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Author Topic: Tattoos - should you get ink done?  (Read 2754 times) Average Rating: 0
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GretchenX
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« on: September 24, 2003, 02:08:25 PM »

Maybe it's reading some of the back posts, but I'm feeling a little energetic.

I know tattoos are not allowable in Judaism (returning to the grave unmarked), but that it's been a tradition amongst the Copts since Muslim occupation to tattoo a cross on your arm above where your hand might be cut off, as a symbol of defiance.  As in "you can cut off my hand, but not my faith," or some sort.

I figure that they don't age too well over time, and have no burning desire to tattoo anything, but short of copying the Copts for major coolness factors, I'm not planning on gettng ink done.

But, long story short, is it acceptable, does anyone know offhand?

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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2003, 02:10:19 PM »

If you get a tatoo of a cross for reasons of identification as a Christian that is one thing, while secular tatoos are forbidden.

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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2003, 02:11:13 PM »

For the whole 'returning to the grave' unmarked thing?

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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2003, 02:20:28 PM »

More like it's just seen as abusing the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2003, 04:11:06 PM »

From: http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Q-and-A_OLD/Piercing-and-Tatoos.html

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Unfortunately, there is little in the way of precedent on the matter of body piercing and tattoos. There is nothing, at least to my knowledge (which is somewhat limited), in the Holy Fathers on such matters, and I do not believe that any hierarch or Synod has addressed this currently popular practice.

What we do find throughout history, however, are some proscriptions on self mutilation, and I have seem some writings lately which condemn piercings and tattoos on the grounds that they constitute self mutilation. On the other hand, there are those who see piercings and tattoos as a passing fashion fad, much like teased hair and white wet-look lipstick in the 1960s or purple spiked hair and black lipstick in the punk era. Yet the Church has always warned against undue concern for one's appearance or undue concern for calling attention to the self, especially when doing so becomes obsession and, therefore, a sin.

Given the above -- admittedly a simplistic assessment of the situation -- I would say that any discussion on the matter of piercings and tattoos would have to involve the following elements:

Why did the person choose to have the piercings or tattoos -- as a "fashion statement" or as a means of self mutilation.

Do the piercings or tattoos cause scandal among others? Are they in good taste or are they designed to call undue attention to the self? Are they likely to become a stumbling block or obstacle between a person and his/her relationship with Christ and the People of God?

What is the social and cultural mileau in which a person sports piercings or tattoos? While such things are barely noticed in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, they can become a cause of concern in Boise, Idaho or Hartshorne, Oklahoma.

Do the piercings or tattoos serve as a distraction to others during worship, or is the person who sports them discreet and consciously unoffensive?

How does one determine what is acceptable and unacceptable? If all piercings are viewed as self mutilation, as some would propose, does this extend to pierced ears, which is an almost universal practice? Or are there certain kinds of piercings that are acceptable -- ear rings, for example -- and others that are not -- the tongue or the eye lids?

Since there is no pronouncement on such matters by the Holy Fathers of the past or today's Church, these questions might prove useful in determining what is appropriate and what is not. Of course, any piercings or tattoos done strictly for the purpose of mutilating onesself or in order to shock others constitute something different than ears pierced for the sole purpose of wearing simple posts or ear rings.

I might relate a funny story from my own parish on this subject. One of the teenage girls in our parish had a teeny, weeny tattoo of a rose done on her shoulder. The tattoo was perhaps one half inch square, barely noticeable. The girl's mother, upon discovering the tattoo -- during a coffee hour, no less! -- went berserk about it, calling her daughter a "hippie" [few hippies of the 60s had real tattoos, preferring body painting instead -- a fad which has long since died out in most circles] and a few other choice adjectives.

A few minutes later one of our Ethiopian parishioners walked by with his mother, an elderly woman with a cross tattooed on her forehead, as is often done among pious Ethiopian Christians. The girl pointed to the elderly Ethiopian woman and said, "So is she a hippie too?"

The mother was hard pressed for a response, especially in light of the elderly woman's well-known piety.

The point is, I suppose, that there are tattoos and piercings, and then there are tattoos and piercings.

It is just my opinion, not to be construed as doctrine of course, that tattoos and unusual piercings will meet the same fate as polyester leisure suits and gold chains or heavy black eye makeup and green spiked hair: "In" today, "out" tomorrow, "forgotten" for the next decade, "resurface" a few years later. In short, bad taste is usually seen for what it is, while good taste transcends the moment.
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2003, 10:19:10 PM »

That article posted has got to be the worst pastoral advice I have ever heard/read. Total utter garbage Angry I think tattos are awful and look ugly. Unfortunately, many young people seem to have them these days. It would be nice if young people were not a bunch of sheep who just followed trends to be 'in'.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2003, 10:21:14 PM by sinjinsmythe » Logged

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ania
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2003, 10:30:50 AM »

Well, Sinjin, once again I have to disagree with you.  
For the most part, decorative tattoos aren't very nice (example, Mike Tyson's face right now).  Right out of highschool many of the girls I was friends with back then got ink done, & it looked horrible on all but one.  My guy friends got them too, but on most of them, at least it didn't look rediculous.  Their peircings were much worse than the tattoos.
However...  
Tattoos in some cases actually are somewhat useful.
Example, I have several friends who are Marines, and everyone getting a tattoo of the Marine emblem was a bonding experience with their platoon, a right of passage, so too speak.  This is an age-old tradition that goes back evan farther than Roman times.  
Another tradition involving tattoos is the Maritime one.  My uncle was the captian of an oil tanker for more than 15 years.  He has on his arm a tattoo with his name & date of birth on it.  Also, on his hand he has an anchor tattooed between his thumb & forefinger, something to do with his rank on the ship.  It's some sailor tradition in case he needs to be identified.  Also, the tradition for sailors having peirced ears... usually they have a gold hoop.  This apparently was so that if the sailor died in a foreign port, there would be enough gold to pay for a funeral, this tradition apparently goes back 100s, if not 1000s, of years.
I had another friend who was part Native American, part Russian (his mother was 1/2 Russian, & she had the kid's baptised Orthodox).  At the age of 13 there was a ritual that he had to go through to be considered a full member of the tribe, & it involved getting tattooed.  The mother conferred with their parish priest, and the priest said that since it was the tradition of the boy's people, and the boy was willing to go through with it, there was no theological reason what-so-ever for him not too.  
Anyway, that's my shpiel...  I actually have given serious thought to getting a tattoo, & then I come to the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to stand the needles.  
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2003, 07:38:06 AM »

Actually, I've heard different stories about sailors - at least pirates - and earrings. One version has it that they believed it would be good for their eyesight. Also, you have tattoos, which superstitious sailors believed would protect them from danger (including syphilis!).
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2003, 08:29:50 PM »

Confession time.

I have a tattoo on my right shoulder (lateral deltoid area) of a Russian three-bar cross inside another cross (I cannot think of the name of the form of the outer cross at the moment) with the Greek letters IC on the right side of the inner cross and the Greek letters XC on the left side.

I honestly got the tattoo because I wanted to carry the cross with me at all times.

I realize I may not have been exercising the best judgment when I got it (and I had the flu at the time), but I still like it and am actually glad for it.
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2003, 10:38:56 PM »

Doesn't beat the tattoo I have Smiley

Bobby

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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2008, 01:45:03 PM »

Resurrecting an old thread;

I have my septum pierced with a ring. I am Quinault indian and it is traditional to do so. Alaskan indians also often pierced spetums as well as bottoms lips and had tattooes.

What I have heard is that while tattooes and piercings are not encouraged, they are not condemned either.
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Orthodox11
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2008, 03:30:47 PM »

I can't remember where I read this, but Procopius of Caesarea, a pre-Islamic historian, writes about Christians with crosses tattooed on their arms.

There was also apparently a council held in Northumberland in the late 8th Century which forbade pagan/secular tattoos, but encouraged Christian ones.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 04:07:20 PM by Orthodox11 » Logged
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