Is it taking Leviticus 19:28 out of context to use it in regard to tattoos?


I have a question in relation to your current sign message at your church. I was wondering how you justify your interpretation of that passage within its context. And secondly I really just wonder how you feel this is going to reach the community in a positive way. I am not trying to be offensive, I just am curious about your motivation in doing this.

(The sign in front of the church reads)


God Says No

Lev. 19:28


Thanks for your inquiry about what is on the sign. Your question, “I was wondering how you justify your interpretation of that passage within its context.”

The context of this passage is a whole series of things that the heathen practiced, and the way that they lived — practices and ways of which God disapproved. Leviticus 19:26-32 says, “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.”

Look at the context in detail:

#1 — “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood…” The heathen drank and ate blood — God’s people are not to do that. Leviticus 17:10-14 says, “And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.” Acts 15:19, 20 says, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, AND FROM BLOOD.” God did not list all of the possible ways that people can eat or drink blood (like eating a rare piece of meat with the blood oozing out, or just plain drinking blood like Satanists and tribes in Papua New Guinea do) — but the point is clear — God disapproves of man eating or drinking blood in any manner.

#2 — “Neither shall ye use enchantment…” Enchant means “to influence by or as if by charms and incantation; bewitch” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Incantation means “a use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Acts 8:9-12 says, “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” The early church applied this Scripture, and when a person got saved, that person was expected to forsake that heathen practice.

#3 — “Nor observe times…” Isaiah 47:13,14 says, “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” We are not to make decisions in our lives based upon astrology or other worldly or satanic means, but based upon the Word of God and prayer seeking God’s will and timing. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” James 4:13-15 says, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” The early church practiced discerning the will of God through the Word of God and prayer. The heathen decided their course in life and decisions based upon the movement of the stars and other means of divination — all of which God disapproved.

#4 — “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” God forbids the shaving of the head or beard into unnatural shapes. The Egyptians did this with their beards (you can easily find pictures of the Pharaoh’s with their beards trimmed into long, shiny shapes. We see the marring of the head today with unnatural shapes cut into it. From flat-top haircuts that change the natural shape of the head, to names and symbols shaved right into the hair. God forbid anything like that. The New Testament does not shy away from commenting on hair. I Corinthians 11:14,15 says, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” When is the last time that you heard it is sin when a man has long hair, and sin when a woman has short hair? Is it being negative to say what God says, but positive to say what man says? That will be seen to be backwards in the reality of eternity. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

#5 — “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Remember, thus far, what is being listed in the context are things that the heathen do. The context is that the heathen practiced cutting their flesh and printing marks upon their bodies (both types of disfigurement to the flesh) to inflict punishment and lasting marks on their bodies — trying, in their feeble and unscriptural way, to suffer with those who had died, and to somehow try and appease their gods (false gods). God condemns and forbids disfiguring the body in any way, and for any reason.

If this passage only says that it is wrong to cut your flesh or print marks upon your body FOR THE DEAD, does that mean that the false prophets on Mt. Carmel were doing something acceptable to God? Of course not. I Kings 18:25-28 says, “And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and CUT THEMSELVES after their manner with knives and lancets, TILL THE BLOOD GUSHED OUT upon them.”

We read of demon-possessed people cutting themselves, but not for the dead. Does that mean that God approved of that? Of course not. Mark 5:2-5 says, “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and CUTTING HIMSELF with stones.”

It is wrong to cut your flesh (an obvious exemption from this is surgery — Genesis 2:21,22, “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”), and it is wrong to print marks upon your flesh. They are both disfiguring to the body, and mar the appearance of it. God used the example of what the heathen did for their dead TO CONDEMN TWO PRACTICES WHICH HE FORBIDS — cutting the flesh and printing marks upon it. If are going to insist that it is only wrong to print marks upon your body if you are doing it for the dead, then you are also going to have to say that it is only wrong to cut your flesh if you are doing it for the dead — and for any other reason, it is okay. Are you prepared for people to start going around and cutting their flesh because it becomes a fad? Would you defend the practice as okay because they are not doing it for the dead? Of course not.

The practice of tattooing is not pleasing to God, but is forbidden of Him. It is a painful procedure that leaves a permanent mark upon the body for adornment (have you ever noticed the evil nature of much in the realm of tattooing — snakes, dragons, spiders, bats, immoral pictures?). Consider the evil names of the tattoo parlors (look in the Yellow Pages — it might shock you). Christians never got the idea to get tattooed from the Bible — they got that idea from the world. I John 2:15 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

#6 — “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.” Do you see the context is filled with the evil that the world does — not what believers do? And we could go on.


Your second question: “And secondly I really just wonder how you feel this is going to reach the community in a positive way. I am not trying to be offensive, I just am curious about your motivation in doing this.”

That is a good question, and churches are failing to Scripturally consider it. What is truly positive for a community? Is it allowing them to follow the ways of the world with no warning? That is what the false prophets do. Ezekiel 33:7-11 says, “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die.”

Is it really positive to sit idly by, while young and old cover their bodies with marks that they will one day tire of, but cannot remove (except through expensive and painful procedures, and then not all can be removed)? When we get saved, our bodies are not our own. I Corinthians 6:19, 20 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” God says not to cut our bodies or to print marks upon them.

What is positive for our community? Is it the place of churches to just put their stamp of approval upon whatever a community wants to do, so that the church will have praise of the community? Once again, that is the motive of false prophets. Luke 6:26 says, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

The thing that is really positive for a community is to tell them truthfully what God says, because each person is going to one day stand before God. If we just tell them what they want to hear today, and then they face judgment before God for it, how have we helped them in a positive way? We have not.

The church in America is failing in our day, because it has a faulty idea of its purpose in the earth, and a totally unscriptural idea of what is truly positive. We are not here to draw the largest crowd that we can by placing our stamp of approval upon the world’s fads (music, clothing, tattoos, body piercings, etc.). We are here to call the people to repentance. Matthew 3:1,2 describes how John the Baptist began his ministry, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, REPENT YE: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Was his message positive? In light of eternity, it was positive, but it was pretty negative for those who were not right with God.

Read on as he continues in verse 7-12, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” If you were sitting in church, and the preacher called you a viper, a snake, I do not suppose that you would consider that too positive. But in light of eternity, it was. Because if those religious people who were so filled with hypocrisy did not get saved, they were going to spend eternity in the lake of fire.

Lest you think that John the Baptist was just an ornery preacher from spending too much time in the wilderness alone, Jesus gave John the highest commendation possible to a man upon earth, and He started out His ministry in the exact same way. Matthew 11:11 says, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 4:17 says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The only way to truly affect our community in a positive way, is to bring them to repentance. Repent means “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life; to feel regret or contrition; to change one’s mind; to cause to feel regret or contrition; to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for.” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). That was the message of the early church. Acts 3:19 says, “REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 17:30, 31 says, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to REPENT: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” If a person is truly turning to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, then he is going to be turning away from his sin.

We are facing increased sin in our land (abortion, sodomite marriages, tattooing, body piercings, etc.), because the church, for the most part, is no longer willing to say what God says. If Liberty Baptist Church comes to the place where it only says what man wants to hear, instead of what God wants man to hear, then Liberty Baptist Church will be nothing more than a social club. II Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”