My stepson wants to 'brand' his skin. Why-o-why? I ask, but anyway, I told him per God (Lev. 19:28) that it is forbidden. But when I read it the words "for the dead" makes it seem it's okay as long as it isn't for mourning a dead loved one.
I don't want him to get one period but I can't show him this verse until I can give something that can't be disputed. Can you give me a clearer, concrete verse?
Marks on the body were used in the past to indicate who a person belonged to. For example, a hole in the ear lobe marked a person as a permanent slave (Exodus 21:6). The Jews marked themselves as being under the covenant by circumcision (Genesis 17:10-11). So it could have good or bad connotations. The reason marks were forbidden in Leviticus 19:28 was because of idolatry. People would tattoo or mark themselves as followers of certain idols. Cutting oneself to show extreme grief over a death was done, but we often miss the implications. Ancestry worship was prevalent, and that is why it mentions not marking oneself for the dead. Other verses which also condemn cutting oneself are Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1; and Jeremiah 16:6.
We aren't under the Old Covenant, but we still can learn lessons from it. Why does your stepson want these brands? I suspect he wants to mark himself as belonging to some gang. It is there that you need to address the issue because the gang becomes something greater in his life than God, Christianity, or his family. Call up your local sheriff and ask to talk to someone who deals with gangs. Ask him if the particular brand your son wants is being used by a known gang. I think you will be saddened by the answer you get.