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View Poll Results: Is there anything wrong with getting a tattoo?
Yes, tattoos are disrespecting the temple of the Holy Spirit. 54 24.55%
No, there is nothing morally wrong with tattoos. 142 64.55%
I really don't know, but I'll give you my opinion. 15 6.82%
Other (Please explain) 13 5.91%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 220. You may not vote on this poll

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Old May 4, '05, 2:50 pm
Phoenix 7 Phoenix 7 is offline
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Default Tattoos?

I know someone who is considering getting a tattoo of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary as a constant reminder of the faith to which he has pleged himself. However, his dad is of the opinion that getting a tattoo, regardless of what it is or the reason for getting it, is an offense against God because it is disrespecting the temple of the Holy Spirit. Does anyone know an appropriate response? Certainly he wants to both respect the wishes of his father, but also wants the tattoo. As far as I know, the Catechism doesn't say anything about tattoos being morally wrong...what do you think?
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Old May 4, '05, 3:25 pm
vz71 vz71 is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

Wouldn't a defilement have to be harmful in some way?
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Old May 4, '05, 3:27 pm
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Windmill Windmill is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

If you get excessive with tatoos, then you are getting into some serious stuff as far as morals. The body is the temple of the holy spirit.
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Old May 4, '05, 3:27 pm
Mike_Olson Mike_Olson is offline
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Smile Re: Tattoos?

I have two myself. I am of age of course and I am assuming our friend is as well. The only thing that concerns me is the Honor your Father and Mother commandment. My Dad wouldn't have a problem with it as he had one as well. The do not mutilate and tattoo your body is part of the OT. I don't believe it pertains to us bound by the NT.
Interfice errorem, diligere errantem - Kill the sin, love the sinner. (St. Augustine)
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Old May 4, '05, 4:52 pm
Feanaro's Wife Feanaro's Wife is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

How old is your friend? If he is still a minor then he must honor his father's wishes. When he turns 18 he may make the choice for himself........ unless he is an adult still being supported by his dad/parents.

A reputable tattoo artist will not even tattoo someone who is not an adult though.

I voted that there is nothing morally wrong with tattoos. But we must use prudence in our decisions.

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Old May 4, '05, 6:02 pm
CatholicPoet CatholicPoet is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

Leviticus 19: 28 reads "Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves. I am the LORD."

Matthew 5:17-19 says "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

The NAB footnote on verse 19 says "Probably these commandments means those of the Mosaic law. But this is an interim ethic 'until heaven and earth pass away.'"

A second footnote reads: "This statement of Jesus' position concerning the Mosaic law is composed of traditional material from Matthew's sermon documentation (see the note on Matthew 5:1-7:29), other Q material (cf Matthew 18; Luke 16:17), and the evangelist's own editorial touches. To fulfill the law appears at first to mean a literal enforcement of the law in the least detail: until heaven and earth pass away nothing of the law will pass (Matthew 5:18). Yet the "passing away" of heaven and earth is not necessarily the end of the world understood, as in much apocalyptic literature, as the dissolution of the existing universe. The "turning of the ages" comes with the apocalyptic event of Jesus' death and resurrection, and those to whom this gospel is addressed are living in the new and final age, prophesied by Isaiah as the time of "new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). Meanwhile, during Jesus' ministry when the kingdom is already breaking in, his mission remains within the framework of the law, though with significant anticipation of the age to come, as the following antitheses (Matthew 5:21-48) show."

Luke 16: 16-17 says: "The law and the prophets lasted until John; but from then on the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest part of a letter of the law to become invalid."

And the footnote says: "John the Baptist is presented in Luke's gospel as a transitional figure between the period of Israel, the time of promise, and the period of Jesus, the time of fulfillment. With John, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises has begun."

Also, there is no doubt that Paul often pulled from the OT to give examples of how judge the morality of an act. Based on that, I'd play it safe and not get a tattoo. You might be able to make a case that this particular element of Leviticus is no longer morally binding, but I wouldn't risk it.

Also, there is the arguement that tattooing is a sin of vanity -- what God made me wasn't good enough, so I'm going to improve it by redecorating. I'm not sure how theologically strong this arguement is -- certainly, it would be a case-by-case basis -- but there may well be something to it.

There's no doubt that among young people today, tattooing is the "in" thing to do. I actually went to the mall today (it was my first trip to the mall in years) and I have to admit, I was surprised by the number of twenty-somethings -- male and female -- who had a great deal of tattoos and facial piercings.It left me wondering several things:

1. Where are these people when they aren't at the mall? Do they sleep there? How come I never see them in the real world?

2. What do they do when they go on a job interview? When they hit their 40s and are still chasing a mop in the food court at the mall, will they begin to reflect on how the tattoos might have been a bad idea?

3. How do I get into the business of tattoo removal? After all, once the bubble bursts on this fad, there are going to be a lot of folks who are going to shell out a lot of green to get that stuff taken off.

So -- short answer -- getting a tattoo might or might not be immoral in the days after the Resurrection. However, it is absolutely morally safe to refrain from getting a tattoo.

I'd play it safe.
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Old May 4, '05, 6:13 pm
Rand Al'Thor Rand Al'Thor is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

i want to get a tatoo, but i dont really want to spend the money right now. i want to get a cross on my arm (probably a celtic cross, but since those are so intricate it would be really expensive). i dont think there's anything wrong with tatoos, unless you get something like a cross when you arent even a christian, like a lot of people do (the same people who wear crosses on necklaces when they arent christian).

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis.
Sancte Michael Archangele, ora pro nobis.
Moses et Elias, ora pro nobis.

In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritvs Sancti. Amen.
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Old May 4, '05, 7:51 pm
m134e5 m134e5 is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

I voted "other". I don't think tatoos are morally wrong, if they aren't done excessively, and it's done because the person getting it likes it and is doing it for themselves. I personally find tatoos repulsive, and would never get one myself.
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Old May 4, '05, 9:39 pm
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Zooey Zooey is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

Personally, I just don't like tattoos. I have friends who have them; I think they look OK right now, in 20 years, it's gonna be pretty pathetic...A passing fad, that is altogether too slow in passing.
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Old May 4, '05, 9:47 pm
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CarolAnnSFO CarolAnnSFO is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

I don't think tattoos are sinful, as long as they don't depict sinful matter. I would never have one myself, though -- I just can't imagine wanting to have the same design on my body forever. I'd get sick of it after two weeks, and then what?

If I ever had an urge for a tattoo, I'd get one of those temporary decals, that wear off after a couple of weeks. But that urge hasn't struck me yet.
"Alas, brother lamb, innocent animal,
always displaying Christ to people" -- St. Francis of Assisi
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Old May 4, '05, 10:07 pm
tuopaolo tuopaolo is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

I think it would be a venial sin. Maybe a mortal sin if it disfigured the body a lot (like if you completely covered your body with them or something). Disfiguring your body seems to me to be a sin. Tatoos do that.

If you needed a tatoo for a medical reason or some other reasonable need then it could be OK ...
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Old May 4, '05, 11:47 pm
BLB_Oregon BLB_Oregon is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

I couldn't get one, because they lookto me like a person has done themselves up with graffitti. It also looks as if the person has no idea he or she is going to get old. But unless you really have made yourself a graffitti board, I would have a hard time arguing that it is a serious sin.

Unless your friend is absolutely sure, I'd advise he wait. Easier in than out, said the lobster in the pot. In the meantime, most Catholic bookstores have a selection of medals on heavy-duty chains, the traditional method to achieve his purpose.
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Old May 20, '05, 11:15 pm
tcay584 tcay584 is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?

Personally, I like tattoos. I have one and my hubby has two. As long as they aren't a statement against God or the Church, I don't see any problem. However, I must admit they hurt like the dickens. The only reason mine got finished (and it's not big), is because the artist got started, then I started crying 'cause it's like a gazillion needles stabbing you, but couldn't stop because that'd be weird going around with some half finished tattoo. I'd love another one if there was some sort of anesthetic so it didn't HURT SO MUCH.
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Old May 21, '05, 6:42 am
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Default Re: Tattoos?

I don't have them, two of my children have them, but now regret getting them.
My wife has a small cross on her arm, that she done herself before I met her, she regrets doing it now.
As for me I don't care for them, and don't ever plan on getting one.
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Old May 23, '05, 5:26 pm
surfinpure surfinpure is offline
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Default Re: Tattoos?


I just want to commend you for thinking through your post so carefully and not just quoting the Leviticus verse and being done with it. You make a good case for playing it safe. I disagree, very respectfully, for two essential reasons.

1) There are many parts of the Levitical law which we can safely throw out at this point with no stain to our consciences, such as trimming our beards and wearing clothing woven from two different fabrics. Since we know that there were a variety of reasons for these laws - sanitation being not the least of these - we have to look to the Church for guidance. That brings me to ...

2) The Church does not take a moral position on tattoos. This has been addressed more than once in the "Ask an Apologist" forum, and that is always the answer given. There is nothing in the Catechism about tattoos, either for or against.

I can still understand your point of view, though. Thank you for expressing it so thoughtfully.

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