Are Tattoos Taboos?

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Heber13
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Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by Heber13 » 27 Apr 2010, 13:22

Ok, so this came up on the other thread on Word of Wisdom that some people have meaningful tattoos that are spiritual to them.

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:
“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).
And here are some arguments made by church members (in the New Era article):
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
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?

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 :o ).

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?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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cwald
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by cwald » 27 Apr 2010, 16:04

Yeah, I'm glad you started it---I spent a lot time this Sunday talking to a nonmember about the "spiritual significance" (his words, not mine) of his tattoos. We also have a 30 year old gal that has an eye piercing that looks pretty cool. Not sure the story behind it - yet.
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?
Obviously for some people, tattoos do serve a spiritual purpose. And I think that Mormons, and Catholics, two religions that base a whole lot of their worship on symbols and symbolism, should be very careful about how we view those folks with tattoos. Especially the newcomers. Now, I'm glad I didn't have some cool mormon tattoo to remind me of my faith --- as my faith has evolved quite drastically over the years. But what about, say a CTR tattoo? Would that be a "sin"? Afterall, it would help remind one of their faith? What about a cross tattoo? Oh yeah, that would be a sin because it's "the cross." :D
Heber13 wrote:...So here is what President Hinckley said:
“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...

“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?... 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).
Firstly - "can they possible think it is beautiful?" Ahhh, yeah. I've seen hundreds of tattoos on females that I would consider beautiful. Of course, the female is usually quite attractive to begin with, but the tattoo, kind of like makeup - can enhance the beauty - IN MY OPINION (disclaimer). I also admit that for every beautiful tattoo I come across, there is probably a thousand ugly ones. :(

Also I was not happy that pres. Hinckley would include the sentence about multiple ear rings in this spill. I don't care for four and five ear rings personally, but I met an attractive gal who had two gold rings in each ear, and it looked awesome, and then I married her. The rings were part of her, and they had NO negative effect on her temporal or spiritual well-being. None what so ever. What was the big deal? After this speech, she took one set out, and I will admit I was NOT thrilled about it. I wish she would put them back in, but I would never ask her to do so. she obviously feels like she needs to follow the letter of the law, and truly wish her the best in that regard.

I think it is just like anything else --- if people would/could use moderation and some common sense and some restraint we wouldn't have to make all these petty commandments and subject ourselves to the codes that the Israelites were FORCED to live with. I think I can safely say, IMO, that when this "revelation" came out it was in response to those who take it to the extreme, and those members in the church who didn't "abuse" tattoos and piercings got thrown under the bus as the church leadership tries to do what is best for the 95% of the membership.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 Apr 2010, 17:20

cwald, I agree with your last paragraph, especially, 100%. I wish we could ignore the extremes more and allow moderation in (almost) all things.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

nightwalden
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by nightwalden » 27 Apr 2010, 19:44

The church doesn't want people to get tattoos. So for many members, someone getting a tattoo is an act of rebellion and thus taboo. For people who are non-judgmental, tattoos are not taboo. Personally, I like some tattoos on people but I don't like most. They tend to fade and bodies change and they often don't stand the test of time well. I have never been inclined to get one personally. I think it has more to do with my fear of commitment than anything else.

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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by just me » 27 Apr 2010, 21:33

nightwalden wrote:The church doesn't want people to get tattoos. So for many members, someone getting a tattoo is an act of rebellion and thus taboo. For people who are non-judgmental, tattoos are not taboo. Personally, I like some tattoos on people but I don't like most. They tend to fade and bodies change and they often don't stand the test of time well. I have never been inclined to get one personally. I think it has more to do with my fear of commitment than anything else.
Well said, only I will claim a fear of needles as well. :D
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Euhemerus
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by Euhemerus » 28 Apr 2010, 05:47

Good topic Heber.

I actually think some tattoos are pretty sweet. Personally, I fall into your camp though. I don't think I could even pick something great enough that I wouldn't regret it later (boy I'm glad I didn't get "LDS and Lovin' it" tattooed on my back, as that surely would have complicated my faith crisis :lol: :lol: :lol: ;) ;) ;) ).

I have an interesting story though about this. When I was about 14 or 15, my mom went out and got a tattoo. Not anything major, just a little rose on her ring finger. I FLIPPED OUT! Seriously, I hated my mom for months over this. I just couldn't believe she would directly rebel against the teachings of the prophet. In actuality, I quite like it on her now. It's a nice touch, and I don't really think she was "defiling a temple."

For me, tattoos are like so many other parts of our churchy lifestyle. I grew up Mormon, and hence the Mormon lifestyle is ingrained in me. So I don't drink, smoke, get tattoos, etc. Not because I think there's something inherently evil, or bad, but because it's just not me.
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PressingForward
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by PressingForward » 28 Apr 2010, 08:59

My husband and I were just talking about this not too long ago. He's not a member, and I guess I am. He currently has 5 tattoos, 1 of which I think is ridiculous (c'mon, a high school nickname with $100 bills.. :roll: ) the others are quite spiritual to him and more meaningful to him. Anyway.. he mentioned to me that he really wants a "back piece".. I looked at him with my left eyebrow ever so highly arched and questioned him. DH has committed his life to his evangelical church upbringing, and I'm slowly accepting that, once he decided to go back to his church he also said that was the end of his tattoos. The Bible forbids it (somewhere in Leviticus :?: ) not to mention the whole body is your temple in the NT, and he decided he's as "inked up" as he will ever be in his lifetime. Apparently, he's changing his mind, and I was kind of upset about it. I was happy about him not wanting anymore tattoos, this matches my LDS upbringing! WooHoo! right? But I'm not so sure anymore either... is it my LDS upbringing that shies away from tattoos, or is it spiritual at all? DH brought up interesting points, He's thinking about getting a David & Goliath scene.. or something "angelic" in that sense... And now I'm not sure if thats "okay" or not. The whole reasoning behind his decision sounds amazing and great, but is he in fact going against the word of God?

Anywho... all that to say I'm glad this topic was brought up as it is something being discussed in my home currently. I'm looking forward to hearing everyones' thoughts. I wonder if my way of thinking is because of my upbringing, and not scriptural by any means.

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Heber13
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by Heber13 » 28 Apr 2010, 11:45

PressingForward wrote:The Bible forbids it (somewhere in Leviticus :?: ) not to mention the whole body is your temple in the NT...
...
I wonder if my way of thinking is because of my upbringing, and not scriptural by any means.
This is cool to hear about others who have specific questions about this. Since I never got a tat...my opinions are more along the lines of what Eu wrote...I don't feel comfortable having tattoos for practical reasons, not really spiritual ones.

I'm not sure of any Leviticus scripture on this (but I'll keep looking), however there are lots of things forbidden in the bible. Some still apply (10 commandments), some don't (sacraficing animals), and some don't literally apply but have a spiritual message (like don't collect manna on the sabbath...that has no meaning to me...but the principle of Sabbath Day that is behind that message does have meaning).

While I like the idea of "David and Goliath" stories, crosses, or holy symbols, I would rather hang a picture on my wall for me to see those than put it on my body that will never come off.

Mike Tyson might have had some Mauri warrior meaning that applies to his life as a warrior...but I wouldn't ever see that reason is worth the permanent look over his face. Just because it has meaning doesn't make it a good idea in my book. That is where the upbringing can help us...whether or not it is scriptural (I don't think it is scriptural).
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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just me
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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by just me » 28 Apr 2010, 12:53

Lev. 19:28 Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.


Of course, this is part of the Law of Moses. Unless someone plans to live the entire law, I wouldn't be too concerned about it. Here is the law right above the tattoo prohibition:
27 Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.


The whole tattoo taboo is a cultural choice. It is beyond my brain power to believe that all the cultures who have used tattoo's for ritual and initiation are all "wicked" or going against the God of the Universe.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Re: Are Tattoos Taboos?

Post by flower » 28 Apr 2010, 13:45

I heard that you can now get invisible tatoos... they can only be seen under a black light!
Pretty cool!
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