Tattoo You

In joining the Peace Corps I face the very real possibility that I will be sent to a country in which I am not able to be open about my Christian faith. And by that I mean that it has to be kept secret. Many of the countries are predominately Muslim and the PC wants to avoid any appearance of sending Christian Americans over to evangelize. Anyone who actually knew America would know that a liberal governmental organization is unlikely to do this in any case, but that’s beside the point.

So, in light of this, I had the idea to get a very small tattoo: a cross, about 1 inch in size, right over my heart and therefore not visible whenever I am wearing clothing (including swimsuits.) This seems like a good idea to me because it will allow me to carry a tangible, visible symbol of my faith to Africa with me and, at the same time, will not offend anyone over there … because they’ll never see it.

I’ve been running the idea by people recently to get an idea of different people’s reactions:

Everyone in Portland: Yes! That’s a great idea! I know a place you can go. Let me know if you need someone to go with you!

My Dad: So, you have to have your tattoo hidden because the Peace Corps won’t send you to a Muslim country if you have visible Christian stuff? Then I think you should get “I Love Jesus” tattooed on your forehead. Seriously. If that will keep you from malaria & miliatias, I’m all for a tattoo.

My Mom: That’s a ridiculous idea! You’ll be in Africa for 27 months and have the tattoo forever. You’ll hate it by the time you’re 30. Don’t do it.

Peace Corps will have the final word. I’m going to call them tomorrow and see if I can still serve with a hidden tattoo. They asked me during the initial interview if I had a tattoo and I said no, of course, so I have to check with them before I get it.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Tattoo You

  1. I would say there is nothing wrong with you getting that tattoo. Tattoo’s are about expressing yourself, whether that be an important moment in your life, something sentimental, or a love for something/someone. If you’re having doubts about it, you could just wait a while, and if you still want it later on, you know it’s something you really want and you won’t regret it.

  2. Interesting. My response might be long but I actually have a lot of thoughts on tattoos. In general, I think tattoos are stupid (gasp! I must be ousted from Portland!) I generally think they are a mark of rebellion from a generation that longs to be different from their parents and fore-generations. I understand this isn’t true in all cases. Tattoos are often times meant to be symbolic of something (as would be the case for you). The Bible seems to be very positive on symbolism as it is full of it. But what about tattoos for now?

    I’ll begin with a personal story. For a while I thought about getting a small tattoo of a heart (that I drew) on my wrist over the vein that connects to the heart as a reminder to live life with an agape kind of love. I was at the point where I almost really wanted to do and then thought, “Why? So I can be trendy? So I can make a claim with a picture? So I can fit-in in Portland? So I can have a reminder of something I already am? I know who I am and who I’m called to be.” So I decided against it.

    My friend Nick, you know Nick, decided against getting any tattoos for the very reason that he wants to be able to be a good witness to Muslim peoples.

    Now let’s see what the Bible says:

    Concerning cultural things like this Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”(1 Corinthians 9:22) Now this could be used in the argument to either get a tattoo or not get one. You could get one as a cultural American/religious statement. Or you could not get one so as to not offend other cultures.

    Typically speaking, many opposed to tattoos would quote Leviticus 19:28 and say, ‘end of story.’ I don’t see that it’s that black and white as Paul goes on to say, “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) The questions you ask bring up this question, it may be permissible to get a tattoo but will it be beneficial for you to have one?

    I think God honors the sentiment you have in desiring to have the tattoo. But you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. What more of a tattoo could you need? Ultimately, it’s your own conviction that you must follow. If you feel that you need to have the tattoo as a means of reminder of who you are, then get it. If you feel that you don’t want to offend anyone you come in contact with because of your tattoo, don’t get it.

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