Is it wrong for Christians to have tattoos or piercings?
This is a very practical question, and one which has to do with the believer's appearance in this ungodly world. To a large extent tattooing is quite popular. Many young people have tattoos on their arms and elsewhere on the body; it is more widespread than ever it was. It certainly draws attention to the wearers of these marks. Some believers in their unsaved days had themselves tattooed, but now deeply regret ever having it done. It is surely contrary to Christian character for someone saved by the grace of God to wish to have this done. What we do with our bodies, what we put into our bodies, where we take our bodies, and what we put on our bodies is more important than perhaps we realise. The believer's body has been bought with a price and belongs to God. We cannot do as we like with our bodies. God commands the believer to be holy.
There is a helpful Scripture on the subject of tattoos and piercings in Leviticus 19.28: "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord". The first refers to the people cutting themselves in mourning for the dead. This was a heathenish rite.
Nothing was to be done but what spoke of submission to their God, and holy reliance upon Him. Israel was to be a holy people. It is clear from this reference that God was displeased with such use of the body by an Israelite. Should it be any different today? Some might argue that the prohibitions in Leviticus 19 are not for the present as they belong to the Law, but important moral principles are embedded in this chapter and we ignore them at our peril. How different from the apostle Paul in Galatians 6.17, who wrote "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus". Unlike the self-inflicted marks of a disobedient Israelite, these brand marks of suffering were scars of consecration to Christ.
John J Stubbs
Does tithing apply to Christians today?
Before the giving of the law, there were examples of people giving to the Lord. Notably there was Abram who, in his meeting with Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, "gave him tithes of all" (Gen 14.20). What was practised before the law was incorporated into it when it was given. Under the Mosaic economy, God claimed back from Israel a certain portion of their possessions on the principle that all that they had was first given to them by Him. Thus the firstborn males of men and beast were the Lord's, although the offspring of man and ass could be redeemed by a lamb as a substitutionary sacrifice (Ex 13.11-15). Certain sacrifices and parts of sacrifices were the Lord's; all of these were obligatory as a rendering up of that which was not Israel's. The firstfruits of the land were also His (Deut 26.10).
The tithe was not a gift; it was His by right. Giving to God in a true sense began after these obligations had been met. Freewill offerings were wholly voluntary. The opening verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 16 set out principles which should govern the 'giving' of believers today. There we learn that our giving should not only be done regularly, "Upon the first day of the week", but individually, "let every one [each one – RV¹] of you", systematically, "lay by him in store" and also proportionately, "as God hath prospered him" or "as he may prosper" (RV).
This last feature is important; the measure of giving is to be according to a person's ability. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea" (Acts 11.29). Under grace, giving is voluntary. The law imposed giving as a divine requirement, but our giving is a test of our sincerity and love. Five times in the New Testament giving is called a "grace", that which in the believer is responsive to the revealed grace of God.
In deciding what the proportion should be, there should be due exercise of heart that there be no unnecessary expenditure upon household or personal needs. Unfortunately, in many cases, there is no longer an exercise of heart about the tithing of income, but rather the bland assumption that the requirements of the law have been annulled and are no longer applicable, as if the giving to God under grace could conceivably be less than it was under law.
David E West
¹ Revised Version.