I recently had a conversation with a friend who is considering getting her first tattoo, a Christian-themed one at that. There’s just one caveat – she still lives with her parents and they’re generally opposed to the idea.
|Seriously, who doesn’t want Rose telling us about St. Olaf while embedded in their skin?
The argument that many Christians use against the likes of tattoos or extra piercings pretty much goes like this, assuming they don’t point back to the Old Law, which isn’t even in effect anymore.
“You could cause your brother to stumble.”
And that’s pretty much it.
But that verse is massively taken out of context. In fact, the entire reasoning behind it is pure BS.
In fact, Romans 14 is not supposed to be an excuse to a Christian being a judgmental asshole. Paul actually tells the weaker and stronger Christians to not judge each other for their Christian liberty.
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” – Romans 14:4
What’s more pertinent here is the very end of the chapter.
“Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:20-23
Somehow, people take that to mean that we shouldn’t drink or get tattoos or anything that may be socially taboo. If that were the case, then we shouldn’t have a TV or a pet dog or play electric guitars, because some people think they’re evil and will pass judgment.
In his book God Gave Wine, Kenneth Gentry makes this argument on what this chapter is actually about while addressing alcohol consumption, but this also applies to tattoos, piercings, etc. Emphasis is added by me.
“Simply put, Paul is here warning about the outcome of enticing the weaker brother into sinning against his conscience – which will bring God’s judgment. Although no true believer can lose his unmerited, sovereignly bestowed salvation, Paul’s injunction reflects the numerous biblical warnings about apostasy. Clearly, it is a very serious matter that the strong not behave in such a way as to lead the weaker Christian into sinning against his conscience.”
So then, the issue isn’t in getting a tattoo and having someone be a dick about it. The stumbling being referenced here is in pressuring someone to get a tattoo or drink a brewski or eat bacon (which I’ll never feel bad about) in our actions and words.
The biggest issue, as always, is whether a tattoo would be legitimately for the glory of God. If it is, then go for it. If it’s not, then don’t get it.
And if you have a problem with tattoos, don’t be a douche about it. You have no right. Jesus says so.