17 October 2008


Johnathan Bowers has a thoughtful post on tattoos. Having tattoos myself I was intrigued with the post and thought I would post a few comments on the subject myself. First, I appreciate his comment that it is a matter of personal conviction. I would agree with that. Those who dislike them have their verses they like to throw at you for not marking the body but have little exegetical proof. I won’t go into that except to say that if anyone wants to debate (not go to combat, mind you) that I’m sure open to it.

His first objection, that we are “not our own” (1 Cor. 6:19-20), is a good point. But may I add that we should mindful of that the next time we get our haircut, eat that ice cream cone or buy those pair of trousers. In each of those situations we are also “not our own” and yet we are potentially telling someone else something about ourselves. We cannot avoid expressing ourselves no matter what we do. Objection #2, that tats can breed novelty is also valid. Yet I would humbly state again that if we own more than one pair of shoes, one jacket, one shirt, that novelty can set in and indeed does. Individuality, his third point, is often the reason one offers for getting inked and not necessarily a good one and at the same time we are all individuals so getting inked does not make any of us any more of an individual than anyone else.

Fourth, I think this is extremely important, he feels that having a tat can cause an offense. Very true. So can sporting the latest fashion, or being of the mind not to sport the latest fashion, or driving a Cadillac rather than a Honda, or having a beer, or, or, or… and the list goes on. Its very easy to offend other non-likeminded believers. That is why we need to be patient with our brothers. How about giving an offense to unbelievers? Unbelievers will find fault with believers with almost anything simply because we are believers and the gospel is an offense. I would, however, offer caution here that the tat itself, the design, the meaning, what it portrays is what actually can give offense and therefore we need to choose our tats carefully so as not to give offense in this manner. Tattoos are so common today that many folks do not notice them anymore. We should be mindful too, that any lost soul that enters our church covered with them is still a lost soul seeking the same thing we did. Lastly, tattoos will fade. If that is an issue for someone then don’t get one.

As for myself, I got my tattoos when I was older. I gave each one much thought and each one has more than one meaning. Most are covered by short sleeves and display either my Scottish heritage or my Christian heritage but the two that show below the sleeves are the most “Christian” of the lot. I have been asked what they are and what they mean and have used them as “door openers” to explain the gospel on more than one occasion. Above you see one of those tats. Can we have tattoos for the glory of God? I think so.
Great post Johnathan - thanks.

What say ye?


Sam said...

I think that tats are a fine way to bring Glory to God. I think that biblical separation is cheapened by many in Reformed circles today by staining out gnats (beer, tats, secular music, movies et al) and swallowing camels (self-righteousness, legalism, et al). Worldliness is a problem in many churches, but it rears it's ugly head in the form of easy believism, bad doctrine, false teaching, and the lack of a clear Gospel message. There's enough sins to repent of; let's not add more to the list! Thanks for the thoughts, Renegade.

Reformed Renegade said...

Sam, Thanks for stopping by, man!

Sam said...

Hey, long time reader, first time commenter. Keep up the good work.