Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tattoo You! The Next Youth Group Trend?

You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:28).

I heard something today that, quite frankly, outraged me. I was so shocked when I heard it that I am not clear on the precise detail -- whether it actually took place at the church youth group or at a youth convention attended BY the church youth group. I'll have to ask about it again. The youth group in question is from a rather prominent, supposedly conservative church in my region.

Anyway, wherever this Christian youth group was, they had a "tattoo artist" present, and said "artist" was tattooing anybody who wanted one. Let me stress this. At a church youth meeting of some kind. Not in a red light district. Not in a tattoo shop located in some seedy part of town. A church event. Unbestinkinlievable.

I'd expect this kind of carnival atmosphere in the wilder of the Emergent churches. They seem to celebrate this kind of thing. But that wasn't where this took place.

If this happened without parental or pastoral knowledge, heads ought to roll somewhere. And you know what? It matters little to me whether the youths in question had signed permission slips to get tatted. If that's the case, the parents' heads ought to roll. Or at least get cracked together good and hard.

What in the bowels of the earth is going on here? Have churches and individual Christians entirely lost their minds? Have we really fallen so far to the point that we have to prostitute ourselves to the world's way of doing things, thinking that's going to somehow be a witness for Christ, who actually commanded us NOT to be conformed to the world?

I've even heard it said that some view their tattoos and tongue studs as worship. So, let me get this straight? We worship God by doing something to our bodies that He commanded us not to do?

Let me be blunt. This stuff really, really makes me angry. Why is there such a mad rush in the church--among Christian kids--to look as much like Frankenstein as possible? Christians have absolutely no business getting tattooed, cut, studded or body pierced. Having it done prior to salvation is one thing. But mature Christians are supposed to know better, and have a much more fine tuned sense of what God would want of His people. All of this violates the modesty called for in Scripture, as well as the high value we are supposed to place on our bodies -- His creation and His temple. For some time, Christian boys and girls have been less and less modest in their dress despite the commands of Scripture. Now we have this. Far from glorifying Him, all it does is draw attention to the person. And it looks really, really awful.

It's bad enough some stupid, wet behind the ears kids would be allowed to mark or carve up the body God gave them. Just wait until they're quite a bit older, and like most people who get tattooed, wish to heaven that they hadn't done it. Especially when the mouse they tattooed on their stomach begins to look more like a hippopotamus with cancer. And their parents signed off on it. That's real godly, parental guidance, isn't it?

We all do stupid things when we're younger. We do stupid things when we're older, too. And yes, we have a loving God who forgives repentant hearts. But Christians of all stripes and of all levels of supposed maturity ought to think long and hard about what constitutes a rebellious spirit. It's hard to sanctify rebellion. Real hard. Everyone blabs on and on about their "self expression." As Christians, we're supposed to reflect Christ. We are supposed to lift Him up, not ourselves. The church's problem today is that there is way too much attention on "self" and a lessening amount of attention on Him.

While the church is not under the Law of Moses and the Law is not salvific, any command of God in Scripture -- from prior to the Law in Genesis to the end of Revelation -- was given for a purpose. There are deep biblical principles in play here. When God told His people not to mark themselves up and cut their bodies, He did so for a reason. There is a spiritual issue in play here outside of the physical action. I'll elaborate on what I mean sometime soon in in another post, and not necessarily immediately subsequent to this one.

I've got to cool down first.


TelegramSam said...

I’ve been lurking on your blog for a long time now, and this is the first time that I’ve felt the need to comment. Like you, I find it infuriating that a “church” group would do something like this. Unfortunately it does not surprise me. As parents, many of us turn our kids over to the church to be taught about Christ, the Bible, and theology. The church then further delegates the teaching responsibility to their “youth pastors”. Oftentimes these youth pastors are products of seminaries that have fallen victim to New Age thought, Emergent teachings, and Post Modern philosophies. Combine that with the fact that a good percentage of the workshops, seminars, and church growth camps that youth pastors attend are steeped in the “New Evangelical” approach to Christianity it’s no surprise that this type of thing is happening. Since the parents aren’t plugged into what their kids are learning, and the church leaders aren’t closing the loop on their youth pastors’ activities, and the youth pastors are being fed weak and/or false teachings, we can expect to see it get far worse.

Phil Perkins said...

Telegramsam and Solameanie,
I first came here to tell Sola something, but also have something for Tele.

First, Sola. Let me tell you what I have found. This Sunday I went to a church across town. I prayed with four other folks in this really conservative, Evangelical church. One was a bartender. Another told us about how Native American religion says there two wolves inside each of us and he could feel the two Native American wolves fighting inside him. This is how one can believe and still consider himself a Christian these days. So postmodern mental mush is IN the church, Emergent or not.

To Telegramsam, you ought not support almost any Bible college or seminary any more. There a few exceptions. But currently one of the functions of these institutions is now to weed out anyone that will be orthodox and remain seperated from false teachers. The way it works is that some of the profs will be conservative and some liberal (or Emergent). The student is then expected to pray with and sit under false teachers and if he doesn't, he can't finish his degree and gain access to our pulpits. Scary, huh?

In Christ,
Phil Perkins

Jonny McCormick said...

im more shocked by your attitude to be honest. not towards tattoos, but your remarks about emergent churches. I assume that this will mean i am automatically labelled as 'one of them.' but whatever, i just think your attitude about how you address these people is a little sickening to be honest?

Solameanie said...


You assume wrongly. I don't automatically label you anything. Perhaps you haven't encountered the wilder fringe of the Emergent movement yet. You will.

I also realize that I wrote much more sharply than I usually do. You can call it sickening if you like, but you should be more sickened at what is happening in the church that allows this type of nonsense to go on. If you read Scripture, you will find plenty of sharp rebuke from Genesis to Revelation. Some of the rebuke in Scripture uses far sharper words than I used. In fact, we are commanded to rebuke error, sometimes severely. (Titus 1:13).

It is a sign of just how emasculated the church has become when we have more sympathy for rebelliousness and gaucheness than we do for striving toward holiness.

Think about it a while. As a young pastor, you will no doubt need to rebuke those in your congregation someday. At least I hope you will. Why? "So that they may be sound in the faith."

Solameanie said...

BTW, Jonny..did you notice in my original post that I said "the wilder of the Emergent churches?" This qualified the statement. Not all engage in this sort of thing. There are those Emergent/Emerging types of churches that are more toward the conservative end of the spectrum. I have my disagreements with them also, but they don't take things this far.

Now, unless you are part of this "wilder" fringe, you shouldn't have had any problem with my remarks.

Claudia Riley said...

You are right on. We can look to the Old Testament as well as the New for how God views a wide variety of things. So, do we, regardless of the law, want to align ourselves with the mind of God or with the way of the world?

And, unfortunately, the comments about our "Christian" colleges and seminaries is so true. And they are producing more of the same. However, there is a short list of biblically sound, real Christian colleges, so it is still possible to get a higher education without compromise.

ChrisGammel said...

Just curious - How do we deal with 19:27 - "You shall not round off the hair on your temples nor mar the edges of your beard."? I can understand how tatooing as 'worship' is not the way to go, but does this not fall into the same kind of realm as not eating meat with blood in it? Just a thought

Solameanie said...


My next post on this subject will attempt to deal with things like that. There is more to this whole thing than just the physical act.

God's concern for Israel was that He didn't want His people adapting to, or imitating, the pagan practices of the nations around them. As sure as eggs is eggs, if they began doing that, they went "a-whoring" after other gods.

I think we have forgotten the principle of separation in the church. Of course one can get ridiculous with it and overly legalistic, but the principle is serious and genuine.

The motivation behind tattooing and body piercing really needs to be examined. Why is it necessary for a believer? Why would one even WANT to do it? Is it really glorifying God? Do we really, really think He wants us to carve up and ink up our bodies?

Some will say "it looks cool." Is a motivation of vanity such a thing to be encouraged?

Phil Perkins said...

To Sola and Johnny,
Actually, I have a question for the both of you. Can I be a Mormon Lite type of Mormon? Is that logical? Is it biblical? Can I be a Protestant friendly Roman Catholic? And if I can does that give me entree to God's assebmbly just because I say I'm like you, but socially and financially help the enemies of your God?

Here is the problem with the Emergents that are "nice" and purport to hold to orthodox doctrine. First of all, Jesus said we were either for Him or against Him and His doctrine. Paul in I Cor. 5 forbids us to associate with unrepentant sinners. The vast majority of Emergent/Emerging leaders spew false doctrine of the sort that will land their adherents in hell. They scorn repentance. And they are unrepentant. All Emergent churches and pastors I have ever known or heard of bring the teachings of McLaren, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, and the like into the assembly. That alone would require the Old Covenant Assembly to kill them, whether or not they supposedly hold orthodox views themselves. See Deuteronomy 12 and 13. (And I say "supposedly" for this reason: How can I take seriously a claim by someone that holiness is important to them when they bring teachings by those who excuse homosexuality as many Emergents do?)

In talking to Evangelicals I find them using the stupidest arguments possible to excuse continuing to associate with false teachers. It's as if they are kids and arguing with Mommy about just way they can't possibly come in when she calls for dinner.

The old saying is if it looks, walks, sounds, etc. like a duck, it's a duck. Well, what if it says it's a duck? There is only one reason two can walk together: they are agreed. So if a man is comfortable in a Mormon church he is a Mormon at heart; if Catholic, Catholic; if Emergent, Emergent.

Face the facts, folks.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins

Phil Perkins said...

Please share colleges you know that are still straight. I'd like to be able to share those names with some of the young folks I encounter.

Phil Perkins.

Solameanie said...


I have little quarrel with any of what you said. My only qualifier is that there are some out there who use various elements of what you might find in an Emergent/Emerging church in terms of style, but the doctrine remains conservative and they do preach the biblical Gospel. Personally, I don't have any use for any of it, which you well know. But I am reluctant to put these few congregations in the same category where I would place Brian McLaren. He is on the cusp of damnable heresy if not outright.

ChrisGammel said...

My wife and I were thinking of getting wedding ring tatoos, due to the fact that I work as an electrician and don't wear my ring at work and stuff like that. I can totally see your point though, and I think it totally comes down to your motives like just about everything else. I'm still not convinced that saying "Christians have no business getting tatooed" is necessarily the way to go however. But I have been wrong before :D.

Claudia Riley said...

Well, my short list of colleges is:
Bryan College in TN; Grace College, Indiana; Master's College in CA; Cedarville University, Ohio; and Liberty University, VA.
Hope that helps.

As far as the Old Testament instructions,those to do with eating were for their better health, and don't you think rules such as hair-cutting and the tassels, etc. were so that Israel would be reminded of their need to be set apart, different from those around them? And, so some of the instructions linked back to pagan cultural practices of the time. A parable of the difference we are to maintain spiritually.

Phil Perkins said...

Thanks. I will keep those names. Though I would be scard of Libert since they are aligned with Ed Stetzer, who plays fast and loose with the Emergents. And expect Masters to fall after MacArthur dies or retires. I say that because I know that some of those around him are playing footsie with false teachers right now. An example is Jesse Johnson thinking that it's jsut fine to patronize conferences with such speakers as Dan Kimball. For documentation, look to Pulpit magazine--the article about a new title for the author. I will be putting up another comment tomorrow God willing.

I don't care two hoots about style. (I'm starting a house church and most won't recognize it as a church, but it will be biblical.) But if they identify themselves as Emergents and if they know what that means, they are in sin, just as if they called themselves Mormons.

Quick note about MacLaren. I'm sad to say he ain't on nobody's cusp of anything. He's a lying heretic. He's come out against the substitutionary atonement and eternal hell. In addition, one of the main themes of his is to make light of sin because God's love covers all, a heresy that is named in Jude 4 as one that will send a man to hell--turning grace into an excuse. (Which is one of the subthemes of Modern Evangelicalism today.)

Keep up the good social commentary, Sola.

Oh--and pray for me. I've worked a lot of seven-day weeks lately and I plan on returning to the streets starting this evening to do Evangelism as I do every weekend. Pray for boldness, purity, wisdom, and the willingness to take the scorn and beatings that are part of all that.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

Solameanie said...


I trust you have a strong marriage. Otherwise, you'll be like the poor girl in the commercial I've seen lately. She has a large "Mike" tattoo on the small of her back, but she's getting married to someone else and has to have "Mike" removed. ;)

When you see me saying "you ain't got no business" etc..imagine a stern, curmudgeonly old uncle bawling out a beloved, but mischievious family member. We haven't got quite to the woodshed stage, but we're close. ;O

ChrisGammel said...

Haha yeah God willing we'll never have that problem if that's the route we take :D

I like the woodshed imagery. Needs to be more of that kind of thing in today's churches that seem to turn a blind eye to just about everything as long as its not complete and total disruptive-to-everbody blasphemy.

Don said...

Just out of curiosity, what do you do with rev. 19:15-16? Even if you want to say that it is figurative language, which it may or may not be, do you really think the Bible would allude to Jesus sinning? (you are saying tattoos are sin right?)

Solameanie said...

What does that Scripture have to do with the price of tea in China? Are you trying to say Jesus is tattooed here? If so, that is the wildest stretch I've seen in quite a while.

Don said...

ok then, what does the verse say?

Don said...

Feelin the love by the way.

Solameanie said...

"Feel the Love" was an old song by Love Song in the 1970s. Haven't heard it in a while.

I know what the verse says. You are assuming "on His thigh" means a tattoo, and I think you assume too much by saying so.

I am not going to get into an endless, niggling back and forth on this. If you have a problem with the Lord saying that we are not to put any marks upon ourselves, take it up with Him.

Poop is Emergent Too said...

Sola: I have a giant problem with you trying to claim we are under Levitical law...What then the Cross?

I have an even bigger problem with you thinking you are so wise you refuse to deal with the Biblical question Don has posed to you. If it is not a marking that would be similar to a tattoo what is it? If you are the all knowing arbiter of all things Biblical then explain yourself.

I have an even bigger problem than that with your reductionistic, Jesus free moralistic view of the Gospel. You take Shadows and Types and put them above the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (as Jesus' tattoo will say when he comes to Judge)...and if you have a problem with that you can take it up with the new covenant!


Solameanie said...

As tempted as I was to delete your comment (your screen name is disgusting), I'll leave it for the moment.

I really don't care if you have a problem or not. You can either read my blog or not read it. I'm not obligated to even allow comments. Keep that in mind.

You obviously really didn't read what I said in my post. Did you catch the last part where I said the church isn't under the Law? Apparently not. You're apparently more concerned with defending Christians who choose to tattoo than you are dealing with the substance of what I said. If you want to look like a cave painting, go right ahead.

Tell me where you get the idea that Jesus having the statement on his thigh is a tattoo? I'd like to see the scholars that make that case. In my view, to take that statement in Revelation, assume it's talking about a tattoo, and then try to stretch that into a biblical defense of tattooing in general is breathtaking.

Take a look at what God had to say about marking bodies. Consider WHY He made that prohibition. Why did the Lord take a dim enough view of it to the point where He mentioned in the Mosaic Law? Does the Law have nothing from which we can learn about what our attitudes and conduct ought to be? Do you think the Lord wants His people to adopt pagan ideas and practices? For that is the origin of tattooing. I believe it's a horrible, horrible witness. We're supposed to be different and set apart from the world, not parroting its behavior.

There are other things worth pondering here. I have no idea what your eschatology is, but did you ever stop to think that a general desensitization to marks might just have applicability in the last days? That's just one thing to think about.

What is the reason Christians are tattooing themselves? The honest, real, genuine reason? The answer to that question can be pretty revealing.

Are you an antinomian? Do you think the New Covenant means Christians can just do any old thing they want, and it doesn't matter?

Finally, your statement that my view of the Gospel is "Jesus-free and reductionistic." You assume a bit much there, pal. You don't have the foggiest notion of what my view of the Gospel is. The Gospel is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and rose again from the dead for our justification. Check it out in Romans 13, the only place in the New Testament where the Gospel is defined.

Someone coming to saving faith in Christ is supposed to have an impact on their lives, attitudes, viewpoints, worldview, everything. Obviously, some are new Christians and not mature, but others don't have that excuse.

By the way, you can lose the "tude" any time. To remind you again, I don't "have" to debate or answer anybody. Posting comments here is a privilege, not a right.

Rattlesnake6 said...

Several years ago I wrote a column on tatoos and some in the evangelical community out here in SoCal went ballistic. They argued that their tatoos were for evangelising the lost--a thoroughly unbiblical concept. The short answer is that Jesus and YHWH have both said it was a great idea to get tatoos all over your body. That's why Jesus, in Revelation, clearly had numerous tatoos. He also smoked pot and did meth--to the glory of his Father, of course. Jesus swore,chewed tobacco, and drank Guiness at synagogue, He also rode a Harley and not, as many assume, a Triumph.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people completely miss the point of Lev. 18-20, which is known as the Law of Holiness. Lev. 19 in particular has to do with holiness, which has to do with "separateness." Therefore, no planting of peas and carrots together; no mixing of rayon and cotton. Modern evangelism is spiritually dead and those who believe that the OT is no longer in effect hold to a theology that arrived at the front end of the twentieth century. Their theology is so important that the Lord just forgot to tell the Church for about 2,000 years. So much for omniscience. But, hey, with Jesus' cool thigh tatoo, the modern Church is in great shape.
I must apologize for my tone, but I am so terribly weary of the sheer nonsense that ostensibly passes for Christianity. It's really sad. The mega-church was bad and left no spiritual legacy, but the emergent tribe is--although it seems impossible--worse.