A fun little debate about tattoos and the bible

An article about a tattoo parlor ban being lifted in Plant City, Florida leads to a lengthy discussion of tattoos and the bible. This is another fine example of cherry picking bible verses to help fuel an anti-tattoo argument. The end result was one of the most ridiculous tattoo debates that I have ever taken part in.

I’m not sure if I have ever experienced someone helping me prove my own point in their argument against me, but it happened here. I responded to the Lev 19:28 quote in the way I usually do by bringing up some of the other obscure laws, like cutting your hair and trimming your beard, and reinforcing the idea that they are all to be taken in the context of pagan rituals. He copies and pastes a tirade found on another website which explains exactly the point I was trying to make.

One of the silliest and childish arguments to justify the Christian tattoo is the: “Hey man, do you get a haircut or trim your beard? God condemned getting a haircut or trimming your beard in the verse before forbidding the tattoo. Dude, the tattoo is the same as getting a haircut.”
Believe it or not . . . this is a widely used argument.
Leviticus 19:26-28 is a clear condemnation of pagan, witchcraft and heathen practices. Look at the context. Verse 26 is plainly referring to “enchantment [spells or witchcraft] nor observe times [astrology]. . . Verse 28 is the pagan, demonic practice of bloodletting [cuttings in your flesh] and tattooing. Why would the Lord stick in the middle a verse that “condemns simply getting a haircut”? Of course, He wouldn’t. . . And He didn’t.

So, he clearly has an understanding that the laws of leviticus are speaking about pagan rituals. Yet he expects me to believe that the one mention of a tattoo “…has no reference to idolatrous usages, but was intended to inculcate upon the Israelietes a proper reverence for God’s creation.” The is the epitome of cherry picking from the bible. You can’t refute an entire passage, claiming that it is being taken out of context, then take a fraction of one sentence from that passage and claim that it applies universally, and the context is irrelevant. This has to be one of the most absurd arguments I have ever heard.

But, perhaps the most shocking and disturbing part of it all was his response to this question:

Do you also believe that we should gather as a community and stone to death anyone who curses the name of god? Let’s not forget that if a man cheats on his wife, or vise versa, both the man and the woman must die.

His response:

Answer: Yes I do … If you knew that your sin would be made public and that the public would stone you for it would you do it ? Do you see how this would be a deterrence to our Society today?? That’s why God established it then….

So, tattoos are forbidden, but public stoning is a great idea as a deterrent to crime. I guess we should just start using the death penalty for petty crimes. That will teach those criminals a real lesson.

He goes on and on for a while, spouting enough random scripture from the bible to “”save” the entire world”. Yes, he actually said that. He also continued to insist that tattoos are a pagan ritual and “If you practice a PAgan ritual I;E Tattooing it makes you a pagan … ” I conveniently reminded him that if he was married and wore a wedding ring, that he himself had participated in a pagan ritual, but at that point he had already thrown in the towel and gave up trying to argue with me and moved onto some of the other tattoo supporters that started to chime in.


  1. says

    Hi There Paul,
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