Yearly Reading: Leviticus 17-20
You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tatoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:28 NRSV
Okay, I confess: I do not have any tattoos. I don't plan on having any, either. But that is simply a personal preference. I am not trying to follow the Bible in refraining from getting a tattoo.
However, on any trip to a beach or a pool, I find myself in the minority. Everyone from age 90 on down has at least one. Some folks even have more than one.
So why don't we get upset and refer to this scripture when we Christians see someone who has a tattoo? Why is this even in the Bible?
It has to do with common religious practices in non-Israelite society, specifically about mourning the dead. Leviticus is very clear about what is in and what is out in terms of the Israelites. The laws and rules are to keep God's people separate and holy. Because tattoos were used by other religions that did not worship God, specifically in honor of the dead, tattoos were taboo. Having a tattoo marked you as someone who did not believe in God.
Today, believers and nonbelievers have tattoos. How can we know if a person is not a believer in Christ just by looking at them? Is there anything we should avoid doing to our bodies if we follow Christ Jesus?
God, you ask us to be set apart from nonbelievers. We pray that this includes our outward appearance but we know you are truly interested in what is in our hearts. May our hearts be completely yours. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims