In my continual bid to alienate every girl on the planet and send them into an unhinged foaming rage, I shall now explain why I HATE tattoos

So I read lately that Kate Upton got a tattoo.  Of a cross, because she’s like, religious and stuff.  I guess she probably got that idea as a result of hearing so many men exclaim “I’ve found religion!!!” every time they stared at her gabzumbas.

Anyhoo, so because someone had once taken her cross necklace away, she got a tattoo of a cross inked on her finger instead so she could always show her “devotion to God.”  Well here’s an idea: how about showing your devotion to God by, oh I dunno, acting in a godly way?  And what’s a godly way to act you ask?  Hmmm, well, I would suggest wearing actual clothes and not injecting yourself with Hepatitis C infested tattoo ink for a start.

But since dear Katie has touched on another subject I’ve pondering over for a while, I might as well get this off my chest and explain why I generally avoid dating Christian woman who sees absolutely nothing wrong with tattoos and body mods.

Jesus loves me and my tattoos slogan

Exploring this from a biblical perspective, there are only a handful of places in the Bible where tattoos are addressed, mostly in Leviticus:

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD. – Leviticus 19:28

There are two arguments used by proponents of tattoos to address this, one is that this is an Old Testament rule that no longer applies for today, and two, that this refers only to the specific practice of mourning for the dead.  The former is a glib dismissal of what the OT can teach us about God’s law, and should invite us to understand why God commanded the things that He did.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. – Roman 15:4

Now all these things happened unto them {the Israelites} for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. – 1 Corinthians 10:11

When we examine these verses more closely, we find God also instructed the Hebrews not to cut their beards and hair a certain way as well.  (Leviticus 19:27)  These things would seem utterly trivial compared to other more obvious sins (such as adultery), and because of that it’s easy to disregard them as commandments that don’t really “count.”

But these practices were forbidden not because God was being petty, but because they reflected the practices of the heathen nations that surrounded the Israelites.  The marring of the skin and hair were idolatrous traditions they made for their gods (or for the dead).  Thus for an Israelite to do the same meant he was giving respect to false gods rather than the only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

As you read through the OT laws it starts to become obvious the message God was conveying to His people:  STOP ACTING LIKE THE WORLD.  Stop mimicking their traditions, stop imitating them, and be a peculiar and holy people.  “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I [am] the LORD your God. – Leviticus 20:7

Sanctify by the way means “to set apart.”  Our lives should carry with it a distinctive separation from how the world behaves.  Yet rather than eschew the world’s trends, Christians co-opt them and then slap a Christian label on it, not just for tattoos, but for nearly everything.  We even co-opt commercial slogans to give them a more Christian spin.  (Got Jesus?)  So the idea of “Christian” tattoos is not unique unto itself, but part of an overall pattern.  Nothing in the Bible validates this approach either.  God never says, if you sport the same haircut/tattoo for Me, THEN it’s ok.  Instead God wants us to avoid the practice altogether.

Testamints

Now you can enjoy fresh breath AND grow in the faith!

Yet sanctification for some Christians evidently seems to mean merely sanitizing worldly trends by attempting to “christianize it.”  So while the standard tattoos that depict odd or even demonic images would be bad, a tattoo of a Bible verse or cross is a-ok.

This is why I don’t think I can be with a girl who can’t see what’s really going on behind the prevalence of tattoos and body modifications.  For me, I don’t merely see the acts, I see the overall picture, and that we’re actually regressing as a society to the point that in the near future body mods will become mainstream and almost indistinguishable from tribal cultures such as the ancient Mayans.  The body mods we see today is going to be considered tame compared to what we’ll see 20 years from now, as more and more of humanity become driven to mutilate their bodies as much as they can, just as the heathens have done for thousands of years.  Everything old is new again.

So it’s disappointing to me when I meet a girl who professes to love God but at the same time tries to rationalize or excuse pursuing worldly customs, rather than make a point of eschewing them in the interest of distinguishing herself from the world.  This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t date someone who already has tattoos, but I do want them to be OPEN to the idea that the growing prevalence of tattoos today is not an accident, and is certainly not of God.  A woman who chooses to go her own way rather than chase after every worldly fad is someone more likely to understand me and the life I’ve lived.  Otherwise I suspect the disparity between our opposing beliefs is symptomatic of irreconcilable differences that would result in either a failed relationship or marriage.

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34 Responses to In my continual bid to alienate every girl on the planet and send them into an unhinged foaming rage, I shall now explain why I HATE tattoos

  1. Lois Schwarz August 19, 2013 at 12:02 PM #

    If more people would actually THINK like this, the United States and its children would be far better off than it is today. thank you Frank!

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 3:16 PM #

      Thanks Lois, I appreciate your kind words!

  2. Maeve August 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM #

    Frank,
    I don’t like them either. It’s not really a religious thing, rather, but more of an aesthetic thing. As time goes on it seems like they all lose their color and sort of devolve into this kind of fungus-y green blobby mess. Like moss or something growing on the skin. Soooooooo attractive!

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 3:17 PM #

      Yeah, that’s another thing, not many are really thinking long term here. There’s going to be a lot of very ghastly looking ink-blobbed retired folks in the future.

  3. ava August 19, 2013 at 2:34 PM #

    I also have read about it, and she explained she got herself a tattoo of a cross, because she always wanted to have it with her in a form that nobody could take it away from her. and she got it on the inside of her finger, so that it’s just for her, not “so she could always show her “devotion to God.” ” as you implied. so you have distoreted the facts in order to impute her intentions, that i really don’t think were there. she was mocked by some people in the industry for her beliefs, and now you’re just following in their footsteps. speak about sanctification and not acting like the world.

    when it comes to the rules of the OT, i honestly just don’t know. to me it’s confusing. there’s the verse that you quoted, but then there’s also isaiah 44:5. and btw did you carefully read the labels of your clothes, aren’t they made of mixed fabrics? (deutronomy 22:11)

    “A woman who chooses to go her own way rather than chase after every worldly fad is someone more likely to understand me and the life I’ve lived”

    imo that’s exactly what kate upton did. when people ridiculed her beliefs, she didn’t become ashamed of her faith as many would, but on the contrary- she took a stand and showed it’s not people’s approval that she seeks. that’s how i see it,

    • Itchy August 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM #

      What if she lost that finger? Would her Christianity be taken away from her? We’ve been given many reassuring passages in the Bible that confirm once we are God’s, we are His for all eternity.

      We are also instructed to hide His Word in our hearts. And to pray without ceasing. If you live a Christian life, there is just no way you’d need a physical reminder of who you are and who your God is. If we have this open and direct access to God (and we do) these kinds of actions are a crutch for faith.

      The Bible also doesn’t directly condemn the misuse if drugs, the misuse of food, and a whole bunch of other things. This is why God expects us to be taught by the Spirit, and exercise good judgement:

      “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” I Corinthians 10:23

      Perhaps Kate Upton is still on milk, not meat, and she may be a genuine Christian. But that doesn’t alter the fact that tattooing is an exaltation of the flesh. The Jews also placed too much emphasis on a fleshly spirituality, prompting Paul to comment on a circumcision of the heart (Romans 2).

    • ava August 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM #

      “What if she lost that finger? Would her Christianity be taken away from her? We’ve been given many reassuring passages in the Bible that confirm once we are God’s, we are His for all eternity.”

      you should look at the context here: they took her cross necklace from her during a photo shoot, so she decided to get it inked. that’s why there’s no reason to believe to her it’s anything more than just a constant reminder of a cross. something like wwjd bracelets, or other cross pieces of joulery.

      “But that doesn’t alter the fact that tattooing is an exaltation of the flesh.”

      perhaps i’m like kate upton still on milk, because i really don’t see it that way. and would you say the same thing about wearing makeup then? braiding hair? shaving? where would you draw the line between taking care of your body and the exaltation of the flesh?

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM #

      Ava,

      She was mocked for her beliefs because she’s a hypocrite. If you read the story behind it in question, it’s not the wearing of the cross so much that they found annoying or objectionable, but how at odds it was with the lifestyle she chose. The tattoo is a symbolic gesture but it’s meaningless if how you live your life doesn’t reflect that devotion.

      BTW, I find this story suspect because it suggests the people she worked with committed larceny by stealing her cross. If it meant that much to her why didn’t she file a police report? Don’t always believe what you read. :-)

      Reading Isaiah 44:5, the verse isn’t about tattoos once you read it in context:

      One shall say, I [am] the LORD’S; and another shall CALL [himself] by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe [WITH] his hand unto the LORD, and surname [himself] by the name of Israel.

      It’s about identifying yourself as belonging to God, either audibly (call himself) or in writing (subscribe with his hand). Not ON his hand, WITH his hand. (Using your hand and a pen to write your declaration.)

      Regarding the mixing of fabrics, the verse in question (Leviticus 19:19) also says the same thing for cattle and plants as well. Sanctification is the theme here, and to me it’s pretty telling that God would be so serious about distinguishing ourselves from the world that even the clothes, cattle and PLANT seeds should not be mingled together.

      Science also gives us some fascinating insights as to the effects of mingling woolen and linen:

      “Wool, when combined with linen, increases its power of passing off the electricity from the body. In hot climates, it brings on malignant fevers and exhausts the strength; and when passing off from the body, it meets with the heated air, inflames and excoriates like a blister.” – http://biblehub.com/leviticus/19-19.htm

      This commandment wasn’t pointless and not merely about sanctification, but also ensuring the Israelites didn’t wear clothing that would adversely impact their health and well-being.

      You see how even what seems trivial by our standards had a deeper purpose? That’s why it’s important to go past our modern bias and learn to understand what these laws tell us not only about holy living, but God’s character as well.

      Does this mean any believer who wears mixed linen and wool is going to hell? Of course not, same for anyone who sports a tattoo for whatever reason. What I’m addressing here is really the rebellious attitude people have in looking for any excuse they can find to behave just like the world, and gloss over living a depraved lifestyle because they wear a cross or go to church once a week.

    • ava August 19, 2013 at 5:20 PM #

      “If you read the story behind it in question, it’s not the wearing of the cross so much that they found annoying or objectionable, but how at odds it was with the lifestyle she chose. The tattoo is a symbolic gesture but it’s meaningless if how you live your life doesn’t reflect that devotion.”

      because she’s a model? i think a body is just a body, everyone has one. i don’t see anything wrong in showing it to others, and i for one like looking at people’s bodies (ok, that’s a strange confession to make, haha), not just sexy bodies, but all types of bodies. is espn’s body eddition crossing the line for you? or the photo series of women showing their bodies changed by the pregnancy or mastectomy? this culture is so oversexualised, but that does not mean that when god made us sexy we should wear a habit or not have our pictures taken, or does it?

      “BTW, I find this story suspect because it suggests the people she worked with committed larceny by stealing her cross. If it meant that much to her why didn’t she file a police report? Don’t always believe what you read. :-)”

      don’t even get me started on how there’s no basis for that. i always thought in law there’s one latin phrase evidently missing, which is ‘to just let go’. maybe then people would consider applying it more often, as it would sound more sophisticated. ergo, don’t always believe what you believe ;)

      speaking of latin, king’s james version is something like that to me. my niv says “others will write on their hand, ‘the lord’s,’ and will take the name israel.” if that wouldn’t apply to tattoos, i don’t see why the verse from leviticus would either, as it also may apply only to this specific practice at the time.

      “What I’m addressing here is really the rebellious attitude people have in looking for any excuse they can find to behave just like the world, and gloss over living a depraved lifestyle because they wear a cross or go to church once a week.”

      i agree with you only on one thing. what she did was somewhat rebelious, but it was not a rebelion against god, but against people telling her what to believe. just like when vs’s angels were laughing at her fuller figure. i don’t know, i see that she seems to have strong character and is not afraid to stand out, be it for how she looks or what she believes and i respect her for that :)

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 5:33 PM #

      Ugh, I hate the NIV, one of the most crap translations to ever exist in the universe. BleeargaaahhhHHh *bangs head against wall*

      Regarding Kate, it’s not her being a model so much (which mostly entails jiggling her gaboombas to the entire universe) but she doesn’t overtly express her devotion in any tangible or meaningful way. The only remotely religious thing I can think of was when she dressed up as a nun in the 3 Stooges film (which then became a skimpy err, nun-like…bikini?) Boy she caught some serious flack from the Catholic crowd for that too. I think that scene was ultimately edited out of the film because of the outrage it caused.

    • ava August 19, 2013 at 5:48 PM #

      The only remotely religious thing I can think of was when she dressed up as a nun in the 3 Stooges film (which then became a skimpy err, nun-like…bikini?) Boy she caught some serious flack from the Catholic crowd for that too. I think that scene was ultimately edited out of the film because of the outrage it caused.

      that’s actually a good comparison. i think you’re overreacting a little over her tattoo, just like catholics overreacted over the nun costume. like i once said before, you’re taking the internet a little bit too seriously. not necessarily in a bad way, but still :)

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 6:43 PM #

      Me, taking teh intertooobz too seriously? Pssssssssssshhhhhhhftttt.

  4. wkhg August 19, 2013 at 5:04 PM #

    LOL, I have a tattoo…of a cross.
    In full disclosure, I hate it and I am not a tattoo fan. I got it on a date one night when I was young and trying to be crazy (and had a couple margaritas). To my credit, I at least had the presence of mind to choose something I knew I wouldn’t “outgrow.” As far as permanent symbols with lifetime meaning go, a cross is fairly solid. Like I said though, I hate the thing. Not what it symbolizes, the tattoo itself.

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 5:14 PM #

      Don’t they have laser removal treatments for tattoos these days?

      You know, that’s something I should seriously be investing in. 20 years from now, lots and lots of people are going to be looking to get rid of their green blobs.

    • wkhg August 19, 2013 at 9:09 PM #

      I looked into removing the tattoo for my wedding. It was going to run about a thousand bucks. I decided I could live with it.

    • Frank Swift August 19, 2013 at 9:28 PM #

      LOL

  5. Anja August 20, 2013 at 3:01 AM #

    I’ve never realized the tattoo debate could be addressed on such a level and I thank you for bringing it to my attention, Frank. This was a very interesting post. I’ve never been able to convince myself to get a tattoo because, (1) I’m a minimalist and therefore try to eschew everything that is not absolutely necessary (by my personal standards, of course), including nail-varnish and tattoos, (2) because everyone else is getting them and I’m really good at doing exactly the opposite of what everyone else is doing, and (3) because, like Maeve, I don’t find tattoos aesthetic (especially as one gets older). I’m glad to find another, even more important reason for avoiding them.

    • Frank Swift August 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM #

      (2) because everyone else is getting them and I’m really good at doing exactly the opposite of what everyone else is doing…

      These days this is the kind of positive trait I look for in a prospective wife. :-)

    • Maeve August 20, 2013 at 10:07 PM #

      Hi Anja

  6. Hannah August 20, 2013 at 7:50 AM #

    Nice explanation on why you HATE tattoos Frank! And anyway, you can alienate almost all of the girls in the world with one issue at a time then see who’s still by your side? Ta Da! There’s the girl for you :)
    (Process of elimination I guess)

    Tattoos are a marker. Christians don’t understand this. Ok most Christians don’t understand this.
    A girl with a tattoo sends a message to the world saying she’s rebelling from the straight and narrow. This is a dangerous message for any girl to be sending. It’s a wild world and it’s going to eat the tattooed girl alive.

    Different story when a guy sends a message that he’s rebelling – then it says he’s doing life on his own terms. Not saying tattoos are good for anyone but certainly there’s a difference.

    A wise man once told me to get a painting, instead of marking my body…. that I could admire it on the wall… and when that stage of my life has passed, my history wouldn’t be etched permanently about me. Good advice I now pass onto others!
    Shame I didn’t listen to it myself, and take my father up on his painting offer! We live and learn…

    Anyway – when I got my tattoo it was deeply unpopular and anti-social-norms to get them. I thought it expressed my anger to the world while also preserving life because one of my sisters designed identical tattoos for us to wear on our legs to remember each other by if one of us made an early exit…… (long long sentence right there but you get the internal justification process I went through before marking my body!)

    Well now tattoos are on every Tom Dick and Harry and every freaking Jane Doe that’s out there! Sign of the times people.

    Meanwhile I became convicted of showing my tattoo through a series of explosive events which made me realise that despite the knowledge I had of my tattoo being in my past and that it holds no condemnation for me now, no STRANGER knows that story and so could theoretically think:
    “Hannah’s a Christian and SHE has a tattoo – I think I’ll go and get myself some nice ‘Jesus Ink’ to honour God” Not making this up – I know it happens!

    My lovely grandparents gave me some money to start laser tattoo removal treatment and so far I’ve spent over 3 thousand (N.Z) dollars fading the sucker. Oh and it hurts like crap and I’m the kind of girl that used to tell myself to ‘toughen up’ while self-piercing! I’m about halfway.
    My father and one of my brothers both separately offered to burn it off for a cheaper/faster result!
    In the meantime during summer I cover my leg with skin-coloured bandage. It does the job.
    Turns out I’m not that tough :)

    I spoke against tattoos at a girls camp this year among talks on purity and honouring parents and of all the things I said THIS was the topic the camp organiser disagreed with claiming I was being legalistic….
    She said to only bring out the big guns for the big issues. I said tattoos are a seed that will grow into big issues. She that one of her daughters has several tattoos and it’s no big deal.
    Then she conceded that said daughter had started rebelling from God and had started living with her boyfriend who is COVERED in tattoos!!!

    The tattoo sowed a seed and now she’s in love with the tree!

    In short, if you don’t have tattoos – DON’T get one!!! If you do have tattoos – cover them up!
    Tattoos are a huge regret waiting to happen.
    A tattoo might cost you more than you think.

    • ava August 20, 2013 at 9:56 AM #

      i see you have your emotional convictions on this matter, but do you have any rational arguments/ biblical ground to support it? especially the distinction between girls and guys getting tattoos.

      jehova’s witnesses believe it’s a sin to get a blood transfusion. most christians think it’s ridiculous, yet they have the same train of thought, just on different matters. they use scriptures to fit their convictions, instead of adjusting their convictions to the scriptures.

      i do agee we should take god’s laws in the ot seriously, but how about those passages in deutronomy that say: you shall not add to it nor take away from it?

    • ava August 20, 2013 at 10:21 AM #

      oh and btw. how come that ‘seed of evil’ grew into a tree and led that girl away from god, yet you have a tattoo yourself, and you’re still a christian? ever thought the tattoo and her loss of faith were not necessarily corelated or that tattoos do not really possess such power you ascribe it? anyways, let me just point it out to you that logically your argument is faulty: you are deducing a cause from the effect.

  7. Frank Swift August 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM #

    Some people don’t really put too much thought into getting tattoos. They look cool, so they get one. Their train of thought doesn’t really go beyond that, so if they hear a point of view that regards tattoos as being a bad thing, they’re not adamantly against the idea, it’s just something they never really thought about or considered before. I think Hannah speaks to those who get tattoos specifically to express a rebellious attitude. “You can’t tell me what to do!!!!!11” *runs out and shoves a metal rod through her nose*

  8. Jason P August 20, 2013 at 2:13 PM #

    I love this post! I don’t throw the L word around in the net much these days either. It’s crazy that body mutilation becomes a fad. I wonder though, do you think that 20 years from now it will be worse, or that it will have become better due to people wanting to rebel against the former generation?

    • Frank Swift August 20, 2013 at 2:26 PM #

      Probably worse, I didn’t think it could get as bad as I thought until I started noticing people wearing ear mods(???) the size of Oreo cookies, completely wrecking their ear lobes in the process. I can’t believe the things people do to their bodies.

  9. Rachael August 20, 2013 at 7:28 PM #

    Great post! I completely agree, not only with your sentiments, but also with your rationale. I am continuously frustrated by the fact that Christians cannot seem to leave ANYTHING alone. They must have everything the world has–sometimes they try to “Christian-ize” it, but many times they don’t even bother. So much for, “Come out from among them and be ye separate” or being a “peculiar people,” or, “And be not conformed to this world.”

    • Frank Swift August 20, 2013 at 7:32 PM #

      Rachael: Wow, so I’m not the only one after all? O_O

  10. Rachael August 20, 2013 at 11:38 PM #

    No, apparently there are two of us! (Actually I have a brother and sister who feel the same way :-) I sigh and cringe every time I see one of my Christian friends (pastors, ministry leaders, etc.) who feel the need to post pictures of their new tatoos. I cannot help but think they are trying to make a point: “I’m going to do what I want, and no one can tell me that I cannot.” Insert Judges 21:25 here.

    • Frank Swift August 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM #

      Yes they are indeed making a point. “Look… at… MEEEEEEEEeeeEEeeEE! Aren’t I edgy and cool with all my slim shady awesome tats???” :-P

  11. an observer August 21, 2013 at 5:34 AM #

    Never liked tatts on girls. Just aping the world, I think, in a desperate bid to fit in. Is it also an attempt to attract the bad boys?

    The last church we left, the pastor had at least one visible tatt. He would proudly tell the story of how he felt ‘led’ to get it. Uggh.

    • Frank Swift August 21, 2013 at 1:48 PM #

      Churches today have become yesterday’s bikers’ bars.

  12. bicycledays December 17, 2013 at 7:30 AM #

    Excellent article and well-written, too. I do not like tattoos at all. I live in NYC and a lot of girls with beautiful skin, even girls who are barely out of their twenties, have tattoos. They are ugly.

    • Frank December 17, 2013 at 12:56 PM #

      Thanks, ink-free skin really is beautiful (and healthy), but has become more rare and precious these days.

  13. Jason April 18, 2015 at 5:17 PM #

    Getting a tattoo was no longer rebellious when MTV “codified” it somewhere in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s…before that? Sailors, marines, loose women, and gangsters only had tattoos.

    I finished my undergrad in 1993……graduation night I a watched a group of half-naked, drunk, blonde sorority girls all get tattoos. Something that expressed “who-they-were” and “what-they-were-all-about”

    All got a “tinkerbell” type of faerie slapped and inked on the nape of their backs (santa cruz license plate). There was one girl who bucked the “norm” (she was the rebellious one, lol as if). She got a “Cross” and around it in “gothic” script it said “Only God Can Judge Me”

    I was goaded, dared, and mocked actually by all these “hot” young women because I refused to get a tattoo. I wasn’t a ‘real’ man, and I was a ‘boy’ and I was even drunkenly told “you couldn’t handle a woman like me, even if you did get a tattoo”

    They all seemed to be out to PROVE something to the “men” of that they went to college with. It was the start of that ‘riot-gurl’ thing…..you know….”I’m soooooo hot, I can be one of the guys, drink them under the table, do anything better than they can; yet swing off a stripper-pole and be sexy”

    I was just looking for a girl that was just nice; didn’t have anything to prove and could actually cook something without using a microwave. A tall order then…….and now!

    Looking back on that night well over twenty years ago now……..even then I said to myself “In twenty years I’ll be one of the few people who never did this” and in this area…..I was correct. Everyone has tattoos now………

    I was at my 20th college reunion in May 2013 back in Vermont. I saw two of these women from that night……..the “cute” and “sexy” looking tattoos they got? Caving in, looking like a neglected weathered sticker and I actually heard one of the women talking to one of her friends “Well, I was young and stupid back then, and my healthcare coverage won’t pay to have it removed…..they should; it’s not fair that other people don’t have tattoos and I do”

    All I could do was smirk to myself……

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