Tattoo’d like Jesus

After all the talk, I finally got my first tattoo.  Until I planted a church I never really considered getting tattoo. In other words, this wasn’t an event I have been looking forward to for 15 years.  It seems that tattoos have become a bit more culturally acceptable which has resulted in everyone getting really stupid things permanently embossed on their bodies.  As a high school English teacher, I used to make fun of students who got tattoos, the ones who got their names on their butts, barbed wire on their arms, clovers on their feet, or Betty Boop on their…well.. let’s just say that in 10 years it will be “Betty Droop”.  People have asked me as a pastor if it is “ok” to have or get Tattoos.  They ask because some argue that the body, “as the temple of the Holy Spirit” should be treated as such and Tattoos are like grafitti.  Other argue that Jesus is going to return with Tattoos on his body so do what you want.

I agree that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but I also believe there is such thing as “good grafitti”.  I cannot disagree that we  abuse the gift of our bodies many ways: some by putting sin-glorifying images on their bodies, others by piercing themselves in places that should scare us, others by drinking to drunkeness, and others by stuffing our faces with fried chicken.  I am in no position to judge why anyone got a specific tattoo or why. I do, however, believe it can be something God glorifying.  Here are my decision making guidelines for my permanent tattoo decision:

1.  It has to be a personal decision:  I don’t think it is wise to get a tattoo because everyone else has.  That is pretty much a bad reason to do anything.

2.  It has to be a unfiied decision:  In other words, if you’re married, you’re now one flesh.  I don’t own my body, God and my bride do.  So best I ask Him and her becuase it will honor or dishonor them both.

3.  It has to be a theological decision:   If we’re following Jesus example, his says “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords’.  If my tatto is going to be self-descriptive of what I am in light of Scripture.  Saved, yes.  But a sinner first. 

4.  It has to be a visible decision:  Though most Tattoo artists will tell you that your tattoos are for you, I disagree.  Our clothes are for “us” to, but quite honestly, most of us dress to project an image.  Having a Tattoo hidden in your armpit or the bottom of your foot isn’t visible to many people…even you.

5. It has to be a missional decision: This means that it has to be visible and cause someone to ask why?


Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

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