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I am in my mid-50s, born and raised in a small-town Baptist church where I faithfully served for most of my life. I believe I am a born-again Christian, having accepted Christ as my Savior in my 2nd Grade Sunday School class and having been baptized as a high school senior. About 10 years ago, a close Christian friend was going through a very challenging time in his life, and I tried to be a source of support and encouragement for him. One day, the two of us decided to both get a small tattoo of a cross on the small of our backs. My friend went first, and I went second although it was a few days later. At the time, the tattoo had special significance for me, and while it still does to some extent, I often wonder about the decision I made. The sign on your church brought those thoughts and feelings back again. I believe God lead me to drive by the church on that particular weekend, and I believe He is leading me to contact you through this email. To put my concerns into a question format, I would say, "What have I done in God's sight?" and "What now?"
Thank you for writing to us, and letting us know that the message on the sign had an impact upon your life. That encourages us, and lets us know that people are reading the sign, and taking what it says seriously. We are especially encouraged by your desire to sincerely know Gods will and to follow it.
Leviticus 19:28 says, Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
This verse tells us that God does not want us putting permanent marks upon our flesh. Two methods of doing that are listed:
1. Cutting the flesh to leave a permanent mark (a scar).
2. Printing a permanent mark on the flesh.
The reason for choice number one is mentioned in that verse, for the dead. People have cut themselves to try and associate with the pain and suffering that their loved ones experienced in death; and thus, a permanent mark is left upon their bodies (the scars), in remembrance of that death.
No specific reason is listed for choice number two, because people have permanent marks printed upon their bodies for a variety of reasons.
Whether it is cutting the flesh and leaving a permanent mark, or printing a permanent mark upon the flesh, God tells us not to do that.
You have chosen to have a permanent mark (the cross) printed upon your flesh in memory of the One who died for our sins. It sounds like you did in sincerity, and did not know that doing so was going against what the Bible teaches us. God does not want us to wear a permanent mark of a cross on our fleshHe wants us to live the life of the cross. In other words, He wants us to die to our fleshly desires and plans, and to live righteous, holy, and unselfish lives for Him. Matthew 10:38-39 says, And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
To illustrate, some men with tattoos of the cross walk around with long hair, body piercings, and have more of the appearance of being in the Hells Angels, than of being in Gods family. God says that it is a shame for a man to have long hair. 1 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. Those type of people wear the cross, but they do not live it. Living the cross is dying to selfish, sinful desires, and obeying the Lord. John 14:15 says, If ye love me, keep my commandments. It is hypocritical to wear the cross, while at the same time sinning (disobeying the Lords commandments), which is the very reason that Jesus had to die upon the cross.
Now that you see what the Lord commands us in the Bible (not to put permanent marks upon our flesh), what should you do? First, repent of what you did and confess it to the Lord. Psalms 38:18 says, For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. 1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That means being sorry for what you did, and not doing it again (not getting any more tattoos). Second, to leave it on your body may tempt someone else to get a tattoo. A dermatologist can give you counsel as to how to get the tattoo removed. It may be expensive and painful, but what is your testimony worth to you, in regard to leading other people to go against what God has taught us? Jesus paid a very painful death for our sins. Are we really willing to live the cross (suffer some pain now ourselves), in gratitude for what He has done for us?
Thank you for taking the time to write, and for your desire to obey and please the Lord.
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