Question about tattoo

I was playing poker tonight with the usual bunch of guys and this one i get along with really well asked me if i had a Facebook. I told him i did and he asked to be friends, when i looked through some of his photos i saw he has a big tattoo of the grim reaper on his arm. I just wondered what everyone’s thoughts were, I’m not sure if I want to associate with that. I also don’t want to be rude?

Well. I mean. Jesus did hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors. (Not meaning some guy with a tattoo to the lower rigs of society.)

What does it mean to him? When did he get it? Why did he get it? If you guys get along he probably wouldn’t mind a conversation about it.

It’d concern me, I admit. I think I’d be cautious of getting close to someone who has the enemy God, who will be the last one to be put under God’s feet, tattooed on his arm.

I once had a friend of mine whose former boyfriend had a small tattoo of a skull on his shoulder. He seemed to be in an apartment building that was dedicated to the “Santa Muerte”. I went, and 4 of the apartments had skulls on the doors. I heard one guy had a good-sized statue of it.

True, this guy may not be into that, but it’s best to err on the side of caution.

I have someone I’m volunteering with who used to be a delinquent, knows people in the Santa Muerte cult, seems to think it’s okay. I’ve found that dangerous.

I know that here, in Mexico, the Santa Muerte is like the patron saint of the drug dealers. Anybody I know who has the slightest leanings towards this, I either ignore or try to discourage from involvement in these kinds of things.

I’d encourage you to steer clear of that person.

I realize Christ hung out with all kinds of people at the bottom of society, but his intent was to turn them around. Is that what you are going to try to do, turn this guy around?

“Dime con quien andas, y yo te diré quien eres”. (Tell me with whom you wak, and I’ll tell you who you are).

In English, we’d say, “You are known by the company you keep”.

What does the Bible advise on this matter?

By all means, ask him what it means to him.

Guys get tattoos for all kinds of reasons and his might not be at all what you expect.


I took your advice and he said he got it because it looked good. I also asked him if he believed in God, and he said yes.

Are you satisfied with his answer? I feel it was sort of anticlimactic. I guess I wanted him to give you a thoughtful explanation about him getting it because he was acknowledging his mortality, maybe after the loss of a loved one or something. Oh, well. :shrug:

Tattoos need to be considered with an air of reservation, and usually require inquiry. One my best friends has a tattoo on his inner wrist that, without any explanation, might have lead me to think he was into New Age stuff. The simple fact is, he got it when he was much younger, and at a time when he was rather disconnected from his Faith, and it doesn’t mean anything to him now. He’s a very devout Catholic, and for many years was active as the lead music minister for his parish. He looks at the tattoo now and thinks it’s stupid, and regrets having gotten it.

But that’s the thing about tattoos. They’re permanent, and so they may not always reflect the person’s attitudes at their present stage in life. I’ve met other people who no longer wear short-sleeved shirts because they don’t want people to see the tattoos on their arms. They were old, now-regretted decisions. Never jump the gun and dissociate yourself from people based solely on a tattoo they have of which you know nothing about.

My brother has a grim reaper on his arm because when he was 18, he was mixed up in some very bad things and made the stupid decision to get a drug-related tattoo. When he turned himself around, he wanted it covered. His artist went over a lot of cover options with him, and in the end they chose the grim reaper, because the dark colors would cover the old tattoo well, and my brother liked the symbolism of the reaper coming for his former life, leaving behind the loving, devoted husband and father that he is now.

Of course, it would be easier for someone to see his tattoo and assume he’s part of a small Mexican cult (Santa Muerte as a folk image is much different than the cult) or that he’s in some way worshiping Satan (as to my knowledge, the grim reaper has absolutely nothing to do with Satan) than it would be to get to know him as a human being. But if someone took that shortcut with my brother, they would miss out on getting to know one of the best men I have ever known.

In the past I’ve known a lot of guys with Catholic tattoos. The ink didn’t change who they were. Cheated on their wives and spent most of the night in a bar. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

I have a friend at my work who has a rosary tattooed on her arm, its very visable. I asked her about it, thinking she was Catholic. She wasn’t. She didn’t know what Catholicism was. Never had any contact with Christainity outside of what she knew from the media. Raised by atheist parents. Didn’t know what a rosary was. Simply got it because it looked “neat” and she likes beads.

I have two myself, and I spent 15 years thinking about the first one, I knew what I wanted, where I wanted it, I just had to find someone who as skilled enough to not muck it up. The second one only took me about 6 months of design concepting, talking to peeople with tattoos, artitsts, my sister who’s quite heavily inked. Both tatts mean something, both were carefully considered.

Tattoos are morally neutral, meaning the act of getting tatt’d isn’t the problem, its what you’re getting stamped in. I have no problem with the Grim Reaper, we all have to die. Death is the constant companion of humanity, none of us can escape it.

But I do get a bit snobby when I hear people just picking a tatt out of a book because it looks cool and not doing the research. These things are permenant. They should mean something. Its like those silly girls who get an Asian character or foreign langauge phrase which they think means something inspiring when its actually quite rude and insulting.

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