I saw a news item today about how the growing popularity of tattoos is creating another boom — in the tattoo removal business. Apparently 1 out of 6 people regret their tattoos, but decisions don’t get undone that easily.
Here’s the link if you’d like to watch the news program, for yourself: “Youthful Tattoos Turn Into Grown-Up Regrets” from WMUR in New Hampshire.
(And in celebrity news, which you don’t get much here, actor Mark Wahlberg apparently had a tattoo removed recently as an example for his kids, according to the Montreal Gazette, even making them watch the painful procedure so they wouldn’t repeat the mistake he made in getting one. Hopefully the news item about Kelsey Grammer at the bottom of the article in the link is a mistake. But enough of that…)
The news segment spurred a few thoughts on the matter. The Bible is clear on tattooing in Leviticus 19:28, but that isn’t a standard too many give credence to anymore, and what a shame that this is so. Tattooist Don Ed Hardy apparently once said, “A tattoo is an affirmation: that this body is yours to have and to enjoy while you’re here. Nobody else can control what you do with it.” And yet there is Someone who claims the right to tell you what to do with your body: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Personally, I think the growing popularity of tattoos reflects a number of things (and feel free to share your own thoughts about it below) and that among them is a general coarsening of the culture and a devaluing of human value — in the sense that we reflect the very image of God, which is something that should be respected. I think it also reflects a growing fascination with those things that represent deviancy and a rejection of standards, as well as an appeal to be considered part of the culture that tattooing represents. (And, as I believe some have mentioned on my blog post about the preponderance of skull pictures on children’s t-shirts and other clothing items, the “tattoo culture” is spreading in other, not-directly-tattoo-related ways.)
At the same time, we all come from different backgrounds with a lot of baggage collected in our past before we “learned Christ” (cf. Eph. 4:20). One major difference between some mistakes and others is that some are forever visible while others, often more vile or spiritually damaging, leave no outward signs at all. After creating a list including such “sinner categories” as idolaters, fornicators, homosexuals, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, and extortioners in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says to them, “such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). While none of my sins have left a permanent record on the outside of my flesh, I certainly feel the scars of some sins on the inside, making me all the more thankful both that forgiveness is available for every sin repented of and that the power of God’s Spirit is available to us that we may learn to make no new scars!
My brother’s “tats” may be on the outside and mine on the inside, but thank God we can both leave all they represent behind.