Escondido, CA

‘Setting the record straight’



JESUS HAD A TATTOO! Isn’t that wild?! Revelation 19:16 reads, “… on His thigh He had this name writ­ten: King of kings and Lord of lords.” Can’t get any plainer than that, right? Tattoos must be acceptable for all Christians today.

In the hopes of averting the barrage of protests being sent to my email in- box, I’ll provide some clarification.

Jesus was, and is, a Jew. Not just any Jew, but one who never sinned (He­brews 4:15) in thought, word, or deed. Therefore, He was able to follow the Old Testament Law perfectly. He never once violated it, and that part about not having tattoos was certainly no excep­tion (Leviticus 19:28). In other words, because the O.T. Law expressly for­bade it, Jesus didn’t have a tattoo.

But what about that verse in Revela­tion? A proper hermeneutic would be in order. Much of the book is written in a symbolic fashion. The chapter that supposedly describes Jesus as having a literal tattoo also describes His robe as soaked in blood and a sword com­ing out of His mouth. None of these descriptions should be interpreted in a literal fashion, but rather in a sym­bolic fashion.

Does this mean that Christians should NOT get tattoos? Not neces­sarily. Here’s why: Those who have faith in Jesus are no longer subject to the Old Testament Law, but rather to “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Christianity is easy to understand: Just obey that and you’ll fulfill everything that the Bible has to say about law-keeping, for “all the Law and Prophets hang on these two commands” (Matthew 22:40).

By the way, obedience shouldn’t be on the forefront of a true Christian’s mind anyway, because to obey is a by- product of an intimate love-relation­ship with God! To abide in Christ is to obey and it’s the most natural thing. If one is concerned with obedience, then something’s askew.

Anyway, I digress. What do tattoos have to do with loving God with all of your heart, soul, and mind? Well, if you love God, then you’ll be con­cerned about whether your tattoos bring glory to Him or not! “So wheth­er you eat (certain foods like pork) or drink (certain beverages like beer) – or get tattoos – or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)!

Since getting a tattoo is not express­ly forbidden in the New Testament, the activity would fall under the cat­egory of Christian liberty. “If the Son (Jesus Christ) sets you free, you are free indeed!” (John 8:36) Are you free to engage in such a liberty? If not, are those whom you know free, in your mind, to engage in such a liberty? To get a tattoo or not to get a tattoo is still a hot topic in Christian circles, and it still binds people up (pun intended).

~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 22 years and have three children age 12 years and under. Jacob (12), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 11 years and love Harley motorcy­cles and good music. They pastor Es­condido’s very own Sanctuary Church.

~ Any questions or comments re­garding the story? Got an idea for a story we should write? Email us at Or check us out on the web at

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