People have been tattooing their bodies for religious reasons for centuries. Most Christian denominations, however, have generally shunned tattooing until very recently. With tattooing becoming more accepted among the various Christian faiths, people who identify as Christians are increasingly choosing to sport tattoos on their bodies. However, rather than choose images that could be deemed offensive by their churches or religious doctrines, they often choose Christian tattoos that reflect their faith and devotion to Christ.
In fact, some people who were once non-believers or chose to live away from the church often feel such passion for their religious beliefs that they want everyone with whom they come into contact to understand their Christian devotion. These individuals use their tattoos as symbols of inspiration and reminders of their past struggles. Some of the more common Christian tattoos found on former non-believers include a cross with thorns surrounding it, signifying Jesus’ scourging and crown of thorns, or a cross with a rising sun behind it, referring to Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over evil.
Other people who have always been in the church choose to have their bodies tattooed with Christian symbols to inspire faith and hope in others. They may have a pair of angel wings tattooed on their arms or a passage from the Bible tattooed on their hands or wrists. People who have tattoos with Christian inferences behind these designs often feel that they are closer to God and better aligned with their religious faith than if they were to have no tattoos at all. In fact, Catholics have been known to have rosaries tattooed on their arms or a single decade of a rosary tattooed around their wrist to they can pray without having to bring a rosary along with them. These images are modern, trendy, and still have the appropriate amount of religious meaning to allow the wearers to sport their ink with confidence and peace.
What Are Christian Tattoos?
Simply put, Christian tattoo ideas are images that either directly refer to something from the Bible or religious doctrine or have some sort of subjective meaning that the person who is wearing the tattoo can appreciate. In fact, Christian doctrine does not dictate what can or cannot be a Christian tattoo. Just as with secular tattoos, these designs are entirely personal and open to interpretation. Nonetheless, many Christians who want to choose a design that refers to their religious affiliation and beliefs often select images that can be clearly understood by others and depict some well-known passage or person from the Bible.
Many Christians, in fact, choose to have the face of Jesus tattooed on their arms, backs, necks, or wrists. They often believe that a picture of Jesus is the best way to show that they themselves are Christian and that they have dedicated their lives to their faith. Many Catholics share a devotion to the Virgin Mary and have her likeness tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Some of the more popular images of the Virgin Mary show her with a rosary or with a halo around her head. People also may choose pictures of saints and angels as inspiration for their tattoos. These images are often recognized instantly by Christians and non-Christians alike and can accurately express the person’s religious affiliation and faith.
However, along with pictures of people from the Bible, many Christian followers also have passages from the Bible tattooed on their arms, legs, necks, and elsewhere. They also may simply choose the title of a Bible chapter, such as John 3:16. These words demonstrate that the tattoo wearer has read the Bible, at least a part of it, and that this particular passage is the most inspirational to him or her.
The History Of Christian Tattoos?
While many religious faiths utilize tattoos as part of their doctrines, Christianity has been slow to embrace this practice. In fact, many Christians today still debate whether or not it is acceptable for people in general to get tattoos, using passages from the Bible to advocate for or against this practice altogether. People against tattoos argue that God told people in the book of Leviticus to avoid cutting or marring their bodies in any way. This passage clearly demonstrates to these individuals that tattooing of any sort is outlawed by God and by Christianity.
However, advocates for tattoos argue that Leviticus is part of the Old Testament and is therefore the old law that today should only apply to Orthodox Jews. They argue that Jesus told the apostles in the Gospels that He came to fulfill the law rather than enforce it, which means that Christians are no longer obligated to follow Old Testament rules, but rather should follow the teachings that Jesus left for the apostles. Being that the apostles nor St. Paul in his letters spoke of tattoos, no Gospel or New Testament doctrine exists to bar Christians from this practice. People in favor of tattoos say that if Christians get inked they will not be cast out of Heaven nor need to fear that God will turn His back on them after they die.
With that, the history of Christian tattooing is relatively brief, but starting to leave its own mark on pop culture. In fact, records have been found that depict Christians being tattooed hundreds of years ago in Palestine. Another book was found in 1956 that depicted more than 200 Coptic Christian tattoo designs. These old records and books show that while Christianity has largely shunned tattooing, Christians throughout history have been making their own peace with the practice of whether or not to be tattooed themselves.