Theology on Tattoos

There is great debate about whether or not a Christian should get a tattoo.  Our church has been at the forefront of this debate for the past week.  Three Sundays ago, I told anybody if they wanted to get a tattoo of the logo of our church (see below) that the church would find money to pay for it.

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Even though I said it sarcastically, several members took me serious and wanted to take me up on that offer.  After praying about it, I decided it would be appropriate to move forward.  To see a 4-minute video of the full back-story click here.  Up to this point, 5 people have gotten a logo of theCross tattooed on themselves and we will have another 6 to 10 individuals in the next 10 days.

Media found out about the event and CBS Orlando covered the event at Tattoo Studio 441 in Eustis, FL.  To see their news coverage, click here.  The Daily Commercial, a local newspaper, also featured our church and this story on their front page here. For 5 days, this story was the #1 “Most Popular” story on clickorlando.com, CBS Orlando’s website.  The story went viral as over 700 people shared the article on Facebook in just a couple of days.  It was also picked up on websites like WDN here and also featured on a prominent blog from the “Friendly Atheist”  website here.  There have been a lot of comments, both positive and negative, and so I wanted to write a blog on the decision to move forward with paying for church logo tattoos.  I wanted to do it in a forum where both sides can feel free to voice their opinions, unlike the Friendly Atheist blog, which is clearly a forum to simply bash on Christians.  This, however, is a safe place for people to comment how you see fit and we would love to engage in helpful dialogue for anyone who truly has any questions, comments, or concerns.  As long as the comments aren’t offensive in any way, we will not delete any of your comments.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to answer 5 questions that have come up from many of the message boards, comments, and blogs.

Question 1: Doesn’t Leviticus 19:28 forbid us to get tattoos?

The number one verse quoted against tattoos is Leviticus 19:28.  Here is what it says:

“‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.”

It seems pretty obvious from that, right?  Tattoos are not acceptable.  Well, let’s take a closer look.  In this chapter, God is giving His people, the Israelites, rules for how to live.  He’s telling them what they ought to look like and how they are to be holy, or set apart, and different from the rest of the world.

Part of Verse 26 and Verse 27, the two verses directly in front of the verse on tattoos says this:

“‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.

27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”

God is wanting the Israelites to look different from the rest of the world.  And He had something specific in mind.  His people, in that day, in order to look and be different would not eat red meat, they would grow out their beards and sideburns, and would never get tattoos or piercings.  The Duck Dynasty guys would be conflicted living back then because they love the beards but hate the fact that they wouldn’t have been allowed to eat red meat!

God called Israel for the sake of the world.  Exodus 19:4-6 tells us that the Israelites were to show the rest of the world who their God was.  God’s plan was to take an itty-bitty nation that was enslaved and rise them up into prominence through victory in battle and by acquiring the best land possible.  By rising this nation from the ground up, and by the people looking and being different from the rest of the world, the hope was that other nations and people would come to believe in the promise of Jesus Christ.

Today, most people don’t have a problem with eating red meat, with a man shaving his beard or a person cutting their sideburns.  Most people don’t have a problem with men or women getting their ears pierced and wearing earrings, which verse 28 also forbids.  So why are many so against the idea of Christians getting tattoos?  It seems like they discard other verses in that chapter, so why do people care if Christians get tattoos or not?  There seems to be a double-standard amongst Christians who quote this verse and are against tattoos but have no problem with piercings.

Lastly, regarding this verse, the reason that God didn’t want them to get tattoos and pierce their bodies is because back then tattoos and piercings were commonly associated with pagan rituals and practices.  There is nothing wrong with the actual act of tattoos and piercings.  The problem was, that in doing these things, they would be identified with other pagan gods and thus be a horrible witness of who God was calling them to be.  If their call was to be holy, set apart, and different, then of course, getting a tattoo or a piercing would be wrong for them because then they would be just like everyone else.

Paul deals with a similar issue in 1 Corinthians 8 with the Corinth church on whether or not they could eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols or other gods.  Paul’s main concern was not whether they could eat the meat, but rather, what kind of witness the people would be if they partook of this practice.  In fact, in 1 Corinthians 8:8, he says, “Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.”  In essence, he says, the meat itself doesn’t matter.  What matters is what kind of witness you will be if you eat the meat.

We could make the same case with tattoos and piercings today.  Unless the tattoos and piercings today are commonly associated with pagan rituals and practices, people ought to feel free to exercise their Christian liberty and get a tattoo or a piercing if they want.  I believe that even if something came out of pagan ritual and practice, our goal as Christians is to redeem what was once bad and turn it into good.  I believe that is exactly what happens when someone gets some ink on their bodies in the shape of a cross.  It points glory to Jesus.  They are marking themselves permanently on the outside as a follower of Jesus.  The tattoo is an expression of what is happening in their hearts.

Question #2: Why do we take some Old Testament laws literally and others not?

This is an excellent question!

Let me start by saying God’s Word is inspired.  He gives us the Bible to learn and grow in our faith in Jesus Christ.  The New Testament fulfills and completes the Old Testament.  At first glance, it can appear that Christians take some verses literally and others not in order to promote whatever agenda we are wanting to promote.  Whenever Christian leaders and pastors do this, it is tragic.

God gives us the story of the Israelites and the Old Testament so that we can learn from it.  We learn both about the promise of Jesus Christ coming into the world to save us from our sins and we also gain wisdom and knowledge through the experience of our people in the Old Testament.  The Bible’s message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the sake of the world is what the Bible is all about.  We also learn what it looks like to follow after Jesus today in our world from the Bible.

In the Bible, there are certain things that are contextual.  In other words, they are written for a certain time at a certain place for a certain people.  We see this not just in the Old Testament with the Israelites as mentioned earlier from the Leviticus passages, but we also see this in some words in the New Testament as well, as referenced earlier with the passage from 1 Corinthians 8.  Some issues are timeless and others are not.  We deal with different stuff than the Israelites and the Corinthians did.  It would have been weird for God to have written about automobiles and Internet for the Israelites or Corinthians because they didn’t have to deal with that.  In America, we don’t have to deal with some of the issues that the Israelites and Corinthians had to deal with.

So how do we know whether something in the Old Testament is still applicable to us today?

The main thing I look at is what did Jesus say about it?  What did the authors in the New Testament say about it?  Nowhere in the New Testament does it mention anything about tattoos being wrong.  God was silent on this issue. In fact, you could make the opposite case for tattoos based on Revelation 19:16. Mark Driscoll says, “Jesus Christ is going to have a tattoo—Revelation says on his second coming. It says that down his right leg will be written King of Kings and Lord of Lords, which will be really freakish for all for the fundamentalists to see Jesus all tattooed up. I can’t wait for that day…”

So far we have concluded that Leviticus was contextual for the Israelites.  Some of the things mentioned in the great lists of rules that God gives to His Israelites are reaffirmed in the New Testament, and wherever that is the case, then we are still called to uphold those rules.  But where God is silent, and where Scripture neither commands nor forbids us, we are free to exercise our Christian liberty.

Question #3: How do you understand 1 Corinthians 6:19 with regard to tattoos? This is the verse that talks about our body being a temple of the Holy Spirit.  The temple is a sacred place where God has lived.  God has always wanted to be with His people.  In the Old Testament, God dwelt with His people on numerous occasions.  He was with the Israelites in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.  They built an ark of the covenant which housed God’s presence, and then later, an actual temple for God to dwell with them.  Then Jesus came in the flesh and dwelt among us, and now we, his followers, are called the temple of God.  God lives inside of us!

Here is the whole verse: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” Some argue that since God lives inside of us, and our bodies are His dwelling place, that we ought not get tattoos.  But even a cursory look at 1 Corinthians 6 shows us that Paul was not speaking against tattoos; he was speaking against sexual immorality.  Paul is telling us to honor God with our bodies sexually.  The previous verse, 1 Corinthians 6:18, says “that any other sin we commit is outside of our body, but when we sin sexually we sin against our own body.”

God, when He came in Jesus, dwelt many times with what society would tell us are the outcasts.  He hung out with prostitutes and sinners.  He was okay going into any sort of situation because He knew who He was and He never compromised His identity.  I believe that as His followers we are also called to do the same.  We are called to interact with and befriend those that some in society would shun.  Being the temple of God doesn’t mean that we can’t hang out with those that are unlike us.  It also doesn’t mean we have to all look the same.  God dwells inside of each of His followers, and to reach the world, we need to look different and use whatever personality and hobbies God has given us to reach the lost.  1 Corinthians 6:19 is not a good text to prove that Christians shouldn’t get tattoos.  To put it bluntly, it’s not relevant to the topic and speaks against sexual immorality.

Question #4: Why pay for this and not helping the community?

Our church, theCross, is very focused on helping the community.  Before we even gathered as a community for worship, our church started Lake Cares Food Pantry, which served over 20,000 individuals just this past year!  Now, we have another non-profit ministry that has started from theCross called Hand-in-Hand, which is a coaching/mentoring ministry to help those who are needy and less fortunate.  Our goal in 2014 is to partner with Hand-in-Hand and obtain a transitional house in the Mount Dora/Eustis area.  In only our second full year as a worshipping community, we gave $50,000 to community projects and charities last year!

For those wondering, the tattoos are not coming out of the budget for the church.  A generous anonymous donor from the church is paying for all the tattoos so this will not hinder our ability to give back to the community.

Question #5: Lastly, why did we go through with this?

The funny thing in all of this is I am not a tattoo guy!  I don’t have one or ever plan on getting one!  My wife told me she didn’t want me to get one, so I’m not getting one!  Whether or not a person gets a tattoo and whether or not you like tattoos is a matter of preference.  Those that have tattoos see them as artwork and every tattoo comes with a story.  All of the people who are getting the tattoos will have an opportunity to tell the story of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the church needs to be continually looking for new, relevant, and exciting ways to engage the culture.  The church, for far too long now, has been losing.  We cannot sit idly by and do the same old stuff and expect for the church, and ultimately, God’s Kingdom, to grow.  We have to remain true to our theology and our principles, but how we implement that theology and principles in our world must change if we want to be faithful in introducing more people to Jesus.  Depending on which stats you read, 30-40% of 18-40 year olds now have a tattoo.  That is an extremely high percentage.  To be against something that Scripture neither forbids nor commands puts you at odds with 30-40% of an age group that we desperately need to bring back into the church.

The church logo that the members are getting is the sign of a cross.  The cross is the ultimate symbol of victory for us as Christians.  These men and women will have an opportunity to tell the story of Jesus to people that I never would be able to. Two days after our story aired on CBS, a woman came to our church.  This woman, by the way, has many tattoos.  She hadn’t been to church in over 10 years.  Her perception of the church was that it was judgmental, hypocritical, and unfriendly.  Two members from the church had been asking her to come for over a year but nothing happened.  After seeing the story of our church, she finally made her way through the doors of our church.  After the worship gathering, she sent me a message about how welcoming the church was and how excited she was to walk with us in the future.  That is what it is all about!

At theCross, we have people that have tattoos, while others are opposed to them.  We have people who have struggled with drinking, smoking, and gambling.  At the same time we have others who drink, smoke, and gamble now.  And then others who have never done those things and never will.  We have people who listen to music and movies that others think are offensive.  We have meat-eaters.  We have vegetarians.  We have some that think home-school is the answer, others that would say private, and still others are sold on public.  We have Democrats.  We have Republicans.  We have people with multiple piercings.  We have others that think that’s disgusting.  We are a mixed group of people, but what I love most is the fact that we can put our differences and our Christian liberties aside and focus on spreading the message of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the world.

If you are tired of same ole’ church, tired of churches where everybody’s buttoned up and puts on a show, I think you’d like it here.  And even more importantly, you’d love our God!

67 thoughts on “Theology on Tattoos

  1. This is why it is so important to understand scripture and what it is saying.
    I have learned that in order to have the correct understanding/interpretation, I must know what was going on then, who is the author, why it was wrote and to whom.
    Taking scripture out of context is a big problem. I have tat’s, piercings and I love red meat.
    1John tells us how we know we are “in Him”.
    And how we know others are “in Him”
    We believe in the son Jesus Christ and all that He did and was about and we love our brother, sacrificial as He Loved us…
    Now it didn’t say anything about tattoos and if u got one and supported it that u were not in Him…. Thank God that He has given us a conscious choice..My tattoos and piercings don’t determine where I stand in Christ….
    Getting a tattoo or not….that is the question and decision I can make for myself….

    Sooooooo, when can I get this tattoo????????
    Im ready…

  2. With great eloquence you have shown once again that the bible means whatever the person reading it wants it to mean.

    Good show!

      1. With a quick duck duck go search I can find 10 different interpretations across 5 different religions each as different from each other as they are from you. That goes for any given chapter, verse, or line in the book.
        One would think that a being capable of creating a universe at least 20 billion trillion miles across, containing at least 100 billion galaxies each with some 100 billion stars, would be able to communicate it’s intent a tad more succinctly.

      2. Hey Adam, I just left this comment lower for Paul but thought I’d paste it here so you have a better chance of seeing it. Both of your questions seem to be similar so this is my response:

        I think you have a valid concern and argument. I believe that the Bible is inspired by God and reveals enough for us to know the Good News of God sending His one and only Son Jesus Christ into this world to die on a cross, raise from the dead, and offer all that believe in Him a free gift called grace, through which we are made righteous before God and enter into eternal salvation with God. That is the over-arching theme through the Bible.

        There are some things that we will not know. Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us that there are things revealed to us that we will know, but also secret things that only God knows. If I were God, would I have written (or worked through authors to have written) in a way that allowed for no interpretation and easily understandable. Maybe.

        The reason I believe in the Bible and in essence Jesus Christ as my Savior is not because of any proof or any wisdom or because the Bible is perfectly understandable to me, but because the Holy Spirit has given me faith to believe. Our message is foolishness to the world. That’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

        I don’t expect someone who doesn’t have a faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior to understand the Bible. Of course you wouldn’t. It is foolishness to you. It doesn’t make sense to you. We live in a world that operates by works, and God operates through grace. We live in a world where we like everything rationally explained, God’s people live in a world where we live by faith. Living by faith means we don’t have to have all the questions answered. We trust God, that in the end, through all the discussions, interpretations, and messiness of this world that He will make it beautiful.

        Having said all of this, I don’t believe our faith is blind either. I think the fact that we have the Bible as we do to this day is a testament of how God preserves His Holy Word. Archeology, History, and Apologetics go a long way to prove that God is real and the Bible is not some made up book.

        I don’t think you are off-based in your comments whatsoever. I don’t think you are foolish. I think you need to meet Jesus and that’s my prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit would give you the faith to believe in Him. Then you won’t need to have everything rationally make sense for you.

        Truly living in Jesus in faith is far better than the alternative. Followers of Jesus have more hope, joy, peace, kindness, love, grace, and forgiveness in our lives. And anyone can use that. Thanks for your comments and I’m praying for you.

      3. Pastorzach,
        You begin by stating what you believe. In my mind I ask, “why do you believe that? What evidence can you present to convince me that your beliefs conform with reality?” You answer that question with “The reason I believe in the Bible and in essence Jesus Christ as my Savior is not because of any proof or any wisdom or because the Bible is perfectly understandable to me, but because the Holy Spirit has given me faith to believe.” I believe things based on evidence, your reasons for belief don’t meet any acceptable criteria for evidence, therefore they carry no weigh. the observable universe does not care what you believe, if you can’t provide evidence to back up your assertion, it becomes no more than an opinion, one of 7 billion.
        Then we come to this: “Having said all of this, I don’t believe our faith is blind either. I think the fact that we have the Bible as we do to this day is a testament of how God preserves His Holy Word. Archeology, History, and Apologetics go a long way to prove that God is real and the Bible is not some made up book.” No. No they don’t. Not even a little bit. Archeologists and historians regularly uncover evidence that shows the exact opposite of your claims. Here is a link: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2004/12/Did-The-Exodus-Really-Happen.aspx
        by very well know biblical expert rabbi Wolpe who also disagrees with your claim.
        As for religious apologetics, they deny evidence and just plain make shit up to try to convince their audiences of their position. william lane craig ring any bells?
        However, all this is beside the point. You still never addressed my original observation: “One would think that a being capable of creating a universe at least 20 billion trillion miles across, containing at least 100 billion galaxies each with some 100 billion stars, would be able to communicate it’s intent a tad more succinctly.”

        Cheers,

      4. Exactly like I said, my standards for believing in the Bible are not based on rational thoughts and being able to fully explain away God and how He works. God’s ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts. We believe because the Holy Spirit has given us faith to believe, and this is the sole reason I believe. Once you receive that gift of faith, it becomes clear to Christ followers that it is not a blind faith, but I can see from your point of view that you are looking at it from a rational point of view. So, yes, our evidence is different…and I’m okay with that. I wish I could tell you why it’s not more succinct and clear on every little point, perhaps God didn’t want it to be for some reason, as Deut. 29:29 says, some things are hidden and only for God to know. I’ll ask Him when I see Him! Thanks for the dialogue…you really have helped me understand the other side, which I’m grateful for.

    1. I agree Lance, the Bible, at times, does mean different things to different people. Isn’t it wonderful that God allows us to be unique, having different personalities and ways of expressing ourselves, while still being united in Christ. God bless.

      1. I agree Crandall, the Lord of the rings, at times, does mean different things to different people. Isn’t it wonderful that Gandalf allows us to be unique, having different personalities and ways of expressing ourselves, while still being united in Frodo. Gandalf bless.

    2. Amen! to that! What is most interesting is that Driscoll and others claim it only applies to the Levitical Priesthood, but they all still want their congregations to tithe, which was for the Levitical Priesthood. Thanks for giving me such great research for my new book.

    3. Adam Jesus said if your right eye caused you to sin it would be better to pluck it out rather than have your entire body cast into hell. Now if we were to take that literally every true Christian who followed Jesus would be without a right eye. It’s not about making scripture say what you want it to, it’s about understanding it in the proper context of what is being said. See Matthew 5:29

      1. De bible also says:

        Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

        The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

        When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

        28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NIV)

        Could you explain the proper context in which these words are to be understood?

      2. Adam, I couldn’t give you much context without going in depth and studying each of these. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to do so right at this moment. I would want to do a Hebrew or Greek study on them and inquire of other minds who have looked at these verses. You picked out some hard one’s…there are other’s you probably could have picked too. In a massive book, there are a few things that don’t make sense to the natural eye and are confusing. The Bible still is very clear to me that it is about a God who loves us and would do anything for us, even sending His own Son, to die on our behalf to make us right with God again. If there are things in the Bible that don’t seem fair (which many of the verses above seem to be), we also have a God who isn’t fair either, and thank goodness he isn’t fair, because through His wounds and through His blood and His death I am free.

  3. What I don’t understand is, if someone – a mere, fallible human – can reasonably interpret the Bible to ultimately mean

    “There is nothing wrong with the actual act of tattoos and piercings. The problem was, that in doing these things, they would be identified with other pagan gods and thus be a horrible witness of who God was calling them to be. ”

    and

    “Unless the tattoos and piercings today are commonly associated with pagan rituals and practices, people ought to feel free to exercise their Christian liberty and get a tattoo or a piercing if they want. ”

    then why didn’t the Bible just say exactly that, as plain and straight-out as these interpretations? These interpretations are far more clear than what God seemingly inspired. How can that be? Or are these interpretations also divinely inspired, so we should be expecting a new gospel with these more clear interpretations? Why not say exactly what is meant, especially when so much blood gets spilled by different interpretations?

    1. Paul, I think there are some great questions in here.

      “then why didn’t the Bible just say exactly that, as plain and straight-out as these interpretations? ”

      The bible was written in 2 ancient languages, the first was Hebrew, this would have been the Old Testament, and Koine Greek, (the New Tesatament) with a few other languages used for certain parts (aramaic for example). So Why doesn’t the bible say just that? Because we are taking an ancient text, and using ancient manuscripts more numerous than what we have of say, the Illiad, and translating it into Modern English.

      So yes, there is some interpretation needed, (Primarily because both languages are dead languages, with no native speakers).

      As Pastor Zach pointed out, that there is a cultural context at work here, that we may, or may not be aware of. A good example of this is internet porn. There is no commandment in the Bible that forbids anyone to look at internet porn, and I would agree, it would be great if there was, but the inspiration of the writers, was limited to their time, and their context. So while there is no direct commandment against internet porn, we do see number of warnings against lust, and we can look at the cultural context of those warnings, and apply them within our own cultural context to know, that internet porn, doesn’t provide the true fullness of sex as created by God.

      In 1st Corinthians, the Apostle Paul, says that now we see through a glass half darkly, he is referring to a darkened mirror, and unfortunately that’s what we have. The best any of us can do, is to follow Christ, and point others to Christ. At the end of the day, I may be wrong in how I view a verse, here or there, thankfully, though, it’s by God’s grace that I am reconciled to him, and not having to know it all.

      1. Jason, thanks for your reply. But I still find myself wondering the same questions, basically. I understand that the Bible is an ancient text, but it makes no sense that God would communicate through that form, given all the interpretation problems an ancient text entails (including the language in which it is written, etc.).

      2. Paul, I think you have a valid concern and argument. I believe that the Bible is inspired by God and reveals enough for us to know the Good News of God sending His one and only Son Jesus Christ into this world to die on a cross, raise from the dead, and offer all that believe in Him a free gift called grace, through which we are made righteous before God and enter into eternal salvation with God. That is the over-arching theme through the Bible.

        There are some things that we will not know. Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us that there are things revealed to us that we will know, but also secret things that only God knows. If I were God, would I have written (or worked through authors to have written) in a way that allowed for no interpretation and easily understandable. Maybe.

        The reason I believe in the Bible and in essence Jesus Christ as my Savior is not because of any proof or any wisdom or because the Bible is perfectly understandable to me, but because the Holy Spirit has given me faith to believe. Our message is foolishness to the world. That’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

        I don’t expect someone who doesn’t have a faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior to understand the Bible. Of course you wouldn’t. It is foolishness to you. It doesn’t make sense to you. We live in a world that operates by works, and God operates through grace. We live in a world where we like everything rationally explained, God’s people live in a world where we live by faith. Living by faith means we don’t have to have all the questions answered. We trust God, that in the end, through all the discussions, interpretations, and messiness of this world that He will make it beautiful.

        Having said all of this, I don’t believe our faith is blind either. I think the fact that we have the Bible as we do to this day is a testament of how God preserves His Holy Word. Archeology, History, and Apologetics go a long way to prove that God is real and the Bible is not some made up book.

        I don’t think you are off-based in your comments whatsoever. I don’t think you are foolish. I think you need to meet Jesus and that’s my prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit would give you the faith to believe in Him. Then you won’t need to have everything rationally make sense for you.

        Truly living in Jesus in faith is far better than the alternative. Followers of Jesus have more hope, joy, peace, kindness, love, grace, and forgiveness in our lives. And anyone can use that. Thanks for your comments and I’m praying for you.

      3. pastorzach, thanks for your reply to me. I couldn’t find a Reply button under your comment, so I’m leaving this comment here.

        I think that you talked about faith operating in two different ways: one, faith that helps us trust God so that we don’t need every single little thing in the Bible to be interpreted correctly, or rationally understood; two, faith that helps us believe in God and Jesus in the first place. Do I have that right?

        I’d like to start with the faith that helps one believe in the first place. Would you say that this faith is necessary for belief, sufficient for belief, or both?

        Also, what does the experience of having this faith feel like? Or is it just a proposition that you hold? (For instance, I wouldn’t say that my holding the proposition that 2+2=4 *feels* like anything in particular.) If there is an experiential feeling behind it, is it something that you felt just once, or that you feel intermittently, or constantly?

        Thank you.

      4. Thanks Paul. You are correct…we don’t come to believe in Jesus without faith and that faith comes from the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”

        I believe that it is the same faith that allows us to say “Yes” to Jesus and also to be able believe in the Bible as inspired by God.

        We teach, (and again, there are differences amongst Christians here…and for me, I don’t get caught up in all the differences…I think the message of Christ crucified and risen for the world is the message that is our unifying principle…having belief or faith in that is what is most important…sorry for the short sidebar!), that since the Fall, we are all born separated from God. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

        Therefore, we are born dead to God. And anytime you are dead, you can’t come back to life yourself (unless of course you are Jesus who has power over death). You need someone or something from the outside to resurrect you back to life. So if you think of a person dead to God, the only thing they can naturally say is “No” to God until the Holy Spirit comes in them, gives them faith, and the ability to say “yes” to God.

        So, yes, faith that helps one believe in the first place…this faith is necessary and sufficient for belief.

        Faith to me feels constant. I see it at work every day. I operate by faith every day. Do I have off days or mess up at all? Absolutely…I start believing in the things of this world more than I believe in Jesus at times. Faith gives me an inner confidence and strength to believe what others might not see or believe themselves.

        There are times, however, where I “experience” God as well. Most of the time this happens for me in worship. In worship I am led to experience emotions and feelings that I don’t experience anywhere else. For instance, I never cry outside of church or worship, but for some reason, when I’m worshipping I am often led to tears. It could be tears of sorrow for sin, tears of joy for knowing that Jesus has paid for my sin, etc.

        Faith is very real to me, and yet, at the same time, hard to put into words. Hebrews 11:1 says it well: “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

        And again, from the non-believer side I understand Jesus, the cross, Jonah, the miracles, creation, etc. seem foolish. But once you have faith, you don’t see those things as foolish. You take them and receive them by faith. But I also reiterate I don’t think it’s a blind faith either. I’ve seen far too many, what non-believers would call “coincidences” and I call “God-things” for me to ever waiver in my faith.

        I hope that answers and if I can answer or help you in any other way, please let me know.

    2. The king once said to Mozart, “It was a beautiful opera. but there were just to many notes!” Lets get back to the basics here. Christ summed all the commandments into two. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and Love your neighbor as yourself.” We can get so lost in the words of the Bible that we miss the meaning of the BIBLE. Love ya!

      1. The Bible *still* doesn’t make sense, then, under what you propose. If there are really only two commandments, then why add in all the rest? it just confuses things.

        Why can’t the Bible just be clear and say what it means?!

  4. Perhaps the money came from a donor and I suppose that’s his/her right to fund these tattoos, but what a waste. Until there is no more hunger, sickness, homelessness or otherwise disadvantaged people, I don’t see how anyone thinks it’s a good allocation of funds. If I had abundant resources, I would want my money to help those in need. No one needs a tattoo.

    1. “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep itfor the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” – John 12:3-8

      Caring for the poor, is an important work for Christians, but EVEN more so is sharing the Gospel. If these tattoos give an opportunity for these ladies and gentlemen tto share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with just one person, then the financial price is nothing in comparison.

    2. I agree that people should focus on more pressing issues, but I am all for this idea. You’re right now needs a tattoo just like no one needs a cell phone, name brand clothes, tablets, or other luxuries but we have them!

      I didn’t need any of the three tattoos that I have but I wanted them! They were all carefully chosen and have meaning to them. I do not regret my decision to get tattoos and if I could do it all over again I would!!

      1. I interpreted your comment as meaning, “One should not get a tattoo because no one needs a tattoo.” Was I correct? If I wasn’t, what did you mean?

  5. Hmm interesting topic and conversations ensuing. I am an artist and therefore I appreciate all art forms, does that mean that I would buy or purchase every art form for my personal collection? No! I can appreciate the time or energy and effort it takes to do a particular piece of artwork but its imagery may not move me or please me enough to hang it on my wall or wear it permanently on my body. Case in point one of my favorite shows on TV is “Miami Ink”. I love to watch it because I deeply appreciate the artistic skill and creativity of the tattoos, but more importantly the reason/stories behind the tattoos the clients get. Will I ever get one for myself? NO WAY!! Why? As an artist I seem to be the perfect candidate, right? My reasons are that scripture calls us to be Christ like and that we are created in God’s image and try as hard as I can…. I just cant picture God with a tattoo! My dad used to say to me…”if God wanted us to have holes in our ears (piercing) we would have been born with them! Now that may sound a bit old fashioned these days but what is true… is how many rituals or things do we do today originated from pagan rituals? We have become so desensitized to these rituals, music celebrations, holiday ceremonies etc. through peer pressure or culture that we have accepted them and taken them on without a second thought. ( yes I do have my ears pierced at 14 because all my peers had them done and I didn’t want to be left out). Historically piercings and tattoos were part of rituals often worshiping other Gods and also as markers for cultural identification derived by the imaginations of men. This is the danger that Paul talks about in his admonishing of us being “salt and light in the world by being in the world but not of it”. Of course those who come to salvation after having had a tattoo have a permanent physical reminder of where they came from and become a testimony to others as to their spiritual transformation. They can testify to where they are now headed and the hope of where they are going. For this we are not to judge them but welcome them for their testimony and of the people they can reach who you and I who are tattoo-less, perhaps would never get through to. Tattoos serve their purpose God can use anything, but as a Christian? to pursue a tattoo? I don’t agree with that and I don’t think scripture does either. As Christians I think our salt is losing its flavor because we are slowly morphing into our counterparts in this world. We are becoming too much like our unsaved neighbors. Christian Rock used to be an oxymoron now we turn up the volume! I read an interesting article about a study that was done on why men don’t sing in church so much anymore during the services. Its because Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross and all the other oldie but goodies have been replaced with songs that are self help pick me uppers with repetitive phrases and no choruses. The loss of choruses make the songs to hard to remember and therefore they lose the older generations. The gospel story is lost to repetitive short phrases that focus on what God can do for us rather than glorifying and worshiping God for who He is regardless of the redemptive work He has done for us. It’s incredulous to me that we as Christians have stooped so low to honestly believe that as long as we tattoo ourselves with a religious symbolism of a cross, or angels etc, that the tattoo somehow becomes justified. I call it the Miley Cyrus syndrome..she started out so innocently on Disney and ended up naked on a wrecking ball. If you asked her or her parents when she was still a kid in braces if she ever would have ended up swinging from a chain I’m sure they all would have thought you were crazy. My example might be a bit extreme but you get my point. One of my biggest disappointments in the entertainment industry are the Jonas brothers. I went to school with their dad, sat under his teaching and he was also our worship leader at the Bible school we attended together. Kevin Jr. used to run around campus at the age of 3 and Joe was 2 I believe. I just want to wring Kevin Sr.’s neck on where he let those boys go to. If I had a million screaming fans I would be holding Christian concerts or at the very least have a prayer before I started my concert glorifying God on my God given talent, for a safe concert, etc. and a salvation call at the end. We got none of that. They had a perfect opportunity with their celebrity to be awesome tools of God. Instead the prayers where behind the curtain for a good concert and never was God mentioned publicly in a single concert. I believe firmly that is why they are “old news”, have disbanded and fallen away. (I hear Joe isn’t even a virgin anymore I wonder if he is still wearing the “promise ring” his dad gave all the boys?…..how sad). I think an important question to hold onto is the one that we have even made campaigns out of in our own church….”what would Jesus do?” If you are 100% convinced in your heart of hearts that Jesus would sit in the chair next to you and get the exact same tattoo you are getting without batting an eyelash (or even pay for it) then have at it and ignore my opinion and what I believe scripture to mean….. and if that argument doesn’t work…I know that we are to get a new body when we get to heaven, so I’m sure it will be erased anyway so save your money honey!

    1. I want to add a footnote about the scripture in Revelation revealing Jesus returning with the tattoo on his leg “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” At that point in time the need for being a witness for Christ by being set apart from the secular world will obviously have come to an end. Christs second return is ushering in a new era just as Pentacost did by ushering in the Holy Spirit. Many things in the Old testament became irrelevant with God’s gift of the Holy Spirit now doing the work. So as in the example of tattoos..what I believe to be wrong for this era would not be wrong in the next. Our need for separatism will be over and sin and all its vices will be vanquished….Tattoos are permanent and therefore it is appropriate for Jesus/God to use such a medium to get across an infallible point that he is indeed “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. In a small way we recognize this concept of permanency in our everyday lives right now..how? Would your bank or a lawyer accept a check or contract written out and signed in pencil? or pen? Even Atheists use a pen! The notion of permanence is validating and gives credence to authority. So no..I will not have a problem with Jesus having perhaps a major tattoo down His leg on that day. He will rightfully be proclaiming with boldness and permanence (demonstrated by a tattoo) his deity and authority. Scripture talks about us having been branded for Christ and I expect that Jesus’ tattoo will be a mark drawn on Him by the holy hand of God His Father. Jesus riding across the heavens in front of us to me will be more like what we experience even today at a football game with drawn on faces and banners flying you know a real “Braveheart” moment…that will truly be awesome!

      1. Great insights Sharon! Thanks for your partnership in ministry. Even if we have disagreements or slight preferences when it comes to our Christian liberty, I’m glad we can walk together and proclaim Jesus to the community. Keep using your art for the sake of the kingdom and God will make something beautiful out of it!

      2. LOL! Thanks. Having gone to Bible school and being a missionary for years has thrown me into many different Christian circles of which I am grateful. It has caused me to be less concentrating on being dogmatic and legalistic and rather concentrating on what we as Christians have in common. I am therefore in no way offended or Pharisaical about my personal beliefs and or preferences. I am even nervous often about proclaiming them 100% scriptural as everyone can learn something new about scripture they didn’t know before.( It makes for less pie on the face). LOL!!

      3. It is written He has a robe and on the robe there is a name written …do you really believe that He has a tattoo on His thigh ? It is on the robe that is dipped in blood where the thigh is located ; a name ON THE ROBE …pleeease ! this tattoo earing thing is all let me be a man pleaser , pastor Zac is tickling earlobes with this carnal message . I’m sure it’s well intended , I would beg to differ on so many levels ….God made us in His image …the essence of that image is a profound Love .Piercing and tattoos are of a pagan nature ….having a tattoo of a cross does not make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage would make you a car .
        romans 1:16 for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and then the Greek.
        sooooo open your mouth boldly and proclaim the Gospel and leave the too’s and piercings to the Crete’s.

  6. I love this idea!! I have thought about getting a religious tattoo in the past (especially after losing my step-brother) but never did. I do have 3 tattoos that I do not regret! I would get another one if I could but I am pregnant so it would have to wait!!

    I know that there are people out there that wouldn’t agree with me but I think a huge issue these days is that we are taking God out of everything. This country is too afraid of offending everyone that we have lost who we are!

    Also we have commercialized everything… I don’t think kids these days really know the true meaning of Christmas and Easter.

    I think people getting these tattoos are a great way to get people talking about God again! I don’t even think it necessarily matters if you have the same beliefs if you can have an intelligent conversation with someone. I have friends that are Christian, friends that don’t go to church, friends that are Catholic, and a Mormon friend. I personally have a kind of different religious background with my family but that doesn’t stop me from talking about it!

    I sometimes almost forget that I have 3 tattoos since they are covered up a good chunk of the year due to the cold! But when they are showing people ask me all the time about the one I got in memory of my grandpa!

  7. I do not judge those who get tattoos or those who pay for their friends to get them. However, I shared this blog only because I support the idea of expressing viewpoints on the subject. I personally do not encourage tattoos. I would not pay for tattoos (for my friends, or even my worst enemy). And I choose not to get a tattoo, as much as I love God and as much as I love The Cross and as much as I love those who have tattoos, for these reasons: I don’t want to be in pain (and don’t want others in pain). I don’t want it to get infected and be in even more pain. After being born again, I try to treat myself as if I am a special, well-loved, innocent child, because I believe that is how God sees me and wants me to be…pure, unblemished, and holy. I do not want to alter the “temple” God gave me unless it would (without pain) make me happier, healthier, or better able to serve the Lord (such as a haircut–Lol!). Who am I to try to better the body He gave me? It would be like saying “God, you didn’t do a good enough job. Let me help.” But of course we should take care of it, keep it clean, but a tattoo is not needed to do so. I would not let my child watch an R-rated movie, so I try to avoid them. I would not let anyone put ink (a toxic poison) into my child’s skin, so why is it okay for me to do it? We should be the example we want our children to follow. Would God want to see me, His child, cutting (on purpose) the beautiful flesh He gave me? If I were to say “But God, it is FOR you!”, I think He would say to try another way to please Him. I don’t smoke because it can damage a bodily organ, the lung. I don’t drink, because it can damage the liver. The skin is an organ, our biggest organ, and we should love it and treat it as best we can. Lotions and oils were very valuable back then and are today, because it not only keeps skin looking good but it actually keeps you healthy, because your skin protects your insides. I got sunburned the other day. The pain was telling me “Don’t ever go outside without sunscreen ever again!” I think God gives us a conscience and the sensation of pain to let us know what she be avoided and what should be done. When you put it that way, no ancient manuscripts are needed to be translated/interpreted. But I am a big fan of the Bible and it does help, so while I don’t encourage tattoos, I will definitely encourage reading The Word!

  8. I very much enjoyed this blog as I do most of them. I do not have a tattoo. I have always wanted one but have been fearful of the pain. I also needed it to be something I would want on my body forever. I cannot think of a better tattoo to get! I love my God! I love the church! I enjoy people knowing that I love my Father in Heaven. What a great way story it will be!

    I do think it is everyone’s own choice. I do not judge anyone for their choices in life that is not my job. No one is prefect. No one is right all the time. Only Jesus. Matthew 7:1-2 says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    I have seen tattoos that have and hopefully one day will save one of my family members life.
    Many years ago my Uncle was hit by a car and left on the side of the road to die. After he was found and brought to the hospital. He was a John Doe. He had a very unique tattoo on his arm, with God and that tattoo his life was saved. The hospital used that tattoo and the tv news to help find out who he was. He needed more medical help then they were willing to give him without knowing who was going to pay the bill.

    My nephew is a Type A diabetic. He is a active young man. He has a tattoo on his right forarm of the EMT symbol and Type A. This is to insure if ever something happens to him EMT’s will know right away what he needs. With or without his medical Id card.

    Thank you Pastor Zack and many thanks to the donor that has funded these moving living billboards for the church.

  9. pastorzach, I can understand how faith works in one sense we discussed. Given a belief in God, and that God is wise, then it would be very reasonable to trust that those things that don’t make sense (like why the Bible isn’t written plainly and clearly) ultimately do, given that it is God that will make sense of them. In this scenario, faith is relying on something that is already confirmed (the existence and wisdom of God).

    But I don’t understand how faith can work in the other sense, the sense of believing in God in the first place. There doesn’t seem to be anything that is already confirmed, as in the first case above, in which one would place one’s trust. Put another way, how do you know that your experience is actually what you think it is without having first confirmed that (1) the Holy Spirit exists independent of your experience, and (2) that the experience of the Holy Spirit feels some certain way, and that was exactly the way you felt? Both parts are necessary; without either one, the whole thing falls apart.

    That others might report a similar experience doesn’t help, because without some external to any person, there’s no way to know if everyone isn’t making up the same interpretation. That is, without anything external, if it (the entire experience) is all in your head, then it’s all in your head; you’re making it up for yourself. And many people can do that.

    1. Paul, Maybe I misunderstand exactly what your criteria is asking for as you stated it. Taking it at face value, one could not defend the concept of pain, emotions, or taking it to the extreme, even the existence of spatial relationships. Be open and tolerant of the possibility of an outside force, God, entering the closed system of our world. God through His Spirit wants a relationship with you. That is clearly seen in the Scriptures. Keep on searching and asking good questions. The answers await you.

      1. Linda, I would ask the very same of you: that you be open and tolerant of the possibility of *no* outside force (that is, God). I hope you keep on searching and asking good questions. The answers may or may not await you.

        As for “Maybe I misunderstand exactly what your criteria is asking for as you stated it. Taking it at face value, one could not defend the concept of pain, emotions, or taking it to the extreme, even the existence of spatial relationships,” I don’t know what you mean. Can you re-phrase?

  10. Thank you Billy for correcting me….see this why I make disclaimers on “knowing everything” it makes it easier for me to accept being corrected. LOL!! I appreciate the loving family we have at The Cross and therefore your admonishment and corrections as your sister in Christ. Just so you know I am against tattoos for myself and don’t believe that they should be pursued by Christians ( if they already had them that’s another thing). But I also don’t judge those who get them. God walks each of us in a different spiritual journey and if God can use a donkey to talk to Balaam then I’m sure God can use these tats to speak to someone you or I couldn’t reach. If they have prayed about it and it is right for them then leave them be. Paul had to address this dissension between the Jews and Gentiles when it came to eating meat in the vision God gave him of “unclean foods” and Paul was asked to partake of them…he refused ( even though he was asked 3 times). God was showing him that what was unclean to eat in the past was no longer a sin or an issue for the future because of the work of Christ. I’m not saying this to justify tattoos Im merely pointing out that what you and I hold to be “not for us” may not be true for our fellow Christians whatever biblical reasons you and I hold onto and the point is what you and I hold onto was from issues in the past ( and true some of it still exists today in spiritually backward cultures). I think God is silent on the issue because he’s more interested in our response to those who still partake, just as He was interested in the responses fo Paul and the Jews and Gentiles to one another over the issue of meat. It wasn’t about the meat, the meat was a visual and physical tool by which to measure a spiritual problem of cultural tolerances and love between the saved and the unsaved. I hope and pray I’ve passed that test…have you?

  11. I have a lot of tattoos and it’s telling a story in my life. I had a hard childhood and I have decided to tattoo.my body instead of doing drugs and drinking. I’m a mother of three and the father is my husband. Just cause I have tattoos doesn’t mean I’m any better or worse then anyone else

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I hope you are not thinking that those of us who do not prefer tattoos on ourselves and are also against Christians pursuing new ones, are going to be judgmental towards those who already have them? If you read my earlier posts I am an artist and though I deeply appreciate the artistry in the imagery, I’m merely stating I would not want one for myself. Im sure yours are beautiful and indeed it sounds as though they have a story to tell. Your story and journey on why you got each one is now a testimony to reach others who are like minded with you, whom I have no ability to reach for the Gospel because I am tattooless. God can use your tats for His Glory of course. I’m just not comfortable with Christians pursuing new tats…if they already had them when they became a Christian tha’ts completely different. The important thing is we all need to look past the outward man and concentrate on the inward man….. …

      1. Sharon
        i was just writing because a lot of people look down on people with tattoos.My thing is i dont go to church haven’t in a long time because i people that look at me wrong and talk. I beleive i dont have to go to church to beleive in GOD. GOD knows how i feel and its sad that other have to judge people just because something they do. Not saying you do im just saying. its wrong for people to think anything about me or others with tattoos. everyone has a closet and people shouldnt judge a book by its cover.

      2. Hi Sharon, I totally understand the fear of being looked down on. I am an alcoholic and haven’t had the luxury of anonymity always. That is why I was so happy to find The Cross Mount Dora. There I was met with open arms by people that were willing to accept me as I was. At the same time, they challenged me to overcome the things in my life that have kept me separated from God all these many years.

        Also Sharon, I agree with you that you don’t have to go to church to believe in God, but going to church helps you experience God in a way that you cannot do by your self. Going to church exposes you to the truths of Christ, God, the Holy Spirit and the Bible that are hard to do at home. The Bible says that, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” It goes on to ask the question, “How can we hear if there is no one to teach?” At church we get taught more about God and by learning more about God we learn to Love more which allows us to accept people like you and I that some might call different.

        So please Sharon, consider joining us at the Cross. We are located in Mount Dora at next to Golds Gym on 441. Services are at 9:30 and 11:00. With childcare during the 9:30 service. Can’t wait to meet you and your family.

      3. Oh My, Vicky, I’m so sorry you don’t feel comfortable coming to church…maybe you have been going to the wrong one!! Come to The Cross, I don’t believe you will feel like that there. They have people joining because of this tattoo debate thing! and there are A LOT of tattoos at The Cross!
        Anyway I have a HUGE “what my church did to me” sob story where I would have been completely justified in throwing in the towel on churches. But I had the wisdom to confront the haters in the church just as Jesus did in the Temple when he overturned the tables in anger.( Haters in the church?…uh imagine that, relatives of the Pharisees I suppose). What happened was amazing…they backed off and learned to see past my “sin” (hmmm I think Jesus asked them to throuw the first stone and they all backed off too) and let me break bread with them again ( literally). It made me stronger in the whole process. I then went on to Bible school and became a missionary and was surrounded by people of all cross sections of Christianity and learned to not be judgmental of others ( I never struggled with this problem but it kept me from BECOMING judgmental of others). You’ll get a big hug from ME (smile).
        Scripture says that we are to congregate or come together as believers. “Where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them”. Yes God does know your heart..but be honest is your heart always in the right place? Do you think then that this should be the only thing you rely on for your Christian walk? Don’t you think a back up plan would be wise?. God wants us to gather together for many reasons but three important ones are 1) we are blessed by hearing and conversing with others who are like minded with us as Christians it’s encouraging. 2) we are also a blessing to others and an encouragement by just showing up…you are robbing others of the encouragement and blessing you could be to them. Did you think of that? The million man march held in the USA across the country is so awesome not just because its a Christian event but to me being in that crowd shows such solidarity to the world. Even if no one even spoke one word … the numbers by themselves would speak volumes and be so encouraging don’t you think? and number 3) which is usually the biggest hindrance is the reason of accountability. We are sinful creatures by nature… born in sin in fact. Even the strongest of God’s people did wicked things far worse than we can imagine. David a “man after God’s own heart” lusted and murdered a man. He should have been out to battle with his men in God’s war….not home alone being bored..he got into trouble not being accountable. Peter denied Christ 3 times because he was not with the other disciples and felt isolated and therefore cursed God when he felt threatened.. Yet later God called him The Rock. These were strong men and if they got into trouble by being in positions of un-accountability how much more so for me and you ( I definitely include myself as well).
        So put aside your fears and insecurities and come join others in worshiping the God you have professed your faith to…..oh yeah that’s another reason…corporate worship is very powerful and God wants us to give him the glory for what He has done not just for you…. but ALL of us…….and your seat is empty…..just sayin’
        Love you gal! Hope to see you on Sunday!

  12. Hello Crandall,
    Great things you said in reply to “Vicky”…I’m Sharon…. you accidentally thought I was the one writing….. you got me mixed up with Vicky. We are on the same page though!. I didn’t even read your reply to her until after I wrote mine. See how God works? Vicky has two confirmations now that she should come check us out at The Cross!!!! Lets pray she shows up and experiences where God wants her!!

    1. Oops, that makes twice in this blog that I got people mixed up. If ever there was a person that needs a loving and forgiving Church it’s me! Thank God I found one. Sorry Vicky and thanks Sharon.

  13. Does anyone see what this conversation of “how terrible tattoos are” and “my opinion is…” has done? While I know that not everyone is going back and forth on it, and I am not trying to say that everyone has to agree. I would call everyone to look into
    how you speak and how you “type” your comments.

    We have become so wrapped up on “being RIGHT” and “being CORRECT” that we have completely lost sight of the witness and example that we give in our lives in our words and our actions.

    It pains me to see what has happened in the last dialogue that happened here and the “confusion that happened” between a few individuals because of this back and forth and how one person viewed it from the outside looking in.

    Jesus calls us to Love God & Love Others. That is his example for us to follow. When we get into these public debates of “WHO IS MORE WORTHY AND MORE CHRISTIAN” WE have become a big group of hypocrites.

    Hypocrites were actors “pretending to be something that they were not” on the stage in time of Jesus. (Think of the masks that we use today to depict the theater–happy and sad faces. The actors would hide behind these masks pretending to be something that they are not: HYPOCRITES.) Jesus calls the religious leaders out on being just that in Matthew 23. Eventually calling them all “white washed tombs”. (Mt 23:27)

    Jesus calls us to be His Witnesses in the world. Today we become so wrapped up in the word-playing and minor theological differences that the world around us is thumbing their noses at us because we are too busy arguing over piercings, tattoos etc. and the outside world sees us (the Christian church, and those who gather regularly) as a bunch of hypocrites.

    When we say comments like: “I would never get one” but ..you are welcome here if you have them… puts you on this higher pedestal of how great you are… and they are welcome to feast on the scraps that fall at the table. You will get the better portions… and they will get the leftovers…

    To sum this all up… perhaps we need to TAKE the “MY” out of our comments and thoughts. When we were baptized. WE became living ambassadors for Christ. His examples. Our words, life and actions are all mirroring Jesus Christ.

    “It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me.” (GAL 2:20)

    Love God. Love Others. Look at the life of Jesus. Our Savior and Lord, our Rabbi.

    This is what Jesus taught the disciples, and what the disciples mirrored in their lives and actions. We need to realize that EVERYTHING that we say and do is on display. Ministry workers are not the only ones who live in fishbowls. All Christians are living in a fishbowl. And when we recognize that, and live our lives realizing that… it is then and only then that the the hurting and struggling will see Jesus.

    Look at the life of Jesus. He is our example. He showed us what our human life was supposed to look like.

    I think it is awesome what The Cross is doing. Speaking from the other side of the country in the “Keep It Weird” City of Portland, Oregon. Hearing that this is opening up the door for others to realize that Jesus loves them is exactly what we have been called to do and hearing that the media grabbed a hold of this! AWESOME!

    May the Holy Spirit continue to speak through you Zach! Proud to call you a colleague in ministry!!

    1. Dear Brother Eric,
      I had to read your article 3 times in order to figure out that I think you are referring to me when you wrote about being upset over the last blog (which is mine) and when you said:: “When we say comments like: “I would never get one” but ..you are welcome here if you have them… puts you on this higher pedestal of how great you are… and they are welcome to feast on the scraps that fall at the table. You will get the better portions… and they will get the leftovers…”
      I am so taken back by the comment because it is so unlike me to think that way that I am almost speechless. I’m sorry if I have offended you by my sincerest and heartfelt comments on the matter.. Perhaps if you knew me on a more personal level you wouldn’t think I would be capable of such “hypocritical” thoughts as I think you also worded it. I hope that your viewpoint has not destroyed the sincere invitation I am offering to those who have tats to come freely to The Cross. If I read your comment as an outsider it would definitely bolster my insecurities of not wanting to come thus giving me further excuse and allowing the devil to win by me staying home. Whoever reads this and was thinking about maybe coming to church, please don’t be discouraged, I hope you disregard this well intentioned but misworded ideal of there being any levels of spirituality at The Cross. We are ALL sinners saved by Gods Grace and we all have a different testimony. But no matter where we come from and no matter what we’ve been through guess what? We will ALL end up on our knees one day before Christ at his Judgement seat and whether someone has stolen a piece of bubblegum or murdered someone God will view us the same!..ALL sinners saved by HIs grace and through Christs work on the Cross. So the notion of one being better than the other is ridiculous and certainly not held by me. Just because I don’t have tats doesn’t mean my personal story or testimony is not a mile long. If you knew my background I definitely am not the one to be picking up any stones. Yes, there are those who are self-righteous in every church it’s true. Every church as them because we are human and born in sin and are not perfected yet (although most of us are trying). You will find some sitting on the sidelines happy to be Monday morning quarterbacks. I heard a funny saying once that said God needs those people in the church too…it serves as a reminder for the rest of us where we ourselves came from ! Anyway I love you brother Eric and I love anyone who is at
      The Cross now or thinking about coming…God Bless you have a great week and see you on Sunday!!!!

      1. Just a footnote..I realize that there my be those who have never stolen a piece of bubblegum or murdered someone…were those examples too extreme? Scripture gives us examples FAR MORE EXTREME. It says that to even THINK about sin like for example of lust, coveting, or being angry ( which are internal actions of the heart, they are just the same as the outward actions of stealing or murder…….).just wanted to cover any loopholes out there to level the playing field even more (myself included!)

      2. They say that pastors and ministry professionals live in a “fish bowl”. Everything that we do is being watched by the world and the church: our words, our actions, the things that we type… EVERYTHING… etc. When we as Christians recognize that this does not just pertain to the ministry professionals in the church, but to all followers of Jesus: everyone who professes that they are Christians and that they believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord the world will see a difference in the Christian church and in Christians alike. The World is watching us very closely. Love Like Jesus: not just in words that we say but in our ACTIONS.

  14. Outstanding article Pastor Zach. My thoughts on it mirror yours. The main point to remember is God looks at the heart he judges hearts and minds. In fact we won’t even have these broken down bodies. All believers will have been transformed by Christ. I have two tattoos myself and have been able to use my most recent one the ICTHUS with IXOYS in Greek as a tool for witnessing.

  15. Why do you say that the Friendly Atheist blog deleted pro-Christian comments? That is verifiably false. There are many such comments, including a link to the video you mentioned.

    1. Hey Becca, thanks for the note. They did delete our original one. It was nowhere to be found, so we re-posted in the comments the link to the video and this blog and they are still on their now. I will edit my words in the blog to reflect this. Thanks again.

  16. Bottom line, Christ turned NOONE away. The whore, the thief….those who think they can turn someone away for a tat, I want to see them being judged…Furthermore, how hypocritical to judge someone for tats, or other “items” when the Bible tells you NOT TO JUDGE….Why to people hate Christians now? They are to stuck up in their religions…..They need to get back to the basic…… And yes, I love and believe Jesus Christ died for my sins….it is the nature of man to totally screw up everything he said and put on peoples hearts to write in the Bible.

  17. @ Eric:

    Doesn’t the idea that God is watching all of us, all the time, and even knows every thought we have, make the idea that the world is watching the ministry pale in comparison?

    1. Hey Jake, thanks for the comment and sorry it’s been a while to respond back to you…if you scroll back a few blogs to the “What’s all the quacking about?'” you will see part of our stance on this. We believe in the Bible and what God teaches us through that. Therefore, we don’t believe that living an active homosexual life is pleasing to God or what He had intended. Having said that, everyone is equally in need of Jesus. Homosexuals need Jesus. Heterosexuals need Jesus. Bisexuals need Jesus. Metrosexuals need Jesus. Alcoholics need Jesus. Cheaters need Jesus…and so on. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to email me at Zach@hclm.org. Thanks!

  18. Well anyway, I don’t see anywhere where the tattoos were being done to claim “visibility to Jesus” or magical powers or anything of the sort, so I dunno why they’re up in arms about tattoos in the first place.

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