Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tattoos: Turning Towards Paganism

I was browsing the news, of which most of it wasn't news worthy. :-/ But an interesting statistic popped up, more women have tattoos than men. There's a bunch of different polls, but of those tattooed, 59% of them are women. 23% - 19%. I was wondering why this was. Why do more women have tattoos than guys? At one point in time, tattoos were worn by sailors, military, bikers, and before that pagan tribes. 

So why this change? 

I went browsing through a bunch of the pro-women tattoo blogs to see what their methodology was. And words that kept popping up were, "empowered" "identification""self-presentation" "fulfilling expression of self" "Make sure You love it""Because friends do it"

I think the reason more women have tattoos than men is two fold. Number one, 68% see tattoos as beautiful, i.e. hearts/angels/etc. But the biggest reason being the fact they do it with a friend, 40%. Those stats add up.

Generally women aren't the ones getting tattoos of skulls, death, grim reaper, etc. tattooed all over them. It's fuzzy bunnies, some seashore where they grew up, a flower, etc. Of course everyone who gets a tattoo has a different reason for the thing. But that's beside the point.

The real question I have to ask is, are tattoos a legitimate form of memorial, or self-presentation, or religious affiliation, or art? I like to run and exercise, so I did a marathon. Many people seem to get a tattoo put on their bodies identifying that fact. I didn't. I may have a sticker for my laptop, or a bumper sticker for my car. The question is, why? Ultimately, with tattoos the question is, who do you identify with? Is it you? Is it your grandpa? Is it an idea? Is it the Lord? 

Tattoos are not Biblical. Tattoos have their roots in paganism. The culture of tattooing actually came from the pagans. Sailors would bring back Polynesians and other heavily tattooed people to the Western countries, and that's how tattooing really got its start. At that time, Christianity was not based on Scriptural thought. People didn't really give a rip about what God had to say. They were in the time of the "Enlightenment." It was part of the love of the "Noble Savage" The thought that these people were unadulterated by modern life. Such a perverted ideology..

Is there anything about tattoos that are redemptive? The Bible does actually spend one verse talking about tattoos, Lev. 19:28 (which "surprisingly", in the specific context is talking about the Israelites being commanded in the differentiating of themselves from the pagans - refer back to previous paragraph) "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD." Pretty cut and dry. Two statements. One, do not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead. Two, nor prints any marks upon you. And then, "I am the Lord." Matthew Henry's commentary on this chapter/verse is insightful. He also spends some time on the moral vs ceremonial aspects of the law, and how it is treated in this chapter.

In some ways, I see Christian tattoos similar to the offering that Cain and Abel both gave to God. Abel brought what God desired. Cain did not. What sacrifice does God desire? 

And I'll finish this with my strongest argument, would you put a bumper sticker on a Bugatti? Didn't think so.


J D White said...

Some great thoughts... I wondered if there was anything in Scripture that spoke specifically to this subject - I'll definitely be looking up that Passage today ;)