Ask Your Preacher
When the Bible doesn't directly condemn something, but we are left with applying principles to determine whether the thing is right or wrong, whom are we putting our trust in? Do I trust myself that I have correctly applied the principles, and how will I know?
Dear Conceptual Thinker,
When we take Bible verses and combine them together to understand larger principles, we are doing exactly what God intends for us to do (Ps 119:160). In Acts 15, we see the apostles do that very thing. When the issue came up regarding the circumcision of Gentiles, the apostles listened to the evidence (Acts 15:12), studied the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 15:15-18), and came to a conclusion (Acts 15:19).
God tells us to be wise in that which is good (Matt 10:16). The way we gain that wisdom is by studying God’s Word and applying it to the best of our abilities. When we do that, we are placing our faith in God.
Leviticus 19:28 said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Why don't I hear too many churches preaching against putting tattoos on your body?
The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. This is not a right or wrong issue, but simply one of wisdom. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.
Right to bear arms – we are trying to find Scripture that would determine if you have the right to protect yourself… such as a home invasion. We have found ‘turn your cheek and let him have your coat’. Any help would be appreciated.
My favorite verse on the subject of self-defense is Lk 22:36. Jesus told His disciples that hard times were coming, times of great persecution. He said that things were going to be different from the days when they preached from city to city and didn't even bring any money with them to buy food because they would be provided for (Mk 6:7-8). However, after Christ's crucifixion, the preaching would get harder, and the risk to their lives would increase – so what was Jesus' answer to this increased risk to their lives? In Lk 22:36, He tells them to bring money and buy a sword. There is only one reason you would ever need a sword – personal protection. It was the first-century version of Jesus authorizing a concealed weapon permit!
If I play a video game that is all about walking around and killing zombies, is this considered a sin?
Video games are not inherently wrong, but it is also important that christians be careful what they put into their minds. Php 4:8 tells us that we should dwell and meditate on wholesome and pure things. 1 Cor 15:33 says that if we keep the wrong company, we will eventually be corrupted by their influence. These principles need to be considered when we choose television shows, movies, video games, and other forms of entertainment. Violence in video games isn’t necessarily wrong – even the Bible has some pretty violent scenes in it, but if we find ourselves consumed by grisly, violent, and morbid entertainment… there is a problem.
Is it a sin to play Blackjack if I am skilled enough to hold an edge over the house?
Dear High Roller,
The Bible never specifically mentions gambling as a sin, but it doesn’t have to be specifically mentioned to be wrong. There are a great many things surrounding gambling that are sinful. Consider that:
- Gambling focuses around money and greed. God warns us clearly about being fixated with money (1 Tim 6:10, Heb 13:5). God wants us to be satisfied with our income (Eccl 5:10). Contentment is a major component of spiritual maturity (1 Tim 6:6).
- Gambling is used as a means to gain money without working for it. God finds pleasure in people working for their livelihood (2 Thess 3:10-12, Pr 10:4).
- Gambling wastes money because, ultimately, the house does always win. God expects us to be good stewards (1 Cor 4:2) and save for the future (Pr 6:6-8).
- Gambling and the places where gambling occurs are often associated with other sinful things. There is a reason Las Vegas is called “Sin City”. That industry is not one that a christian should be supporting (2 Cor 6:16-17).
Gambling is addictive. We can only have one master (Lk 16:13).