Ask Your Preacher
Is it in the Bible that if you get tattoos on your body and body piercings you’re condemned to hell?
Pierced To The Heart
Dear Pierced To The Heart,
Tattoos were 100% sinful in the Old Testament – in the New Testament they are sinful some of the time. 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 in reference to whatever the image is?
- 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 focus on evil, violence, or nudity. Demonic symbolism, nude pictures, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. 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.
Hey guys, you don’t know how much your answers mean to me. I really appreciate it, and I have another question on my mind that burdens me a lot. Does God test us, or does He allow us to be tested? Is it something similar to temptation when He allows us to be tempted, but doesn’t tempt us?
Dear Trial Trouble,
The Bible says that God never tempts us to do evil (Jas 1:13). God never purposefully puts us in a situation with a desire for us to sin. The devil wants to devour you with sin, but God never does (1 Pet 5:8). However, God does put us in situations in order to find out what we are made of. God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1). God put Abraham in a position where he could succeed or fail – but the key is that God wanted him to succeed (Gen 22:14-18). Abraham was tried by God (Heb 11:17), so God could bless him. God may put us in circumstances that are difficult, but His desire is always to benefit us.
On the other hand, the devil tempts us for the purpose of destroying us – just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1). That is why God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor 10:13). The devil tries to set us up for failure, and the Lord tries to set us up for success.
How do you forgive yourself as God has forgiven you?
What you are asking is one of the most difficult things in life – forgiving yourself. Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people hold on to the guilt and shame of sin far too keenly. God tells us that there are several things to remember:
- Even if your heart condemns you, God keeps His promises. On the Judgment Day, we will be judged by God's standards, not whether or not we feel worthy (1 Jn 3:20).
- We can reassure our own hearts that we have been forgiven when we study and live by the truth of the Bible (1 Jn 3:18-20). The more we immerse ourselves in God's teachings, the quicker we begin to realize that forgiveness isn't about being worthy… but about having faith in the mercy of God.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time... just like all areas of growth.
Lately, I have been feeling like I have not been the best christian that I ought to be. I try to be excited that I'm going to heaven and how blessed I am to know God and living how Christ would have me to, but sometimes I get so upset thinking about all those (including family) that won’t be there with me. I try to always be positive, hoping that others may come to repentance, but for some, I know there is no chance they will follow Christ. Why do I keep lingering on these thoughts?
You are facing a normal and healthy part of the christian growth process. It is a sign of compassion when that you look at those who are lost in this world, and it wrenches your heart. It is okay to be hurt by the vastness of those who have chosen the wide path to destruction (Matt 7:13). Jesus wept over His kinsman in Jerusalem that turned their back on the truth and rejected the gift of salvation (Lk 19:41-42). When Paul thought about his lost fellow countryman, it grieved him deeply… so much so that he wished he could trade places with their souls, so they might be saved (Rom 9:1-3). Paul’s heart’s desire was that his beloved kinsman would be saved (Rom 10:1-2), but he also knew that it was their choice, not his. You are having the same emotions that Paul and Jesus dealt with – take it as a sign of spiritual maturity and growth.
The important thing to remember is that the greatest help you can be to the lost is to be that shining light and preserving salt that Christ exhorted us to become (Matt 5:13-15). You can’t save everyone from their own choices, but, as Paul said, we try and live so that we can save some (Rom 11:13-14).
What should I do when people don't listen?
When people won’t listen there are two options – stop talking or change your tactic. Before giving up on someone, ask yourself the question, “Are my words seasoned with grace?” God tells us that what we say must always be thoughtfully chosen (Col 4:6). Having said that, sometimes people have simply hardened their hearts to God’s Word, and Jesus says in such cases to “not throw your pearl’s before swine” (Matt 7:6).