Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is the Church teaching on tatoos?

Question Levitiucs 19:28 says that we should not get Tatoos. I've heard that what the Bible was getting at was that it was a costomery thing to do where they would tattoo pagan things on those ready to die or dead to prepare them for death or something like that, and this violated the first commandment about not having any false gods. Does that make sense to you?

AnswerI think it's good to look at the passage in context:

27“‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
28“‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
So, if people take seriously the admonision against tatoos, they would also have to believe that men should all have beards, and long hair at the sides of their heads (like Orthodox Jews). Most people, Protestant and Catholic alike, would agree that these rules were to set the Jewish people apart, as a seperate people, who lived differently from the rest of the culture. They are like the rules of Kosher foods, or circumcision. In Acts 15, the Church specifically dealt with these things and said they were not binding- especially not on non Jews who were becoming Christian! So those laws are not universal moral laws, but rather customs for a certain people in a certain period of history. Christians need to learn to distinguish between these.

(That's part of the debate about homosexuality and womens ordination- are they universally binding laws, or just customs for the time? Without someone to answer that question difinitively, that's how you end up with the wide range of beliefs among protestants, and churches like the Anglican one splitting over it!)

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