Q: I got a tattoo before I become a Seventh-day Adventist. What should I do? I hate my body so much because of this tattoo! — Cathrine from South Africa
A: Dear Cathrine, allow me to share with you a couple of wonderful Bible promises:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
These promises assure us that:
- God holds us accountable only for what we know to be right or wrong;
- When we learn that what we have been doing is wrong, we need to repent;
- Once we come to Jesus and repent, He forgives us, puts our sins behind us, and makes us new creatures in Him.
In the case of a tattoo, you have at least a couple of options:
- There are medical procedures that can remove tattoos, but these can be expensive, sometimes painful, and as with any medical procedure, can carry some risk
- Recognize that God has forgiven you, and that you need to forgive yourself. Ask God to help you to be able to put this behind you (even though the tattoo may still be visible). Remember that God created you, He has redeemed you, and has re-created you into a new person.
God can even help you to use the tattoo as a way to witness and give hope to others. You might explain how your life was before becoming a Seventh-day Adventist, and how God has given you a new life. And remember that, when Jesus comes, He will transform our bodies to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:21) — with no tattoos!
Finally, here is some good counsel from the Apostle Paul in how to move forward in our Christian life, in spite of mistakes of the past:
“Yet … I do not consider myself to have ‘arrived’, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. … But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal — my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ” (Philippians 3:13-14, Phillips translation).
May the Lord bless you as you move forward in your new life in Him!