Our Guide to Christianity, Mary Fairchild, has written an excellent article about it called To Tattoo or Not To? She says, “Instead of asking, ‘Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo,’ perhaps a better question might be, ‘Is it okay for me to get a tattoo?’”
From the Christian music front, I spoke with Christian artist Larissa Lam (who doesn’t have any tattoos) about the subject. She said that she used to be “one of those conservative, judgmental Christians who associated tattoos with a wild lifestyle.” But she has “come to realize that tattoos are just an expression of culture and identity.” She went on to say, “There are those who have tattoos that reflect darkness and draw attention to things of the world. I think it's culturally significant that there are Christians who have tattoos that reflect light and faith. I think this is an example of replacing darkness with light. I have many friends who have numerous tattoos that reflect Biblical stories, passages or characters. When they start explaining the significance of each of their tattoos, it's like hearing a sermon.”
The Christian culture that Larissa mentioned has many instances where there are counter-parts to the secular world. Christian book stores are common place in many areas. Christian tattoo shops are not quite as plentiful, but they do exist. Take Billy Joe's, which has two locations – one in Terre Haute, IN and one in Nashville. Owner, Billy Joe Henry looks at his businesses as his ministry. “We don’t only offer Christian designs, because then it wouldn’t be a ministry for the lost,” he explained. “But we don’t have any designs with devils, drugs or nudity and we won’t do them.” And that, as he explained, is how the door to his ministry gets opened time and time again. “When people who are looking for a tattoo ask why we won’t do those types of designs it’s a perfect way to explain my beliefs and talk about Jesus.”
As someone with tattoos myself, I can certainly understand ink that reflects light and faith. Like the friends that Larissa Lam mentioned and like Billy Joe Henry, I too have used my own ink as a tool to witness to others. I agree with Christianity Guide Mary Fairchild. The question of to ink or not to ink should be an individual one, based on your own heart and your personal reasons for wanting a tattoo.
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