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Body ArtóIs It For You?

by Billy Walls

Body art, even though itís been around for a long time, is risky. And God has something to say about it.

 A teenager dropped to his knees in the dark one night. Hot tears flooded his face. He felt regret, fear, and uneasiness. He didn’t foresee the strings attached to his newly applied tattoo. In his mind questions surfaced: What have I done? What is this tattoo thing about, anyway?

Another teenager, my homegirl, had only one tattoo when I had last seen her. She emphatically declared to me, “This thing— tattooing—is addictive. I can’t stop, even though  I already have five. When I get to 10, I’ll definitely stop.”
I doubted her statement. Then I wondered, What’s so addictive about tattoos?
Research shows that tattoos have been around for nearly as long as humans have. The word tattoo was introduced to the English language after James Cook’s voyage to Tahiti in 1769. Western sailors then began getting tattoos, and the practice caught on in Europe.1
Tattooing has recently hit the mainstream as a symbol of individuality. People get tattoos for many different reasons—for cultural purposes, for social status, as death memorials.
Body etching is like tattooing in that it is the art of producing and impressing etched designs of pictures on the body with etching acid. This art, often irreversible, offers the same health risks as tattoos, yet it’s increasing in popularity.
Body art includes tattoos, body etching, and also tribal marks. Tribal marks date back to the time when people were divided into tribes and groups. These marks identified their social status, ancestors, and family members. These marks are important in some cultures to define identity.2
The risks
There are actually many health risks  associated with body art. When people make the decision to get a tattoo, a body etching, or a tribal mark, many don’t realize that they are putting their health at risk.
There is always the possibility of getting an infection, a blood infection, or a skin infection, such as the flesh-destroying condition called necrotizing fasciitis. It’s also possible to get Hepatitis B or C, HIV, tetanus, and tuberculosis. The skin may form a rash as an allergic reaction or bumps called granulomas around tattoo ink, even excessively scar, a condition called keloid.
What if a person gets tired of their tattoo? Despite painful laser technology, dermabrasion, and surgical removal, marks will remain on the skin, even scars.3
The Word is . . .
Does the Bible have anything to say about body art? It actually does.
• Leviticus 19:28 says: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord” (NKJV).4
• Deuteronomy 14:1 says: “You shall not cut yourselves” (NKJV).
• 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 says: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV).
The Word of God mentions only two marks: a mark for the righteous, and a mark for the disobedient. The concept of these two marks goes all the way back to the brothers Cain and Abel.
When Cain became angry and killed his brother Abel, Genesis 4:15 says, “The Lord set a mark on Cain” (NKJV). Just a few years outside of the Garden of Eden, the mark God placed upon disobedient Cain was a mark of transgression against His law. So the idea of a mark isn’t something new that’s introduced in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. It’s introduced in Genesis and continues throughout the Bible.
Nowadays, humans are striving to be exalted, to make a good impression on society. Yet people cannot be inconsiderate of their health and of what the Bible says about tattooing.
For a minute, put self aside, and let’s reason together. Should we not, as people who’ve been brought out of bondage through the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, heed what the Bible says concerning this topic? Let’s open our eyes to God’s truth and understand that our bodies are His temple.
1Taken from
3Taken from
4Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Billy Walls’ hobbies include reading, drawing, playing the guitar, playing outdoor sports, Pathfinders, and doing outreach activities. His goal: “To help youth be the best they can be.”

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