Should Christians Have Tattoos?

An old friend messaged me yesterday with a question. He wanted to know how I felt about tattoos. It turns out he was being hassled by someone using scriptures to argue that you can’t be a Christian and have tattoos.

My response?

Tattoos fall into the same category as bacon. You can’t pick and choose. Either you suck it up and fully commit to Old Testament law, or shut up and move along.

If you eat bacon, you are officially excluded from the elite ranks that are allowed to wag a finger at anyone else’s personal choices. Condemning and judging anyone’s choices, especially with bacon on your breath, officially makes you a hypocrite.

What about the really, really, really important stuff, like homosexuality?

I believe the teachings of Christ say that if you look on a woman with lust, you are already guilty of adultery. Sexual sin is prevalent in all of us. Just because I have never physically cheated on my wife does not give me a free pass, either. Just because I am not gay, doesn’t make me better than someone who is.

I think it’s about time we graduate beyond John 3:16 and read the next verse. Christ said that He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. Ask your wagging finger if it is helping to save folks or just tell them they are worthless, stupid or evil.

Deuteronomy even forbids mixed fabric. How many t-shirts are you going to throw away? How far are we going to take all this, just so we have the right to tell others that they are wrong?

Nobody gets a free pass. Old Testament law was written to show us that none of us are perfect. We all need grace. We all need some humility. We all need to understand love and offer it as freely as we receive it.

Too many Christians have been trained like Pavlov’s dog. Ring the right bell and we just start foaming at the mouth. We have been trained to move like sheep. Never questioning. Never challenging. Never stopping to think for ourselves.

With all the legitimate issues facing us right now, how can anyone spend so much time and emotional energy fighting against things that don’t even matter?

I am personally a member of the Church of the Done. The believers who have not abandoned their faith, but have had all they can take of organized religion. Stand up. Sit down. Put your money in this plate so we can build things that don’t benefit the community, but look really impressive.

Wear the right clothes. Speak in the right lingo. Be a good little puppet and dance when we tell you to… but only to the music we approve of.

When Promise Keepers was in it’s heyday, I was an avid fan of the movement. It taught me a lot about doing the right thing. My dad joked about how more folks were interested in being image keepers than promise keepers. Most Christians are more concerned about looking right than being right.

If the teachings of Christ are really important to you, then you should probably do what He did.

He fed the hungry. He defended the ones condemned for sexual sin. He taught forgiveness, mercy and compassion. He gave up everything, including His own life and personal potential, to do what was best for us.

He also walked on water.

When you are doing all that, then maybe I will care what you think about someone getting tattoos, eating bacon or wearing mixed cotton and polyester t-shirts. And, just so you know, I don’t eat bacon. But, I don’t force my family to keep it out of the house. They get to make their own choices.

The fact is, if you are taking a stand against other people based on your misinterpretation of the bible, you are headed down a dangerous path. If you are using your religion as a weapon, it won’t be long until you are no better than the ones flying airplanes into buildings.

I will even go so far as to say that you have no idea what Christ was trying to teach us.

He said that to love God and love each other were the two highest commandments. Loving each other is the fulfillment of the law. Attacking fellow believers or even unbelievers puts you in the same basket with all the other religious nuts who justify their actions with arrogantly selected choices of scripture.

So. If you are convinced tattoos are wrong, then it would be a sin for you to get one. If you tell others that homosexuality is a sin, don’t spend your evenings scanning gay porn. If you are determined to be a Christian, study the life of Christ.

Christianity should be more about the “do” than it is about the “don’t.” Do the right thing. Use your faith to make you a better person. Get off the high horse and do something positive instead of just preaching hypocrisy with bacon breath and those evil t-shirts.

Simple enough?

M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at, and through his books, which are available at Amazon.

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