A to Z Challenge

I is for Inked

Let’s talk about tattoos.

First let me say, I’m one of those people who don’t “get” tattoos. I just don’t. To me, they’re a form of self-mutilation and extremely ugly. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a beautiful woman with tattoos and just shook my head – WHY mar that beauty with ink? It just doesn’t make sense to me. That beauty has been distorted with something artificial and garish and that makes me really sad.

But I pride myself on being fair, so let’s be fair – tattoos are personal. Everyone gets them for different reasons. And some people truly think they’re beautiful, make some sort of statement and they’re proud of their tats.

Fine. It’s really none of my business why people get their tattoos. It’s a personal choice and the beauty of free will is that people can exercise that free will. I could stand on my soapbox and condemn people for choosing to do something of their own free will, to their own bodies. But I won’t. It’s not my place to tell people how to live their lives or what to do with their bodies. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s my opinion. In the whole scheme of things, it doesn’t matter what I think.

But I’ll be honest, I have preconceived notions of people who choose to scar their bodies. Whenever I see a person with a tattoo, my opinion of that person drops about five degrees. That’s probably an unfair assessment to make on my part, but that’s my first reaction. I don’t have any respect for them and automatically assume that they are the kind of person who probably doesn’t like to obey rules and laws. That they likely have emotional issues or feel insecure in themselves and feel like tattoos validate them in some way. Or maybe they’re using their tattoos to hide behind bigger, emotional issues.

Again. It’s probably not fair for me to jump to those conclusions, but those are my first thoughts whenever I see someone with tattoos. And I daresay, most people probably think the same things I do whenever they see an individual with tattoos – which begs the question, are you okay with people thinking those things about you?

You may not care, and that’s fine. Again, it really doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else, thinks about your personal choices. I’m just trying to keep it real.

I’m more likely to accept (excuse?) a person with small tattoos on covered parts of their body. To me, that person is thumbing their nose at society, but doing it on their terms. I can dig that. I”m like that on many levels, though crossing the tattoo threshold is something I am not willing to do. Small, tasteful tattoos, that’s cool. I can sort of get those.

But the tattoos that cover an entire person’s body, or exist for the sole purpose of altering one’s appearance – I’m sorry, but that person has some serious mental issues and most likely needs to see someone other than their tattoo artist for help. Again, my opinion; take it or leave it.

Curious, I did a little research about what the Truth or Tradition ministry said about tattoos. I was surprised to hear their answer, quite frankly, but it made sense. I expected them to condemn tattoos but in fact, they don’t. Again, it’s a Christian’s choice what to do with their body and it all depends on where their heart is and what their intent is when they get a tattoo.

It’s a Matter of the Heart
Having obtained freedom in Christ, we must be careful to never use our freedom to cause others to stumble. Attempting to live with our hearts in the right place is much more difficult than merely following rules and regulations. It takes much more maturity to think things through and separate right from wrong, and to determine the loving thing to do and then do it than it does to merely have rules to follow. Too often Christians have reduced walking with Christ to a matter of rules and regulations instead of living and doing from a heart of love. What we do will always be wrong if we do it with the wrong motive, and for Christians, love must always be the dominating motive of our hearts. It is never considered loving to put a stumbling block in the path of our brothers or sisters.

Wrong Motives
Our hearts are very complex, and many of the things we do are the result of having a mixture of motives. We may want a tattoo because we think it looks good, communicates to others a message about “who we are,” or shows our love for someone or something. Before anyone ever gets a tattoo he should always take time to closely examine his motives. The two main things that should never be motives for a tattoo are rebellion and rejection.

The Motive of Rebellion
Some people are unaware of the rebellion that lives in their hearts and that their tattoos reflect an antisocial or ungodly heart. It is a sobering thought to remember that God says that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). Stories abound of people who got a tattoo when they were intoxicated, on drugs, or angry, all of which are states of rebelliousness. Rebellious tattoos often fall into the category of dark and sinister images such as death, skulls, demons, dragons, spiders, and other frightening, menacing, or evil objects. There are also tattoos that are occultic in nature or are pagan symbols such as “Thor’s Hammer,” Masonic emblems, nature worship, or the symbols of eastern religions. These types of images promote false gods and belief systems and are always wrong. Rebellious tattoos are never a godly blessing to others and they often reflect the hurt and pain that resides in the person’s heart by promoting beliefs and religions that are opposed to God’s truth. In other words, they promote evil.

The Motive of Rejection
Another motive that people are often unaware of is rejection. Many people have a great sense of unworthiness, being unlovable, or feeling “not good enough” because of the ungodly root of rejection that lives in their hearts. Rejection causes great emotional pain and is often the trigger behind people’s actions. Many times people act out with a “tough guy” (or girl) persona that is really masking the great hurt from the rejection in their hearts. Tattoos can be used to mask rejection by portraying an image that is not who the person really is on the inside. Sometimes people with rejection issues act in ways that cause others to reject them. There are some types of tattoos and some locations on the body that are never acceptable. Great care must be taken to discern the motive of the heart before anyone ever permanently alters his body with a tattoo.

Tattoos Will Not Change Who You “Really Are”
Getting a tattoo that says “courageous” does not impart courage any more than wearing a cowboy hat makes someone a cowboy. Tattoos will not “make you anything” other than the same person you were before, except now you have ink permanently embedded in your body. Examine your heart first, and if you recognize rebellion or rejection as your motive, and if you are not operating from a place of love and faith, do not get a tattoo.

So yeah, I’m not personally into them, I personally think they’re ugly, but I’m not going to condemn a person because they choose to get one. I have to work on changing what I think about people who get them, but ultimately, it’s none of my business what someone does with their body.

I just hope their hearts are in the right place – that’s all I really care about.

P.S. The Truth or Tradition ministry has a wonderful five-part video series on tattoos. They talk about the biblical implications of tattoos, ungodly tattoos and they even offer you some tips to consider before getting at tattoo. If you’re thinking about going down this road, please take a moment to really think it through before actually doing it.

I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. You can sign up for the challenge here. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (Keep your posts short – not more than 500 words – to make it easy on visitors. I think there were about 1100 participants the last time I checked).