How a tattoo showed we need to put our bibles down

So at the weekend I went and got this done:

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Many thanks to Darryl at Infinity Tattoos in Gloucester for doing it. Anyway, as I was immensely happy with it given the pain I went through to get it, I shared it over various social media platforms and forums. The response was largely positive but inevitably there was going to be one who didn’t approve and it didn’t take long for the Bible verses to come out;

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD –┬áLeviticus 19:28

This was followed up with yet more inevitability with comments of me disobeying God including this gem; “Guess people don’t understand the many verses about not being like the world. Then to top it off, they brag about it.” Yep, straight in with the Bible and how I’m bragging about my disobedience; and you know what that felt like?

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Now I did have people support my decision and defended me, but what stood out is that no one asked me why I got it done. They might have thought that it was probably the wrong question to ask and worse than jumping in with the Bible. Maybe it’s obvious why I got it but the story of why I got it says something about me, it’s important to me and it felt like that was not important. What seemed to be important was getting straight into debating whether it’s right or wrong and if you thought I was wrong, ensuring I knew about it from whatever Bible verse seems vaguely relevant. I was asked what I thought the Bible said that was the closest it came to people wanting to get to know me. It’s just a little thing but asking about something as (relatively) trivial as a tattoo shows you’re interested in getting know someone; but if you can’t do that with a tattoo, how are you going to do that with something much more fundamental to someone’s life?

I don’t mind discussions over what the Bible says, they’re important, but it should not be at the ignorance of everything else. We need to look up from our Bibles to see what impact our use of scripture has and is having. Better yet, we need to put our Bibles away and engage with the world in which we live. All too often the verses we chuck out end up hurting people because we haven’t thought about the context of the passage or the context of the situation the person is in because we haven’t bothered to take the time to. We may not be of it but we’re certainly in it. Before we even think about finding verses to throw, we need to get to know people and walk with them. Jesus didn’t respond to every question with scripture straight away and some he didn’t respond with scripture at all. But he got to know the situations people were in because he got to know them and we need to the same.

So next time you’re tempted to throw the scriptures at people we should take a pause, put the Bible down and get know the person because after all, God didn’t send a book he sent a person and there’s probably good reason for that.