Anthony W. Brooks
What is a holy place? Surely there are many holy places. There is the Holy Land that God gave Israel and where Jesus lived, taught, and died. Where he was resurrected and ascended. Where the church began and where there have been numerous “holy wars” fought. But this is not what I am referring to today. The holy place I am referring to today is that of your body. And the context is that of making you body, both the physical and transcendent parts, a holy place of God.
Just this past week I got a tattoo. It is a Chi Rho on my upper arm. I got it as a symbol that Christ is over me as my head in all I do. But not everyone agreed that I should have done this. Sure, many Reformed people see tattoos as a matter of Christian freedom, but the more fundamentalist Christians see them as an overt disobedience to God’s mandate for the Christian to keep his body as a temple. Often they site this text: “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:28. Often they ignore the previous verse and it’s commands: “You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard.” – Leviticus 19:27
What’s the problem here? Well, we should’t get tattoos but we can shave. Often we overlook the fact that Jesus has a tattoo in Revelation: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” – Revelation 19:16. The overt inconsistency of the argument here is overwhelming. But be that as it may let me move on.
Your Body as a Temple
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, – 1 Corinthians 6:19
This verse is often cited to say Christians shouldn’t drink, get tattoos, smoke or other such things. Sure I agree to an extent, that Christians can overdo their freedom to a point where it is sinful. Drunkenness and obscene tattoos are to be shunned in the Christian community sure enough. We are to be discerning about our freedoms. But the obvious twisting of scripture to fit our presuppositions is sinful on its head. What is the verse above referring to? Let’s read it in its context:
“18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Verse 18 is the reason that verse 19 was necessary. Being sexually immoral is the sin against the body. So how do we keep our bodies a temple? Don’t be sexually immoral. This is something that I have struggled with in the past, and I take this part of my life very seriously. Sexual immorality, in some cases adultery, other cases like my own fornication, and others like homosexuality, is a defilement against the body which is the dwelling place of God.
An Ornate Temple
Solomon in 1 Kings 6 built the Temple in Jerusalem and he took some creative freedom. Unlike the tabernacle in Exodus 26-40, Solomon had some freedom to decorate the Temple however he saw fit. He lined the interior with gold as well as the entrance. He fashioned Cherub and palm trees and open flowers out of Gold and placed them all over the Temple. The alter was ornate and gold lined as well. The temple of God was beautiful and ornate like everything else Solomon built.
Like the Temple we are given creative freedom over our bodies. We can have them ornate like Solomon’s Temple or simple like Zerubbabel‘s Temple. There is a responsibility to the Christian not to dishonor the dwelling place of God, I agree, but why be so strict? If I can shave, I can get a tattoo. I am not a Jew. Those laws were placed so that Jews would look physically different from the people around them.
The Obvious Question
Yes I plan on getting more tattoos. My temple is not fully decorated and I will in the future get more and face the shouts of the mob. Patience…
Soli Deo Gloria!