Attending Church Part 3: God Hates Tattoos?

I have been writing a series on why I have great difficulty attending church. I watched a NOOMA video today made by Rob Bell of Mars Hill church. In it he talked about God not wanting empty ritual in His people. That one sentence really resonated with how I feel about the churches I have attended lately.

When I walk into church I see lots of good looking people dressed the proper way. I see lots of happy people. When I walk home from church I see lots of people who are dirty and need help and are not happy. I find it hard to believe that all of the people who attend church are happy. I attend church and I know that I am not happy all the time. Sometimes I feel like the people I see on my walk home. I feel dirty and unworthy but on Sunday’s I can’t look like that.

I remember as a young teen seeing an older teen with a half shaved head covered in tattoos come into the evening service one night. I really had not thought about the marginalized people of the city but something inside me told me that I should go sit beside him, so I did. I talked with him in the back row and just hung out after the service talking for a bit. The sad part of all this was when, once he had left, I had a few people in my church come up and ‘talk to me’ about sitting with that type of person. I did not get it then, but something inside me couldn’t believe that I should not sit with a person at church. Maybe it was my naivety in thinking that all should be accepted. This teen kept coming to church for a few months and eventually the comments were made when he could hear them so he stopped coming.

Now I feel like that teen in church. I feel like I am not as clean as I should be, or that since I have tattoos God doesn’t want me in his building. I should not feel like that when I enter the building. What do our churches do that make people feel like that? What can we do to change it? Does your church spend time reaching out to the dirty in your town?

I challenge you to reach out to a dirty hurting person this week. Get your church to start doing it regularly. We are here to minister to the sick.

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~ by curtismchale on November 29, 2007.

13 Responses to “Attending Church Part 3: God Hates Tattoos?”

  1. The Jesus I read about in the Gospels would definitely hang out with people with tattoos. By showing up at church and being yourself you are giving the other people there a chance to practice living out God’s love. If they are not able to accept that gift, and if their reactions are harmful to your spirit, find another church. Not all are like the ones you descibe.

  2. […] Part 3: God Hates Tattoos? […]

  3. too many people have forgotten that they are but filthy rags when compared to Christ! Good for you on sitting with the dude and making him feel welcomed!

  4. Jason:

    I hope the move went well. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. indeed it did and am blogging once more…thanks for the prayers

  6. […] Attending Church Part 3: God Hates Tattoos? […]

  7. […] churches today have this idea of sanitization permeate throughout their lives. I think of a past post regarding this sanitization. I was asked why I sat with a kid that showed up to church in a leather […]

  8. there is a group of people that jesus talked about alot and it was not people with tatooes it was pharisees and legalistic people who were very knowledgeable of Gods laws and what to do and what not to do but really did not have compassion or love.

  9. My comment is about tattoos but can encompass more. I have a tattoo. Got it when I was 19 in the Navy 30 years B4 becoming a believer. There is a wide spectrum of latitude in the church 2day. There are many who do not read or study the Word. The Word clearly says about believers that they are to be transformed not conformed 2 the world. So if UR a worldly person who imbibes in different vices then UR 2B transformed into a new creature. It is your responsibility to put off the old man and put on the new. In order to do that U must know what is new compared to the old.
    Tattoos are a good example. My take on tattoos is not popular. God says in Leviticus 19 no tattoos. Many say that’s OT not NT. We are under grace. If U read Lev 18-22 U will see many laws God laid on the Jews such as adultery. Homosexuality, sex with animals to name just a few. Did He change His mind? I think not. In the sermon on the Mt Jesus said “remember” where it was written do not commit adultery? He then said now it gets harder. Don’t even think about it.
    If that’s not enough how about this one where it says U R a temple of the Holy Spirit and if U defile the temple U will be damned. SO your body is this beautiful temple and U go and grafitti it with tattoos and stupid hair doos and piercings. Is that defiling your temple? U can rationalize all U want but God hates tattoos.
    How about obeceity? Ever hear a preacher talk about that one? Remember we are 2B transformed. God forgives everything in the past and expects U 2 change.

  10. This is why churches should lose their tax exempt status.

    • I fail to see any correlation between my post and your comment. Perhaps with a well reasoned response you might be able to draw a connection but I highly doubt it. People are by nature selfish beings that look to their own comfort. This fact has little to do with the legal tax exempt status of the organization, but I suppose a one line rant is easier to write than a well thought out comment.

  11. Once we are saved we are to conduct our lives in the wisdom that Scripture reveals. That means as Jude put it, we try to save some, despising even the garments stained by sin. The image is holding a stinky diaper at arms length with your nose plugged. Sin stinks. When we cease from it, we realize we never ever want to smell like that again. But more importantly, we are so thankful to Christ for setting us free that we never want to be tinged with it again. Do we stumble? Yes. And honestly, becoming unwilling to reach the lost is a great temptation for so many. God blesses us because we trust Him and that blessing often means a way of life that leads to prosperity along with the peace of knowing God.

    I came off the streets – saved in a recuse mission in ’89. Now I have a home, a masters degree, kids, a wife, we go to church, we have solid goals, godly habits – the Lord has really done a work. And those who knew me when I was newly saved would be shocked at the change. But all of this is motivated by love for God and His ways. As a father I do not want my kids being expected to evangelize drug dealers and prostitutes. That type of work is for mature human beings and mature believers. Neither do I want my kids having to try to cope with the emotional troubles of latchkey kids. As children, my children have the right to grow up in every blessing that I can give them and when they are older if they want to minister in any capacity they have my blessing.

    The problem is that many churches today do not know the difference between evangelism and fellowship. And ‘leadership’ takes too much upon itself in the face of godly parenting. I had a woman once scold a church I was attending during a Sunday morning service about certain people not letting their children play in the neighborhood where they lived. This was why her children’s program wasn’t growing, because parents didn’t want their kids evangelizing the neighborhood through lifestyle evangelism. Of course she was nuts. I find most church leadership today talks alot about family but they have almost zero respect for a functioning family where Dad and Mom take their own discipleship seriously and are raising the kids to a godly standard with love.

    When I was a young homeless man I was insulted if they didn’t reach out to me cuz clearly I had a need and they had the means. Now I know I was just being selfish. Still the church is called to reach the lost and to care for hurting humanity. But hurting humanity often does not respect the boundaries. It is a catch 22. If you don’t know how to be respectful you can’t really be close to a healthy family, but you will certainly almost never learn the dynamics of that kind of health unless someone takes you under their wing. Enter Jesus, who will take us under His wing. He, if He be in our lives, makes up for what the church cannot provide.

    I can’t list the number of times that I have taken my kids to the park and run into other children lacking a father. When I offer them a kind smile they quickly move into my space and push my own children to the side. Their need is so great that all they can see is their own emptiness and not the right my children have to receive the blessing of my time. Am I making sense? The Bible says bad company corrupts good morals. So clearly christian parents don’t want their kids hanging with kids that are messed up. Ministry is seperate from christian fellowship.

    I am not sure if I have set it out plainly enough. I love ministry, but there is a limit. I’m not Jesus. I have a wife, kids, and a life that I have to attend to (as part of my earthly ministry) or else I won’t have any foundation for evangelism at all. Ultimately it is Jesus who has to save the lost and heal the brokenhearted. Expecting the church to do more than it can is a sure way to suffer many disappointments. Expecting the chuch to live up to what the Bible expects of it is good as long as we also live by faith. Judging the church while wallowing in our own sin is a waste of time. Go be happy in your sin and leave the hypocrites alone.

  12. I am also finding it hard to fit in at a church, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus. Yet, I am an open-minded person, who doesn’t push her beliefs on others. I am tattooed, and pierced. I haven’t gone to church in a long time, I want to, but I fear to be looked at like a pariah. It does help that I am handicapped, where they either feel sorry for me, or feel like I’m a leper. I’m not contagious, I’m paralyzed. I would like to attend regularly, with my fiance, and finally get our daughter Baptized, I just don’t want to feel like a outcast.

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