Indelible Marks

Indelible Marks

Lately, I've been thinking about my 30th birthday. It's never too early to start thinking about your 30th birthday (#snark), and I'm only 2 years away from mine.

I recently read a magazine blurb in which a 90-year-old woman got a long-desired tattoo of a flower on her birthday, and I thought, "Eureka! I've always wanted a (small) tattoo (somewhere tasteful and discrete, of course)!"

My idea was to get a tattoo of the scripted text "Romans 7:24-25" on the ring finger of my right hand.

My reasons were manifold:

  1. I want a constant reminder of the passage.
  2. I see tattoos as an accessory, to be used in moderation and with an eye for aesthetics.
  3. I think tattoos look edgy and cool.
  4. I want people, particularly non-Christians, to see me not as some sanctimonious do-gooder, but as a normal person striving to live as Christ lived, with all that that entails.
  5. I want the tattoo to open up conversation with people about Christ and what he has done and is doing.

One of the people who will be most directly affected by my getting a tattoo is my dear husband, as he is married to this particular manic soul embodied in this particular 4'11" body (for better or for worse).

That saying, I asked his opinion on tattoos, knowing full-well what I was in for.

We had a rousing conversation in the car about how to think biblically and well about tattooing. Here are some of the main points we came up with:

  1. Our bodies are "temple[s] of the Holy Spirit...[we] are not our own, [we are] bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). While not all tattoos are equivalent to "vandalism" of the Holy Spirit's temple, some certainly can be.
  2. We have received our bodies from God - we had no control of the making of them in the first place. Therefore, it behooves us to consider what my hubby calls "the givenness of our bodies" as we decide whether to make a permanent change to them. Is it right to make a permanent change to something that doesn't belong to us in the first place?
  3. Part of "the givenness of our bodies" is that we are given to aging. What kind of signal is your tattoo going to send when you're 80?
  4. In fact, what kind of signal is that tattoo going to send in 10 years, or today? Right now, the cultural significance of getting a tattoo is pretty minor and unobtrusive - I'll grant that. However, what if that meaning changes with time into something you don't want to be representing?

All in all, the Bible doesn't speak unequivocally about tattoos, so what we have in front of us is a wisdom decision; an issue of Christian freedom.

So far, I see more convincing evidence in the negative category than in the positive category. As Chris pointed out, all of the things in the positive list can be accomplished in ways that don't have to involve a tattoo.

However, I still kind of want one, and I'm interested in getting a number of perspectives from you, the readers.

What do tattoos signify to your age group, gender, race? What's your personal artistic opinion on tattoos? What's your personal moral opinion on tattoos? Lay it on me!