Can believers in Messiah Yeshua wear Tattoos?

There are many arguments on this subject. Some attempt to justify the wearing nose rings and multiple earrings and all the "strange" customs that are popular today by using certain verses from Genesis 24 and Ezekiel 16:12 which says: "...a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears and a beautiful crown for your head." Reading this scripture in context, we can see the "woman" turned away from YHWH. Check it out:

Ezekiel 16: 15 "'But you put your trust in your own beauty and began prostituting yourself because of your fame, soliciting everyone passing by and accepting all comers. 16 You took your clothes and used them to decorate with bright colors the high places you made for yourself, and there you continued prostituting yourself. Such things shouldn't happen, and in the future they won't. 17 You also took your beautiful jewels made of my gold and my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images, with which you continued to prostitute yourself."

The verses in Genesis 24 show that there was a complicated societal norm in that age where jewelry was used as "purchase" rights, or for betrothal; and that earrings and nose rings were also signs of ownership of slaves, for example. These verses really are not suggesting these things (piercings and tattoos) are right or wrong.

In order to properly understand Scripture, one needs to look at the "big picture" of what we are as human beings in our walk with YHWH, and where He wants us to be in that walk with Him. In our society, body piercings are seen by many as "beautiful" while, in actuality, they go against everything in Scripture, which repeatedly tells us to "be holy", not to do the things of the world, and to be a clean and holy "temple" for the Ruach (Holy Spirit) to reside in us.

Is one truly "being holy" by turning their body into a canvas containing all manner of unholy pictures; or by sticking safety pins through their eyebrows or putting studs into their tongues and lips, or permanently disfiguring themselves by having large holes pierced in their earlobes so they can deposit giant, 3-inch hoops directly into them?

Proverbs 21:2-3: All a person's ways are right in his own view, but YHWH weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more pleasing to YHWH than sacrifice.

Leviticus 19: 28 "Don't cut gashes in your flesh when someone dies or tattoo yourselves; I am ADONAI."

Although realistically, the tattoo prohibition was in connection with the worship of the dead and not necessarily against regular tattoos, the fact remains that tattoos are a kind of graven image or desecration of the body which is the Temple of YHWH. The body is not ours to deface; it is the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is nothing in the Bible tells us to decorate our bodies with permanent paint placed under the skin!

Exodus 20: 4 You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline.

The origin of the tattoo is associated with paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and many other pagan beliefs. Tattoing has never been connected with believers in YHWH (Yahweh) or Messiah Yeshua. The biggest thing we see men of old doing to their bodies was to place rings in the noses and ears of women (Genesis 24, Ezekiel 16) and of their servants (Exodus 21:16). There is not one instance in the Bible where people drew or carved images into their skin!

The theme of most tattooes is death and darkness – skulls, snakes, demons, weird and rebellious things. Even those who have crosses tattoed on themselves don't realize the cross is a pagan symbol - an instrument of torture and death used by the pagan Greeks and Romans of old. And let's not forget about the fact that tattooing is risky because you can acquire any number of deadly diseases, including Hepatitis C and AIDS.

Some will say, "But that's all OLD Testament stuff; it doesn't pertain to us today!" Really? Have you read the entire Bible in context? If so, then you surely remember that YHWH (Yahweh) instructed that ALL who believe in Him are to do exactly as His Chosen!

Numbers 15: 13 "'Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.'"

YHWH did not make separate rules for His natural and adopted children! As a believer, YOU are a part of Israel...and YHWH told Israel: "I give you good instruction: Do not forsake my Torah" (Proverbs 4:2). And Paul reiterated this when he said: Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. (Romans 3:31) Paul also wrote - a full 29 years after the death of Yeshua:

Acts 21: 25. As to those of the Gentiles who have believed, we have written, that they should keep themselves from (an idol’s) sacrifice, and from sexual sin, and from what is strangled, and from blood.” 26. Then Paul took those men, on the following day, and was purified with them; and he entered and went into the temple, explaining to them how to complete the days of the purification, up to the presentation of the offering by each of them.

If you are still unconvinced that any of the above applies to you, then consider this: Tattooing, in addition to being disobedient, is idolatrous because it displays a permanent image on your body. Even if you "tattoo for Jesus" you are marking yourself with an image - an image of what you or the tattoo artist THINK He might look like! Since we do not know what Yeshua looks like, we cannot realistically carve an image of Him into our bodies! YHWH (Yahweh) told us very clearly and explicitly that we are to have no other gods before Him, as He alone who is supreme Ex. 20:3; Is. 45:5).

The Bible expressly commands believers to:

(1) Remain unspotted from the world:

James 1: 27 The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world.

(2) Abstain from the appearance of evil:

1 Thess. 5: 22 ...but keep away from every form of evil.

(3) Friendship with the world is enmity with God....

James 4: 4 ....Don't you know that loving the world is hating God? Whoever chooses to be the world's friend makes himself God's enemy!

(4) Come out from among them and be separate from the world:

2 Cor. 6: 17 Therefore ADONAI says, "'Go out from their midst; separate yourselves; don't even touch what is unclean. Then I myself will receive you.

We therefore have the responsibility to obey YHWH's commands and abstain from worldly associations, pastimes, or habits - not just out of duty but because we love God and have a living relationship with Him.

John 14: 15 "If you love me, you will keep my commands...."

Body piercings and tattoos are "worldly" expressions, a fleshly vanity that is worldly. It shows one's heart and mind is elsewhere and not on YHWH.

1 John 2: Love not the world nor anything in it; for whoever loves the world has not the love of the Father in him. 16. For all that is in the world is the lust of the body and the lust of the eyes and the pride of the world, which are not from the Father but from the world itself.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Or don’t you know, that your body is the temple of the Ruach haKodesh who abides in you, whom you have received from Elohim? And you are not your own. For you are bought with a price. Therefore you glorify Elohim with your body, and with your spirit, which are Elohim’s.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 - Do you not know that you are the temple of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? Whoever will deface the temple of Elohim, Elohim will deface him: for the temple of Elohim is Set Apart, which (temple) you are.