You don’t just let millions upon millions of people do something that is sinful without a peep about it. A pilgrim’s tattoo, courtesy of Razzouk Tattoo.. Christians have been tattooing themselves for a long time. Were we to survey a large group of faithful Catholics in an open-ended question and ask, “Do you think tattoos are sinful?,” my guess would be that a majority would reply, “It probably depends.” Fair enough. One of the earliest archaeological examples is the naturally mummified remains of a Sudanese woman in the custody of the British Museum with a monogram of St. Michael tattooed on her inner thigh (it’s the Coptic monogram for the name Michael surmounted by a cross). Published letters may be edited for length and clarity. The US Navy now discourages tattoos (abandoning its own tradition), and will pay for tattoo removal. Are we to worship gods of bronze and stone along with God, or worship only God? The images should not be immoral, such as sexually explicit, Satanic, or in anyway opposed to … Now, it’s true that we still express our relationship to God and others through similar ritualistic and ceremonial actions today (what we know as “sacraments” and “sacramentals”), but as Christ has “given us a new commandment” (cf. On the Morality of Tattoos I was asked some time ago to give some guidance on tattoo’s, and though it took far too long to get to this, here is my ad-vice on the subject. A private tattoo is understandable, but in regard to an image portrayed to the public, Is your flesh not already a sufficient image? So what does this all mean in regards to tattoos? Potential employers would be turned off by applicants who had visible tattoos on their arms, legs or neck. Were we created to be God’s people for a little while, or for everlasting? If you don’t like tattoo’s then don’t get one. In the appeals to Sacred Scripture, I have heard the most popular argument from opponents of tattooing. What about exposing certain parts of the skin? while sailors and side-show freaks were just about the only people with tattoos. I dont know about you, but if I were to build a temple myself I would decorate it with meaningful symbolic art. When choosing a tattoo, the best rule is that of St. Paul: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. Really, it is just not me. There was a time, not in the hoary past, when tattoos were an indulgence of louche members of the demi-monde, as observed by Alexandre Dumas.They seem to have become respectable as our culture erasures the border between the demi-monde and the monde entier. Consider then, the faithful Catholic woman, who in choosing to get a tattoo does so to remind her of the memory of a deceased loved one. If a Catholic has a tattoo, are they morally obliged to remove it? While that 4-word conclusion certainly seems to have “the force of Divine law,” we must consider not only the place of this verse within the whole of Sacred Scripture, but also its context, in general. With the increased popularity of tattoos comes the question of their morality. (yes I know you can get it removed). On the Morality of Tattoos. First, I don’t think it means that tattoos are “intrinsically evil.” It was from the pagan Orient that men began to scar their bodies with different inks and call it "art". I think that they should only be small and discrete. The Old Testament prohibition does not apply to Christians. One may have a kind motive behind helping another person, but if the means by which they go about helping this other person involves their somehow impeding the good, the true, and the beautiful, then we can assume that the means alone are not morally substantive. To determine this, we can use the simplest tool of moral evaluation and assess the morality of tattooing by considering the motives, means, and ends behind why one might receive a tattoo. You can also look in the “ask an apologist” forum and you will see that none of them condemned getting a tattoo(s). Today, DNA matching is used and tats are irrelevant, but not discouraged. My reasons being that tattoos have somewhat of a negative stigma attached to them. Can this question also be applied to hair coloring and/or piercings? The principle of the tattoo is the altering of the flesh from bodily element to object. In the final analysis, Catholic-Christians ought to morally appraise the morality (or immorality) of receiving tattoos based not on the “old law,” but rather on Jesus’ “new law” of love which prizes above all the content of our hearts. For some, they consider it a symbol of expression, while to others, its a remant of past follies. Why would someone ACTIVELY distinguish their flesh from other persons? I thought this was a joke post…it’s not though, “Hard time seeking work, unwholesome appearance, potential health effects”, How does a cross on your back from a reputable clean shop do any of those things lol. Father Peter Joseph, a vice-rector and lecturer in dogma at Vianney College, a diocesan seminary in Australia, in his article "The Morality of Tattoos and Body Piercing", says that "certain types of body piercing and decorations [tattoos] in our society are extreme and unjustified, and some of them are motivated by anti-Christian sentiments" (4). Does this mean cosmetics or oils are bad also? Examination of Conscience. Ethiopian Christians, to name one group, wear tattoo crosses on their foreheads. A Refutation of the Seamless Garment Theory. Names and cities of letter writers may also be published. I am not a minimalist, but when it comes to my body, I am. I don’t have any tattoos, but the Jews forbid it. What are your thoughts? I would totally want a tattoo of Our Blessed Mother if I could. I don’t see it as a moral issue. This truth about our bodies being temples in scripture was revealed by St. Paul in the context of our sexual purity. Most people who I think to be reasonably educated in theology and morality think tattoos to be morally neutral. Leviticus, itself, is primarily a “rule book” at the heart of the Mosaic law, or the “old law” which was replaced by “the new and everlasting covenant” in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most of the folks I have met sporting tats, but not all, are kind of rough around the edges. Otherwise, Rome would be speaking about it. is the middle school religion instructor at St. Ann Catholic School of Bartlett (TN) and is a doctoral scholar in the Ed.D. For official apologetics resources please visit. But I don’t see tattoos as any sort of moral question. If the tattoo is a serious violation of a commandment, then yes, a serious obligation to remove it exists. I would more question the wisdom of getting a tattoo, particularly emphasising ‘PERMANENT’ tattoo. "As the 'Catechsim of the Catholic Church' makes clear, masturbation may not be a 'mortal sin' if the extenuating circumstances identified in the 'Catechism' are found, by a competent moral guide, who has a well-formed conscience, to be present in the life of one who has masturbated. I wouldn’t so much question the morality of tattoos unless as you mention it’s a depiction of something immoral etc. We are social creatures. Fr. In the final analysis, Catholic-Christians ought to morally appraise the morality (or immorality) of receiving tattoos based not on the “old law,” but rather on Jesus’ “new law” of love which prizes above all the content of our hearts. Tattoos are a matter of taste, not morality. War and Capital Punishment by James Akin. ... Catholic women would have never dreamed of mutilating their ears for vanity. Please note that all email submitted to Catholic Exchange becomes the property of Catholic Exchange and may be published in this space. Priests have become somewhat accustomed to pious communicants with arms totally decorated like a Persian tapestry or Michelin … If you want to get one, make sure they’re hidden but if you want to flaunt it, be prepared for those disapproving stares. Is it wrong to get a full sleeve? Degree – Another consideration that warrants prudence is the amount and placement of tattoos. Just thinking about all the soldiers who came home from WW1 & WW2 with tattoos on their arms, (my father, one of them). Should a good Catholic get one? There was a time, not in the hoary past, when tattoos were an indulgence of louche members of the demi-monde, as observed by Alexandre Dumas. Email … The Missal of 1962 - … With the later, all of the above are true between God and mankind, and likewise are true between a husband and wife. A really detailed and interesting article on tattooing history, etc. Not only that, it is very costly, and you cant go to the store for a refund. However, in most situations, should a person have a truly altruistic motive behind their actions guided by a solid faith, we can generally conclude, or at least hope that “out of faith in Christ, good works must inevitably come” (C.S. Likewise, this follows with the ends (or outcome / results) of an action. It is always immoral to get or exhibit tattoos of indecent images or phrases, or derisive figures of Our Lord or His Mother or holy things. Signs of a sexual disorientation. Editor's Note: To submit a faith question to Catholic Exchange, email faithquestions@catholicexchange.com. It’s a tradition of roughnecks who purveyed their bodies as weapons and objects of intimidation - and prostitutes who purvey their bodies as well. I don’t see any issue with having tattoos. That depends on several things. In that, I would argue that not only is there no sin in having received such a tattoo, but that it also serves as a sort of “sacramental” (like a permanent holy medal) in that it invites us to prayer, reminds us to love, reminds us of Jesus’ Word and promises, and in that way, also serves as a means of positively and outwardly transmitting our vibrant faith to others. Once upon a time tattoos were limited to the tough guy population—soldiers, bikers, rock stars. Jesus’ “new law” of love, “on which hangs all the Law and the Prophets” (cf. Tattoos had divided people for a long time. So are they wrong? This post is a digression, in a way. If you do, and it’s not sacriligious, than by all means, adorn your temple. Then, on what? Our bodies, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, mean a lot to those around us. The debate over whether or not it is absolutely, objectively sinful is closed imo. What significance does an ink mark have to any of this? None that I can see. There is nothing inherently immoral about a Catholic having a tattoo or a piercing. The memorial of “those gone before us marked with the sign of faith” is an action of true goodness, truth, and beauty and, as such, is roundly regarded as positive within our Catholic tradition. Alcohol: Biblical and Catholic Teaching by Dave Armstrong. In Western societies, earrings and makeup are acceptable as a part of feminine fashions and public presentability. For this reason alone, I think it would be best not to get them. On American Morals by G.K. Chesterton. I don’t know. Presumably the social significance of tattoos has changed somewhat. After some discussion and prayer, we both agreed to get the Greek word for “spiritual life,” ζω?, (pronounced ‘zo-ay’) tattooed on our persons together to symbolize not only an incredible bond we have formed with one another, but also as a reminder that it can only have been Jesus who even says, “I have come that you may have life and have it in its fullness” (John 10:10), who brought us together and who sustains our own lives with His “fullness of life.” Our tattoos now not only remind us of one another and our bond together, but remind us to pray for one another, to love one another through adversities, and to be to each other one that reflects God’s image and encourages that very “fullness of life” that only Jesus gives us. Perhaps that’s a shocking way to introduce a piece that attempts to bridge a perceived gap between two seemingly disconnected subjects, but I wish to point out, up front, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) delineates no position on the morality or immorality of the faithful receiving tattoos. Since tattoos and body piercings are amoral symbols that indicate ownership, devotion, and identification, the morality of these decorations depends on their intended meaning and the deity or master to which they express devotion. But if you do decide to get a tattoo, consider the following: 1. At the same time however, I have seen that people have made the argument of saying that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit(which is true) therefore getting a tattoo(s) is wrong. Some feel strongly that marking your body is always immoral. Of course, these are matters of principle, not consequences. 7. After all, a tattoo is a permanent marking of the body—a serious issue to be sure. The tradition in the USMC was that tattoos help to identify a body. In fact, the Catholic Church has not made any definitive statements on the morality, or lack thereof, of getting tattoos, and so answers to questions about tattoos … It’s no different, it is an expression of who you are, we are not just physical but spiritual and tattoos can passively convey spiritual truths about us to others. Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/68750331786519504/, 11 Fun Facts about Christmas for Catholics, 5 Tips for Seeing a Shooting Star and Finding God in Dark Times, Teen Book Review: The Diaries of Joseph and Mary. I am well aware that the answers to this question vary widely. So even if it is not wrong, it is not a very good idea. Tattoos were brought over into Western Culture primarily during the World War Campaigns in the Pacific Theatre. It’s a changing of the flesh from an element of the body into an object - a canvas. John 13:34) rooted in Love, the genuine focus for the expression of relationship with God (in Jesus Christ) and in others becomes that which concerns and pertains to our “interior disposition,” that is, what is in our hearts. Catholicism and Capital Punishment by Cardinal Dulles. In fact, the Catholic Church has not made any definitive statements on the morality, or lack thereof, of getting tattoos, and so answers to questions about tattoos … Also what may seem really cool to you right now may seem quite stupid 10 years from now, but you would be stuck with it. Powered by Discourse, best viewed with JavaScript enabled, : The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. The opposed will generally ground their convictions based on a rather obscure Old Testament verse from what we might call “the old law.” Found in Leviticus, this exhortation reads: “Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves. The Morality of Tattooing. Sign up if you would like to receive occasional treats from us. Since our bodies are sacred temples of God, any permanent alteration should be carried out only for good reason. Apart from these roles, Anthony is the author of five books, a New Memphis Institute research and leadership fellow, a certified chaplain, and an oblate of the Order of Saint Benedict associated with St. Bernard Abbey (Cullman, AL). June 29, 2014 . What qualifies as desecrating our temples or not desecrating our temples? So are they wrong? It’s a marking of the flesh in such a way as to objectify the flesh. I am sure you can tell which side of the fence I am on, especially considering the fact that I have 6 in total with 4 being religious. I am well aware that the answers to this question vary widely. Be our defense against the wickedness & snares of the Devil. In 1913, Dr. Charles Goring (father of the distinguished actor Marius Goring), a prison doctor, published a vast compendium of statistical information about criminals called The English Convict, in which he wrote: Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith. Ultimately, this “new law” prizes sincere motive above perfect adherence to rituals and practices (which parallel to means, or the ways in which one goes about bringing about a desired outcome or result). However, this lack of a position does not entirely halt debate amongst advocates and opponents of the ancient body-art practice. What I do know is that everyone I know who has one also has a prison record and a drug habit. About 25 years ago that stigma started to fade and is completely gone now, exception being perhaps excessive distasteful tattoos that this discussion is not about. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, I know it’s like once you get one your stuck with it. Is it “wrong” to get a sleeve? In fact; weren’t they this country’s greatest generation. Obviously, the message that the tattoo conveys is relevant to the moral question. All of your negative stigma would have been true in 1950. Taken to its logical conclusion, the idea that we can’t do it because our bodies are temples is very nebulous, and thus hard to defend. it even mentions plastic surgery. I am the Lord” (19:28). The Catechism has nothing to say on tattoos as a general rule, but even devotional body art is ill-advised Tattoos are a matter of taste, not morality June 27, 2012 After all, a tattoo is a permanent marking of the body—a serious issue to be sure. The Church does not have an official stance on tattoos, but the priests that I asked said they were fine. And according to history books and pictures the people of old agree with me :shrug: And as long as the ink isn’t all over your face, throat, neck or hands, there is no real negative effect at all really…. George W. Rutler. 491 Views . I don’t think it is a problem. What about hair dye? Perhaps in a primitive, tribal society such marks might be an additional sign of bondage, but in a civilized society such markings evoke the same tribal tendency in an anti-social manner. The mere fact that the ink goes into the skin in the latter case does not create a fundamental moral difference. Depending upon what you get may cause a sense of consciousness. You can also look in the “ask an apologist” forum and you will see that none of them condemned getting a tattoo(s). For what reason do you distinguish your flesh in this way? Tattoos are permanent alterations. But certain types Mine would be of St. Michael slaying the beast, and maybe the Papal keys between the shoulders. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended …, mutilations, … performed on innocent persons are against the moral law” (#2297). In Samoa, it was once a widespread custom to tattoo the eldest son or daughter of the local ruling family. What if getting a tattoo is part of someone’s culture? The Morality Of Tattoos & Body Piercings Product description -- Incorporating the Sacred Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church plus years of experience in Catholic evangelization and biblical apologetics, Jesse offers a powerful, exciting and easy-to-follow teaching that … St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. The Church does not have an official stance on tattoos, but the priests that I asked said they were fine. The consequences of tattooing are relative; a hard time seeking work, an unwholesome appearance, potential health effects, etc. Conversely, were this same woman, in a moment of impulsive rebellion against her parents, to choose to get a tattoo – simply for the purpose of causing strife and offense, then it is obvious that this act impedes the continuation of what is good, true, and beautiful. If it is okay to get a tattoo, is it possible that it can become sinful if it is excessive or if you have too much ink on your body? Allow me to close by offering this personal example from my own life: Recently, I obtained a matching tattoo with a person very dear to me. DENVER — When the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the English Carmelite, St. Simon Stock, she carried the Carmelite scapular in her hand and told him: &ld That said, as faithful Catholics, we must take some of the prescriptions of the “old law” with ‘a grain of salt’ because they were primarily authored and intended for a strict Jewish audience who expressed their relationship to God through ritualistic and ceremonial actions. Although, no longer the monopoly of shady characters (gangsters or bikies), there is still some prejudice for those who sport them excessively. Surely, it didn’t make them any less of good character. I have a few. I just think life would be easier, happier, and less scandalous if we kept it plain. Anthony Maranise, Obl.S.B. Do you wear t shirts with a logo or message? In Melbourne, I see professionals and workers sporting tattoos, both men and women, young and old. Is that the impression you want to give? It’s time to live and let live with this topic and put it to bed already. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 148). The Church has no teaching against tattoos. All that being said, IMO, I would personally not get a tattoo, even a perfectly innocent one. Tags King Edward VIII ... Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic … Some feel strongly that marking your body is always immoral. They are also for the most part closed out of major sectors of the job market, the military service, police and fireman work. Therefore, in being strictly concerned with adherence and/or precision to the “old law,” we essentially avoid the heart of the New Testament. Should a good Catholic get one? You hold the same position regarding make up, hair coloring,perfume, and ear piercing yes? In view, then, of what we learn from Jesus in the Sacred Scriptures, namely, that the character and content of our hearts (or the motives behind our actions) are of greatest importance in the moral appraisal, we can begin to develop tradition around the sensus fideli, or “sense of the faithful.” This term, first popularized in liturgical and ecclesiological studies during Vatican II, refers to the collective understanding of how the majority of faithful persons intuit or understand theological, spiritual, or moral teachings. The OP asks** : “Can this question also be applied to hair coloring and/or piercings?”**, It seems like you are trying to keep this Thread going … (so later, you could ask about what colors of Clothing can be worn after Labor Day). 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