Your Body Is A Temple, IDIOT!

My dear college roommate, Rebecca, recently got a tattoo on her foot (on 6/6/06, to be exact). It's a stylized version of the word "grace" in Greek. She designed it herself. In my opinion, it's small and lovely. What's more important, it means a lot to her. It's her middle name and a very important tenet of our faith in Christ.

Her decision to get a tattoo was not made lightly. Several years ago, she discussed it with her parents and, in an effort to honor them, she waited until she was married before seriously considering getting it done. She's discussed it with her husband and while he didn't rush off to the tattoo parlor with her, he was willing to support her thoughtful and prayerful decision. Knowing Rebecca, I'm sure she's prayed about it more than once.

So, today, while she was showing the tattoo to a co-worker, a man she had never met asked her if she was religious. When she told him she was a Christian he hopped up on his soap box and began lecturing her about the body being a temple that should not be damaged. Rebecca wasn't really prepared for this sort of attack and though she didn't respond angrily, she wished she could have been more eloquent.

Of course, Mr. Soap Box's rant got my panties in a bunch for several reasons. First, he was not a part of the conversation and his opinion was not solicited, therefore, he should not have offered it. Second, if he is claiming to be "religious" himself it must be a rather unloving, judgmental, ungraceful religion. Third, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (the passage with the "temple of the Holy Spirit" phrase) is in no way related to tattooing. In the passage in question, Paul is expounding on the need to build a solid foundation in Christ working with materials that will not be burned away. There are bigger things at stake here.

As our discussion progressed, Rebecca sent me a link to this article . It was concise and helpful. It's worth reading the mother's response if you get a chance. The phrase "perfect creation of God" really got to me. Carried to it's extreme, this phrase could be used as an argument against medical attention of any kind or the donning of clothes. It's also really sad that she thinks all children with tattoos must have a disappointed mother out there. That's crazy! My mother wouldn't be shouting joyfully from the rooftops if I got a tattoo, but she certainly would not be disappointed in me and I bet I could even get her to go with me to the studio.

Rebecca also sent this blurb about another "no tattoo" proof text:
"Many Christian will quote Leviticus 19:28 when stating that Christians should never receive a tattoo: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord" - Leviticus 19:28

"A true translation of Leviticus 19:28 could never have mentioned the word "tattoo." Tattoo is a Polynesian word that entered the English language after the voyages of Captain Cook to Tahiti in the 18th century - which is when tattooing became popular again in the West.

"I have done a great deal of research into this subject as a host, writer and producer of a documentary series, The Vanishing Tattoo, on tattooing for National Geographic. It is widely accepted among biblical scholars that Leviticus 19:28 referred solely to the practice of people cutting themselves and rubbing in ash when in a period of mourning. The ash rubbed into wounds left permanent marks, the marks referred to in Leviticus 19:28."
Several of my friends have tattoos. Getting tattooed hasn't changed their personalities or damaged their witness for Christ. In some situations, tattoos and piercing can even be an "in" with groups who might not be receptive to more straight edge folks. Please don't think I'm suggesting everyone should be tattooed or pierced, but it seems a serious misrepresentation of the message of Christ to attack someone for having done either.

All this to say: BACK OFF, MR. SOAP BOX! My Toon can get a tattoo anytime she wants. She could be covered in tattoos and Jesus would still love her just as much as he does now!
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