Okay kids, time for a rant…..listen up.
Thinking about getting a new tat? We have all heard the youth minister or pastor say “your body is a temple” and that is why you should keep yourselves pure. But I promise, if you really understand the meaning behind this, you wouldn’t be considering getting a tattoo (please, read on).
What does the phrase “your body is a temple” mean? Why is our body the temple? Who claims this to be the case? How do you treat a temple? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Imagine the Temple of the Old Testament. The Temple was a permanent form of its predecessor, the Tabernacle. Both Temple and Tabernacle had a section called the “Holy of Holies” in which the Spirit of God would come down and dwell. Understand this: our God is Holy, and God cannot tolerate any type of sin. Because of this, there were strict procedures the Israelites had to follow in order to have this indwelling of God in their presence. The instructions God gave the priests of the Children of Israel for the Temple were specific, and when they were not met, consequences had to be paid. Everything from the clothes they wore to the unclean things they had touched, to their inner-most thoughts. If there was a stitch of sin, they were considered unclean, and unfit to meet with God. Do you remember a guy named Moses? Yes, the man who spoke with God at the burning bush, brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, led the Children of Israel out of the bondage of the Egyptians, and performed all sorts of signs and miracles of God? Did you know that he was not allowed to enter the Holy of Holies? This should give you some understanding of the Holiness of our God (for continued understanding, read through Exodus and Leviticus).
Okay, so this was for the priests you say, and not the common folk. Did you know that Peter says in the New Testament that we, as born again believers, are a “holy priesthood” to offer up spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ to God? We are the priests of the New Testament. Gone are the days of the sacrifice—Jesus is the continual sacrifice. Gone are the days of only the high priest having access to God—Jesus is our high priest, and we have continual access to God through Christ Jesus.
Our bodies are the new temple
I Cor 6:19-20 states “…know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Our body is the temple of God, and because we are bought with a price, the price of the blood and body of Christ, we are to treat our temple with utmost care—Paul also states in I Cor 3:17 “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Our temple must remain pure for the service and indwelling of God, just as it was for the old Temple and Tabernacle. If we live a life of impurity, God will not dwell within us.
Tattoos, when outlawed by God in Leviticus, were outlawed because tattooing was a pagan tradition in which people would mark their bodies with the names and/or symbols of other gods or dead relatives (if you think, “Well, it’s okay, I’m not getting a tattoo with the name of another god or dead relative” read on). No, we are not under the Levitical laws anymore, and yes, even Paul states that “All things are permissible…” but he concludes that statement by saying “…but not all things are beneficial.” Think about your motive for getting a tattoo…is it to bring glory and honor to God? Is it edifying? Is it “beneficial?” Whatever the reason, it should fall into one of these categories:
1) Because it is cool, and the people I hang out with will think it is cool.
2) Because this symbol means something to me personally (a loved one, group, or event in your life).
3) Because everyone tells me I can’t/shouldn’t get one.
4) Because it is just for fun.
5) Because I want to give praise and glory to God for saving my soul.
Now, if you are truly honest, 99.99% of you who want a tattoo, do so for reasons 1, 2, 3, or 4, and I submit that this would not be pleasing to God. The motive behind reasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 is pride, and that is sinful. For those of you who chose number 5, let me ask this question; Why would you associate yourself with this pagan culture? You and I both know that the culture which engages in this activity tends towards sinfulness—we as Christians are to be in the world, and not of the world. If you are a Christian, and you have a tattoo, you understand what Paul says in Romans chapter 6 where he asks the question regarding our lives prior to becoming a believer, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?”, otherwise stated, what have you done as a sinner that you are ashamed of now?
In conclusion, I am not posting this to bash on people who have tattoos—I have many close friends and even family members who have tattoos. Besides, there are bigger fish to fry, and people dying and going to Hell. My point to this rant is only to provoke thought into those people who may be considering getting a tattoo before they actually do it….this isn’t something that will eventually go away….it will be there forever. What is your true motive for getting a tattoo?