God has a Tattoo!

img_00331As some of you are aware I recently got the word ‘INSIGHT’ tattooed on my right forearm. 

I am writing this blog as ‘the final word on my tattoo’ from my perspective because i have had several people ask me various questions about the tattoo and unfortunately, while the majority of comments have been positive, some people have taken offense at a ‘senior pastor’ and a ‘Christ-follower’ sporting a tattoo…In the future I am just going to direct people to this blog if they want my full perspective on the issue.

It’s beyond me that some Christians would be overly concerned about a pastor getting a tattoo when there are far more important issues to be pre-occupied with. Preaching the gospel to people who are heading towards a Christ-less eternity is a far more important issue to be concerned about. 

People who would look at someone getting a tattoo as being ‘sinful’, unholy or irreverent are pre-supposing that God is against them. Some church culture’s in the past have polarised the tattoo wearing clan as being a bunch of demon-worshipping sinners but please show me one scripture that validates this perspective.

Most people go to Leviticus 19:28 says, “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves.” This verse is preceded with verses like v26 and 27 which forbid eating any meat with blood in it and cutting your hair. It’s just so funny that the very people who would criticise me for getting a tattoo eat meat with blood in it several times per week and cut their hair quite regularly…You can’t embrace one scripture and ignore another just because it suits your argument…that’s called proof-texting and leads to a false interpretation of Scripture.

People who hold to Leviticus 19:28 have obviously not done their exegetical homework and have proof-texted this verse outside of the context of the entire canon of scripture. Everything we read in the Old Testament must be read through the lens of the cross and what Jesus has done for us. Notice when Jesus came on the scene he broke many of the same laws that the old covenant stipulated must be followed…especially those laws man had made as commandments of God. Because of Jesus work on the cross we can now embrace Romans 7:6 which says, “But now we are released from the law having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”

Under the new covenant no mention is made of tattoos, smoking (which I personally think is unhealthy for you but in no way is sinful, just dumb. Why? Because it causes cancer), certain music styles, watching movies, consuming alcohol (Yes, drunkenness is a sin but drinking in moderation isn’t) and body piercing.

Mark Driscoll in his book, “The radical reformission” says, “Another way to evaluate culture is by examining the universal & particular sins common in that culture. Universal sins are those offenses which the Bible condemns for all people in all cultures, including sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, theft, drunkenness, greed, slander and swindling (1 Cor 6:9-10). Particular sins are those offenses that are sinful for some people under some circumstances but not for all people under all circumstances. All Christians are commanded by God to avoid universal sins. But Christians are also commanded by God to avoid sins that are particular to them, without unfairly condemning or restricting the freedoms of fellow Christians who involve themselves differently in controversial cultural matters. (For example getting a tattoo. The bible doesn’t forbid it so you cannot). This is in part what Paul means throughout the New Testament when he speaks of weak and strong Christians. In truth, every Christian is both weak and strong. So, in some areas, we all need to restrict our freedoms because of our weaknesses, while we are able to use our Christian liberty in areas in which we are strong.”

Mark continues, “Christians will have differing personal convictions in matters of culture and we are to welcome those differences that are not sinful, because what pleases God is unity, not uniformity. Uniformity undermines mission and often is promoted by erroneous restrictive and permissive theologies. Restrictive Christians go too far and name everything a universal sin, forbidding some cultural activities that the bible does not (such as what I shared above). Conversely, permissive churches are prone to naming everything a particular sin and bless activities which the bible forbids, such as drug use, fornication, homosexuality and cohabitation before marriage. I’m not advocating either a permissive or a restrictive approach to debating cultural issues. Rather, I’m encouraging Christians on mission to engage with the local culture not merely for the purpose of entertainment but primarily for the purpose of education.”

Thought provoking words. The bible calls us to be in the world, not of it. Unfortunately, too many Christians are of the world, not in it. You can look the part of a Christian but actually be more demonic than what you even realize.

I was reading Isaiah the other day and came across this verse in Isa 49:16, “I have tattooed you on the palms of my hands”…mmm…interesting.  Does God have a tattoo? Well, no, not exactly…not that we know of. I am not going to proof-text this verse to suit my position but I think it’s interesting that God would use this wording to describe his love towards us and his commitment to never forget His people.

As a leader, I realise my actions are an example to others and I will be held accountable by God for how I’ve taught and led people. If younger people or older people go and get a tattoo because of my example, I can more than live with it because of all the theological perspectives I’ve outlined in this blog-post.

However, I wouldn’t want people to misunderstand my heart and tone in this blog and think that I am personally attacking anyone in particular. My heart isn’t to put down anyone who because of cultural background perceives tattoos to be off limits. I am simply attempting to express my theological perspective and thus my own views on the matter.

At the end of the day, I believe tattoos are a non-issue…biblically or spiritually. For further study on this topic from a biblical perspective check out 1 Corinthians 8 and Matthew 15:10-20 and please study it extensively and in context.

Feel free to comment on this blog but I will not be responding to anymore comments because I’m tired of talking about something so trivial and there are other more important things I feel compelled to blog on. I will simply refer people to this blog post for the final word on my tattoo.

Lead the Change!

21 Responses to “God has a Tattoo!”

  1. Ben Fagerland Says:

    Corey, love your blog.

    I think there are some major issues in society when people are more concerned about your tattoo and less concerned about where the world is headed?!

    Also, about that whole tattoo = sin thing. I may be wrong but I thought that God was warning the Jewish people about a pagan practice at funerals. My understanding was that pagans would mutilate or mark themselves to appease their false gods. They hoped that by cutting themselves and marking images or symbols of idols on their bodies, that they would obtain favour or blessing in the afterlife?

    I guess as long as you don’t become a pagan who cuts himself to obtain favour from a false god -you are ok in my book (ha ha ha). I cant believe getting a tattoo is leading the change, but I guess it is -because some religious folk will need to take a second look at their current system of belief (possibly theology) and then…dare I say it…change.

  2. Tracey B Says:

    Haha! Corey all Im gonna say is love it love it love it! The blog and the tatt! I think it looks great and good on you for sharing your view on what the Bible says and then your view on it!
    Enjoy it … I think Tas will be getting one soon too! 🙂

    We appreciate you for you – tatt or no tatt!

  3. Hi Corey,

    Amen to all the above! – Love the tat by the way!!!

    Unfortunately there are so called ‘Christians’ (misguided Christians) who feel the need to judge those who don’t fit into their mold in terms of looks, dress code and so on (ie tattoos, piercings, baggy pants, beanie, bandanas etc) and base their opinion on the worlds view and forget that ‘God so loved the world…..’not just those who look the ‘right way’ or present the ‘right image’.

    These individuals are clearly missing god’s spirit of love and don’t have a heart for people or others…….and I do believe the word calls us to make disciples of all nations (not just those who look the right way??)

    As an individual who dressed like 50 cent/Eminem back in the day ,(ie baggy pants, piercings, corn rows, jewellery etc) I was always suprised by level of judgement in a church setting by people who had never had a conversation with myself. These people are kidding themselves and are often the reason that others don’t come to Christ.

    Activate Church however is the total opposite to this and has been from day 1. There is such an authentic heart for others and this culture reflects the leadership.

    Keep up the great work!! We love you guys!!


  4. Wendy G Says:

    Here Here! Well said Corey. 🙂

  5. Nick Coombs Says:

    Great blog Corey.

    I’ve got another piece of theological ammunition to shoot down the self-righteous

    Revelation 19:11-16 says:

    Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

    It seems even Jesus himself has a tattoo! Can’t wait to see it when He comes back. The looks on the faces of those who thought it was a sin will be almost as good.

    Bless you mate.

  6. Hahaha… Corey – may I suggest you point them to this link…

  7. Nice to see a pastor teaching others to look past the flesh and to consider the bigger picture; particularly when it comes to the self-righteous throwing their stones .
    Gotta love the John 3:16 tattoo on many an old criminals hand 😀

    God Bless ❤

  8. yes yes good word, straight down the line corey, thats the way the word of god goes out, straight and true. Fantastic..

  9. Rach Wallace Says:

    hey Corey, its great to see you address the ‘thou shalt not mark your body’ thing. Gotta say that was the only reservation in the back recesses of my mind, but I totally agree with what you have said about the context of it. It seems to me that you have divided the word correctly and I don’t feel troubled by that now, especially after what Ben has written also.

    Can I just say one teensy thing at the risk of being misunderstood…

    I understand the exasperation we all have at people being narrow minded, judgemental and missing the bigger picture, not to mention, seeing our Pastor attacked riles anger in the best of us, but at the same time, jumping so far to the other side in calling people hypocrites and self righteous seems a little harsh in itself. I know Jesus used hard language on the Pharisees but we are not quite Him yet and aren’t always operating out of His supreme knowledge and agape love. And besides, the Pharisees weren’t really Christians. They rejected Christ. The people who are judging you and your tattoo are not operating out of love or correct doctrine, and yeah, i agree the approach they have had has been really attackive, but they do (presumeably) receive Christ, they are just trapped by various levels of pride/judgement and faulty doctrine. I see it as spiritual immaturity and a bad attitude, which is forgiveable.
    I have found that a lot of ‘Phariseeical Behaviour’ that I have seen in myself and others is usually rooted in 2 things:
    1) Pride
    2) Fear
    For me it was fear. In times past I would have been troubled by your tatt simply because for me, with my limited theological understanding on the issue, I would have seen it as a sign of liberality. That would have made me afraid to subject myself to your ministry because my logic would have been that if you were embracing unsciptural practice, you would have been easily swayed and not solid in your doctrine and I may be ‘led away from the faith’.

    However, about 12 months ago I felt the Lord reveal to me that the same spirit that influenced the Pharisees was influencing me and it was preventing me from recieving ministry due to fear and an over-board/legal, can’t-see-the-wood-for-the-trees type attitude to Scripture (mostly taken out of context)
    Praise God I have come through this restrictive, law-based life and am slowly coming into the grace and (correctly divided) Word of God which means I can thoroughly enjoy and grow by (as I have) the incredible ministry of our controvertial (!) church. Without doubt, the ministry at Activate is powerful, true and bondage-breaking. But there will always be people who can’t receive it out of fear, pride or misguided doctrine.

    I have found that the devil’s best weapon is to mix a little of God’s truth with a whole lot of lie. Unfortunately some of the worst damage done in Christian circles is people thinking its ok to pass judgement if someone is doing something other than what the Word says (or what we think it says!).
    Even if people think you are in sin, they would be far better to take the advice in scripture that says if you see a brother in sin, pray for them, than to attack your character and ministry.
    Long after your body disintegrates along with the ink on it (!) you will be in heaven with the people who have judged you. Maybe when all knowledge is made known, they will apologise! hehe But until then, maybe we need to be careful not to ostracize them further and give them more ammunition against us by labelling them, rather act in love and tolerance, bearing all things, blessing those who curse us and praying that we don’t enter into counter-judgement.

    Hope this comes across the way I mean it.

    • Corey Turner Says:

      Thanks Rachel for your input. Your tone is great and your thoughts are great. There will be things I say that reflect what I believe to be biblical rebukes of self-righteous people that the bible gives permission to me as a spiritual leader to exercise, however these rebukes do need to be balanced with the tension of Romans 12:14-21.


  10. Nice points you made Rach Wallace; I think too often people can focus on their opinions of leadership, fellow christians, what everyone is doing or not doing and forget to focus on God.
    Often grace toward our fellow brothers and sisters is thrown to the wayside in favor of attack and critique.
    “Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all”. lol

  11. Well 1st of let me introduce myself…im marty t……..ex nightclub owner….and commercial upholsterer……………….and 1 of gods own……..well young man i heard about your blog just tonight from a customer of mine and her hubby who attend your church……nice work on the tatt i might say……when j told me it was your 1st and on your forearm……………….i when whoooooo…..if you knew me you would understand why i was abit taken back……………………i have only 5 tattoos…………………lol………..1 on my neck 1 from the base of my spine and across my back…another one under the neck 1 plus 2 sets of full half sleeves that cover both shoulders………………..so yes young man you have made a great statement to the world…..good onya mate your not hiding anything……no surprises…..you have said world here i am……………………………now lets rock……….

    You have it so rite…….we today live on such a damaged planet with so many broken people screaming in silence for answers for problems in a modern world………i realy like your approach to god …….hes a pretty kool dude who certainly picked me from the deep …………………..God bless you my fellow brother the ink is only skin deep but gods love for his people runs all the way through………………………………..be seein ya…..marty t

  12. I like the Isaiah text about God having our names written!
    See Isaiah 44:5 aswell, about some people choosing to write the name of the Lord on their hands. Most of what I’ve read about this passage talk about the ‘writing’ on the ‘hand’ being like that of a tattoo. hehe. good stuff 🙂

  13. Corey Turner Says:


    Your thoughts don’t include one scriptural address whatsoever. You have taken several biblical thoughts completely out of context.

    Jesus increasing and flesh decreasing has got nothing to do with tattoos Jess, it’s got to do with John the Baptist understanding that his ministry needs to decrease, so that Christ’s ministry in israel can increase (John 3:22-30).

    Flesh and Spirit is largely an issue of the attitudes of our hearts. Jesus said, “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles you, it’s what comes out of your mouth that defiles you which is what proceeds from the heart (Matt 15:10-20). Jesus was refuting an argument that came against him from pharisees who exalted laws surrounding rituals over issues of the heart.

    The scriptural context surrounding Cain has nothing to do with tattooing or bloodline whatsoever. The main issue with Cain and Abel Jess is the substance and priority of the offering that was given to God and how Cain was jealous of his brother and allowed that jealousy to drive him to murder. The blood that flowed was a result of murder, not a tattoo. The issue isn’t blood Jess, the issue is wrong offering, wrong heart leading to murder (Gen 4:1-16).

    Using Cain to justify your position is just as silly as saying Jesus piercing’s in his hands and feet and scourgings at the hands of pagan god worshippers like the Roman soldiers who worship Caeser as a god is opening Jesus up to the demonic realm…Please!

    Jess, what if a Spirit-filled believer tattooed my arm? and what if the word I used is a word that is repeated 10 times in the book of Proverbs…a biblical word?

    Researching tattoos on the internet or gathering information from a certain type of “freedom from bondage” course doesn’t count as being substantial enough to offer an informed theological perspective. You can get any number of ideas from any number of people who will sound right. Don’t believe everything you hear.

    Your conscience may be convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding tattoo’s according to 1 Cor 8 which talks about the difference between those who eat food offered up to idols and those who don’t…because of conscience…but you cannot legislate it for all Christians.

    I am a spirit-filled local church leader who was casting out real demons (not tattoo ones) long before you left a comment on my blog. Before you are quick to draw conclusions Jess, make sure you do YOUR homework.

    Some thoughts for you to process.


    • Corey Turner Says:


      I will give you this, you give as good as you get and I admire someone who stands strong for their convictions, even if they are misapplied. Each of the Scriptures you gave below including the Lev 19:28 passage are not sufficient to use in defense for your position. You have taken all of them out of context and interpreted them with a bias towards the convictions of your conscience rather than looking at the text for what they are. You must interpret old testament truths through the cross and look at the old testament through the eyes of a new testament hermeneutic. Even then, your OT texts are found wanting. We’re going to have to agree to disagree.

      Secondly, your comments about my ignorance and me not understanding what pagan worship is, is so absurd, inaccurate and arrogant. You continue to draw upon other texts other than scripture to draw your authority for having the opinions you have. No doubt that cutting of the skin has been involved in pagan worship and I have personally counseled people who have experienced Satanic ritual abuse with the drawing of blood. But to draw a parallel between a person involved in pagan worship and a Christian leader getting a biblical word tattooed on their arm and concluding that I’m involved in pagan worship is utterly illogical and unbiblical. Again, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

      If you knew who I was and examined the fruit of my life and ministry, you would be able to see for yourself whether i have opened myself up to the demonic. Please study 1 Corinthians 8 and Matthew 15:10-20 in context in regards to this issue. The beauty about having a blog is that I don’t have to keep posting people’s comments or respond to all of the comments I receive. Thanks for your interest in my blog, I won’t be spending any more time debating this topic and I look forward to meeting you one day…and you can check out my tattoo. Signing off!


  14. i like tattoos… and Jesus…

  15. Ha, I know it annoys you Corey, but I chuckle when I see peoples blured convictions on topics like this, always a good read. You’ve done well to biblically clarify and rebut the thoughts put forward here.
    (Ignorant?! …. HA, you ooze bible/truth all over anyone who gets near you, I am privilidged to serve with you and am constantly inspired by your wisdom and contextualisation)

  16. Pastor Favian Says:

    Hello Pastor I too struggle with this issue, even though I agree with the blog some of it I do not. I am not judging but you say that tattoos are ok. One question about that. If you are reading the scriptures tell me then where in the scriptures does it say to put on tattoos on your body? I have not found one. I totally agree about people taking one scripture to validate there point but I have never seen so many things on this issue. Also the bible says that we are the temple and the Holy Spirit dwells within us correct then if these bodies are not ours and our bodies were meant to glorify God then what give us the right to tattoo ourselves? I have heard fellow christians say that God told me I can have one or God spoke to me. Well the Bible says that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts so how can we justify that anything like tattoos or smoking or drinking is right but this is why I am searching the scriptures to find truth that is all I am not condemning or judging I do not want to do that. That is God’s job. Drinking look at Habakkuk chapter 2 and read it and tell me what you think about the drinking part of it. I do not remember the verse but it starts off by saying “Woe to him that give thy neighbor drink” then it goes from there. I would really like your take on it. To end we all like to justify ourselves to take the bible and say what fits in our lives but the real issue is that this bible was written by inspired people of God we should ask and seek his answers not ours because it is not about us it is always about The King of Kings and Lord of Lords our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen if anybody wants to reply let me know.

  17. Getting a tatt doesn’t mean u disrespect ur own religion. I am a Hindu, I do believe in Christianity. I do have tatts on my body. But I dont think that means Jesus rejects me in any way. Corey, u rock. I will spread ur message to the ones I can reach out to. God bless us all…..IN GOD WE TRUST.

  18. Laurel Clark Says:

    WOW! i am 16 years old.
    i found this very helpful! haha i was having a debate with two friends because i said i wanted to get a tattoo and/or be a tattoo artist.. i told my one friend who is also 16 “our bodies are supposed to be temples, and idk about anyone else, but i hate bare walls.. i want to paint my temple..” i was saying that i wanted to get a tattoo of a compass with a scripture in Hebrew or some other language around it. its not like i wanted to get something satanic, or just plain trashy..! i only want a tattoo of something spiritual and i wont get one till i know for sure what it is!
    But anywho, i found this very helpful and i liked your opinions a lot!!!

  19. For years, I have been told not to mark my body. So, I never really thought about it, or had a desire to get a tattoo. But then as I got older I really wanted one, but always had it in the back of my mind what my parents and family has told me. Then, one of my friends who is a Christian and a great woman of God had said something about getting a tattoo. I brought up my concerns to her about God saying do not mark your body. The she told me about the verse that said God has his childrens names tattooed in the palm of his hand. So, I decided I wanted to get a tattoo, and I did. I think as Christians, yes we are to set an example… but at the same time, if God can tattoo our names in his hand, and King of Kings Lord of Lords on his thigh, then why can we not have tattoos on us? I think it is wonderful that you posted this blog. For some, it may make them feel better about getting a tattoo and help them ease their mind.

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