A Christian's Appearance: Affecting Believers and Nonbelievers Alike

 Photo courtesy of Christian Segers

Photo courtesy of Christian Segers

Christian Segers, Staff Writer

It is biblically imperative that Christians represent the Gospel in a manner fitting of their title.

As more and more emphasis is put on people’s looks in the 21st century, it has become increasingly difficult for Christians to resist conforming to a “worldly” appearance.

1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

As a quintessential biblical verse, 1 Samuel 16:7 depicts a Savior who values the inward state of his children far more than the outside. Although the body can be camouflaged with expensive clothing and priceless jewels, the omnipotent God who created the world intentionally overlooks what money can buy, in order to know each individual on a personal level.

Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

It is important that men and women dress in a manner that will not cause their brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble in their relationship with Him. Additionally, it becomes increasingly difficult and hypocritical to provide a solid witness to nonbelievers when the church refuses to adhere to its own biblical commands.

Adorning of the body with various articles of clothing, can also make a finite man proud and arrogant, inflating his own status to a prideful level. However, the Lord not only despises materialization, but the pride that often comes with it.

Proverbs 31:30a says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.”

Although the word of God recognizes the necessity to remain cloaked from nakedness due to the first sin of Adam and Eve, when clothing translates to a source of pride, modesty turns to sin.

It is this modesty that has caused many believers to question whether or not tattoos are biblically acceptable because Christians are walking examples of Jesus Christ. Christians who have chosen to be tattooed often face resentment from those who say that the Bible dictates against such artistic displays. However, the word of God only once mentions the idea of tattoos and is mostly misquoted by those who claim to defend it. The verse that is often used to discredit those who possess tattoos is Leviticus 19:28.

Leviticus 19:28 says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”

As the only passage of scripture that makes reference to tattoos or bodily markings, it is imperative that we as an educated culture take the time to analyze the words represented, without offering our own interpretations as to the Lords intended meaning.

The verse places the precursor, “for the dead” before its mentioning of tattoos, specifying that tattoos are not only inappropriate, but also ungodly, only if used as an offering to or for the deceased. In pagan culture, it is customary to inflict either pain on oneself or mark ones body after the performance of specific ritualistic practices. Nowhere else in the Bible is there any mention of tattoos or the mere idea of bodily markings, so by definition, tattoos, with the aforementioned exception, cannot be considered a sin. An interesting parallel can be drawn with baptism.

Just as baptism is an outward exemplification of an inward occurrence, for many Christians, tattoos can exemplify the inner workings of their heart or their spiritual condition.

Maggie Smith, a sophomore early education major at North Greenville University, has multiple tattoos and was asked to grant some insight on how a tattoo can aide in the outward expression of who people are or who they wish to become.

“Tattoos are works of art, they can tell a story of someone's life," Smith said. "They can depict struggle and depression or triumph and joy. Tattoos can be a reminder of what one has overcome and that if they go through life’s trials and tribulations once, they can do it again.”

It is imperative that as Christians, we set an example of Christ's love with our appearance. Consequently, any wardrobe that causes us to sin either through lust or pride, is an outfit that should not adorn the bodies the Lord has given us. The same applies to tattoos. If the tattoos that mark our body are of images or depictions that cause others to stumble, then the tattoos should not be acquired in the first place. We are representatives of Christ. It should be our mission to represent Him to the best of our abilities.