Monday, March 5, 2012

Tattoos and the Christian

Our men's study recently looked at Lorne Zelyck's article "Under the Needle: An Ethical Evaluation of Tattoos and Body Piercings."  Originally the article appeared in the Christian Research Journal vol. 28, number 6 (2005) but can be accessed HERE.  I'm hopeful of engaging this issue here in some blog posts but until then here are a few items...

1.  Here is an article on a Lenten tattoos.  Inking for Jesus.

2.  Christian philosopher Timothy Dalrymple has a very insightful article entitled "The Flesh Made Word" which looks at the current evangelical youth craze of putting Bible verses or phrases on one's body.  Here are some of his comments:
More common in general is the practice of tattooing Chinese characters, and more common in Christian circles is the practice of tattooing Bible verses or biblical or theological phrases.  This is especially interesting in the light of the theology of the LOGOS and the incarnation.  In the incarnation, the LOGOS, the eternal Word, became flesh.  The LOGOS transcended the world and its changefulness, representing the eternal truth and the power by which all things were called into Creation.  But when a Christian tattoos a Bible verse or a faith-phrase upon her body, she makes her body into a text.  She reverses the incarnation of Christ; in her de-incarnation she is making the body, what is prone to messiness and effluvia and decay, into a true and eternal Word.  They are turning themselves into the Bible, or a part thereof.
There’s something laudable in this: stating that these truths are the ultimate and unchanging truths of who I am.  Yet I also wonder if they represent a running away from our carnality, a running away from the things that Christ affirmed in the incarnation.  I wonder too whether tattoos like these — and all tattoos — might sometimes work like frosting upon a store window — presenting a surface that seeks not to externalize but to conceal what lies within.  Does the person who stamps “God’s Son” upon his skin really believe it?
3.  HERE is a story about a racist "skin head" who had his tattoos removed when he changed his heart.