So why did I choose to spend a whole week writing on this topic? Because it seems like every Christian struggles to some degree with the answer. They don’t often ask the question “Am I responsible for keeping the Old Testament law?” But they do wonder “why can’t I get a tattoo?” or, “Is it okay to mow my yard on Sunday?” or “Is it okay to go to a restaurant on Sunday after church?” These questions revolve around issues that are not addressed specifically in the New Testament but are clearly addressed in the Old.
I wrote a while back on the morality of tattoos and that post is one of the most popular of all time on my blog. (Tattoo is a top 5 word in search referrals every month) So let’s take that issue and look at it from the different approaches I laid out yesterday.
So to clarify, Tattoos are not addressed at all in the New Testament, but they are clearly forbidden in the Old Testament. (Lev 19:28) How does our approach to OT law affect our answer to the question “are tattoos morally acceptable?”
View 1 – The law-gospel divide. If we approach our question from this view then we are left to conclude nothing. This view which says that the OT law is of no consequence to NT believers tells us nothing. We are left to judge the morality of tattoos from a strictly New Testament perspective.
View 2 – Theonomy. This view says that the OT law is binding on Christians would offer a clear answer to the question. According to this view, tattoos are morally unacceptable because they are forbidden by Lev 19:28. I will add here that according to this view, sausage, and clothes of mixed fabric are immoral as well.
View 3 – Principlism. This view, which says that Christians are bound only by the moral law and not the civil or ceremonial law, would also not help us to answer our question. This command is in the category of ceremonial law, so it is no consequence to the Christian.
We could do this same illustration with any number of common moral questions and find a similar result; it depends on your view. So maybe this isn’t the most helpful post of all time, but it should help in making the questions contextual. At least you have a way to think about these sort of moral questions when they arise in your life.
Tomorrow I will try to answer a harder question; What is the point of the Pentateuch and all this law?