Now before you run out and say I told you to get all inked up: take a breath, read past the title, and decide for yourself, not because some moron on a blog said to do something or not to do something.
A friend of mine and myself have begun to routinely meet during the week at a coffee shop in Richmond, Ky (Purdy’s- check it out: http://www.purdyscoffee.com) to talk about major issues that are on the forefront of predominant youth culture- good stuff like drug abuse, self affliction, and pre-marital sex.
Fair warning: these meeting may shape future blog posts.
So, the first topic was the inherit goodness or badness of getting a tattoo. Now, because of a misreading of a verse in Leviticus, I have always had a disdain for tattoos of deceased family members. To me, you could get pretty much anything, like a turtle riding a motorcycle in a hurricane on the small of your back, whatever, just as long as you were not memorializing the dead. I was convinced that was what the Bible said.
That was, of course, until I actually read what the Bible said on the topic.
So, we came to the conclusion together that the Hebrew Bible injunction against tattoos does not necessarily pass over to the life of the subversive Christ-follower. But, we still wondered what the purpose for one was, if there was one. This lead us to two principle ideas in the New Testament that shaped our thinking. One, paraphrased, mentioned that all things are allowed for Christians, but not all things are beneficial. What is amazing about this is it in a way releases you from certain legislative bonds, and yet chains you to something greater- responsibility. We become responsible for what we do. So, the desire is to then do the most beneficial thing.
Is getting a tattoo beneficial?
For the culture that I live in, yes it is. I am more likely to spend time with a tattoo-riddled drug dealer than a CEO. I am also more like to spend time with artistic types who express themselves in that way then reserved, evangelicals who think tattoos are a sin. So simply, the benefit of the tattoo is that it can help me become “all things to all men (or women)”, which is another idea from the Bible.
Getting a tattoo is subversive because it is frowned upon by the dominant culture, and if you are a being that can shift in and out of the dominant culture, you show that the mentality of the “tattoo-riddled, food-stamp using masses” is an often unfair stereotype, and assumes that poor people cannot ever have anything nice if they receive any kind of assistance, when in fact, many tattoos of the poor are done by a friend or relative for fairly cheap. When you have a tattoo, you become more open to a certain set of folks, and that openness can lead to pointing them to Christ, which leads to ultimate, lasting life change.
So, in light of this, I am planning to get my first tattoo this year. But I have some stipulations- to make getting a tattoo more subversive, I am trying to contact a local tattoo parlor to see if they would donate a portion of their proceeds the day that I get my tattoo to The Salvation Army, so I also know that actually purchasing my tattoo goes to creating change and helping others. Think about getting a tattoo with me. Subvert the powers today.
Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
1 Corinthians 9:19-23