To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo

By Tamara Jane
That is the question. Last year when I went to a local waterpark, I noticed something new and in abundance: tattoos. After a long, hard winter, I hadn’t seen much bare skin in a while, and as my first time at a public pool for the year, the tattoos really jumped out at me – some in an “in your face” sort of way, while others seemed more tasteful, like art on the body. Then I contemplated the tattoo.
If you were to poll random Christians, you would get a variety of answers about their views on tattoos. Many are staunchly opposed to defacing the human temple. Others are unsure, and if I had asked members of biker churches, I bet they would be strong supporters of tattoos. Of course, the Bible doesn’t mention tattoos one way or another and there are cultural contexts to consider as well, so it’s not easy to say tattoos are “right” or “wrong.” And yet, given our cultural context, there are definitely some pros and cons of tattoos. And perhaps they can help you to decide if a tattoo is right or wrong for you.
• They’re a good way to express yourself and to instantly communicate something about you to the world.
• They’re artsy or edgy at best and can make you feel like you’ve got a little flair.
• They last longer than Sharpie! So if there’s something you want to permanently impress upon yourself – like your favorite Bible verse – it’s there, to stay!
But on that last point: don’t think that just because you get a cross, picture of Jesus, or your favorite Bible verse tattooed on, that it will endear you to Grandma. Some Christians think it’s sacrilegious to tattoo the things of God. But if you’re so inclined anyway, don’t contradict your witness by placing the tattoo someplace that forces a man to exercise self-restraint as he reads it! I’ve seen young women with references to verses tattooed across their chest or right above the fanny. Doesn’t match up, if you get what I’m saying.
• Let’s start with the one that’s also a pro: tattoos are permanent. But the problem with that is that we are not. We change with time and often quite drastically. So an image we feel is our icon today might not be something we’d like several years from now. For example, a Hello Kitty tattoo might be the cat’s meow for you today, but when you’re older? And maybe you think a tattoo totally fits your carefree and countercultural lifestyle now, but 15 years from now when you’re up for that supervisor position? Better wear long sleeves to the interview.
• Tattoos are expensive – you could buy an original piece of art from an up and coming artiest for about the same amount of money needed for a decent tattoo – and they hurt, a lot (which is why many people need to be drunk to get one).
• Over time, tattoos fade or begin to turn yellow, especially when they are exposed to the sun. So for a long-lasting tattoo, you need to put it where the sun doesn’t shine, but then who is going to see it? A catch 22.
• The strongest con of all is not about you or the tattoo, but about everybody else. People are pretty judgmental and in our culture, tattoos (whether you agree or not) are associated with lower class, hard living, rebellion, promiscuity, drugs and drunkenness. Now I’m sure there are plenty of prim and proper, upper class virgins with tattoos out there (ehem!) but they are not the image that pops into the average American mind when it hears, “She’s got a tattoo.” While you shouldn’t be punished or overly inhibited by what others think, you should still be aware of this.
Weigh the pros and cons for yourself, but remember that God knows your heart, and that’s what He judges, not our appearance. Also remember, people aren’t as understanding, and they do judge you for appearance, and in this world where we are to be salt and light, that can be pretty important too.

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2 thoughts on “To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo

  1. Great Blog and post. Most opposes of tattoos will quote Leviticus 19:28
    “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord….

    One major Issue with using this is they leave out the rest of the scripture, they pick and choose what parts are relevant and which are not. for example I had one person bring this up and they were wearing cloths made from more than one fabric. They also cut their hair and loved eating a medium cooked steak. They told me my body was a temple to God yet they weighed over 300 pounds.

    Most aggravating of all is they have no idea why in Leviticus 19:28 there is a reference about cutting and tattooing for the dead. This line comes from the common practice of pagans to do this as a way of morning and they often would tattoo images of God’s on themselves. : )

    I know many people will say that was the old law I’m under the new law, I don’t buy into that just yet, however a case does have to be made for it unless you take it to extreme by saying things like ” So in 28:19 does that mean we can prostitute our daughters…” No, God did give us common sense, right?

    Lastly, you have to find your own salvation in tattoos. There isn’t a clear yes or no. Maybe a better approach is why do you want a tattoo? Do you want it to glorify God? Do you know who you are in Christ? If you do then it’s up to you to choose a design that you will want to show for the rest of your life. : )

    Wow, sorry for the book I just wrote!

    1. Write on, Brother! Rom 14:23 says Everything not from faith is sin; and I believe we can turn that around too and say that everything that comes from faith is not sin, because God looks at the purity of our hearts and our intentions. To eat idol meat or not? To tattoo or not? We have incredible freedom in God as long as we’re in HIS SERVICE – submissive to HIS WILL.

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