Before addressing the question, "To Tat or Not to Tat," let's step back to the early 19th century when a very different kind of tatting was popular. Tatting was the name of a fiber art in which lacy designs were created using thread and a shuttle. Tatted lace was most often created with very fine thread, making the work quite time consuming and the lace very delicate. Subsequently, most tatted laces were created as decorative trim, small home decor items or jewelry. The art of tatting diminished in popularity during the first half of the 20th century, when machine-made lace improved in quality and was both time and cost effective to produce. Okay ... that's the trivia about tatting in years gone by. Today the words tat, tatting and tatted are almost exclusively used to refer to body art. So the question we are addressing, "to tat or not to tat," is about making a permanent mark on one's body.
To Tat or not to Tat? That's not the only question.
Tattoos are a very popular and controversial subject among Christians, and I've written about the subject in three articles: "Is my TATTOO a sin?" "Is a tattoo a poor testimony?" and "Is the 'mark of the beast' a tattoo?" I've addressed the importance of making well-informed, thoughtfully-considered, and prayerfully-discerned decisions about getting a tattoo.
I do not have a tattoo, and perhaps many of you are tattoo-less also, but I venture to say that we all know and love someone who has a tattoo ... or tattoos. Therefore, this subject is important. Whether or not we personally like tattoos, we must remember that getting a tattoo is not a sin. The Old Testament prohibition about making marks on one's body is not addressing modern-day tattoos. Now don't hear me wrong. While the levitical law about tattoos does not apply to us, there is a principle for us in the prohibition that God gave to the nation of Israel– and it should be considered before getting a tattoo (read "Is my TATTOO a sin?"). And, while getting a tattoo might not be a sin, the motive for getting a tattoo, the image of the tattoo and/or what the tattoo might "say" to others could be sinful.
A discussion of whether a tattoo is sinful, or a justification for getting a tattoo, is not the purpose of this article. The purpose of this article is to answer another question. As Christians, how should we respond to people who have tattoos?
If a Tattoo Could Talk
After the article "Is my TATTOO a sin?" was posted, I asked readers to send pictures of their God-honoring tattoos and to share their reasons for getting the tattoo and the meaning of the art. I was flooded with pictures and selected some to share with you.