Tattoos . . . aarrgg!

©Jeanne E Webster

I was talking with a friend yesterday and she mentioned that her granddaughter has a tattoo.  She said it rather meekly and with a twinge of shame.  After a moment of pause she continued.  Her sister had reminded her that their father had had a tattoo under his upper arm.  She had completely forgotten about that.  A tattoo…on her father’s arm.  He wasn’t a bad guy.   Why was she thinking her granddaughter’s tattoo was a shameful topic?  So the point was made to her judgmental tendency—judge not thy brother or sister with tattoos!  Or thy granddaughter’s. 

My spiritual nature also has a trigger finger, a rapid response fire to anything quirky that does not fit into my bag of “good.”    Take this topic for instance.  Tattoos.  Yikes!  I can run with that on a million tangents.  Tattoos go together with “bad” like hair on an Angora cat–as in drugs, alcohol, drunks, low-life, immorality, sex-crazed, dirty, idolatry, taking money away from your children, wastefulness, and on and on.  It’s a big BAD. 

My mind then shifts into high gear and begins the clearing process.  Let’s see.  How does she look?  Is she clean?  Are her clothes neat?  Does she have all her teeth?  Are her fingernails clean?  Does she smell clean?  You notice the word “clean” repeating itself.  I’m associating tattoos with unclean things which many times that’s exactly what it is.  However, automatically sliding someone into the “dirty” slot if I see the tiniest hint of a tattoo on his or her body?   Yes, I am a judgmental freak. 

I calm my mind down and begin a new process–clarifying process.  Just because she has a tattoo or tattoos does not necessarily mean she is bad.  It does not mean she is a druggie, an alcoholic, a low-life, etc.  Ok, she may not be managing her money wisely, but that could be the extant of it.  Maybe.  But here I’m smearing her face in the gutter of Bad Street, and I know absolutely know nothing about her, except I saw a bit of a tattoo on her neck.  Anyway, what if she had a glob of tattoos on her?  What if she was living in slum land?  Am I to judge her?  I am sorry for judging her so harshly and beg forgiveness from God.  I pray for the young lady and ask God to protect her and guide her into his presence.  I know better.

Looking at this from a different perspective, how about a glance down upon “Me” from a churchgoing Bible-based, fervently praying Christian.  “Hmm, look at that lady, judging that poor girl because she has a tattoo on her arm.  Shame on her.  She needs to read her bible and pray more.  That girl probably got her tattoo in a silly rage of teenagerism and regrets it to this day.  It has probably hindered her from finding a job or dating that good-looking dude.    Who knows how much she regrets that silly deed?”  Need I say more?

How about some discussion on this topic?  How do you feel about tattoos, excessive tattoos, the modern way to “fit in?”  Do you think it is a healthy habit?  If you’re a Christian, does it hamper your effectiveness to witness to non-believers?  Let’s hear some feedback.

27 comments on “Tattoos . . . aarrgg!

  1. trutherator says:

    Here’s a skinhead who became a Christian and was covered head to foot with tattoos, many of them ungodly. Here’s his story:

    Reformed skinhead undergoes agony to remove his head and neck tattoos:
    http://news.yahoo.com/reformed-skinhead-endures-agony-remove-tattoos-162205881.html

    Tattoos are a deliberate staining of one’s self and they are permanent. I don’t like them. Some of my sons and daughters have some, mostly discrete and neutral themed, but they aren’t very spiritual people.

    The question should not be whether something is allowed as a Christian, but what is the best witness, will it glorify God, will it bear good fruit?

  2. Weighing in from a very personal point of view:
    1. People make choices; they live with those choices. Their choices are not mine to judge…and I am sure I could quote scripture but choose not to do so.
    2. One can prove anything as good or bad with scriptures taken out of context. This is truly one of my pet peeves.

    • Thank you for your input here, Linda. Taking words out of context is not valid for any proof. Like I wrote earlier, scripture mentions a taboo against cuttings or tattoos in the old testament times, but how do we know who it applied to, what exactly did it pertain to, and other unknowns. Is it applicable today to the Christian? I don’t believe anyone truly has the skinny on that at all. We need to go by the Spirit’s leading and as we saw in the new testament, sometimes even the leadership in the churches differed and went their own way. I myself truly believe getting tattoos and piercings by Christians does in no way exclude them from heaven, redemption, or the other graces bestowed upon us by Christ.

      This could really get into apologetics and more. This blog is not the place to do that. 🙂

  3. ddkaarre says:

    My Dad (soon to be 80) was drafted into the Army many years ago…while there he had my mom’s name tattooed on his right arm. He is a very conservative and delightful Christian man…it is cool looking to this day…and he still shocks people when they see it. Our son was in the Marines for four years…he told us he had USMC tattooed on his left shoulder….we thought oh okay. Then he told us he was getting another tattoo above his heart…he wrote a Finnish word SISU which means having the guts to do something even if it is hard and scary to do. His other grandpa (almost 87) was delighted, not necessarily by the tattoo, but by the thought that went into it and that our son was choosing a word from his heritage as a way to express his beliefs. His tattoos are both in places that do not normally show and we are not offended by them. Neither do we feel he has sinned in doing so. As Christians, God sets us free to choose what we do as long as it shows love for Him, others and ourselves. I don’t believe tattoos hinder our love of God, or our love of others. Obviously from what I hear their is actual pain in the actual process of getting a tattoo, but I don’t believe it hurts us any more than working out, or dieting. or playing a strenuous sport can or any of a myriad of other things we choose to do to our bodies. Our son is a solid and joyful Christian man who spent a lot of time loving and being Jesus to fellow Marines during his four years there. He has had no problems getting jobs. He is a hard worker and a quick learner. Tattoos have always intrigued me…some are hideous, some glorious. I don’t think I will ever get one because I’m a wimp and don’t choose to go thru that. I love pierced ears too but have not done it because didn’t want to bother. I don’t care if others do…I think earrings look cute. I believe these things are a matter of personal choice and God says to make them in the best interests of Him and others. I think the spiritual danger is when we say “this is what God says” when it may not really be but rather what tradition or prejudice or man has said or felt. When we do that and make everyone like ourselves it is as if the whole body is all eyes and no hand or head or big toes. ALL parts of the body are essential…even if they carry a tattoo!

  4. isaiah43123 says:

    Yes, Anne, I am saying Hmmm… now you have me thinking about my own pierced ears.

  5. I have two tattoos Jeanne. On my left arm is an American Eagle because I am proud to be an American. On my right arm is a dark black panther with blood dripping out of its mouth because I was nick named “Raging Panther” when I used to compete in Martial Arts. To this day I regret having BOTH of them. Leviticus 19:28 clearly haunts me every day – “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.”

    • Some graphics! Whew! I can visualize them clearly.

      Regards the scripture, I’m not really clear as to exactly what that means or to what it pertains. Some thoughts on it: Is it strictly Jewish law? Was it a custom of the pagans at that time? That was the reason for the taboo… Or what. So I’m not basing my yeas or nays on that.

      Love the comments here. such diversity with our age/culture differences. Such changes occurr and always will, redefining the laws and ethics as time passes on.

      Good for thoughts. 🙂

  6. Some good input, Anne. Perhaps those with more study in the end times would know more about this topic. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. enitsirk24 says:

    By the way, i do not have any tattoos. 🙂

  8. enitsirk24 says:

    This is an interesting topic. I have a blog waiting in the “draft” section and it speaks to the tattoo. People get them for all reasons. My sister, who I never would have guessed, got one in memory of my dad. My boss and I have been critiquing each other’s writing lately and he just wrote a poem on the topic. My blog was going to be about “What Would Jesus Do? Feeling strongly about something, he may be covered in tatoos. He’d have our names written all over His body. That’s my guess.
    Now that I think about it, the majority of inked remains on the females of my family rather than the males.

    • Interesting! Culture has changed significantly since my growing up days, and tattoos are readily accepted now, not then. Same as body cuttings and rings everywhere on the body. History has a way of repeating itself, so I’m sure these types of body art are making another swing at it. 🙂

  9. Dicky says:

    I have seen that some Christians have tattoos on their arms. They might have them before they accepted the Lord.

    • Thanks for sharing. I have seen tattoos from head to toe on some people. Look to the TV! Seems that the ink shops are making a good living. I just worry about infections and bodily harm from the work itself. Yikes! And I would assume it is expensive to have one put on…?

  10. Caddo Veil says:

    I LOVE this, Jeanne–great way to draw in a new reader!! I have the same knee-jerk reaction to tattoos–and my confession gets worse: I’ve actually congratulated myself on becoming more accepting of “strange colored, styled hair” on young people! Oh, please! I can’t make excuses for myself, but I try to look at the whole picture–if a young person is acting “nice”, I tend not to care about their “trendy” looks. If he/she is acting “wild”–well, let’s just say I start praying the bus will hurry and get there for me… God bless you!

  11. Carolyn says:

    Jeanne, I love this post! Thank you for touching on this topic.
    One of my best friends has two tattoos. Her husband also has tattoos. I have other friends and coworkers who sport some ink as well.
    For a long time, I was with you. I associated tattoos with “trashy” people…what a terrible, terrible thing. I could blame my conservative upbringing, which lately has been challenged in many ways by God Himself.
    As I’ve gotten older and more accepting of people, I don’t see tattoos as a bad thing at all. In fact, it requires so much work and talent to create them. Personally, I’m not sure I’d ever get one; then again, I’m more of a piercings type of girl. Does it make me bad or trashy that I’ve considered getting a nose ring? Not in the least. How can I say the same about my friend with tattoos?
    It’s more about the person the pictures decorate than the pictures that they choose. More often than not, there’s even a deeper meaning. I think Jesus would’ve even gone to lunch with a tattoo-covered friend.

    • Thanks for expressing your thoughts, Carolyn. You bring up some excellent points. I must say though…I’d hate to see you get a nose ring! You have such a cute nose without that! 🙂

  12. Boy, you do like stirring up the pot, don’t you?? 🙂 Here’s my unvarnished, unpolished personal opinion–

    I think tattos are an ugly desecration of the body the Lord gave us, and cringe inside when I see someone with their skin covered with markings. I see them as a mark of the world, and would have quoted the verse Anne did if she had not beat me to it. It would be that verse that would keep me from even thinking about a tattoo.

    Having said that, I will follow through on your thoughtful conclusions — who are we to judge? Just because we don’t have any, does not mean we are any better than they. We are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. Just because I don’t like the practice does not mean I know the heart of the person that has one. Yes, quite often they go along with the ‘dirty’ side of life; but not always.

    I am like you, Jeanne, quick to judge by appearance; at least I was until God gave me a lesson on it. The contractor that did the work on our house had two tattoos – a cross on one arm and a crown on the other. He also had earrings in both ears. He was the insturment God used to teach me a lesson on judging others because I took one look at him and decided I did not want him working on our house. God chose him to do the work I am sure, for the lesson to me and for a blessing that we all benefited from him doing the work. We learned in the process of time, that he has a strong faith and even was on his church board and a head trustee of his church for years. He has become a good friend that uplifts my faith each time I talk to him.

    Lesson learned. 🙂

    • Love your remarks, Dru! 🙂

      You mention so many truths. I guess we’re in a transition phase between what was once looked upon as yuck and now is considered a body expression.

      In summa…I guess my body does not have anything to say…:)

  13. April says:

    Personally, I find tatoos unattractive. However, because someone has a tatoo would not stop me from witnessing to them nor showing them Christian compassion.

  14. SPTP2011 says:

    Jeanne
    Tatoo’s are not my “thing”
    But my son has a “full sleeve” tatoo talk for tatoos from shoulder to wrist
    He is a hard working – honest – loving person
    My son knows others judge him but he marches to his own drummer and that’s ok
    I heard a teaching on Jesus and He was referred to (by the Minister)
    as the Original Pierced One (or tatooed by the Nails)
    A concept I had never thought about
    God Bless
    susie

  15. Susan Michaels says:

    hmmm…I guess this is a personal thing…not something I would do, and I’m not crazy about tatoos, but I have a Christian friend who sees it as ‘art’ and he was into tatoos before he knew the Lord, and now has a Christian message on his arm and a cross.

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