One of the modern day dilemmas involves ink, skin and Mum. Most teenagers will think about it, bikers will do it and wives may regret it. The thought of getting a tattoo has probably drifted through your mind from time to time. How have you resolved the question. Did you vote in favour of the needle or find a compelling argument to via left? Through this post I want to also ask "Are you a Tattoo?" and see what that means to you personally.
I know for myself I've often admired the artwork of a well inked tattoo and appreciated many of the personal tributes and anchor points in people's lives that led them to mark an occasion or relationship. You can't help but be touched by a photographic representation of a lost loved one or impressed by 3D art that encompasses the values of the individual. But what happens when life changes? When that living relationship has lost its savour or our values have changed. Do we try to erase the ink?
You're probably picking up that this post isn't about answers as much as the questions I've worked through asking the question 'Should I get a tattoo'? As a Christian I've been observing two lines of thought that seem to embrace the extreme positions. On one side is the confident position that we shouldn't deface our skin because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Its found in 1 Corinthians 3 v16-17 and says; "Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple." If you live your faith you probably take that verse and ask yourself if this applies to me and not only with tattoos but the way I live, the way I eat, the exercise I do or don't all come under question. There's no point applying it to only one part of our lives. Then you hit the topic right between the eyes when you read this;
Leviticus 19 v 28 challenges me with "You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD."
Many Christians today are moving past these verses saying that we are under grace and not under law as they pursue ink art that declares their faith. This article at http://christianity.about.com handles it well. Firstly talking about the Leviticus verse it explains the context of the commandment dealing with pagan worship and then comes back to some wise guidelines that we can learn through reading and understanding Romans 14.
So what would you do? I've often thought about getting three tattoos possibly merged into one piece of art that speak about my heritage. I was born in England then at the age of nearly 5 came out to New Zealand where I was raised. In 1998 my job took my family and I to Australia for 13 years where we enjoyed raising our family and becoming Aussie citizens. Patriotism is one reason for a tattoo. A sense of being, connection and loving the values of a nation. For those reasons I looked at the idea of a tattoo for each place of citizenship. I could see an image with a Lion, a Kiwi and a Kangaroo engaged with the flags of each nation.
I guess a point that stays with me is that tattoos imprint us. Unless we spend some expensive money on laser removal you can bet its there for life. The thing I like about my life is that through the grace of God, patience and discipline I can change and be changed. When I receive God's forgiveness he cleanses me as white as snow. Those broken relationships that come from lust and selfishness along with the greed based mistakes can all be wiped off the slate. I like a sarcastic quote I heard in a movie trailer for the new Happy Feet 2 movie. One of the characters is told they're beautiful to which they respond, "Only on the outside". It's true we are each beautiful people, unique in so many ways but the inside isn't always so beautiful. To me thats the part of me that needs the most work and attention. I'm more interested in internal 'heart' surgery than the plastic surgery of the outside.
So where are we today? I haven't an inch of ink on my body. The closest I've come is to write down to 'Remember the Milk' on the back of my hand. I also don't feel there is enough conviction about it to make me step into any area I still feel is grey. As a Dad I don't know I'd feel comfortable about my kids getting a tattoo so I have to then turn back to the mirror and ask how that applies to my own calls.
As you think this one through for yourself, enjoy this Weird Al parody and leave me a comment. Love to hear about your journey on this one.