I’m a Christian. And I have tattoos.

 

See Jessica have tattoos.

 

When people ask me why I got my tattoos I usually say something like: “Oh, I was suffering from a mild case of being 18″.

 

Which is true.  And isn’t.

 

Yes, I was 18 when I got my tattoos, and I didn’t really care about the future or consequences.  But, I didn’t grow out of appreciating them.  In fact, there’s a certain tattoo that I’ve been wanting unwaveringly for about 4 years now.

 

This isn’t an original subject matter.  It’s probably been debated since the beginning of body art.  And I’ll just go ahead and say, I think it’s totally plausibly to have a God honoring, meaningful tattoo.

 

I also think there’s a way to have a tacky, crappy, poorly thought through tattoo.

 

What are your thoughts about Christians and tattoos? Do you already have a religious tattoo, or have one in mind?

 

P.S. The tattoo I want is “Not my will, but yours be done” on my forearm.

 

-Jessica

Comments

  1. Seems like it’s all about the “why”….
    For Him? I believe it can be.
    For me? I believe it can be.
    The externals are always that way…aren’t they?
    Kara @ The Chuppies recently posted..In the midst of it all…My Profile

  2. A friend of mine has “INRI” tattooed on her forearm. I think it’s very cool, a constant reminder that Jesus is always with her. I, personally, have two tattoos, both of which I hate! One is my sorority letters from college, the other is two dolphins swimming around the Gemini symbol. Both were before I became a Christian, so I struggle with what they signify. However, as a friend reminded me, they are a symbol of how far God has brought me. :)
    Rebecca recently posted..5 Day Shakeology ChallengeMy Profile

    • I’m very glad I didn’t end up with something super dumb when I was young. :) I was a Christian, but a baby. :)

  3. I have a dragon on my shoulder that I got the week I turned 18. It’s not religious. It eats religious tattoos for breakfast. hehe

  4. I’m a Christian and I have a tattoo too. Not religious. It’s one of those crappy, not-well-thought-out ones. It’s a half moon… but it does have meaning… my sister has the sun. Sister tattoos? Oh well. It’s on the back of my shoulder and I never see it so I rarely think about it. My sister, on the other hand got another tattoo of a gecko crawling up her foot. So silly. She’s having it removed. Thank goodness.

    I see nothing wrong with them. In fact my parents both got tattoos after my sister and I did and I love my dad’s. He played hockey all his life and had his goalie mask tattooed on his arm with his nickname. I love that!
    Jenny recently posted..Tuesday’s Etsy spotlight: Sam’s StuffMy Profile

  5. I have one that’s a flame, alluding to the Holy Spirit descending at Pentecost. I think tattoos can be honoring to God. I’ve read that the ones condemned in Leviticus were actually devoted to pagan gods, hence the condemnation. Ooh, did I just use the word “hence”? Yikes!
    Larry Hehn recently posted..Oh no, oh no no no, oh no…My Profile

  6. I have a celtic knot that symbolizes the trinity. I think tattoos are a wonderful way to praise God. =)
    Stephanie B recently posted..Banners are Hard to MakeMy Profile

    • Neat. I think I might have to do a picture call on my facebook fanpage tomorrow and ask everyone to share all of this awesome art. :)

  7. I’ve been considering getting my 2nd tattoo, a modified version of the Ghanian symbol for “Except God, I Fear None” (Gye Nyame) because of the Christian significance, but also because of our involvement with Ghana and the child slavery rescue mission.
    JD recently posted..Ghoing, Ghoing, Ghana!!My Profile

  8. I do not have any and I don’t want any. But I’m ok if other folks have them. I just have a big pain allergy.
    seekingpastor recently posted..While I Was AwayMy Profile

  9. I don’t have any. My husband has 4 or 5. Some people would look at a few of them and think they were not God honoring, but perhaps to him, they are. As long as it’s not something vulgar, what he gets doesn’t bother me. He does have a super cool one on his chest that I asked him to have designed. It’s of praying hands and the cross.
    Amy recently posted..Less than 100… PercentMy Profile

  10. I don’t have any. I don’t want any….just not into it. But I don’t have problems with people who are tattooed.
    Jill Foley recently posted..Guest Post – DebMy Profile

  11. I have a few. Some are better than others… one was done by a fabulous artist, one by a guy in his first week of a tattoo apprenticeship (and it shows), and one I did myself in my dad’s bathroom one night when I was a teenager. None are blatently religious except in a super vague “honoring the stages of my life” sense.

    I love them all… good, bad, and otherwise. I don’t really know anyone on the “tattoos are a sin” train so I’m really interested to read the other comments that get left.
    Jenna recently posted..I Come First. I’m Ok With That.My Profile

    • One of the reasons I never finished mine is because we moved and I missed my amazing tattoo artist so much that I never wanted to trust anyone to finish her work. Sadface.

      • I’m stuck in that place now where I want a new one but the afore mentioned awesome artist is back in Kansas and I’m scared of trying to find someone new that I trust enough. The guy back home did the big one on my back, we kind of talked about what I wanted in general and then I was like “I trust your talent… just make it look good” and he more or less freehanded the majority of it. I want someone I can trust on that level.
        Jenna recently posted..I Need To Treat My Husband Like a ChildMy Profile

  12. Christian, I have a few too. The ones I got at 19 were to cover the *really* dumb ones I tried to do with myself and my bad butt friends when I was twelve. You know, with the outer of a pen, indian ink and a needle – Nothing special or original – and I always forget I have them until someone else points them out. It’s usually like “Oh, you have a tattoo. And you’re a missionary? Huh.”
    My only regret is not getting them in a more hide-able place, I’m always having to consider them when buying a dress or something. It’s kinda annoying.
    Biblically speaking; like what Larry said, *plus* that little verse is smack dab after “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” . . . and yet I know many a good christian man that do, and I won’t be pointing any fingers, since it’s pretty obvious-
    The key is: we are no longer under the Law.
    Michelle in Mx recently posted..My very first! Plank Pulling ThursdayMy Profile

  13. I have 3 but none are for any religious reason as I am still finding myself in that regard. But they do have meaning to me, I have a Celtic knot to honor my Celtic heritage and then two different styles of cherry blossoms because I like them they have more meaning then that it is just hard to explain.
    Megan recently posted..I’v got it BackMy Profile

  14. I have two from my Grateful Dead years. A dancing flower on my sholder and a butterfly on my lower back. Lame, bu like someone said above, a reminder of how far I have come. I’d love something like an ichthus fish in a visible place. I also loved JD’s idea.
    Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies recently posted..A Plug and A Giveaway!My Profile

  15. I am scared of needles. Deathly afraid of them. So afraid of them that I had all three babies without anesthesia because no WAY was anyone shoving a needle in my back.

    So…needless to say, I will probably never, ever, ever get a tatoo. I don’t even have a desire for one, though, so it’s no biggie. I don’t mind them on others as long as they’re tasteful. I’ve seen even a few Christian’s with tatoos that I’m sure are meaningful to them but they leave me scratching my head in confusion. :)
    Kelli recently posted..It’s raining todayMy Profile

    • I’m sure you’ve heard this, but it in no way feels or looks like a medical “needle”. If that’s any consolation. Lol.

  16. Tattoos are awesome- if they have a good meaning behind them. :-)

    I want one myself- but I’m a chicken! :-)

  17. I have a tattoo….it’s hideous! I got it at the ripe age of 13 (no, that’s not a typo) It’s a baby devil that reads lil miss dangerous…and consumes a large portion of my inner calf. I hate it, hate it, hate it!! I don’t wear shorts or skirts in public even…:( I received one removal treatment like 2 years ago(OUCH!!!) hoping to afford more one day ;) I think it’s all part of God’s sense of humor….to be saved after tattooing a devil on myself…lol! Although I secretly think about getting another…was thinking scripture on top of my foot or something…but then I might have to say “YES” to the 3 teenage and 1 pre teen boys who already beg for tattoos and piercings…and I just aint there yet…(plus, hubby might disown me…lol!

    • Oh no, you definitely win for worst young person tattoo! :) But I guess it makes a great story of redemption now.

  18. Secertly.. i have been wanting one for a while.. but I am always preg LOL :) I would like to have one on my ankle or foot, something to represent each child (5) and the 2 that we lost. Will i ever get the nerve? I don’t know.. :)
    Stephanie recently posted..bathtubsMy Profile

  19. I don’t have tattoos and will never get any. I don’t judge people because they do tho. My reasons stem from a Biblical perspective and also, I worked at a nursing home, and tattoos get saggy.

    Mayo Clinic also makes you cover them up.

    I just personally haven’t seen any attractive ones that don’t make me think, “Trailer Park.”

    I know, I’m a terrible person. :) But I like you, Jessica. And I’ll say, “Oh, you got a tattoo!” and pretend to be excited if you get another one.
    Duane Scott recently posted..redemption in a corn fieldMy Profile

    • You can’t say your reasons stem from a biblical perspective and then not give the perspective. ;)

      For real on the nursing home thing, though. Lol.

      • Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

        I guess I wouldn’t spray paint the side of my country church for the same reason. Because it is a holy place. Just like my body. I am His. And He loves me. And I’m going to love Him back by respecting this body He’s given me. (Same reason I diet.)

        Now, before I get anyone upset (I know your heart, Jessica and I know you won’t) I want to say, “God loves us all differently. Each of our journeys with Christ is different. What I may feel is wrong for me, may not be wrong for you. And I love people with tattoos. I don’t feel a negative toward them at all. These are simply MY reasons.”

        With that said, one of my favorite Christian authors, upon getting his book published, went and got a full arm tattoo of something serpenty and weird looking as a celebration. And for me, it marred the beauty of his writing. It marred the beauty of who he is inside. Because his heart, oh my, is in such a nice place with God, but who he was outside didn’t quite match now. And all these people were exclaiming about how cool his tattoo was so I had to just accept it then and there that I am different in this area. And I’m okay with that. And I’m okay with him too. :)
        Duane Scott recently posted..redemption in a corn fieldMy Profile

        • In the sense that you use it, you seem to imply that getting a tattoo would make you not holy or pleasing to God. I don’t think getting a tattoo (particularly one with biblical, spiritual, meaning) can be equated with a verifiable sin like gluttony.

          And I’m just going to go ahead and ruffle some feathers by saying: the building that is called church is not a holy place. It is a collection of building materials, just like your house, just like your garage, just like your bathroom. It is no holier than those places. It wouldn’t matter if you covered it in graffiti. If it were holy, it would kind of make the whole Gospel moot.

          You’re right though, we should take care of our bodies because they are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But I don’t believe that getting a spiritual tattoo is not the same as filling our body with drugs or violating it with sexual immorality.

          Just sayin. :)

          • I meant to say, I don’t think getting a tattoo IS the same as drugs and sexual immorality. Lol.

        • You wouldn’t spray paint the side of your church, I’m assuming, because you would find it ugly and distasteful… but would you object to an artist whos work you enjoyed painting a beautiful mural on it?
          Jenna recently posted..I Need To Treat My Husband Like a ChildMy Profile

    • I *heart* Duane for saying he’d act excited -anyway- :-)
      Michelle in Mx recently posted..My very first! Plank Pulling ThursdayMy Profile

  20. I got my first tattoo at the ripe old age of 32. I actually hated tattoos in high school, mainly because all the people I knew who had them had Tweety Bird or the Tasmanian Devil (it was the early 90s), and I didn’t see the point in having a cartoon character permanently drawn on your body. But then my brother had one of his drawings of an oak tree tattooed across his entire back, and for the first time I realized how tattoos can be very beautiful and meaningful.

    I wanted one on the inside of my wrist for years, and once I knew what I wanted I waited another two years just to make sure I really, really wanted it. I have “El Roi” on the inside of my right wrist in script. It means “the God who sees,” and that is the name Hagar called God when she was in the desert with her son. There are some parallels with my own story, and I have always loved that name.

    Like so many people, I said that I would only get one, and now I already have two more in mind to get. I just have to figure out where I want them.
    Jenn recently posted..Lunch Box SamplerMy Profile

    • Love your story and how thought through and meaningful your decision was. I’ve also really been thinking lately how much I’d like something on my arms about the fruit of the spirit.

      • Also, when people quote scripture about the body being a temple, and the rules in Leviticus, I go back to Isaiah 49:16. I would never say that God or the Holy Spirit led me to get a tattoo, but I never felt any catch in my spirit not to. Does that make sense? And every time I would think about Isaiah “engraving” God on the palms of his hands, I felt peace about it. And my favorite hymn is Before the Throne of God Above, where the lyrics say “My name is graven on his hands, my name is written on his heart…” I felt like that was such a beautiful picture of his love for us, so why would it be contrary to his word for me to engrave his name on my wrist?
        Jenn recently posted..Lunch Box SamplerMy Profile

        • I never even noticed that it said that in Isaiah (can I play my Isaiah-said-a-lot-of-things card?). That’s pretty neat.

        • ohhh I just LOVE this verse in Isaiah! For me – I picture Jesus looking at his scars from the cross -tenderly with love and for me. *LOVE*IT* . . . but ok, about tattoos – Solomon 8:6 says “set me . . .as a seal upon thine arm” and I always pictured something visible and permanent, tattoo-y
          Michelle in Mx recently posted..I’m a Christian and I have tattoosMy Profile

  21. I should have mentioned this last night. My husband got his last tattoo 2 years ago…. or so. It’s of a Scorpion. It was date night, his turn to pick. he chose going to a tattoo convention. Now that was…. interesting. Especially the completely naked guy laying on a table, getting his lower back or somewhere done. I really didn’t stare. LOL. For me, it was a night of awkward, but my husband had so much fun!
    Amy recently posted..Teaching my husband a lessonMy Profile

  22. I have 4 different tattoos and they all mean something. I got my first one when I was 46 years old. One is the symbol for “Endure”. ” but it is the one who has endured to the end will be saved” Matt. 10:22. It has the symbol for the Trinity wrapped over it. The other tattoo is the symbols for “Strong & Courageous”, Joshua 1:9, ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! …For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” with 3 red drops around it representing; Jesus on the cross, my 3 siblings who passed away, and my 3 sons. Another one just reads “Philippians 4:13″. And my biggest tattoo is on my chest and it’s a tattoo of Jesus with a crown of thorns. I have been through many struggles and family tragedies, yet I press on through Jesus Christ, these tattoos are just reminders for me to hang in there.

  23. I have a Red Sox tattoo (love my team!) and a Keith Haring barking dog on my foot. Im an art teacher, and Christan, and I love tattoos! I design them for my friends, and my husband has a few on him that I drew. Art can be beautiful! I love religious tattoos especially. They are amazing. I saw one of Our Lady of Guadelupe and it was stunning.
    Marci recently posted..Red paint, not blood…don’t worry!My Profile

  24. I think body art, just like art in general, conveys a feeling or message with it. There’s both good art and bad art, as with tattoos. I have a kanji tattoo that means “truth”, well more like spiritual enlightenment, spiritual truth, but since it’s on my back I tend to forget about it. Anyways, it’s nice meeting other Christians that have nice tattoos. : )
    Linda recently posted..Mid Week RambleMy Profile

  25. In Judaism we’re “not allowed” to get tattoos either, although I’m really delighted with the idea of getting one.
    Our body is kind of a sacred temple so we’re not supposed to intentionally cause it harm, but I guess it really depends on your point of view considering tattoos harmful or not.
    It hurts, yes, but so does giving birth to a child I’ve heard. lol
    I’d tattoo “Shalom Salaam” on my back, in hebrew and arab, respectively. :)
    Felipe Neumann recently posted..real womenMy Profile

    • As Christians we believe that our bodies are the temple where the Holy Spirit lives, but I think it’s still open to interpretation whether or not a tattoo would be defiling that temple. Especially if it’s a God honoring tattoo.

  26. I have one tattoo. I got it when I was 18. It’s a blue rose (because red or yellow was too cliche for me…ha)<~~that's 18 year old logic at it's best folks.
    I think body art could be spiritual. It's all about what you get and why.
    JamieAnne recently posted..Freezer cooking on a small scale…My Profile

    • Love it. Lol.

    • I have a blue rose too! Because blue was my favorite color back in my early 20s. Blue doesn’t always age well in tattoos those. A couple years ago, I had it covered up with a big orange poppy, in memory of my grandpa “Poppy.” It’s my favorite tattoo now.
      Danielle recently posted..33 Years AgoMy Profile

  27. I have four tattoos. My favorites are on my left arm. I have the crown of thorns with the cross around my bicep and a portrait of Jesus wearing the crown of thorns on my upper arm. They are beautiful works of art and attract a lot of attention. I got them as a young christian when I heard of people getting christian tattos as a witnessing tool, so i jumped on the bandwagon. I later realized that my tattos are not witnessing tools if I am not living the way I should. I don’t have an issue with people getting christian tattoos, but the true test is how you live your life. The way we live our lives is our witness to others. Instead of getting tattoed as a witness, ask yourself, can others see Jesus in me?

  28. I have 5 tattoos, 6 if you count that one is a cover-up. I too started at 18. I felt so cool. :)

    I think tattoos can be beautiful–like wearable art. We do other things to change our bodies, our appearances. Some of us color our hair, wear makeup, tan, get moles removed, get our ears pierced, etc… These are socially acceptable, so they usually aren’t questioned biblically. For people who argue that it’s sinful to alter the body, I’d ask, what about braces? What about cleft lip surgery? What about Lasix?

    I love your dainty bird tattoo!

    • Agreed. People never seem to consider the culturally accepted forms of altering the body as being comparable to tattoos. (Though I’m sure for some of them people would say that what they’re doing isn’t “permanent”.

  29. I’m a Pentecostal Christian and former youth pastor of 12 yrs. I have “The Lord is my Shepherd, I will fear no evil” banded around my right upper arm in a crown of thorns type font that I designed. I also have a Celtic tree of life on my left shoulder with my kids initials in it. both tatts give me opportunity to share my faith and the redeeming power of the blood of Christ. No doubt I will get more, He created me with this personality so why suppress it…..

  30. So I’m coming into this discussion late but just wanted to post. I’m a pastor’s kid (my dad retired) so you can imagine the kerfuffle it caused when I started getting tattos. I was older as some people were on here, with my first tattoo being of a strawberry on my right hip area at 29. My dad is part owner of a strawberry farm so it was important to me that my first tatt signified my family. I have the Kanji word for Love on my right wrist to signify the Lord’s 2 greatest commandments: LOVE the Lord your God, LOVE people. On my left wrist written in Kanji again is the word Faith because without faith it is impossible to please God. My most painful tattoo to date is a big tattoo of an ambigram. Looking at it one way says :Love. Looking at it from the opposite way that same tattoo says: Pain. This one is on the entire left side of my ribcage starting under my underarm and going almost all the way down to my hip and hurt like nothing I’ve experienced before! In love there is pain but in pain there is also love. The greatest example of this is Jesus. He loved us so much that he suffered horrendous pain for us. My next one will be on my the tops of my feet and it will say: Not My Will (Left top of foot) But Yours (right top of foot). I know people like to say the Bible says we aren’t to get tattos but thankfully we live by grace and not by the Law anymore! I like to think that my tattoos are a great way to start a conversation about God since most people are curious about what they say.

    • Those sound awesome, thanks for contributing to the discussion. If only more people thought through their body art that much.

  31. Honey, I’m covered with ‘em! And my husband is even more covered. Hands, Knuckles, Throat all the way up to his chin..even the top of his head. Eek! But, Jesus loves us and we LOOOOOOOVE Him. Thanks for writing this. It’s awesome.
    Bethany recently posted..Our God of second chances!My Profile

  32. I would like to get a a double banner on each foot. One that says “I want to be” and one that says “Your hands and feet”. So four words on each foot somehow.
    Bethany recently posted..free range fridayMy Profile

  33. Melissa says:

    I have “Abba, i belong to You” and the name of Jesus with a heart and a butterfly.

    I want more, I really want to take my inspiration from 2 Kings 25:29 and make it read: So she put off her prison garments. And every day of her life she dined regularly at the king’s table,

    Also I love the words: Chosen, Adopted, Redeemed, Lovely <3

  34. David Israel says:

    Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print or tattoo any marks upon you; I am the Lord
    God doesn’t change. He is immutable. We are not under the Law but from the Law we know what God dislikes. Certainly Christ’s blood is powerful enough to wash away ink in a tattoo. But, once we know His will we can please Him with our faith.
    Repent of any sin. Then, Pray for forgiveness and He will forgive. “Go and sin no more”
    God loves you!

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