I'll be honest, I have always viewed tattoos as defiling the body, mostly because I'm too scared to pick out an image and think I can't change my mind on that when I'm 55 years old...I'm not so sure any choice outside of marriage is that for sure for me. I change my mind way too much.
So here is what President Hinckley said:
And here are some arguments made by church members (in the New Era article):“Now comes the craze of tattooing one’s body. I cannot understand why any young man—or young woman, for that matter—would wish to undergo the painful process of disfiguring the skin with various multicolored representations of people, animals, and various symbols. With tattoos, the process is permanent, unless there is another painful and costly undertaking to remove it. … A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body.
“Likewise the piercing of the body for multiple rings in the ears, in the nose, even in the tongue. Can they possibly think that is beautiful? It is a passing fancy, but its effects can be permanent. Some have gone to such extremes that the ring had to be removed by surgery. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also ‘the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes.’ We do not, however, take any position ‘on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings’ ” (Ensign, Nov. 2000, 52).
For a religion where we have lots of symbolism, are there tattoos that are helpful to someone remembering spiritual things? Even if the symbols are "spiritual"...is putting them on the body just wrong in all accounts?The biggest danger from body piercing or tattoos may not be the object itself. The biggest danger is where these things can lead. Will this pull you into situations that you should avoid? Will it introduce you to a circle of friends that are better left alone, such as a gang? Is your attitude toward spiritual things changed? Does it open up opportunities for other types of more serious rebellion?
When asked about the reasons for his gauged ears and pierced tongue, one young man says, “I was just curious. Now, it’s my play toy,” referring to his habit of clicking the barbell through his tongue against his teeth. His tongue piercing, however, has also affected his speech.
When pressed a little more, he admits his piercings convey an inaccurate image of what he is really like. “My teachers confronted me and said I was quite a surprise. They said I wasn’t anything like the way I look. They had been expecting the worst. Some people assumed I didn’t want to graduate.”
His body piercings have affected his relationship with some friends and their parents as well as his ability to get jobs. “My friend’s dad asked me, ‘Why the change of heart?’ He won’t let me hang around with his son, my friend, as much. We were supposed to room together at college, but his dad won’t let him.”
This young man has also been turned down for jobs he has applied for, and he knows that there are certain places of business that won’t even accept his application.
Why make things more difficult for himself? This young man just shrugs off the idea that his choice has affected his life, although he does not have a difficult time listing the areas in which his choice has actually made things harder.
Janet Thomas, “More Than Skin Deep,” New Era, Feb 2001, 44
When I watch the NBA, I tell my son all their tattoos are too much (OK, Kenyon Martin's lips tattoo on his neck has to be the worst ).
I like to advise youth to be wise that many fads today are regretful later, but do tattoos really have any negative bearing on a person's spirituality, because in the New Era magazine quoted above, it seems to me the problem is more around people judging others unfairly. The church seems to glaze over that and just tell the individual not to provoke those things from others.
So I'm against tattoos personally...but not for the reasons mentioned by the church sources that I've read. What do you all think? Are Tattoos Taboo?