“Needle and the damage done” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!
How appropriate that we review a topic like tattoos after one of the most shirtless days of the year!
In April, I made a little comment about the calf tattoos (calftoos or calftats, if you will) I saw when running in my first anything-K race. I took a dip in my gym’s pool yesterday, taking a look around at the surplus of Americans celebrating America’s day.
Then I started calculating how much all of that ink was worth.
A friend once showed me his three inch ankle tattoo and told me it cost him almost $200. It costs at least $60 for the tattoo artist to touch the needle to your skin. You better know what you want because not only are you paying a hefty amount upfront, but you’re generally stuck with it. No pun intended, but pun emphasized.
Let’s get out of my penny-pincher mind; what are the teachings and why?
Many Protestant theologians teach that the Bible forbids it, often citing this: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:28).
If these preachers stick to this (look, another pun), then I assume they also don’t wear blended fabrics. Leviticus is certainly an important part of the Bible, but we need to be careful not to pick and parcel out what we want to believe from what we don’t want to believe. That’s how the Protestant churches lost sight of the true teaching of the Eucharist.
So what does the Catholic Church teach? The consensus among Catholic biblical scholars is that this teaching on tattoos is not part of the unchanging moral law.Cite
Like many parts of the Catholic Church’s teachings, they leave it up to the church members (you and me) to discern. The Church teaches that it is not in opposition of the Bible to tattoo oneself, but they offer sound principles explaining why, in some situations, it is sinful to be tattooed.
Sinful? Now, no one wants to hear that! Do you know how much I paid for this?! It’s a picture of my dog playing a keytar, get a grip, Church!
|A lot of pain for no gain. Gross.
Calm down for a second. For example, if one gets the tattoo with a bad intention, like in spite of one’s parents, that person is sinning against them. If the intention of the tattoo is not one of love (“I want to piss off as many people as possible, because I can”), the evil intention makes it a sin, according to the Church.
To get a clearer understanding of these principles, read here.
Back to the pool
After hanging out at my gym’s pool, my family held a little Independence Day shindig (Happy birthday, Gramma!). One of our guests was a man who went to the Naval Academy. You would think a midshipman who is officially a member of the Navy would have dozens of tattoos by now, easily hidden, of course.
He surprised me by vehemently exclaiming that he can’t think of one item he would want to have on his body for his entire life. How succinctly put!
Tattoos have a special, quiet place in my opinions. I have so many that they nestle quite nicely among the spiky, bickering items like abortion, justice and crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter (crunchy, obviously).
I have wanted a tattoo (or several) for the last fifteen years. Throughout those fifteen years, if I shared that tidbit with friends they scoffed in surprise; never could they imagine their quiet, somewhat-goodie-two-shoes friend inking herself. Part of me still wants to shovel out the ridiculous amounts of money to get one.
Much like I know not to date bad boys or have multiple drinks at a cocktail party, I know I won’t get a tattoo.
First of all, the double standard on tattoos makes them very undesirable on female skin. Yes, that’s still true. No, it hasn’t changed.
Second of all, after youthful days pass me by, I’m more likely to find a jalapeno pepper in the exact same place I had once paid someone to ink a strawberry.
Thirdly and most importantly, I ask myself, why do I want to get a tattoo? I can’t think of a single answer at which I wouldn’t roll my eyes.
So often, tattoos are a fad that fades with youth. They skipped my parents’ generation, perhaps proving their trendiness.
When I ask myself, why don’t I want to get a tattoo?, I have a thousand answers. The big one: I don’t want my future kids to see a tattoo on their mom.
Because of my remaining desire to get my own tattoo, I don’t judge people who have their own (except to think, how in the heck did you pay for that?). We make our own decisions in life.
Like any decision that affects us for the rest of our lives, we shouldn’t take the decision to go under the needle lightly.