Attending a conservative private university has often left me with a head full of contradicting opinions on tattoo’s and whether people of faith should get them or not. Growing up in an atheist family, I had very little limitations when it came to tattoo’s and piercings, unless they were grossly out of taste. I never saw myself as the type of girl that would get a tattoo or a nose ring, or anything wild like that, but I was never morally opposed to the idea. After I became a Christian, this sort of thing fell into the pile of issues I would have to rethink in light of my new faith. Weighing it against the backdrop of Scripture, I was unsure what to think in regards to tattoos.
After studying Old Testament in university, I was fairly sure what side of the debate I fell on. This was solidified after I studied 1 Corinthians. I concluded that peripheral, cultural differences ought to be treated as “open-handed” issues. To clarify, things such as alcohol consumption, tattoos, etc. are not the sort of issues Christians should part ways over. They should be approached based on personal conviction. Does a tattoo prick the conscience of a person? Then he ought not get one. Does a tattoo leave another unbothered, and does he feel comfortable in his place before God? Then he should be free to get one.
The other issue that get’s raised in the tattoo conversation is the notion that our bodies are the temple of God. While Scripturally this is 100% true, I’m not sure this fact leads one to necessarily conclude that tattoos defame that temple. A tattoo that honours the Lord hardly seems like the sort of thing that would make the body any less of a temple for the Lord. The body being a temple has more to do with keeping yourself from sin, allowing the sanctifying work of Christ to work in you, and fully understanding that the Spirit dwells in side of you. If I scrape my knee while playing sports does that mean I’ve defamed the temple of God and are therefore a sub-par Christian? If getting a tattoo increases my devotion to God in some way, keeps me accountable in its content, and opens the door for conversations with others about what I believe, then isn’t it beneficial for me to get one (if I am acting within my convictions)?
All that being said, I have a tattoo. When I was 20 I went with a couple of my friends to a shop in Toronto and got the first part of it done. I’d wanted a tattoo for some time by that point, and I’d thought it out and was sure that I was acting within my convictions. The experience was amazing. While it hurt like crazy (I got it on the top of my foot), I was able to share pretty much my whole testimony with the artist, and she was seemingly really interested in the faith I had. Recently I added to the same tattoo and had another positive experience. I went to a different artist to get some forget me not’s added, and she was very kind and focused on giving me exactly what I’d envisioned.
My tattoo is of a bird (often seen as a dove, but it wasn’t really intentional) with a bandaged wing. The bird is supposed to be me, in a way, and there is a banner underneath with the verse Job 1:21. Job 1:21 says: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” This verse is not only what helped me solidify my Christian faith, but it has acted as a signpost for me since becoming a Christian. It encapsulates my entire testimony. It reflects the posture of my heart even today. I added the forget me nots because they are part of my earliest childhood memory, they’re my favourite flowers, and they remind me to never forget Who my first love is. They remind me that God is the reason I am here and serving Him is my sole vocation.
So there you have it. Another hat to throw in the ring regarding tattoos. Do you have any tattoos? Why or why not? What are they of, if you do?