Tattoos: A Mark of Identity
Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28
According to US News and World Report, (November 3, 1997) tattooing is the country's sixth-fastest-growing retail business, growing at the amazing rate of more than one new tattoo studio every day. Throughout history the tattoo bears it’s origins in mysticism and just about every other pagan belief known. The tattoo has never been associated with Bible believing Christians. Wherever in history that Christianity appears – tattoos disappear. The only exception: our present day, Laodicean Christians.
The purpose of this tract is two-fold:
1. To prevent those who have not engaged in getting one
2. For those who have one to encourage them to stop.
God’s word tells us:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” I Peter 3:15
History of Tattoos
The earliest known mark or tattoo is found in Genesis 4:15 where God marked Cain that no one would kill him for the murder he had committed against his brother. It was identified with disobedience. After the Flood of Noah when Ham and his son founded Egypt, tattoos were associated with magic and the occult.
Among some of the American Indians it was believed that when one journeyed to their happy hunting grounds, they would be stopped by an old woman. She would check for the presence of marks on their forehead or other parts. If they did not have them they were put back on the earth with no hope of getting to the spirit world. This is almost like the fable of St. Peter waiting at the gate of Heaven for people.
When God’s people came to the Promised Land, God warned them not to make any markings on their bodies like the heathen were already doing at that time.
In the history of tattoo, one of the main reasons for receiving a mark was to secure a place in heaven. To the Christian, there should be no reason to get a tattoo because their hope is in Jesus Christ alone or they are not Christians.
The Bible tells us that in the last days of mankind the anti-Christ will require all to receive a mark on the forehead or right hand. If people do not take the mark they will not be able to buy or sell (Revelation 13). Those that do, will spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Those who try to defend this practice also have a problem with anything that deals with outward appearance and accountability. Ultimately, the issues of tattoos are a surface issue which stems from disobedience of God’s standard.
In parts of Britain those that were caught in adultery were branded “BC” for Bad Character. In 1717 branding was abolished in the Army and replaced with tattooing. When a deserter was caught, the letter “D” was tattooed on them.
Ancient Japan used to tattoo on convicted criminals. During Nazi Germany, Jews were tattooed with a numbering system. So far tattoos were a disgrace of society.
In 2001, a study was published by Dr. Roberts, a pediatrician at the University of Rochester Children’s Hospital. The study involved over 6,000 young people ranging from 11 to 21 from all walks of life within the U.S.
The study revealed that those who were tattooed:
• Were four times likely to engage in premarital relations
• Twice likely to experience alcohol related problems
• Twice likely to express violent behavior
• Twice likely to drop out of high school.
Dr. Roberts, who headed the study, has a Tattoo and admitted that he was more than a little surprised at the results. What is sad is when professing Christians have their five year old tattooed not realizing the harm they are putting on them. Missionaries report that when tribes who tattoo their people become Christian, one of the first things they out law are the tattoos.
What about the Medical Factor?
Commercial tattoos have been linked to such diseases as:
• Hepatitis B & C
A study published in 2000 by Dr. Bob Haley and Dr. Paul Fischer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas found some alarming facts concerning the tattoo industry. Dr. Haley, a preventative medicine specialist and a former Center for Disease Control (CDC) infection control official, is exceptionally knowledgeable to prepare the study.
Dr. Haley concludes, "We found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection-drug users.” He went on to say that those who have tattoos are twice as likely to be infected with hepatitis C from getting a tattoo from a tattoo shop as shooting up. With over 20 million Americans wearing a tattoo and rising we are likely staring down the barrel of a mammoth deadly epidemic. The study also found that people who get tattooed in a commercial tattoo parlor were nine times more likely to get hepatitis C!
Hepatitis C kills over 10,000 people a year. Currently four million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C and rising. According to Dr. Haley, it’s number one channel is the deadly tattoo. There is the documented case of a 22-year-old grocery store employee who simply received his $45 tattoo. Four weeks later he needed a liver transplant! Actress Pamela Anderson contracted Hepatitis C from a tattoo. In 1961 an outbreak of hepatitis B in New York City was linked to the tattoo. New York City outlawed the deadly tattoo from 1961 until 1997!
The American Red Cross prohibits donors from donating blood for 12 months, one complete year, after getting tattooed. Their Blood Donation Eligibility Guidelines under "Tattoo" reads "Wait 12 months after a tattoo. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis." This I know because I have given over six gallons of blood. Even the Mayo Clinic gives warning to the dangers of having a tattoo. According to the American Society of Dermatological surgery, over 50% of those receiving a tattoo eventually want it removed. Another study reported that 80% of people with tattoos regret having them.
Even though getting a tattoo can cost about $30 - $50 per tattoo, getting one off may cost $2,000 to $20,000. Through laser surgery depending on how many operations they need. Thankfully cities like the one I live have outlawed tattoo parlors. Those that want them can go were they can, the number is not as high as cities that allow it
The early church was powerful in their witness of Christ because they obeyed God by being sanctified in their hearts which reflected their outward appearance. They did not:
• Speak like the world
• Walk like the world
• Dress like the world
• Nor did they think like the world
Even if it meant death, they boldly preached Christ crucified and the world was challenged by their testimony for they saw something in God’s people that were worth dying for. The ideal of winning the world by becoming like the world is not biblical and the world is not challenged by it. All it does is cause professing Christians to compromise. This was the very sin that destroyed the seven churches of Asia Minor.
To the Christian that has a tattoo, it now has meaning and becomes a mark of identity and an opportunity to warn others as we preach Christ. Let’s not buy into the world’s philosophies by making decisions that cannot be taken back.
“ And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11
You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …
How does anyone get to heaven?
First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13