Wednesday, July 09, 2014

real talk // why i have tattoos.



i grew up my whole life hearing that tattoos are bad. tattoos defile your body. if you have a tattoo you are a devil worshiper. (ok, maybe not those exact words, but sometimes it came across like that) and i guess i just don't understand it. well, i understand a little bit - most of those people have been older than i am and from another generation. and you just didn't have tattoos when they were growing up. so it's new and different and they don't understand it.

but what gets me is that some people by seeing a tattoo assume you aren't a Christian. they hand you a track & don't say a word to you. or they tell you that you're disobeying the Bible. it doesn't really offend me, but if i wasn't a Christian, then that would completely turn me off from Christianity. so it's just a thing i like to be conscious of with other people.

but this post isn't about that. this post is just about why i have tattoos. i don't think i've ever talked about my tattoos on this blog before. so a lot of you may not even know that i have them. but i do. i have two actually.

i got my first one at 18 just because i wanted one. i like cute things & penguins are cute. i didn't necessarily want it visible, so it's on my back. i do realize it's permanent and that it will eventually stretch. but i like it! it's something unique to me & it's a fun random fact when you meet new people!

i got my second one at 21 and i was a little more intentional with it. i wanted the tattoo to be about my faith and i wanted it to be visible. i did think ahead about working in a business environment and have it where my sleeves can cover it for future jobs if needed. the company i work for actually doesn't make me cover it up so that's nice. 

i understand that some people still don't agree with them, and they are certainly entitled to their opinion. there are other people that just don't want to get a tattoo, and that is completely okay. but i just wanted to explain the reasons that i have them & my thought process. this post is probably more for my sake than anyone else's, but i just like to process through things like this.
  
  

5 reasons why i have tattoos

o1 | my salvation does not depend on whether i have tattoos or not.
there are verses in the Bible that say not to make cuts in your body (Leviticus 19:28) and that your body is a temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and i do not negate that. but i believe the Bible needs to be taken into context and that cannot be done when you look at just one verse.

Leviticus tells us lots of things - like not to cut the hair on your temples, not to eat the fruit of a tree for 3 years, not to wear clothes made of two materials, etc. but what is important is the context. the purpose of this book is not a checklist to see if we are a good little Christian, rather the point is to point us to Christ. just like the 10 commandments, it's not really about the list, it's more about realizing we can't save ourselves and we need a savior, Jesus. He wants our hearts, not a marked off checklist.

the Old Testament is when we were under the old covenant. but when Jesus came, everything changed. we are now under the new covenant (Romans 10). but you will notice that i referenced a verse in the New Testament as well.

in context, the second half of 1 Corinthians 6 is speaking about sexual immorality and that we need to honor God with our bodies by not engaging in sexual immorality. but it can be applied to everything we do with our bodies, including tattoos. so if you had a tattoo that said "God is dead" or something along those lines, you would not be honoring God with your body. but if you have a tattoo that does bring glory to God, isn't that honoring Him with your body?

i know that we could argue over semantics all day. but i will dare to say that semantics don't matter with this, because it's an open handed issue. what does matter is Jesus. if you never drink alcohol, never look lustfully at another person, never shout in anger or keep bitterness in your heart, if you never have a tattoo, whatever it is on the "list" - even if you check off everything on your list, if you don't have a relationship with Jesus then none of it matters. my salvation is dependent on Jesus and not how i do on a checklist, and that is the best news of all!

o2 | it is a way for creative expression.
i like color. i like expressing myself. i like expressing myself through writing. and music. and clothes. and accessories. and tattoos. and i like having something unique about me. both of my tattoos are pretty unique. well, someone may have a penguin tattoo, but i'm fairly certain no one has my fish & stars tattoo.

fun fact: after i got my arm tattoo, my roommate & i discovered that the outline is in the shape of South Carolina! it also looks like a heart, but i prefer the SC reference! and it was completely unintentional so i think that is really neat!

o3 | it is a conversation starter.
you would be surprised how many people see a christian fish on my arm and ask what that is. it leads me into a conversation about my faith without even having to awkwardly start one. people are curious and i have an opportunity to talk to them about it - an opportunity that would be more rare without the tattoo.

o4 | it is not harmful to my body.
i would go so far to say that eating an entire pack of oreos in one sitting is more harmful to my body than having a tattoo is. (not that i have ever done that) there is a possibility that you could get an infection from a tattoo, but you can also get infections from a lot of things. i don't think tattoos fall into the category of "defiling" (to make unclean, pollute, taint) but that is my opinion. 

o5 | it is common ground with people i otherwise wouldn't have anything in common with.
there have been many times that people have spoken to me because they like my tattoo. and these are people that i don't believe would have otherwise spoken to me. that, of course, is just an assumption i am making. but it's an observation that i believe is true. people who have tattoos instantly have a connection with someone else who has a tattoo. there is an easy way to connect and start a conversation.

if i just walked up to someone and started talking about Jesus they would most likely walk away. but once we've connected over something we have in common there is a start of a relationship there. and they are more likely to continue talking to me when i bring up Jesus. because relationships breed a sort of trust, and i think they are the most effective way to share the gospel.


disclaimer: i am not trying to tell you what your opinion on tattoos should be. i am not saying that not having a tattoo is wrong. i am not saying you have to agree with me 100%. i am just saying because i have them, it does sometimes give me an extra opportunity & i love that!


what do you think of tattoos? do you have tattoos? why or why not?


48 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I do not have tattoos and don't plan on getting any, but it's just more of a personal preference thing (and fear of needles, eek!). But I think that for some people, tattoos are a great way to express themselves and I totally agree that having a tattoo does not make you a "bad Christian." It's naïve for a person to think that!

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  2. girl - yes.
    I get SO FRUSTRATED when the whole "tattoo conversation" comes up.
    I am a Christian - and I have a tattoo - and plan to get a few more.
    the best part - mine is on my foot (so easily covered). I can not count the number of Christian conversations I've been in when someone starts the "tattoos are a sin" conversation and I let them put their foot in their mouth and talk about how 'we' in the group understand that...and then I just start pulling my pant leg up and see their eyes bulge out of their head. *tisk tisk*
    truthfully - those verses as you so beautifully said are taken OUT of context...and if you want to get really deep check out revelation 19:16 "and on His robe and on His thigh; He has this name written, king of kings and lord of lords" now do we know that is a tattoo? no, we don't - it could very well mean that where his robe MEETS his thigh that is written on the robe - but still, if people want to throw out scripture willy nilly without context then I always throw that one right back at them. ;)
    obviously I'm passionate about this. haha. great post, and I love your tattoos - they reflect who YOU are and I think that is beautiful.

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  3. I love my tattoo for these reasons, too! I got it at a not so stellar point in life, but now it has such deeper meaning. It's on my hip so it is very rarely seen, but I love it so much and am ready for a few more.

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  4. I grew up with very similar ideology about tattoos. I hate that tattoos are so slammed or glorified in the Christian circle when it should just be a normal thing - like dying hair or wearing denim. I got my first last summer and have zero regrets! There are definitely days where I am like "Hey! How cool would a whole sleeve be?!?" Haven't been ballsy enough to pull the trigger on that one yet. Love your thoughts!

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  5. Very well put. Where I grew up tattoos weren't exactly condemned, but they weren't encouraged either. My mom wasn't very happy when my brother got his tattoo - that's for sure. As for me, I'd have to REALLY be passionate about a particular word or design to tattoo it on my body. I like to change things up constantly (for example - my hair, my clothes, my blog) - so I will have to be 100% sure before I did something so permanent.

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  6. Rebecca Jo VincentJuly 9, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    I love them... I love you have the Christian fish... I have wanted one of those somewhere on my body.
    I'm just too scared

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  7. People tend to get very legalistic about tattoos and I just want to scream, don't y'all realize? Tattoos aren't the point, JESUS is. Thanks for sharing this, friend! :)

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  8. yes!!! Jesus is the point! Great reminder and read for all of us! :)

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  9. Great points, Robyn! I have 5 tattoos + can't wait to get my next. Sometimes I'll get comments about defiling my body, but I always tell people they're part of my story. I have memorial tattoos, a tattoo to symbolize finding myself, a tattoo to symbolize the hardest point in my life, etc. It's all about self-expression, and THAT is beautiful!

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  10. I really love what you explained under point #1 about how EVEN if you did, somehow, meet every single requirement on the checklist--that's still not good enough. Reminds me of when Paul basically talked about how if anyone had it right, he did--"pharisee of pharisees, teacher of the law", etc, and then he realize that that wasn't the point at all!
    I don't have any tattoos, and I'll never get one. The whole needles, pain, letting someone touch me, permanence, etc. factors involved in tattoos are just not for me. Plus...I like being 'different' and 'countercultural' and where I am, among my peers, it's WAY more unusual to not have a tattoo than to have one.

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  11. I love tattoos and although I've "only" 2 so far there are 2 more in the planning. If only I had the money! And yes, tattoos are such a great way to express yourself and your personality and I hate when people judge you because of your tattoos. That's just stupid! Having tattoos doesn't make you a bad person :D

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  12. My boyfriend has four and goes on rants like this all the time! People from church will say snide comments to him and I think it is absolutely ridiculous. Girl, I love your tattoos! :)


    www.bellevieblog.com

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  13. i totally get that! i've always had a high tolerance for pain so that's the only way i was able to get them! the penguin really hurt cause it's right over my kidney! thanks! i have heard so much about tattoos & Christianity that i wanted to process through everything and get my thoughts clear!

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  14. haha! obviously you are passionate! i am too.... this post is like a novel ha! thanks! i love them too - when i first got them i wondered if i would ever "outgrow" them and not want them anymore, but they have become a part of who i am and i love it!


    lol! that's funny! it's so crazy to me to think that some people read the same Bible i do and have such different thoughts! Jesus is the point!

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  15. that's the thing though! all of our experiences & things we've done in the past shape who we are. not saying that any sin we commit (and tattoos are not a sin, but just speaking generally here) is okay because it's not... but everyone sins & we can choose to grow from it!


    what is your tattoo of??

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  16. i agree completely Annie! it should be just a completely normal thing because it's just a way of self expression! it doesn't change or define who we are!

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  17. i completely get that! it is a huge commitment because it is on your body for the rest of your life so it's definitely not for everyone! i heard more about it when i was younger growing up in church. it's not so frequent now, but i think it's because it's more common. there have been multiple times at college (i went to a baptist college) and at my retail job where people have said these same things. it is just a completely different way of thinking i guess!

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  18. thanks! :) i thought about getting one on my foot but i liked the arm better because you can see it!

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  19. yes, me too! there are SO many things that can be turned into legalism that really have nothing to do with Jesus! thanks for reading along! :)

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  20. you're so right! they are part of your story & become a part of who you are! :)

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  21. it is a good reminder for me! that even if i have a "good" day and feel like i really lived well, then i am stuck with pride in myself and that is sin. nothing i do is ever good enough! and that's what makes Jesus so amazing!! :)

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  22. i agree!!! :) what are the 2 you are planning??

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  23. thanks Haley!! :) i think it is crazy that people say snide comments! church is supposed to be a community where broken sinful people come to spur another on towards Christ. i don't believe tattoos are sin, but even if they were - encouragement & grace would be the way to handle it! i know we are all sinners & all learning though so i have to give others grace as well in my reaction!

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  24. I need to remember that Oreos comment in lovingly speaking with my anti-ink parents.....although I have also eaten a whole pack of Oreos so.......haha but actually, this post is amazing. So well-written and insightful, and I wholeheartedly agree!! Although I have yet to get my first tat. :)

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  25. Super interesting! I didn't know you had tattoos. I don't have any. If I had gotten one, it would have been on my foot. A small star or something just cuz I think it's cute. I definitely don't think someone isn't a Christian if they have a tattoo. That's just silly. I do think having giant tattoos all down your arms and legs will look silly when you get older, but everyone is thankfully entitled to their own opinion. Glad you shared! I love that your fish symbol is a conversation starter for you.

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  26. I love this :) I have one tattoo (hopefully will eventually have more!), and you're absolutely right - it's a wonderful conversation starter. It brings people together in a special and tangible way. I don't regret for a second having my tattoo. Great post! ~Jenna

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  27. haha! well i definitely have too but it's all about perspective!! :) thank you for your kind words Julie! this post has been a draft in my head for quite some time!

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  28. thanks Amanda! it is funny the different opinions on tattoos, piercings, etc in the church! you hear a wide range of it all! :)

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  29. that is awesome! :) i was surprised at first how many conversations have happened simply because someone noticed my tattoo! pretty neat! :)

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  30. The last time I checked our salvation was based on one thing - belief in Jesus and the acceptance of the gift of God's grace and mercy through Him. Not on what we do. There's not a check list of things we have to do to receive salvation. There's nothing we have to do to earn it. And yes - I have a tattoo, a Celtic Triquetra or "trinity knot". And I love it. It's on my wrist... so not much chance of hiding that!
    Beckey
    http:/www.etsy.com/shop/queenbsbusywork

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  31. Love this post!! So much truth in one place. Thanks for telling me about it - I'm going to link to this in my Magnolia Must Reads post on Saturday! Thanks for sharing :)

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  32. My pastor did a great job of explaining that the verse in Leviticus that talks about making "tattoo marks" on the body refers to a specific pagan practice of tattooing the skin after the death of a loved one that was common in the time period. It's frustrating when people pick and choose Bible verses to serve their own purposes without considering the historical context.

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  33. yes - exactly! check lists do no good - only Jesus matters! oh i love the trinity knot! so pretty!

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  34. thank you Lauren! :) ahh you are sweet!!

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  35. yes! it is so true that we need to pay attention to the cultural context as well!! :)

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  36. I grew up in a very strict Catholic home and all my life I've heard that tattoos are the devil's work. I just couldn't wrap my head around that, but I did what every good Catholic girl would do and I didn't get one (despite my yearning desire for it). At the age of 31, I finally decided to go for it. I mean really...God is going to send me to hell for a tattoo!! I think there are other pressing matters than whether or not I have a tattoo.


    I drew it myself...I knew what I wanted for many years and had the drawing stored in a small box with the words 'one day'. August 2013 was the time. It's small and on my wrist and it means Faith, Hope and Love...the three things I never want to lose.

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  37. Yay! This post rules! I actually have a half sleeve and I get that sort of reaction sometimes, too! But it's really awesome to "meet" people who have thoughts that resonate with mine!

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  38. I have tattoos tooo!!!! I have two and I love them! People all the time ask about the one on my foot and I get to have a little conversation about my faith as we wait in line together!

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  39. But I do have a 6 month rule with tattoos. You have to want it for 6 months before you get it so that you don't regret it!

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  40. I don't have tattoos but only because I HATE needles! I would love to get the word "trust" tattooed on my foot but, of course, that's one of the most painful spots! ;-)


    Thanks for linking up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop! :-)

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  41. wow!!these is such a great information, i've been using steroids for almost 5 months and it

    cost that much..glad i saw your blogherbal remedies

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  42. I have a tattoo. It's on my inner lower hip area so no one (but Dave) can see it =) I did that purposefully incase I decided I regretted it.


    I always so oooooo annoyed when people would read those verses in Leviticus (particularly men) but then they would skp right over the verse where it says a man shouldn't cut his facial hair. Um, excuse me, but you have zero facial hair?! *end of rant*

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  43. oh wow! i didn't know that :)


    haha! yes i guess it's our sin nature - we love to focus on certain parts & ignore parts that would challenge us!

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  44. The penguin is cute :) And I love the colors and the stars in the arm one! I was in HR for 10 years and tattoos are so commonplace these days, it's unusual for them to be an issue at work. (Unless of course they are inappropriate in some way or in a visually distracting place like face or neck..) I'm so glad your work doesn't make you cover it up!

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  45. thank you!!! :) yeah it is so nice that most work places don't have an issue with it anymore!

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