Do not cut your bodies for the dead
or put tattoo marks on yourselves.
I am the Lord.
A verse I quoted in a recent blog article titled Nothing New Under the Sun (Cutting) generated some interesting comments along with the following question: Do you relate the tattoo craze to this verse as well?
Back before tattoos were the thing to do, they were mostly braved by drunken sailors or those who were hurting deep inside. The reason the first group of individuals bore the tattoos are obvious, but the reason the second group of individuals chose the same route is the topic of this blog. I believe the verse in Leviticus does hold the key to why many who were hurting chose this path.
However before we get to that, I must add that tattoos have become culturally relevant among this generation and what I am about to discuss, many times, does not apply to all, or even most, who are seeking tattoos today. Since tattoos are culturally relevant today many are even using their tattoos to reach the lost by witnessing for the Lord within the artwork.
For those who may be on the fence concerning tattoos, or who are even stanchly oppose to this movement, it’s important to look back through history and see how many times God used something that seemed an abomination, such as changing the lyrics of tavern music into wonderful hymns, to reach those who were lost.
With this in mind, let’s learn about the heart of God within Leviticus 19:28.
Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
As you can read within the verse, it was speaking to those who were grieving deep within. I believe this is true for anyone who has a deep heart hurt, whether that hurt is abandonment, rejection, loneliness, or even issues such as rape or abuse. When a person is hurting deep inside, many times they are also grieving the situation.
As I described in the blog concerning cutting: “For the majority there are two reasons they describe their desire to cut. Many hurt so badly that they erect a protective barrier around their hearts which causes them to get to the place of complete numbness. For them, cutting can be a way to feel something—anything—again. For others, cutting is a means of punishment that they feel they deserve.”
This same response can be true of tattoos as well. To have a tattoo requires pain. So for those who have come to the place of complete numbness the pain inflicted during the tattoo process can be a means to feel anything again. And for others who hurt deeply, tattoos can be a means of punishment.
Yet, as the verse states “Do not cut . . . . or put tattoo marks on yourselves.” Why? Because I believe that anytime we do something as a result of an unhealed grief issue within our hearts, it is usually the wrong choice. It is usually something we will regret at a later date.
Think about it: What about those who go out and get drunk after being dumped by a loved one. Do they do things they regret at a later date? Or what about someone who is so lonely they choose to sleep with someone they hardly know. Do they regret their decision in the morning?
Instead of making a decision based upon our hurt and our grief, we need to be of sound minds whenever we are making a decision which can permanently impact us or which have long-term consequences.
The important thing to contemplate when considering whether or not to get a tattoo is this: Why? Why are you doing it?
Is it because you are hurting and you want to feel something or you want to punish yourself? If so, wait! Allow God to heal your heart before making a decision that has lasting consequences. (If you are not sure how to receive God’s healing see either of my books Go in Peace or Go in Peace for Teens.)
If it is because it’s just the thing to do, make sure to ask God if this is His will for your life. If you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit want you to put graffiti on His temple?
And if God wants you to use His temple (your body) as a witnessing tool make sure that the artwork you choose is as bold and clear for all to see. But remember, to walk the walk because people will be watching!
I’m looking forward to reading your comments, which I am sure will be varied and passionately interesting.