As we were in a parking lot the other day, my oldest daughter saw someone getting out of his car and asked, “Why did that man write all over himself?”
Of course, the man had not written all over himself. Rather, he had a plethora of tattoos covering his arms.
“Oh,” said my wife. “He didn’t write on himself. You probably don’t know what tattoos are yet, do you?”
“Nope,” said my daughter.
“Well,” said my wife, “he had someone else draw and write on him with special ink that never washes off. He must have decided that it was a good idea. Daddy and I don’t have tattoos, but some people, and that’s okay.”
At the church where I grew up, tattoos were one of those sticky topics (like alcohol consumption) that people viewed as flirting with evil. Occasionally, someone would even whip out Leviticus 19:28 (“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.“). So if someone walked into church covered with tattoos, it was a good indication that this person was a great sinner in need of a special kind of grace (unlike normal sinners (looking down on other people for instance) in need of normal grace).
But I have plenty of friends with tattoos. In fact, even the pastor of my current church has one.
After all, if you are tempted to look down on tattoo artists for violating the Bible, you should probably look down on barbers as well, since Leviticus 19:27 (the verse right before the tattoo one) says “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”
So where does that leave us when my daughters notice people’s tattoos? What happens when they tell me that they want to get tattoos?
Well, once they are adults and out on their own, they are welcome to do what they want. I only hope that my wife and I have raised them well enough to understand the repercussions of permanent actions.
After all, it would be pretty terrible if they decided to get a tattoo and it turned out like this: