Recently, I was having a conversation with a Mormon I know regarding tattoos. She has a tattoo and recently saw another one she would like to have. Having come back to church after a long absence, she thought getting a tattoo was “against the rules”.
I told her it wasn’t against the rules (whatever that means), and two other members joined our conversation saying it was. One of them said not getting a tattoo is treating our bodies as temples for the spirit.
That phrase comes from 1 Cor 6:19:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
I have to wonder how on track that interpretation is. After all, when we go to the temple, is what the outside of the temple looks like what makes us feel the Spirit?
Consider also 1 Corinthians 3:16–17, where Paul says:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Sure if people start with the premise that tattooing is defiling the body, then they are going to see how this scripture supports the stance that tattooing is wrong.
But what if defilement refers to something entirely different.
Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
Perhaps what Paul was referring to was that we must use our bodies for the purposes God intended for them. Perhaps we should use our bodies for accomplishing good, for bettering others, and for improving the world. Perhaps there are more important things we should be worrying about than whether we have a tattoo.
Consider 1 Sam 16:7:
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Does Jesus really concern himself with whether someone gets a tattoo? Would he consider having a tattoo to be a greater sin (if a sin at all) than the judgement doled out by other Mormons toward my friend for having a tattoo in the first place.
How can any good Christian read Matthew 7 then feel justified in judging the actions of others? What we need in this world are more Christians and fewer Mormons.