It used to be, in eras gone by, that art was to be viewed along the walls of popular galleries or hanging in the entrance to lavish homes. Even the grittier side of art tagged upon the freight cars and urban walls, could bring a nod of appreciation for the rugged talent of the transient streets. But now, while skin art has been a trend for decades, we are seeing the ever-increasing trend of epidermic murals, splayed from head to toe.

No longer is it the cheesy cupids arrow thrust through the heart for mom. No longer is it merely the identifying mark of the elite soldier; the ensign of his tribe. Now, from the bazaar to the complex, human beings have become the canvass of skin-artists across the world. But why such a drive for tattoos?

According to research, conversation, and questioning those with tattoos, there are several reasons why people decide to permanently ink their bodies with a myriad of images, signs, and characters.

  • They are external expression of ones innermost personality
  • They serve as tributes to loved ones or memorials to those since passed
  • Its a form of eternal art. Simply put, the art is the reason.
  • No reason at all other than, “some people just like them.”
  • The body is a temple and one should be able to decorate it anyway they want
  • A bad decision during a moment of drunkenness
  • Everyone else is doing it

While these in no way cover the gamut of reasons behind skin ink, one cannot deny that it is the sensation of the hour. However, regardless of the reasons behind the majority of people deciding to permanently ink their bodies, why are so many Christians getting caught up in the craze? 

Inked Christians

Yes, Christians and tattoos! It’s becoming an alarming trend. In fact, full-body tats are becoming an epidemic in many of the metro city “community, collective churches.” You know, the ones where worship is a mixture of euphoric highs and the latest millennial trends couched upon the platform of acceptance, tolerance, and free love? Suddenly, mothers and fathers are inking scriptures on forearms, calves, or biceps. Children, many as young as 13, are gaining the permission of parents who claim Christian principles simply because the tattoos express some form of religious expression.

Since when did it become “ok” for so many professing Christians to permanently burn into their bodies artistic designs, images, and symbols? At what point did it somehow become acceptable to turn our bodies into works of expressive art? God forbid anyone that professes Christianity make the secularized argument of, “its my temple and can do what I want with it!”

No, clearly the word of God expresses that the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and that we are to glorify God in our bodies and spirit (I Cor. 6:19). That aside, there is no glory in the permanent defacing of the human body! There is no glory in the association with an industry that makes millions by tearing, cutting, ripping, and scarring the bodies of countless human beings. 

Have we really become so enamored by the spirit of the last days that we are making exceptions for the varied activities of self-mutilation, epidurmic disfigurement, and the infliction of painful practices on the human body? Before I go any further, don’t dare use the argument of the Christian that gorges on destructive, fatty foods. You are setting up a straw-man. Its weak and counterproductive to justify one wrong by emphasizing the practice of another wrong.

So why are so many professing Christians practicing body art? Seriously, before you make the case, “it’s just a small tattoo of a cross” consider then that you have no grounds to tell your children anything when they say, “seriously, its just my entire arm.” Exactly! Furthermore, before you also cast the argument, “the Bible doesn’t say its wrong,” consider the wisdom of your statement the next time your children decide to use that argument in regards to legalized cannabis, cigarettes, or a plethora of other habits and activities that are destructive to the mind, body, and soul.

So, before we even launch into Biblical considerations let’s ask ourselves a few questions: 

#1: How morally pure and sound are the vast majority of tattoo parlors?

Go ahead, do a search among tattoo parlors in your area and visit them. Spend some time discussing Christian values with the artists. Get to know their cliental, listen to their music, and take a gander at many of their examples of art. I promise you, regardless of your status-quo argument of “judgmental”, that you are going to find a vast majority of tattoo parlors and their associations to be of a clearly worldly outlook, often times a culture of very alternative lifestyles clearly in contradiction to the Word of God. Some of the most godless people congregate and revolve around the tattoo parlors.

#2: What, simply put, would make the activity of purposely inflicting pain upon our bodies a proper or good behavior? 

Defend tattooing all you want, but don’t get on to your children when they purposefully inflict pain on their bodies via cutting, scarring, or burning. Not the same? Good luck with that one! In many young peoples opinions, self-mutilation is a form of expression. Before you giddy-up your high horse, scarification is now being practiced by many tattoo parlors. What is scarification? It’s the process of scratching, etching, burning, branding, or superficially cutting designs, pictures, or words into the skin as a form of permanent body modification.

#3: Did you know that statistics are chock-full with tattoos increasing the possibility of HEP-C? 

Yes, studies have proven that the percentage of people with tattoos are more likely to have Hepatitis C than those without tattoos. In fact, one study showed that those with more tattoos had a much higher percentage of being infected (Hepatology Journal). Go ahead, do a study and you will find the constant studies that reveal the serious health risks, increased likelihood of disease, and a myriad of other sketchy issues that can come along with tattoos.

#4: Have you considered what actually happens while getting a tattoo? 

Let me explain the process to you. First, during the tattooing process, the needle will penetrate your skin thousands of times a second. No, you aren’t giving or drawing blood, nor undergoing a life-saving medical operation; you are getting a permanent tattoo. Then, even though the needles are small, as time progresses all those thousands of penetrations begin to create a very large wound in the skin. Guess what? This is essential to a new tattoo: a large wound with ink within. Then, after a week or two, the wound will begin to scab and peel and eventually lead to the process of healing without (hopefully) any lasting tissue damage.

Unfortunately, avoiding “lasting tissue damage” is a gamble. If the artist is a little to heavy-handed, presses just a little too hard, lacks experience, or is just careless the needle can enter too deep, leading to the possibility of tattoo scarring. This is the process where the layers of skin beneath the epidermis have been damaged which, in turn, leads to the production of collagen and scarring because proper healing cannot occur.

In Summary

At this point, need we even bring the Bible into this picture? I mean, we can and we will in a later post, but seriously…are you still arguing for the moral validity of tattooing? We haven’t even scratched the surface of the issues surrounding the industry. We haven’t even referenced the dark history of tattoos. Common sense would dictate, at face-value, that we are confused and that we are deceiving ourselves if we tolerate or excuse the painful defacement of the body under the guise of expression and art. Some things are just common sense and I think its time we utilize sense.