Summary: Learn what the Bible has to say about piercings and tattoos in this stimulating sermon on a hot topic.
When I was in High School, I went to this winter retreat in Gatlinburg, TN called Winter Xtreme. There were tons of teenagers there, and this was about the time that wearing a Christian T-Shirt made you a “Cool Christian.” I remember seeing a shirt with a saying that I’ll never forget…and I’d like to show it to you now (display image_body piercing). It says, “body piercing saved my life” and has a picture of Jesus’ pierced hand on the cross. I remember thinking, man, that’s a stinkin’ cool T-shirt…heck, I still think it’s cool. But, sometimes I think Christians can be a little naïve when it comes to things like body piercing and tattoos—we either think it’s ok because other people are doing it, or we’re against it because people say it’s wrong, or we make up phrases like this one-“body piercing saved my life” to justify piercing ourselves with jewelry, and we don’t really know if any of that is true. Is it ok? Should I be piercing and tattooing myself just because it’s the cool new thing?
The tattoo was until recently reserved for the heavy metal rocker or biker…for criminals and the social outcast of society. But today the tattoo glamorously appears everywhere and anywhere. It’s the latest fashion craze. Tattoos are found on movie stars such as Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Drew Berrymore, Bruce Willis….Music stars…such as Jon Bon Jovi, Eminem, Beyonce, and your favorite star…Brittany Spears.
It’s no surprise that over 40 % of NBA players have at least one tattoo. Even in the conservative Golf world…you can see that Tiger woods and Lee Trevino both have tattoos.
A 2006 a study done by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 24% of Americans between 18 and 50 are tattooed; that’s almost one in four. And the survey showed that about 36% of Americans age 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo!
According to US news and World report, tattooing is the country’s sixth-fastest growing retail business. It is estimated that one new tattoo studio opens up every day.
The world has gone tattoo crazy!
Even among Christians, the once taboo tattoo is welcomed with open arms…(and necks and legs and backs)… With the rise of Christian music artists now flaunting their tattoos…thousands of Christian young people are getting “marked for Jesus” at Christian tattoo shops…
Well, I think it’s time that many of you were enlightened to what the Bible says about these things.
First, let’s start with piercings. Believe it or not, it’s actually mentioned in the Bible in several different contexts. The most familiar refers to a Hebrew slave who was to be freed in the seventh year of servitude but declares his love for his master and refuses to go free: "...his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life" (Exodus 21:6).
It was the custom in that time if a hebrew slave desired to stay with his master and family, then the master would pierce his ear signifying that willing lifelong service to the master he loved.
Psalm 40:6 says, “sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced…” I think David is referring to the sign that he is committed to lifelong service to God.
There are several other verses that even talk about nose rings, earrings worn by men, and that jewelry as an adornment to make one beautiful (Ezek. 16:11)
Doesn’t sound like anything bad, yet, right? Well, in order for us to have a clear understanding a knowledge about this, we’ve got to consider the context for the verses that are used. When it comes to piercing and tattoos, there’s always one verse that comes up, and I’ve found myself even at times being asked about it. It’s Leviticus 19:28 (NIV), " 'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD’”
If we take this verse as it stands, you would probably take that to mean that all cuts on your bodies (piercings) and tattoos are wrong.
Let me give you a little tip, a FREEBIE. Any time you look at Scripture, in order to understand God’s love letter, you have to read it in the whole context to understand what the author’s intent was, and then you can understand what application there is for today.
So, let’s do that: 26 " 'Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.
" 'Do not practice divination or sorcery. 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. 29 " 'Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness. 30 " 'Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. 31 " 'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”