Explaining My Ink

Posted by Kevin |

It's no secret that I love tattoos. I have made a bakers dozen of these pieces of art work permanently a part of me. I was recently asked to explain them and thought I would take the time to post an explanation of the ink that is forever sown under the surface of my skin.

Let me start by explaining why.

There is no reason why - I just wanted to. In fact there is no reason for anybody to get a tattoo, they just choose to. You don't need them, they don't do much for you. It is a lot like explaining why you would pierce some part of your body or why you like watching football - you just do.

With that said, there is also no reason not to. Some Christians feel quite adamant that you should not tattoo yourself because the bible says so. When pressed they point to the only verse that roughly translated states, "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you" (Lev 19.28). Here's a few reasons why that doesn't necessarily work as a reason:

  • Many scholars agree that this refers more to a mutilation of the body as a form of pagan worship, not really tattooing as we know it.
  • When some translation use the word tattoo, it is only trying to attach a meaning we understand in our current culture to what was originally written in ancient Jewish law.
  • Jesus came to free us from the very law this was written in, the same law that forbid men from shaving and everyone from wearing clothes woven of multiple materials.
Now no one would say that I shouldn't shave - right? No one repents of wearing their 80% cotton, 20% synthetic material shirt - do they? Probably not and we would all agree that those laws don't apply any more, or have relevance in our daily lives.

However, I understand how people feel like, if it sort of says it, then we followers of the Way should abstain. And if that works for you, then awesome - but hopefully you aren't at the same time questioning the legitimacy of my walk with God because I feel differently.

See, the big picture is that Jesus came to free us of the law - not to delete or abolish the law, but to fulfill it. All of the law was good, but was only a mere shadow of what is found the man named Jesus. In fact I'll let Paul wrap this up in his guidance. He was trying to settle disputes that had arisen from Jews demanding that Gentiles adhere to Jewish culture in order to be Christ followers. The early church had serious issues between those who did not eat unclean animals and those who did - here's what he says:

"One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him." [Romans 14.2-3]


Heather Nicole said...

As a fellow tattoo lover...I just love this post.

I get asked all the time to explain my tattoos and you know what I hate it. I get stared at in judgement b/c of it. One woman asked me if I got my tattoo to celebrate Halloween! I mean c'mon..I could say the same about her hair style.

Anyway, I think I will post a forward to your page today if you dont mind.

Kevin Davis said...

Post away....

sharkiepatronus said...

While I don't have any tatoos myself (I'm afraid of needles!) I think they can be a uniquely personal way to express ones self, or they can just be for fun!

I know people whose tatoos have opened up doors for them to share their faith in situations where they probably wouldn't have before.

As a church we should be more worried about those two important commandments from Christ 1. Loving God 2. Loving others) than we are over whether someone has a tattoo or not.

Anonymous said...

I've heard this topic discussed in so many different ways. I gotta say you brought out some good points

Alexis said...

One thing I have always thought about tattoos (or clothes we wear or hairstyle or...)is that if it's not the "norm" them we need to be prepared to be asked the questions and to answer.

I agree with you fully on this post!

mike foster said...

nice work and i like the name of your blog...peace...mike.

Chris Chowdhury said...

Great post, Kevin. You really nailed it! Only thing missing: photos of the ink! :)

Anonymous said...

Have you not read Leviticus 20...tattoos are a sin!

Being Brazen said...

I dont see tattoos as a sin. I think it really depends on what you tattoo, what it means and what you put out there for the world to see. Because you are branding yourself.

I have met young christians with bible verses tattoed on themselves and biblical images - how can it be wrong to show your faith in that way??

Also , isnt the tattoing thing mainly in the old testament?

Kevin Davis said...

For those that don't know Mr. N8, first he is awesome, second, he is tattooed from his adam's apple to his calf - so don't misunderstand his sarcasm. He's just a dork.