Art is a spiritual expression. Creativity is an incredible gift of imagination God places within people to conceive the impossible. A masterpiece can be birthed from an emotional experience that is skillfully translated into visual expressions digestible to the world. Each artist is distinct in their perspective, imparting their personal narrative into the bodies of work they create. The view of life through their lenses offers onlookers insight into the inner workings of their heart. It gives people a glimpse of what an individual is passionate about — what fights they stand for, and the things they find most beautiful about existence. From Picasso to Banksy, Warhol to Basquiat — canvases functioned as platforms to project the voice of their truth to the masses. Spectators were given a piece of their motivation, but left to interpret and apply the art to their own lives. Much is the same with tattoos.
Other cultures around the globe use tattoos as symbols of spiritual assignment, destiny, and legacy. As a cornerstone in many rituals, permanently marking the body is a right of passage, inseparable from the identity of an individual. Every chosen color is significant to a core principle of the community and embodies generations of tribal relevance. Familial markings articulate legacy and strength. For women, covering the face in radiant hues solidifies beauty and extravagance. For men, carving robust storyboards on the body reflects gifts, values, and responsibility. Tattoos inherently receive a level of respect among the people and carry great esteem.
In American pop culture today, these external statements have become more about trend than translation. Appearance serves as an additional voice to directly engage the people we encounter. The messages shared do not define who we are, yet they do advertise what we feel and desire from the world around us. Yet, it is seemingly true that the craving for art on the body is more about covering available space, than sharing an intriguing story. Tattoos are permanent. Each one placed upon the skin is autobiographical. When the physical passes, these pieces will remain on the body until all fades away. Therefore, in many ways they serve as a visible timeline of seasons, events, and inspirations that have shaped us.
“Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.” – Mark 7:15
Contrary to conservative belief, tattoos are not bad. The point of tension is not in having a tattoo, rather the messaging behind it. At different stages of life, we experience defining moments that leave a timeless impact on our walk. Whether the death of a loved one, memorable scriptures, or cultural customs — dedicating a segment of your body to artistically honoring these things does not degrade worth, relevance, or character. But, what is inside can contaminate the heart of a person.
Motivation and intention can infect the spirit, causing the things we exude to become unclean. Whatever is placed for the world to read will deliver a message. When someone inquires what the artwork on your body reads, the honest response makes a transparent statement about your mental and spiritual climate. Many Christians argue “The body is a Temple, so tattoos are defiling and impure”. According to scripture, nothing on the outside can rob someone of their wholeness and or purity.
Ink will never classify someone’s positioning in the eyes of God. Some tattoos are transformational. Others appear as constant reminders of inspiration and purpose. Whatever you have chosen, own it. Be confident in your identity and walk upright without concern for what judgment may be passed. Just remember the power of your impression. Every tattoo tells a story about you, making the process of selection similar to that of preparing a speech. When you are given a podium to reach people, understand the obligation to provide a perspective that will last.