Wednesday, June 22, 2011

on tattoos.

about two years ago, i started seriously considering getting a tattoo. a matching tattoo with my BFITW. something small, simple, and meaningful between the two of us to commemorate our best-friendship. the words 'changed for good' between two little stars. we decided that our foot would be the most logical place to have it, as it would not be immediately obvious, it could be easily covered up if need be, and it would be a spot on our bodies that would age well. it seemed like a great plan, and we decided to get them to celebrate us getting our first real jobs.

fast-forward two years. we both have real jobs. between the two of us, we have moved 5 times and lived in 3 different states. i got engaged and bought a house and got married. and after all that craziness, we still don't have our tattoos.

so here we are, at a point in our lives where both of us are socially, financially, and emotionally responsible enough to just go out and get said tattoos. the design is well thought out. the placement, although it has changed slightly over the years from the inside to the top of the foot for practical purposes, is also well thought out. so why the extra delay?

the only hold-out issue is the morality of the whole thing. as two God-fearing women, would it be "right" to get tattoos? Leviticus 19:28 says, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put any tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD,"(NIV) which at first glance seems like pretty concrete disapproval from God. But, this command was given as a part of the old law, (which also condemned cotton-polyester blends and beard trimmers) the primary goal of which was to encourage the chosen nation of the Israelites to remain set apart from other pagan religions, and was overridden by Jesus' death on the cross and the new covenant in His blood.

the specific topic of tattoos is never reiterated in the new testament. it is made clear that under the new covenant, believers are no longer held under the old law. so the tattoo debate gets left as a personal choice between each individual and God, which in my opinion would be enough to say that my tattoo would be ok.

but then there is this thing that Paul says in Romans 14:13-15,
(for the sake of this discussion you can insert 'tattoo' for 'eat')
"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died."(NIV)

which brings other people and their perception of tattoos into the equation. people like my husband, and the church ladies, and prospective employers, and any random stranger who has a preconcieved notion that anyone with a tattoo is a misguided rebellious biker thug vagrant who's favorite pasttimes are chain-smoking, alcoholism, and kicking puppies. these are people, some of whose opinions matter way more than others, that might see my (hypothetical, at this point) tattoo as something other than the cute statement of best-friendship that it is meant to be. BUT, even if it is their own misconception at work and not the actual subject matter of the tattoo, which in this case is neither overtly spiritual or un-spiritual, does the fact that a largely anonymous and widespread group of random people i will collectively refer to as 'they' are not comfortable with my tattoo mean that i should not get it?

and this is where i'm kind of stuck for now. somewhere between believing in my own heart that there is nothing wrong on any level with my desire for a cute little tatto on my foot, and being conflicted by how the morality of it would be percieved by others, and whether or not it will honor God (I Cor 6:19-20).

what say you? do you have a tattoo? how do you feel about christians with tattoos? are the only appropriate christian tattoos ones of crosses and fish?

these are entirely my own opinions and musings, however complicated and open-ended they may be. i read this, this, this, and this in an attempt to help me understand my own thoughts on the matter, and i'm not much closer to a conclusion as i was when i started this internal debate.

4 comments:

Sarah Elizabeth said...

You forgot to add in the pain issue, I hear they hurt. I personally don't think I would get a tattoo but if done right I don't find offence in others with they. And I know many wonderful Christians that have them, several crosses but no fish. I say go for it.

Rob L. said...

I think anything would be appropriate for a tattoo as long as it is something you would say/do in your normal everyday 'appropriate' life. So an animal, a cross, a food, words, numbers, whatever. Probably no depictions of violence/weapons/drugs, however.

Also, the only reason I don't have a tattoo is (1) I can't decide which math/physics equation to get, and (2) there is no place on my body that won't be covered in that oh-so-typical mammalian hair for the rest of my freaking life.

(And, before you counter with it, no, I am not getting a Mike Tyson-esque face tattoo.)

Brenda's Man said...

Your mother has emphatically stated she will NOT be involved in this discussion - chicken!
Here is all I wish to offer on the subject.
The balance between the Law and Freedom in Christ is a delicate one and arguments have been and will be made (good ones and bad ones)until our Lord returns. I say fine, because it makes us THINK. So think on these things...
Acts 13:38-39, Gal. 5:1,13-14, all speak clearly of our freedom in Christ. Of course we know that freedom is not a license to sin (1 Peter 2:16) and that although all things are permissable, not all things are beneficial, constructive nor should I be mastered by anything but Christ. (1 Cor.6:12 & 10:23) Of course Jesus didn't come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17ff) The Word is also very clear that the Law is not the basis for our salvation - that depends solely on Jesus' sacrifice for us and our accepting His gift of salvation. (Rom.3:20ff)
I believe you have a pretty good handle on that already. And i believe that you have a peace in your heart as far as your relationship with Jesus is concerned. Regarding the 1 Cor. 8 passage, understand that the "offense" is not just a "oh I don't like that" sort of offense, it is a stumbling block that keeps a person away from Christ. The person described in the chapter doesn't even know that there is only one God. The subject is food sacrificed to idols so in that situation you could just choose not to eat in front of them - but eating the same food later is no problem.
With a tattoo you can't quite put it on and off depending who you are with. But its discreet location can serve the same purpose.
Lastly,(people always love when I say that!) in my mind the greatest issue you must wrestle with is from Eph. 5:21ff Your relationship with each other is a huge consideration. TALK ABOUT IT, PRAY ABOUT IT, TOGETHER. Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ is all about coming to a unified decision. Remember he can't demand that you submit and you can't demand that he loves - but because Christ instructs you - you CHOOSE to do it Jesus' way.
That is really the only biblical reason I can think of. the pain thing is another matter entirely! :)
Know that I love you both and always will, and remember you chose each other so make it work.

the indians and pirates said...

I feel certain that with so much thought put into it, you will make whatever the right decision is!