Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Tattoo Apologetic...and No that Doesn't Mean I'm Sorry

In the comment section for the post on Piper and tattoos, Logan raised a good question regarding what the context was that Lev 19 was referring to. I started to respond in the comment section but decided it might be helpful to post it here instead. I think what Piper had in mind was the fact that many of the commands regarding outward observances (you mentioned the beard thing, of course tattoos, polyester, hey, even boiling a goat in it's mother's milk) were pertaining to what we today commonly refer to as "boundary markers", that is: things that distinguished Israel from pagan nations around her. While I know some fundy lurker will be quick to point out that WE shouldn't be like the world EITHER, I'd be quick to add that circumcision was the CHIEF boundary marker, yet I don't remember that being one of the closing steps for EE.

If circumcision is out the window, I take it to imply that the beard thing, the polyester thing, the tattoo thing etc. is out too. While I would still recommend avoiding polyester, I hear the goat in it's mother's milk thing can be quite a delicacy. If our heart is circumcised in Christ, it's fair to say we've been "tattooed" with the seal of the Spirit :-)

Much of modern day tattoos are either entertainment or decorative in nature (though some may still be "tribal" so to speak, and I'd avoid those). The primary issue is exactly what Piper pointed out: you don't have to get one, but if you get a tattoo, get it and use it for the glory of God! Hence, post tenebras lux (and hopefully soon - "recovering pharisee"). Granted it was a bit easier to justify when I was a thorough going dispensationalist; I got a bit concerned as my trajectory became more and more reformed, but not too fear - my conscience is indeed robust in this area :-) Of course, there is always the "Driscoll Justification" - The exalted Jesus is no longer a humble Mediterranean peasant....he's a tattooed (His leg) ultimate fighter coming back to rescue His people and destroy His enemies. Okay - maybe, maybe not, but it sure does sound cool!

1 comment:

Russell W. White said...


Love the post! I agree with the key points, i.e. Lev 19 - especially in situation discussing bodying-disfigurement - is referring to specific cultic context and that the contextualization involved is primarily directed to modern worship context - e.g. dreads in Rastafarian.

I wouldn't see the Reformed, save for the the Theonomist, having the continuity argument for this point. Most of them would see the re-contextulization as well.