The Bridge Chicago is a way to offer the resources of Mission:USA to help people do good ministry.
Aren’t tattoos wrong? Doesn’t God say to treat your body like a temple?
(This is a follow up to a question we answered on episode 18 of the Say That podcast)
Well I would point out that most temples have things carved into them and painted on them. This is a case where people who are trying to make a point cherry pick two scriptures and try to relate them, which causes confusion. There is a verse in Deuteronomy about tattoos. It says that you should not get a tattoo as part of a Baal cultic ritual worshipping your dead relatives. There is also a verse in 1 Corinthians 6 about your body being a temple of the Holy Spirit. They are in no way directly related…unless of course one decides beforehand that God is against tattoos and then tries to impose that view on the scripture.
Since I assume you don’t know any Baal worshippers, we will focus on the Corinthians verse you mentioned in your question. The example that the chapter gives of what you shouldn’t do, since your body is a temple, is to have sex with a prostitute. So Paul is not saying that, because your body is a temple, there are things you shouldn’t put onit, he is saying there are things you shouldn’t do with it.
It’s like in Matthew 15:11 when Jesus is talking about the Pharisees strict rules about ceremonial washing before eating and explains that it isn’t what goes into someone’s mouth that defiles them, it is what comes out. So if someone doesn’t wash up before eating but is kind and truthful in what they say, that is better than washing elaborately and being judgmental and harsh. The same logic applies for tattoos. If a body with tattoos on it is helping people, caring about them, loving on them; then it is functioning as a temple of the Holy Spirit much more than a non-tattooed body who is sitting around keeping track of how holy they must seem.
Tattoos are an individual choice that has to do with taste and self expression. Being a temple of the Holy Spirit, however, is about going out and doing the things that we are called to do. Fulfilling that is important, what you look like when you do is trivial. We need to be able to focus on what it is important.
-Matt from The Bridge