Tattoo culture at Westmont
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Many have experienced looks of judgement or disapproval associated with tattoos. For generations, the morality of adding ink or metal to skin has been controversial.
Tattoos are often considered socially unacceptable or unprofessional, especially when certain jobs are off-limits to those who can’t conceal their ink.
However, in a Christian context and community, the questions that arise become more complex and difficult to navigate. Whether or not tattoos are okay begins to deal more with matters of biblical obedience and morality rather than compatibility for a job or the ability to look professional in any sphere. Are people damning themselves at the expense of a tattoo?
According to Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you; I am the Lord.” However, earlier in the same chapter, the biblical author commands readers not to have garments of mixed fibers, meaning Christians would have to get rid of cotton and polyester clothing.
Even in light of Leviticus, New Testament Romans makes it clear that those in the church are no longer governed by Old Testament law, making the prohibitions in Leviticus inapplicable.
Second-year Kenny Chism and his brother share a tattoo of Hebrews 13:1, “Let brotherly love continue,” written in one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s elvish forms. “It’s a shout-out to my brother,” said Chism. “But more than that, it’s a blatant, visual reminder to myself that I cannot and should not attempt to do life alone, as I have a tendency to focus inward and neglect those around me.”
Another student, third-year Brian Mull, has a tattoo of his grandfather’s signature on his bicep. “He died three years ago and I spent a lot of my life with him,” said Mull. “He introduced me to some of my favorite hobbies.”
If Christians aren’t governed by a law that prohibits self-expression through tattoos, then arguably the decision to get one depends on an individual’s willingness to make a certain statement, regardless of the social and professional consequences.
“Tattoos in particular are reflective displays of inner workings of your life, which should be celebrated,” said second-year Kyla Gedney.
In an age where many things are short-term and short-sighted, governed by fleeting feelings and moods, perhaps tattoos ought to be more widely celebrated as significant way of making ourselves known in a white-noise culture.
Photo By Donald Brubaker