Note: I’m sure not everyone will agree with me on what you are about to read. I’m OK with that. I have my opinion. You have yours. And I respect that. For real. On with the story.
Last week, my 18-year-old (semi-adopted) daughter asked me what I thought about her getting a tattoo. I posted the question on facebook and the comments blew up. Everyone has an opinion on tattoos. And many have been asking for mine, So, here goes.
Is it OK for a Christian to have a tattoo?
I think it depends. Hang tight and I will explain.
Many people throw out Leviticus 19:28 as a scripture against tattooing. It states Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. Seems pretty clear cut. But a deeper look may challenge our understanding. The verse just before that says Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. (Lev 19:27). Following this reasoning, if we are to live by these instructions today, we should not have tattoos and should have long hair at the side of our head accompanied by a scraggly beard.
It also appears that the historically these verses are instructing people not to be involved in pagan worship (cutting their bodies for the dead, etc). Because of the context, I do not believe that this scripture forbids tattoos for art. (If you are getting a tattoo to promote some form of mystical or demonic worship or cutting yourself as a form of worship, that is a different story.) I believe a tattoo is not a salvation issue, it is an area of freedom. So you are thinking, “Awesome, time to pick out my new tat and get inked.” Not so fast.
So, can I get a tat or not?
If you live at home and your parents say no, the answer is no. End of conversation. Their house, their rules. Period. If they are helping to finance your life (paying for college, helping with rent, etc), you should honor their wishes. You are still under their authority (and help).
If you are thinking of a tattoo (and I am not encouraging), here are some thoughts. (Many of these were offered up by my facebook friends).
1. Pray about it. Seriously.
2. Ask yourself: “Why do I want a tattoo?” Be honest. If it is so that you can be cool, let it go. You will be no more cool with or without.
3. Think long and hard about it. A decision made when you are out at 2AM with your friends is a bad decision. Many of my friends with tats now wish they would not have rushed into the decision.
4. Make sure it can be hidden. Say what you want, but some places will not hire you if you are inked. It’s a fact of life. Plus there are times and events when you will not want it shown.
5. Make it tasteful. I had a friend in college that had an extremely vulgar tattoo from his younger days. Bad idea.
6. What are you trying to say with your tattoo? Again, why do you really want it?
OK. OK. I know some of you think that I am just making excuses so that I can justify the tattoo I have.
[insert long dramatic pause while processing mixed emotions]
Oh, you didn’t know I have one?
Maybe I do.
Or maybe I don’t.
photo by J Jackson Photography