A Brief Follow up to The New Paganism which is a Response to Tattoos And The Word Of God [no longer available at Albany CPRChurch].
It has been said by some that:
If one of those practices [in Lev. 19] was absolutely forbidden for all time, then all of those practices were likewise forbidden for all time. If it was an absolute moral prohibition to mark oneself on the body because it was unlawful in itself, then it was likewise an absolute moral prohibition to cut one’s hair in a circle, trim one’s beard and shave the hair between the eyes or eyebrows because these practices were unlawful in themselves. Yet a faithful and consistent interpretation of God’s Word and faithful commentators and divines from the past unite their voices in declaring that these practices were not unlawful in themselves, but became unlawful due to the direct association they had with pagan worship and superstitions (Tattoos And The Word Of God [as above, no longer available on the original site] , p.3).
In contrast, we would assert that this is to misstate the question. We know fortune telling/enchantments/signs of the times is wrong. So too prostitution. Yet these two verses bookend the passage in Lev. 19 regarding cutting and/or making marks upon oneself. Arguably at least or only the first, fortune telling, is associated with doing something “for the dead,” but both ipso facto are unlawful are they not?
Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
Consequently it has again been conjectured by some that as per above in the context in Le. 19, as long as the activity forbidden in v. 27 is not done in honor of or as a ritual of pagan religion, ergo it is lawful. But therefore the last two must also be lawful, no?
Yet somehow I don’t think the Reformed Presbytery is going to open up a storefront downtown anytime soon and set up a tattoo parlor in the front room, with a fortuneteller off to the side and a house of ill repute in the back. In other words, it may very well be, that all three of these activities are sinful/forbidden, not just two, whether they are committed in conjunction with worshipping the dead or not. That is, it is very possible that they all are sinful in and of themselves across the board, instead of just fortune telling and prostitution being forbidden and the practice of tattoos getting a supposed pass from the Word of God.
Likewise George Gillespie has been appealed to by some for liberty in these matters (in Dispute EP Ceremonies, NP p.185). But Mr. Gillespie clearly distinguishes between unlawful and lawful moderation in mourning. The first would be cutting and printing marks upon oneself. The second would be cutting/ trimming/ plucking one’s beard/hair/eyebrows. While we still do the last three on the basis of necessity, personal grooming and/or vanity, I am still at loss to justify the first, cutting and printing mark’s upon oneself. Consequently I might conclude that carnal graffiti is not approved, but disapproved in the Word of God.
The burden of proof still remains upon those who would assert that on the basis of Lev. 19 and Gillespie’s comments, tattooing is permitted by the Word of God and it is a heavy enough burden to easily bring Balaam’s ass to its knees. Likewise we ought to pray on our knees that the Lord would deliver any P&R church from being ensnared and brought into bondage to such fallacious arguments and slip shod exposition that approve of the carnal and worldly practice of vain recreational tattooing or carnal graffiti.
Thank you very much.
[See also:5/12/06, A Brotherly Inquiry about The New Paganism
5/26/06, Fwd: A Brotherly Inquiry re. The New Paganism
12/24/06, Of the "Public Sin" of An Unqualified Condemnation of Paganism (Among Other Allegations)]