion on this matter. I simply wouldn't do it, I hear it hurts real bad =)

Eh... totally agree that Jesus is our righteousness. I guess there are many things in life without a clear line, so it's important to gain wisdom from a relationship with God and the counsel of many.

Any other more input, people? Share your thoughts that will hopefully shed some light into this issue. Thank you.

So I Go said...


just chimin' in.

you've probably caught my opinion through some of the stuff i've written on a modern day Jesus getting some ink..

i wish i could give you some solid answer, but alas, i can't. so, i guess the best way to go about this is.. would i get a tattoo?

absolutely. haven't yet.. but some day.

Kyo Sin said...

i eventually want one too!! (responding to "so i go") Tattoos are cool! and I'm glad jimmy responded cuz seriously, with some of these verses, we really need to understand the culture and practices of the day. And I also like what gina said cuz it's true. LOVE. Do everything in love. HAH! easier said and so freakin' hard to do...