Written by: Jaclyn Popola
Although religious symbol tattoos are fairly commonplace in many parts of the world, there is debate among Christians as to whether or not they are an abomination of the body. Leviticus 19:28 states, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you
". Not to engage in a biblical debate or anything, but Leviticus also states that only royalty can wear the color purple, and that if a man touches a woman while she is menstruating, he must bathe in the river of Jordan. Anyway, some Christians take this to mean that scarring, cutting, piercing or tattooing oneself in any way is a desecration of the body--and the body is a temple of God. Others argue that that verse applies to other false, un-Christian religious practices, or that believers of the New Testament are not bound by Old Testament laws. Some proponents of Christianity mistakenly believe that tattoos are rooted in paganism or witchcraft. Regardless, tattoos of religious symbols are a popular choice of body art among Christians and many other denominations.
My 20-year old cousin recently brought this to my attention, opining that he didn't believe in getting tattoos for himself
due to the Bible's advising against it. He opted instead for a process known as "scarification" (a body modification that uses scar tissue to create a permanent brand) explaining that a wound that would certainly heal was not the same as a cut or a mark.
A religious symbol is any image or archetype that expresses an idea, teaches a moral or brings the wearer closer to his or her God or gods. A tattoo does not have to be particular to Christianity to be considered a religious mark. Although some of the more common religious tattoos show up in the form of crosses or crucifixes, Buddhist images (along with Hebrew writing, Celtic, Islamic, Hindu and Ancient Egyptian symbols, even the Chinese yin-yang) all fall under the category of religion.