Tattoo or not to Tattoo

Regret NothingAs a youth leader I have run into my share of ink.  Literally.  At a Summer Youth Camp several years ago, we were playing a game on the field and I, in my wisdom, thought I could take away a large “globe” ball (about the size of a small house), from a young man who was determined to run over the “old” lady with it.  He won.  However, as I was crashing to the ground I noticed as he waved his arms in victory, a ginormous-sized tattoo on his arm.  It was spectacularly colourful, but the skull and cross bone symbol was somewhat disconcerting at a Christian youth camp.

As a youth leader, I was sometimes privy to whispered conversations amongst some youth who were thinking about getting “inked”.  My students have always known how I feel about tattoos….I’m not a fan.  When one young man added an eyebrow piercing to his recently inked body, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall at his father’s house.  His conservative father was going to be in for quite a shock.

My own son wanted a tattoo for years.  When he turned sixteen, he begged to have one.  I said, “No”.  My son respected me enough to wait until he was nineteen and then had a large angel-wing with a cross tattooed over his shoulder blades.  His favorite scripture verse Phil. 4:13 was inked on a banner draped around the cross.  As much as I wasn’t pleased with the idea of his getting the tattoo in the first place, I had to admire the beautiful artistry of the design AND I remarked that now that he had forever emblazoned Phil. 4:13 on his body, he better LIVE the verse everyday: “I can do all things through Him Who gives me strength.”

My niece has several tattoos, my daughter’s friends have tattoos and try as I might to convince her otherwise, my youngest daughter would like to get a tattoo one day.

As a Christian, I was curious to see what scripture says about tattoos:  For more information please go to this very informative article: http://christianity.about.com/od/faqhelpdesk/f/tattoochristian.htm   The Bible says in Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.”  However, if we look at this verse in context, this was one of many examples of God telling His chosen people to not participate in the pagan customs of the day.  God’s people were to be set apart and not participate in rituals or festivities that were for the most part idol worship.  In verse 26, they were also told, “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood,” and verse 27, “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.”  These are Old Testament laws that we must agree, that in today’s society, Christians no longer strictly adhere to.  Truth be told, I am happy that we shave and eat non-kosher food.  I am not the least bit worried that I am breaking any biblical laws by doing so.

That said, I agree with the writers of the above article that says that getting a tattoo probably falls under one of those “disputable matters” from Romans 14.  The Bible is not clear about whether it’s right or wrong in a New Testament church, but it does fall to the person contemplating getting a tattoo to decide carefully what their personal motivation is in getting one.

I am convinced that most people getting tattoos do so to get noticed…especially from the opposite sex.  It is a form of adornment.  It is meant to attract not repel.  Some get tattoos for cosmetic reasons and there are others who ink their bodies in remembrance of something or someone.  A Christian getting a tattoo must ask whether this will bring glory to God.  Is it a form of rebellion?  Will it cause dissention in a family?

Many people say, “It is MY body, I can do with it what I want.”  Johnny Depp is quoted as saying, ““My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.”  As Paul says in I Corinthians 6:12, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you.”  Christians know that their body is not their own but bought with a price.  (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Tattoos are permanent and every individual must decide whether or not the tattoo over time is ultimately “good” for them.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

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5 Responses to Tattoo or not to Tattoo

  1. randyb says:

    I have to agree that some of the youthful decisions that we make today are really bad ones for the long term. When I was younger I went out and got some really “cool” tattoos. While these were great displays of art, taking a great amount of talent to create, they did not bring any glory to God. I often found myself deciding what shirt to put on based on where I was going. Now that I have aged some and my son is getting old enough, he started to ask about my reasons for some of the tattoos and I had no good answer. I recently decided to do something about them and get them covered up with something more appropriate for a Christian to be seen with that may bring an opportunity to bring glory to God rather that discredit my testimony. These new tattoos, I must say, have added some great new opportunities to talk with people about God, I still think not having gotten the original ones would have been the best solution.

  2. Pingback: Friday Funny – Tattoo You | Lynn Dove's Journey Thoughts

  3. alfred legco says:

    such an inspiring message

  4. Could be me writing this. My son was the same. When he was 19 and playing football for the Wisconsin Badgers, he had a tattoo of a cross and a W and the words, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” I acted the same way, too. But still, I remain NOT a fan of tattoos and Jake says he’s not getting another..

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