Think Before You Ink

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Recently I watched a news clip about Dr. Jon Mendelsohn at Advanced Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center. He was using his skills as a plastic surgeon to remove unwanted tattoos from convicted criminals who had just been released from prison. It’s a mission he hopes will help these men live better lives.

Two of his clients, Michael and Leroy, have served time behind bars. Michael was sentenced on drug charges. Leroy’s criminal record began when he was 12. Now 31, he’s been locked up for more years than he’s been free. Leroy realized that the tattoos made it harder for him to get a job.

Both former convicts are now fathers, and they realized that to get a job they had to remove the tattoos. They also wanted to be a better example to their children, so now they are having them removed.

Will your decision whether to sport a tattoo reflect God and His values and character?

We often make our decisions on the spur of the moment, based on our emotions at the time or peer pressure, instead of considering how this will affect us down the road or how it will look on our changing bodies. Will this person whose name I want to tattoo on me be in my life 20 years from now?

In making a decision, consider how you will feel about it years later. Here are three factors to think about in considering a decision, particularly when it comes to tattoos.

Will you regret the decision later?

The number of people who regret getting tattoos while a teen or a young adult is on the rise, according to a survey reported in London’s Daily Mail (Naomi Greenaway, “Do You Regret Your Tattoo? One in Six People Hate Theirs and 50% Regret Getting Inked Because It Makes Them Look Common,” April 1, 2014).

The article noted that “one in six hate their tattoos so much they want them surgically removed” and that “the most prevalent reason for the change of heart is fear of the so-called ‘tramp stamps,’ as fifty per cent worry they will be considered ‘common [and] uncultured.’”

What seemed so cool years ago is not so cool for them now. Even several well-known celebrities claim they now regret their tattoos. More than a third of those surveyed “express regret for fear of how they’ll look as they get older (and saggier), and half of those surveyed admitted that a person with prominent tattoos was less likely to succeed in business.”

The article also noted the following: “Perceived promiscuity is also a worry for the tattooed masses. One in six of those surveyed said people with tattoos are seen as more likely to have one-night stands.”

Three celebrity music artists who are judges on the weekly television singing-competition show The Voice have regrets of being inked. In 2012 Pharrell Williams told Complex magazine that he was “young and dumb” when he got his tattoos and is currently going through the painful process of having them removed. 

Adam Levine can’t stand the tattoo on his right shoulder that was supposed to be a cool Russian heritage symbol. Instead he now thinks it looks more like a “cauliflower with a sun in the middle of it.” 

Blake Shelton, another judge on The Voice, considers his tattoo of deer tracks—which he got to represent his love of hunting—ugly and stupid, mostly because the tracks are “constantly mistaken for lady bugs.” All three now have regrets.

So ask yourself, will I regret it later? Will it be worth the cost and pain to remove it?

How will it affect the image you want to present?

What image do markings on your body reflect to others? How might it affect your job and career? According to an article titled “How Tattoos Affect Your Career” at, a survey of 2,700 people found that 76 percent felt that tattoos and piercings hurt an applicant’s chances of being hired for a job.

Dr. Andrew Timming of St. Andrews University School of Management interviewed recruiters in 14 organizations, including a hotel, bank, city council, prison, university and bookseller, to get a broad view of their opinions on tattoos. He found that most respondents agreed that visible tattoos are a stigma.

And think about this: While you might think it’s cool to have a tattoo, the most surprising finding of the survey reported in the Daily Mail earlier is that when it comes to romance, a tattoo can be a turnoff—even to people who have them! A third of those surveyed said they would be less likely to date someone with prominent tattoos.

So ask yourself: What kind of image do I want to project? Will this affect me in job hunting or my plans for my future career? And will my tattoos be a turnoff in regards to dating and future relationships?

Does it glorify God?

Above all, will your decision whether to sport a tattoo reflect God and His values and character? We need to remember that He is holy and pure and wants us to be also. God commanded those of His people, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28 Leviticus 19:28You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
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The apostle Paul reminds us that our body is meant to be the temple of God’s Spirit and that it does not belong to us but was bought at the price of Jesus’s blood when He died for us, so we are to glorify God in our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 [19] What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? [20] For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
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). Whatever we do should reflect and glorify Him.

Is your body consistent with the importance you attach to your life as God’s creation and the intended dwelling place of His Spirit? We are to represent God (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
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; 1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
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; 1 Peter 2:12 1 Peter 2:12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
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). Our worship of and service to Him are far more important than anything else we do. Do we give others that distinct impression by our appearance, or do we send a very different message?

While we strive with God’s help to be clean and pure on the inside, this should affect how we present ourselves on the outside. Will you be a good representative for God’s way of life starting with your appearance? Or when people see you coming, will they be turned off?

Think before you decide to tattoo your body. A vital key to making wise decisions is to consider consequences! Every single decision you have ever made or will ever make has consequences, whether good or bad.  Don’t follow the crowd! Have courage to be your own person and be proud of it! You can do that without having to tattoo your body.

Ask yourself these three crucial questions: Will you regret the decision later? How will it affect the image you want to present? Does it glorify God and obey His instruction?

If you already got one or more tattoos before now, you shouldn’t feel like you have to have them removed to have a deep relationship with God (although they should be covered or removed if they promote something offensive, vulgar or demonic). You are very special to God! And the person you are on the inside is what most concerns Him.

This article is aimed at those who might be thinking about getting tattoos and isn’t meant to condemn those who already have them. More broadly it’s aimed at all young people who read this in hope that they will think before they ink!

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