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Tats and Piercings




by Omar Miranda

Some important questions and principles

In 2005 Karolyne Smith, a Salt Lake City, Utah, woman, auctioned off her forehead—that’s right, you heard it correctly: her forehead, for $10,000 to have a company permanently tattoo their logo on her. Tattooing as advertising—yikes! Tattooing/piercing oneself is a pretty common occurrence today. This practice is no longer reserved just for bikers, criminals, or people living in some remote tribe. Today some of the Christian people you admire in your life probably have tattoos. But that doesn’t make it OK.

So why do so many teens want to or actually tattoo and/or pierce themselves? Should Christians get tattoos? What does the Bible have to say about it? These are all important questions and ones that I would like to address today.

First, I’d like to make the point that if you and I are seeking to be true Christians, we’ll recognize that we belong to Somebody, and not only that, but that God is in charge—we aren’t. The apostle Paul wrote: “You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, CEV).1 And in Romans 12:1, 2, Paul said: “Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him” (CEV). Did you notice that in those last two passages of Scripture the Bible makes the clear points that we are not our own and that as Christians, our goal in life is to honor God—not ourselves—by everything we say and do?

The main scripture that people use against tattoos and piercings is in Leviticus 19:27, 28: “I forbid you to . . . cut and tattoo yourself as a way of worshiping the dead” (CEV). While some believe this scripture clearly tells us not to cut on our bodies, which is what tattooing is and piercing essentially is, there is actually much more to it. This verse is discussing pagan death and burial practices, in which bodies were tattooed with pagan religious symbols and pagans cut and tattooed themselves. God wanted Israel, His special people, to stand out as unique and distinct among multiple pagan peoples and cultures, and since God’s commandments prohibited His people from worshipping other gods, it would be logical that God would prohibit these death/burial preparation tattoos. The principle that God wants His people to stand out as unique, distinct, and different among other people rings louder and truer today than it ever has. First Peter 2:9 says: “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (NLT).2

Honestly speaking, I’ve never met a teen who has said to me, “Omar, I want to honor God with my tattoo.” On the contrary, I’ve spoken to countless teens who have basically told me that the reason they want a tattoo/piercing is that, well, they just want it! Typically they say that “it looks cool” or “my friends have one.” But check out what the apostle Peter wrote: “Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special” (1 Peter 3:3, 4, CEV).

There, now I’ve shared what I think are the most important verses and principles the Bible shares regarding this subject. Now it’s time to give you a piece of my mind (not too big—I don’t have much to spare). There are many commonsense reasons it is inappropriate to tattoo or pierce one’s body:

• It’s painful.
• It’s permanent. What looks great now will look ridiculous when you are old and sagging . . . and, yes, it will happen to you.
• It can be extremely expensive—both to put on and to take off (taken off with lasers: hello!).
• It is usually based upon a passing fad/impulse.
• It generally brings both short-term and long-term negative consequences:
• Short-term: infection/illness/disability/ ­­­­death; can negatively affect how others view Christians, Christianity, and God—aka “hurting your witness.”
• Long-term: likely can negatively affect ability to acquire and/or sustain certain relationships and certain serious employment—aka career; can negatively affect how others view Christians, Christianity, and God—aka “hurting your witness.”

I hope that when all is said and done I will have reasoned with you enough that you don’t feel the need to puncture, poke, pierce, cut, tattoo, or in any other way, shape, form, or fashion mark and/or disfigure your body. Remember John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (NLT). That makes your worth priceless; you are perfect and beautiful to God just the way you are.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

1Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
2Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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