“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” Lev. 19:28
I substituted for a high school Spanish teacher today. My first class was quite small with a group of senior girls for students. They were fairly well-motivated, got right to work and finished their assignments quickly. The teacher had not provided any additional work and, since they were well-behaved, I just let them talk. (They had no trouble with that activity! :-) One young lady was very much the quiet and withdrawn type. She had designs drawn on her arms in brown ink (a practice called "henna"). Wishing to draw her out a little, I looked at her artwork and said it was "interesting". She responded with a smile and volunteered that it was henna. I responded in turn with, "That's good. I'm glad it's not a tattoo. You would eventually regret a tattoo."
That statement I made about how she would eventually regret getting a tattoo, is quite true and has become a litany with me whenever I discuss the current practice/fad of obtaining tattoos. The current generation has turned it into a common practice and every one of these young people will eventually come to regret the tattoos that mar their bodies. However, the wrongness of this practice runs far deeper and is far more insidious than that.
Ever since "body art" started becoming popular, I have known that it is wrong and runs counter to the Christian faith, but couldn’t quite put my finger on a good rationale for how I felt about it. At first I wondered if I was just being an old-guy stick-in-the-mud who couldn't accept something new in the common culture. Over time, however, I have become increasingly convinced that the practice of tattooing is not just unwise, but truly sinful. The roots of tattooing are deeply embedded in paganism and occult practices. That, in and of itself, should flag the practice, for the serious Christian, as likely to be incompatible with serving Christ. I'm not going to develop that concept here and, instead, refer you to this article: The Dark Side of Tattoos from Charisma Magazine.
Really, it all boils down to rebellion. I'm not talking about the teen who, rebelling against her father, goes out and gets a tattoo. I'm not even talking about rebellion against civil authority. I'm talking about rebellion against God; rebellion that says, "God, You're not in control of my life, I am." It usually manifests itself with statements like, "It's my body! I'll do what I want with it!" No one who names the name of Christ can say, "It's my body!" Our bodies do not belong to us – they belong to God (1 Cor. 3:17). For us to choose to decorate (mar) our bodies, even with innocuous or religious pictures, is tantamount to spray painting the side of a church building! It's a desecration, and the Christian has no business taking part in it.