What is the attraction?
“I think some tattoos are beautiful works of art,” says a young man named Ryan.
The motive for getting a tattoo might affect how you feel about getting one. For example, a teenager named Jillian says: “When a girl I went to school with was little, her mom died. So when she became a teenager, the girl got her mom’s name tattooed on the back of her neck. I think a tattoo like that can be very sweet.”
Regardless of the motive, you should think long and hard before deciding to have anything permanently inked into your skin! What questions should you consider if you are thinking about getting a tattoo? And what Bible principles can help you make the best decision?
What questions should you ask?
What are the health risks? “Tattoos breach the skin, which means that skin infections and other complications are possible,” says the website of the Mayo Clinic. “Sometimes bumps called granulomas form around tattoo ink. Tattooing also can lead to keloids—raised areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue.” Furthermore, the website notes: “If the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract various bloodborne diseases.”
How would it affect your reputation? Like it or not, your appearance sends a message. It identifies you as either adultlike or immature, as either trustworthy or irresponsible. “Whenever I see someone with a tattoo, I automatically put him in the drinking-and-partying category,” says a teenager named Samantha.
Melanie, 18, sees another aspect to it. “To me,” she says, “tattoos hide your natural beauty. It’s as if those who wear them don’t want you to see who they really are, so they hide themselves underneath tattoos.”
Will you always like it? Over time, weight gain or even simple aging can stretch and distort a tattoo. “I’ve seen what tattoos look like on a person decades later, and it’s not pretty,” says a young man named Joseph.
“Tattoos often become outdated,” says 21-year-old Allen. “What was once significant to the wearer might not be important just a few years later.”
Allen makes a good point. The fact is, as people age, their views change, their tastes change, and their affections change—but their tattoos do not. “Having got a tattoo that only reminds me of foolish feelings is something I wouldn’t want to add to the list of things I regret years later,” says a young woman named Teresa.
What Bible principles apply?
Colossians 3:20: “You children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.”
What consequences might you experience if you live at home with your parents but fail to respect their direction?
1 Peter 3:3, 4: “Do not let your adornment be external—the braiding of hair and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothing—but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of the quiet and mild spirit.”
Why, do you think, does the Bible put such emphasis on “the secret person of the heart”?
1 Timothy 2:9: “Women should adorn themselves . . . with modesty and soundness of mind.”
What is the meaning of the word “modesty”? In the long term, why is modesty more attractive than body art?
Romans 12:1: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.”
Why does the way you treat your body matter to God?
In view of these factors, many people have decided against getting a tattoo. In fact, they have found something better than tattoos. Teresa, quoted earlier, says: “If there is a phrase or slogan that you truly love or a person who is important to you, then live by that phrase or tell that person how much he or she means to you. Instead of getting a tattoo, live what you believe.”
YOUNG PEOPLE ASK