Christian inking: To tattoo or not tattoo

Graphic by Victoria McNorrill

Graphic by Victoria McNorrill

Victoria Pujdak, Staff Writer

Gaining popularity in mainstream American society, tattoos are also increasing in popularity among Christians. Does the dictates of society also dictate the Church?

For thousands of years, tattooing has been an observed practice within many societies. Having a varied history, tattoos have been viewed as a symbol of slavery, a sign of religious devotion, a cultural norm and a controversial underbelly of rebellion.

In modern American society, there has been a shift in recent years with tattoos becoming a cultural norm. According to NBC News, 40% of U.S. adults now sport an inked image. Some Christians view this cultural shift as an opportunity to spread their faith in a cultural setting.

Tattoos often become conversation starters. Inked Christians believe this can become a gateway to minister the gospel of salvation.

“All the time I get to tell them what my tattoo means,” said Brandon Corbin.

While deployed in Afghanistan, Corbin was able to use his tattoos to minister to the men in his unit.

“Pick something that would open the door to Jesus,” said Keris Suttles, a professor of Linguistics at North Greenville University, who has a tattoo.

With tattoos becoming a trendy form of self-expression, many inked Christians deem that the images should have a deep personal meaning that also glorifies God.

“They all have a strong or personal meaning to them. To remind me of where I’ve been and what God has brought me through. It should be something that means something to you not just culture.” said Casey Barton

However, some Christians take an opposite stance on body inking.  Christians are called to be a steward of the body God has given them. Some Christians believe that tattooing ink can be a harmful substance that is unnatural to the body.

“Not only is it a painful process, but the ink is something that is not supposed to be there,” said Sarah Lindquist.

Others see their bodies as not their own but a blessing from God that is to be preserved.

Remembering an example he heard once, Ben Villaverde said, “If you are a renter in somebody’s house would you go out into the yard and graffiti it? If it’s God’s property would you graffiti it?”

According to his personal opinion, Dr. Pete Willbanks, a professor of Christian Studies at NGU, said, “When we are married our bodies belong to our spouse, not putting marks on your body is a way of looking forward to the future.”

A tattoo like marriage is a commitment for life.