Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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In your lecture in Nashville, you answered a question about tattoos. God says that tattoos and piercings defile the body. I have the cross on my wrist and my ears are pierced; does that mean I am disobeying God, and will it hinder my chances of going to heaven? What about the little children in Egypt whom their parents take them to get the cross tattooed on their wrists while the little ones have no choice in it; the same goes for the girls getting earrings.

Tattoos were rites and ceremonies with which people expressed their sorrow at funerals. The heathen did so to pacify the infernal deities of their nightmares, and to render them favorable to their deceased loved one. God commanded that this must not be imitated by His people. God's people, whom He set apart for Himself, must not receive the image and superscription of these worthless deities, and therefore, must not make cuts or prints in their flesh. Such practices were signs of rebellion against God Himself.

During the era of persecution, the Coptic Christians were prevented from wearing crosses or declaring themselves Christians. As the persecution increased, Christians started to tattoo the cross on their skin as a sign that they will never denounce their Christianity till they are skinned. Henceforth, the cross tattoo became a sign of holding on to the Christian faith. In our days, it is more important to keep the meaning of the cross on and in our hearts rather than on our skin.

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