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The Tabula Tattoo Taboo

Bruce Cameron

Tattoos are how my children's generation expresses its individuality, which is why they all have one.

I've got nothing against tattoos: They've been used for centuries to identify which sailors on a particular ship got drunk the night before. But at least those sailors, upon awakening and seeing the name Sheila inked into their shoulders, have the satisfaction of being able to say, "Who the heck is Sheila?"

My children are not sailors, but they are all of the generation that is determined to do to their own flesh what the Exxon Valdez did to the Alaskan coastline.

"You don't need to draw permanent lines in your skin," I've told them. "Believe me, age will do it for you."

They roll their eyes at this. Clearly, I don't know anything. "It's how I express my freedom of expression," my daughter says.

"It's also how incarcerated felons express their boredom," I counter. Another eye roll.

"I'm going to get one that says 'tabula rasa,'" she announces. "It's Latin."

"You don't speak Latin!" I respond sharply.

"That has nothing to do with it."

"You don't even like Latin music!"

It's ironic that when I say something intelligent, like, "Eventually your tattoo will fade and stretch and look like some sort of skin disease," my children pretend I'm stupid. But when I say something stupid, like, "You don't even like Latin music," they act like I've made a good point.

"I like some Latin music," my daughter corrects.

"Tabula rasa means 'blank slate,'" I inform her.

"I know what it means," she answers. "That's why I want it."

"You can't write 'blank slate' on your skin," I fume at her. "Once you write it, the slate's no longer blank! That would be like going to the blackboard and writing, 'There's nothing written on this blackboard.'"

"Oh, Dad," my daughter responds, pity in her voice. "We use whiteboards now."

"Why not put, 'Your Ad Here,' while you're at it?" I suggest. "No, wait, if you're being ironic, why not, 'Do not read this?' Or how about, 'I don't have a tattoo'?"

"Dad. 'Tabula rasa' because my life is a blank slate, see? I don't know what is in my future."

"I do. What's in your future is paying a doctor to have the words 'tabula rasa' removed from your arm."

"If that's in the future, that's in the future," my daughter reasons with undeniable accuracy. "Que sera sera. What will be will be."

"No, what will sera doesn't need to sera," I reply. "Whether a tattoo will be or not will be is your choice, so you will need to go to the dermatologist to have it removed only if you decide to put it there in the first place."

She looks at me as if I'm, well, speaking Latin.

"I suppose you think que sera sera is Latin, too," I say bitterly. "Famously recorded by Doris Day, that well-known singer of Latin music."

"You've really lost it, Dad," she admires.

There goes my theory that if I spew nonsense my children will take me seriously.

I'm frustrated: How to explain it to her, or to any of my children? You take your skin for granted -- it's just there, covering your body, until one day it starts developing little marks and creases on its own, like an old wallet wearing out. Inside, you feel as if your tabula is still rasa, but what will be has already been, for the most part, and it all shows on the outside. Why hasten the transformation of the skin from a beautifully blank slate to a blackboard (or whiteboard) full of scrawlings and calculations?

But, like drunk sailors and bored felons, my children will not be deterred. My son's back has complicated geometrics inked into it -- it looks like space aliens have been making crop circles. My daughters have more subtle designs, with the one who wants the Latin inscription holding off until she can decide on the way she wants the drawing done (you don't want "nothing written here" inked into your skin in the wrong font).

I guess they're legally old enough to get tattoos if they want them. I'll just have to accept it.
Que sera, sera...

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Replies to This Discussion

Luv you Janie! It is always good to see you on the boards.
Thats it DV? Thats all I get? Wow Im going to bed...
hahaha you so crazy sis, no wonder we get along, cause I am a little kooko too. hahaahaha

ok you want me to get ghetto on you - ok I can do that too hahaahaha J/K I really can't do that even if i wanted, God is soooo good He changes us.

I really can't speak for anyone else, but it is obvious to me that neither Greg, brosky on the vid or myself where endorsing tattoos. We see it as a Christian freedom that deals with the conscious of each believer. If a sister or brother gets one and it is not some silly symbol that has demonic roots to it, I think nothing of it. To use the Scripture in Leviticus to say tattoos are against God's word is not hermeneutically (interpreting scripture) correct.

Now there are Christians that see Satan in a rainbow and a butterfly, now I don't even know what to say about that. I mean God created the rainbow and the butterflies. You know!

Now I do not see you as an extremist in the subject, so I was just giving you some luv, but since you want to rap. Let's rap. hehe

Luv you!

In the 3rd para I said: that deals with the conscious

But meant to say: that deals with the conscience

Oh DV you really do crack me up with your goofy personality . Im not a people person but I think if I was in a church I would be kinda comfortable around you.
I never used the word endorse. I used the word defend. And stop trying to get me in trouble with Greg man. I thought it was funny him mentioning long beard and polyester pants. When I read that part of his comment I was thinking .. WHAT??? Whats wrong with polyester pants?? then I caught on and laughed. No Im not an extreme person. At least I dont think so. Im not really sure what you meant by that. Maybe it means when I see someone with different taste in style I get all crazy? If thats it then no Im not extreme. In my runnin days I hung out with some of the meanest and scariest people around. Most had tattoos and looked wild. My brother has tattoos all over him and one is of the cartoon devil. . You made a comment about some folks seeing satan in butterflies and rainbows. Maybe you can share that sometimes. DV some folks in my opinion allow themselves to be obsessed maybe even possessed with letting themselves go from a few body art to allowing there body's and faces to be distorted to beyond recognition. To looking like snakes or animals and you and all the over 8000 members on this site can tell me Im full of snot and judgement but that wouldnt change my mind. We are living in the fallen world arent we? Pator Broski on the video mentioned something it matters on the inside and not on the outside ... well duh lol. I know that.. When I was working and partying. I saw some wild looking people. At work one guy named Tom walked up to me and started talking. I just continued working and at the time wished he would leave. His appearance was he had long hair , wearing a tank top with baggy pants ,his neck shoulders and arms were covered with some of the scariest tattoos. Was I focused on them? No! I was focused on why was he coming to me I didnt even know him. He worked 3rd shift I worked 1st he was waiting around to clock out. This scary looking extra large "strong built not fat" man evryday told me about the Lord. He told me his testimony he told me scripture after scripture , he was one of the most loving male Christians I had ever encountered. I also know there are folks who look like demons with sweet personallitys who arent christians. So my point on this subject is I believe that people get possesed by demonic force to allow these things toi control them. Just like if a person would allow butterflies and rainbows to control them hehehehehe hahahahaha... sorry david I know i cant be you dangit you are indeed one of a kind.
whoa my comment is long ... sorry, I might edit it later. Im not good with words Nor do I know how to rap I cant even sing the Doris day song QUE SERA SERA . :)
Well I am glad we can smile together my sista Janie and you blessed me with your kind words. We be probably causing too much trouble though if we were to fellowship in the same church, pastor be like, separate those two trouble makers. :) hahaha

What I meant by “I don’t think of you as an extremist” is that, I don’t think you are the kind of person that thinks everything (rainbows and butterflies etc.) has hidden demonic meanings to them. Some Christians attached demonic meanings to everything the world uses. And I agree that a lot of stuff does have twisted roots, but let’s not fall into such extremes (not saying you are) where we fear a tattoo of a rainbow on a Christian. I am not into tattoos myself, but they do not bother me either. Unless they are symbols of the world with attached demonic meanings.

>>Pastor Broski on the video mentioned something it matters on the inside and not on the outside ... well duh lol


>>some folks in my opinion allow themselves to be obsessed maybe even possessed with letting themselves go from a few body art to allowing there body's and faces to be distorted to beyond recognition.

I agree.

Blessings beloved
Hi Dan
Great advice.

Shame you had to learn the hard way.
Perhaps you could add the line from Isaiah
"They Shall mount up on the wings as eagles"

It might add some respectability to it hahah

Bless you brother
Hi Dan,

the serious problem with tattoos is that while one is young and still has firm skin they look kind of ok but man when one gets older the jolly things become so distorted they become skew and wrinkly YUK YUK YUK!

Praise God I never succumbed! but one of my daughters has a few and man she regrets it everyday.

Be Blessed
1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (New International Version)

The Believer's Freedom

23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."[a]

27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake[b]— 29the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

The difficult thing about this principle is that one must know the righteous principles of God as well as the culture and society at hand. Asking is it "permissible" (1 Cor 10:23) is easy. It is about law and legalism. It asks is this "wrong or right" but asking is it profitable, means asking if a thing is "best" for all affected.

I believe American society accepts tattoos, but not for Christians. Should my conscience be judged by another man's? Paul asks and answers this in 1 Cor 10:23-33. Some would say that America has gone as far as accepting tattoos for Christians. I might agree, but it is a matter of degrees. A small butterfly on the ankle of a woman might be approved by most people’s conscience. But to have arms and neck tatted down would be an offense to the conscience of most unbelievers if the person thus tatted down was a Christian. Even if the person themselves is tatted down, they wouldn’t necessarily think of Christians as doing the same thing. Then again, if I do tat myself down in such a manner I would be telling all those weaker in faith that they can freely do the same thing, though it might offend their conscience.

This principle applies to luxurious living, low riders, clothing style, dancing, music choice, etc. in each case we must pray and consider the general opinion of the society in question as it regards the practice in question. It is easier and more individualistic to just ask "does one that does not practice such questionable things must keep in mind that they are "questionable" and should not use his freedom from suspicion to go around condemning everything as evil. Even speaking against such practices should be done for the building up of the body and the spread of the gospel. The road is narrow and there are ditches on both sides of the road, so we must walk carefully and in love, whether defending or opposing certain practices.

If drinking coffee was generally perceived as a sinful or unchristian activity, I would be in trouble. I would either not drinks coffee or I would do it in private as the apostle teaches. And in my freedom I must make sure that I don’t allow an addiction to form that hinders my walk with the lord. Some people might feel coffee is sin, but there is no way to please everyone. This principle applies to tattoos, lowriders, luxurious living, piercings, and music styles, etc. all of these things are permissible, but not necessarily profitable. And in different circumstances the answer might be different. Asking what is right or wrong is easy, but asking what is best is not always so clear.

So my conviction about Christians getting visible tattoos is based on my understanding of the American conscience. So though I have a firm opinion, please don’t feel that I believe it is infallible.

Ok thanks bro - My Lord bless you.

>>God doesn't care what the American society thinks.

Wow, how do I get to know what God thinks? Please tell me about. Whether he cares about what America thinks or not? I know what you are saying, but you are twisting my words to make them say something i am not.

>>Adhering to what society wants and not to what God wants.

Would you go back and read my post again, please, the scriptures and tell me where you get I am saying to follow society. You missed the PRINCIPLE BEING TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE.

>>Scripture very clearly tells us to not mark our bodies.

Only if you w take it out of context.

>>Oh to have my time again, I would never get a tattoo.

Great you feel that way and I think you do well to tell others your opinion, but don't make your opinion law for all, misquoting Leviticus.

Hello Dan-

>>Your reply above is pretty angry,

My reply did not have an ounce of anger.

27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake.

These verses are teaching that when we know the world considers something that we have the freedom to do as wrong, then because we do not want to give a bad testimony we do not partake of the activity.

We go to the house of an unbeliever; we are free to eat anything he places in front of us to eat. However as soon as he tells us that the meat has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake.

According to the world it is wrong for believers to partake of meat offered in sacrifice to false gods. So at that point we don’t partake of the meat, because we would be given a bad testimony. Our testimony is extremely important and if getting a tattoo or eating something that a Christian should not eat or drink would hurt our testimony than we don't. We want open doors when we talk to unbelievers about the Lord and we do not want to give the world/our society a reason to look at our freedoms in Christ as sin. For none of us lives to himself alone

Romans 14

14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclear. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23

So if our society thinks tattoos are wrong for Christians to partake in, then we don't or we do it in private.

In America is not look at as wrong for a Christian to have a tattoo in most places.

>>In terms of conscience, David.
I don't give one cent for what society thinks.

You are not being wise then and disobeying the counsel of the Lord. I hope you are teachable and learn that your statement is wrong. You should care about what the world thinks is acceptable for a Christian to practice. We are to have compassion for them and seek to live life’s that can be use to reach the lost.

I have all freedom in Chris to drink a cup of wine. Never have I had a problem drinking and I don't care for it, but if I did, I would not drink it because the society I live in thinks is wrong for a Christian to drink wine. Does a Christian have the freedom to do it in private, of course.

Now in France or Spain ministers drink wine with their food. That society does not frown on Christian doing so.

Don't want to turn this post about eating or drinking, but I am trying to teach you what the Word of God states about matters of conscience.

We must in many cases deny ourselves for the good of our neighbor.

Let us see what the Classic Bible Commentaries, History's Most Renowned Commentary Writers have to say about the matter.

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible Leviticus 19:281697–1771

nor print any marks upon you; Aben Ezra observes, there are some that say this is in connection with the preceding clause, for there were who marked their bodies with a known figure, by burning, for the dead; and he adds, and there are to this day such, who are marked in their youth in their faces, that they may be known; these prints or marks were made with ink or black lead, or, however, the incisions in the flesh were filled up therewith; but this was usually done as an idolatrous practice; so says Ben Gersom, this was the custom of the Gentiles in ancient times, to imprint upon themselves the mark of an idol, to show that they were his servants; and the law cautions from doing this,

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

...nor print any marks upon you--by tattooing, imprinting figures of flowers, leaves, stars, and other fanciful devices on various parts of their person. The impression was made sometimes by means of a hot iron, sometimes by ink or paint, as is done by the Arab females of the present day and the different castes of the Hindus. It is probable that a strong propensity to adopt such marks in honor of some idol gave occasion to the prohibition in this verse; and they were wisely forbidden, for they were signs of apostasy; and, when once made, they were insuperable obstacles to a return. (See allusions to the practice, Isa 44:5; Re 13:17; 14:1).

Matthew Henry Bible Commentary 18 October 1662 – 22 June 1714

v. 28. They must not make cuts or prints in their flesh for the dead; for the heathen did so to pacify the infernal deities they dreamt of, and to render them propitious to their deceased friends. Christ by his sufferings has altered the property of death, and made it a true friend to every true Israelite; and now, as there needs nothing to make death propitious to us (for, if God be so, death is so of course), so we sorrow not as those that have no hope. Those whom the God of Israel had set apart for himself must not receive the image and superscription of these dunghill deities.

John Wesley's Notes on the Bible 1703 – 2 March 1791

Verse 28. Cuttings in your flesh - Which the Gentiles commonly did both in the worship of their idols, and in their solemn mournings, Jer. xvi, 6.

Not one of the commentators agrees with your interpretation of Leviticus.

Surf up bro - My Lord Bless you.


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