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Tattoos are a matter of taste, not morality

Personally, I loathe them. But it’s hard to argue that they are per se immoral

By on Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Joanna Southgate was allowed into Ascot despite her inked arms (Photo: PA)

Joanna Southgate was allowed into Ascot despite her inked arms (Photo: PA)

Tattoos are in the news again. It seems that not only does virtually everyone have one these days, but that you can go into the Royal Enclosure at Ascot and no one will bat an eyelid if you show off acres of inked flesh. Indeed, if you are tattooed you are in very good company, along with Edward VIII, George V and of course Samantha Cameron, all of whom were or are tattooed.

But no one really seems interested in the moral implications of tattoos. They are permanent, though they can fade with age, and therefore a tattoo is only to be chosen after careful thought, as you will have to live with the choice you make for the rest of your life. This is why most tattooing parlours will not tattoo people under a certain age. This should give us all pause. It seems to be a denial (quite rightly in my opinion) of a person’s right to choose, and the idea that a person has complete dominance over their own body.

Some religious believers are against all tattooing per se. This is because tattoos are condemned in the Bible at Leviticus 19:28. And so it is that Evangelicals still view tattooing as immoral (see here for an example) as do the Jews (see here for a Jewish view).

The Catholic view of tattoos is surely more nuanced, as no Catholic moralist argues, as far as I am aware, that tattoos are per se immoral. It might be right to have a tattoo for a good purpose. But what that good purpose might be, I wonder… It seems hard to argue that fashion, or the realisation that everyone else is doing it, is in itself a good or proportionate reason to cover yourself in tattoos. Or even, for that matter, to have a small, discreet tattoo. However, we do allow ear-piercing, even for quite young girls, and what on earth is the point behind that?

If asked (not that I have been yet) for advice by someone who was contemplating getting a tattoo, I would urge them not to go ahead. We are in the image and likeness of God: while we can adorn our bodies, we should not deface them. Tattooing strikes me not as adornment but as defacing the body. But it is a hard thing to be precise about. It may in the end come down to taste, which is not the same as morality. Personally, I loathe tattoos. That, in itself, is not a moral feeling. But I think there are good moral reasons not to have a tattoo; and few cogent moral reasons to justify them.

Incidentally, the admired Hollywood actor, Mark Wahlberg, is having all his tattoos removed. This may be part of his seriousness about his Catholic faith, and his turning away from a troubled past. Mr Wahlberg is a tough man, but it seems even he finds tattoo removal painful – which all goes to show that having one in the first place is a bad idea.

  • Bob Hayes

    Oh dear. Does this article fall within the category that Private Eye magazine rightly categorises as any excuse to publish a photo of ‘a fruity young girl’? 

  • EndTimes101

    The growth and general acceptance now, of tattoos are a clear sign of a post Christian culture reverting back to paganism, having rejected Christ and his graces through his Church. It is also a sign on a personal level of an empty heart seeking fulfilment and meaning, though without clear example and guidance from the Church any longer, going about it in a purely natural way. You are quite correct in describing tattoos as a form of self mutilation, though granted the thin end of the wedge. Many then move on to extreme piercings for example……it is a sad sign of the times…..the END TIMES!

  • JByrne24

    Tattoos have long been a matter of great concern on the American “Catholic Answers” website.

    I think it truly amazes people on the Eastern side of the Atlantic that some others can get so worked-up about this.
    As EndTimes101 writes: “tattoos are a clear outward sign of a post Christian culture”; “It is also a sign on an individual level of an empty heart”; “a form of self mutilation”.
    Surely it’s simply another form of body decoration – like make-up, earrings etc?
    I really can’t believe that it heralds the end of the world. I mean, get real dudes!

  • C_monsta

     Tattoos are pre Christian in origin – as are piercings and those funny stretched, napkin ring earlobes.  I believe that tattoos are self mutilation, and are an unfortunate, passing manifestation of fashion. I pity those who fall for the lure of fashion and end up with awful, blurred tattoos. But people are drawn to a need to feel ‘special’ – hence the success of religion!

  • teigitur

    I don t mind tattoos on men. But I dislike them on the ladies. Something not quite right about inked ladies.

  • teigitur

    You are certainly”special”.

  • teigitur

    I think you are a little carried away there.

  • C_monsta

    Thanks teigitur! – though I don’t believe that myself

  • Jeannine

    There’s at least 1 evangelical-convert apologist over at Catholic Answers. 

    Newly converted Catholics or recent reverts, esp if both have evangelical backgrounds, tend to  follow the Catholic “rules” closely & with much zeal. Nothing wrong with that. Their enthusiastic presence fires up complacent cradle Catholics while the cradle Catholics show them the long-term attitude needed to be faithful. It’s a win-win situation for both groups & for the Church.

    So be patient with them. They make great fearless apologists. 

  • Nat_ons

    “Mark Wahlberg, is having all his tattoos removed. This may be part of his seriousness about his Catholic faith, and his turning away from a troubled past.” 

    Please God that never a truer word is spoken, even in jest – troubled pasts and infantile rebellion reach even far into ‘adult’ life (and not just for magazine models or de youf ledahs, man) .. perhaps some I-say-I-hate-you: I-say-you-do-too souls are beginning to want to grow up after all (maybe not).

  • Oconnord

    Just last week I had a conversation on the bus about tattoos with a nun. Mine not hers of course. It was a very canny move on her part for two reasons. Firstly, the other passengers seemed impressed that a tiny woman in her 70′s, was not in the least bit intimidated by my outward appearance.

    Secondly, it was impossible for me not to engage in the conversation. When a smiling, elderly woman asks such questions and seems genuinely interested, it is impossible not to be polite and friendly in return.

  • C_monsta

    Gosh! What have you done to yourself?

  • Oconnord

    I almost got myself evangelised by a nun :) 

  • EndTimes101

    In isolation, to equate tattoos with the End Times would be getting carried away…. However, the general acceptance of tattoos into mainstream culture is but one small sign post among many that we are living in the End Times. The general apostasy and falling away from the faith being one of the most obvious signs.
    Anyone familiar with (as i am) the (sub)culture surrounding tattoos will know it usually only starts with that first tattoo. Almost like an outward sign of commitment. The spirit of rebellion, often now expressed as a self hatred/multilation quickly incorporates a persons whole being. Usually starting with music, then their dress, attitude, then tattoos and piercings. If you look at areas where this all started i.e. southern California beach communities, you have a vision of where this leads. You will find full body tattoos the norm, not just a full sleeve, extreme piercing the norm, a spirit of rebellion and ‘do as thou wilt’ and also now, open Satanism is promoted. As i said, a small tattoo is just the beginning, when it fails to satisfy, they move further AWAY from God.
    It always seems to be leading away from God. We can only ever be on one road or the other, moving towards God or away. The explosion of tattoos amongst the young is a sign of the times. The opposite is also true, persons like Mark Wahlberg will seek to remove tattoos rather than extend them in their journey TOWARDS God…

    Unfortunately Mr Wahlberg is in a small minority. The unmistakable trend amongst the young is AWAY from God, tattoos are merely an outward manifestation of an inward movement in their hearts.

  • teigitur

    That upbringing was not totally wasted!! BTW how did she see them? are they on your face/neck?

  • Oconnord

    I can spot a nun’s sturdy shoes from a mile away! She wasn’t wearing headgear, but as you said a few years being taught by nuns gives you a second sense.

    Yikes the thought of having my neck tattooed makes me wince! It was a warm evening so I had my sleeves rolled up. I have a 3 inch band on my right wrist which is a “work in progress” and a band below my right elbow which is made up of 10 individual tattoos, each made up of 14 parts. They are both my own design so are pretty unusual and fairly striking.

    All my tattoos can only be seen when I want them seen. I always were long sleeved shirts, or a long sleeved Tee under a short sleeve shirt on Fridays.

  • teigitur

    Sounds interesting. Anyway, you must have taste, rarely to wear short sleeved shirts. Awful articles. Rolled-up sleeves are acceptable of course!

  • Scotty Ellis

    I am relieved to hear the author recognize his view is a matter of taste. 

    It is fascinating to me to hear Christians – most of whom accept circumcision, that is, the mutilation of male genitalia, as divinely ordained – condemn tattoos as “bodily mutilation” or “defacing.”  It is a clear case of double standards.  Of course, while tattooing – which merely stains the skin – is considered immoral, these same people will actively defend removing the most sensitive flesh from a infant without their consent.  But enough of that irony.  Let’s consider the most common arguments that tattoos are immoral:

    1: Tattoos are signs of rebellion.

    Of course, this is true in some cases.  It is certainly not true of all tattoos.  Even if we considered tattoos gotten as signs of rebellion as “immoral,” this hardly constitutes a condemnation of all tattoos.

    2: Tattoos are prohibited in the Old Testament.

    Christians are pretty wishy washy about how to treat the Old Testament  In short, it is clear that simply because something is condemned in the Old Testament (shellfish) does not mean that it is immoral, even from a Christian standpoint.  This argument would only be persuasive in conjunction with some serious non-Old-Testament-based reasoning (unless you also want to accept the notion that a rapist should be able to marry his victim for a fee).

    3: Tattoos are pre-Christian

    Of course, much of Christianity is pre-Christian.  Should bread and wine sacraments be abandoned because they were an extraordinarily common part of pre-Christian cults, such as the cult of Dionysus?  Should we not say “Father God” because that appellation was the name of the pre-Christian god of gods – Jupiter?  What about images of divine figures?  Clearly, pre-Christian practices are not by nature anathema, or you would have to wish away the vast majority of Christianity, which is a highly derivative religion.

    4: Our bodies are temples of God

    Has anybody ever been to a temple or place of worship?  Even Catholic Cathedrals – or, rather, especially Catholic Cathedrals – are filled and covered with art.  Has anyone ever seen the marginalia of a medieval psalter or other illuminated manuscript, and seen the sacred page completely filled with images from the sacred to the monstrous to the profane (my favorite are the images of monks shooting knights in the bare butt with arrows)?  Clearly, Christianity sees no real discrepancy between art – even the grotesque – and the sacred.  I see no real bite behind this argument, given the way Christians have historically approached art (oh, by the way, Crusaders often got tattoos as a sign of their devotion to the crusades).

    In short, none of the arguments have any real bite, and while I appreciate the fact that someone’s taste or sensibilities might be offended by someone else’s ink, I think that it is a matter of intellectual honesty to recognize that tattoos are in themselves completely legitimate forms of art and self-expression.

  • Oconnord

    It’s rare that I’m accused of having good taste! I admit to having a large collection of short shirts as I find them adaptable. They can be worn open over a long Tee for the surf bum look or under a v-neck for the bespectacled nerd look.

    In my defence, I never go for Homer Simpson look.  

  • paulpriest

    Spurious title and even dodgier contents:
    Of course tattoos are a moral issue – they are by their nature morally disordered in that they permanently alter the physical manifestation of someone made in the Image & likeness of God.

    The motive, the means, the actuation and the telos can all alter the moral [dis]order of the act – if it is for narcissistic purposes, of occultic nature, of scandalous self-degradation or promotive of the humiliation of another, of symbolising an allegiance to false deities, is contrary to cardinal & theological virtue or defiant against the corporal & spiritual works of mercy by its words or overt/covert symbolic representation – it all aggravates the moral disorder into grave sin of bearing false witness by perverting that tabula rasa upon Which only God should write.

    BUT – however nuanced or incredulous if the intentionality towards a specific telos which includes one of honour, reverence, thanks and veneration?
    Think of one writing their true love/their children’s names upon their heart or using a tattoo as a memento mori of of fallen/departed friend – one wielding a symbolic manifestation of that ideal to which they have dedicated their life?

    the double effect comes into play – any moral disorder may be mitigated, diminished or eradicated to the point of negation…

    I was expecting someone to mention the use of religious tattoos by esp latino prisoners to prevent themselves being sexually assaulted or beaten by fellow Catholics…or those who place the sacred heart upon their arm to make reversion to drug injection impossible – the reformed murderer who has a tiny WWJD upon the back of their right hand…
    …or for some to appeal to those who use them as a memorial to that which they feel must never be forgotten – especially by themselves – [the soldier/sailor/bereaved etc]

    In most fields of human existence there is no such thing as moral neutrality…there is the right and wrong , the good and the bad – circumstance, motives, objectivity and the very purpose  to which the actions are directed all affect the gravity of a sin…

    So with tattoos there are those which are downright wrong by their content as contrary to their created nature & their creator….
    There are those which are transformed by the motivation towards a good which subsumes the moral disorder in the double-effect making it -in their cases in the fullness of their consciences – right action….
    But in general there are those who have simply been stupid, thoughtless, negligent and disrespectful of their inherent dignity and acted in ways mixing narcissism with self-indulgent recklessness – and where it’s not the tattoo which is the limited moral disorder – it’s that which led to it which is the major moral issue….sometimes there can be more grave sin behind that which led to the tiny little ankle-daisy and a vast human tale of martyrdom and Catholic witness behind a seemingly irreverent symbol – or a huge panoramic vista which could be straight out of dante or claude lorraine can be as empty of meaning as the head of the person wearing it for life…

    …and then there are those of good intention who simpy add a little something pretty to cheer themselves up and give a spark of somethng to the lives of it a tiny chnce of conversation or recognition..or even to bring a smile to a stranger’s face…there is something subversively subtly ‘miracullously’ virtuous in this..where God works His wonders in unimaginable ways…so we’d better not be too ready to either condemn or promote..or even have ways of changing people’s lives..if they’re upon one’s body who knows what might happen?

  • JByrne24

    The image of God? I thought that the literal interpretation of this concept had been discarded long ago.

    Much of what you write about tattoos would equally apply to make-up – lipstick, eye-shadow etc., and pierced ears for earrings, and indeed jewellery of all kinds, for both men and women.
    You must surely be an American!  People this side of the pond scratch their heads in disbelief when they read the questions about tattoos on Catholic Answers.

  • am-s

    Tattoos have been around for as long as people have had artistic pretensions, a pointy stick, and some charcoal, and I think always will be. I can’t get that worked up about them. Some are awful, some are pretty, even impressive. All make me wonder what they’ll look like when the wearer is a 90 year old, especially full sleeves. Same with fleshies.

  • Andrej

    The circumcision comment is of course absurd, it is not requisite or expected of Christians.

    I think a point missed most often is that humility is a key component of the Catholic spiritual life.  The ideal is to be a meek servant of God, not to draw attention to yourself or to glorify your sentiments (“self-expression”).  Practice your humility always in order to be more perfectly charitable, to order yourself more perfectly to God.

    The invincibly ignorant aside, anyone who orders themselves against that ideal might be guilty of (at least) venial sin.  Not necessarily “diminish[ing] the habit of charity and of the other virtues…but only hinder[ing] their acts.” Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Question 89, Article 1

    I hold no theological degrees, but this would be my ‘no-brainer cradle-catholic’ answer.


  • paulpriest

     Obviously you haven’t bothered to read what I wrote…
    We most resemble the image & likeness of God in our souls but we are a holism of embodied soul – and if you don’t think we’re all manifestations of the theological aesthetic you’re missing out on one of greatest wonders of reality

    I’ve categorised four types of tattoos – the gravely offensive which scandalise
    the honorific/memorial which glorify by their motives and ideals
    the obliviously peer-driven banal which embarrass and reveal indifferent disregard for personal dignity
    the quirkily inspirational which may work unwritten wonders and incite romanticism and are nonchalantly indicative of mental, intellectual and spiritual health…

    I’m saying it’s all moral – and can be wonderfully morally ordering or gravely disordering but please don’t become a blinkered fence-sitter and say none of it is morally relevant whatsoever -  declare that it’s morally neutral – it’s a cop out!

    There are two sides to this great and glorious ongoig battle – and everything we are and do reveals upon which side we have set up camp…and when it comes to tattoos the underlying motive and intentional end can make them wondrous or despicable – a single tattoos of a tiny star under a left ear could represent a lifetime of diabolistic mechanations…another could be covered from head to toe in violent imagery and awkwardly arcane symbolism and possibly perceived as erotic or vulgarly poor-taste – yet they could be on the very threshhold of Heaven in the process…

    How about a little bit of maturity when addressing an issue?

    We’re not puritanical – we’re not negligently dismissive – we’re respnsible in apprehending, appreciating adjudicating and accordingly actuating a response.

    It is not a question of taste when we could be dealing with the pornographic, the decorous, the despondently saddening or a glimpse of Heaven…

  • Kim Hatton

    Just how long do the End Times last. Someone has been asserting we are living in them for all of my adult life – and I’m in my late 60′s. When are the Last Days?

  • Kim Hatton

    I totally agree. I dislike them but I dislike a lot of things – but can’t get worked up about them or see them as a sign of the apocalypse.

  • Romulus

    There’s not much I can add to paulpriest’s thoughtful and persuasive comment, except that the decision to obtain a tattoo is usually grounded in an radically individualistic concept of self-ownership that’s alien to Christianity.   It is moreover the public and permanent declaration of that disordered understanding.  

  • Kim Hatton

    Indeed we do. I scratch my head a lot over American religious attitudes and pronouncements – Catholic and Protestant. And as for evangelical post protestant converts to Catholicism, I head for the hills.

  • Oconnord

    “This is why most tattooing parlours will not tattoo people under a certain age.” A very important point, most good tattooists will not tattoo people who are intoxicated either. 
    My tattooist also has a minimum charge and works only by appointment, both of which helps prevent people getting a tattoo on the spur of the moment. I’ve also seen her flatly refuse to do certain types, like the “Cheryl Cole” writing on the fleshy part of the hand. I’ve also spent weeks adapting designs with her because the original design wouldn’t work on a particular area of the body.

    All these measures decrease the chance that someone will regret their decision later. It’s a shame these practices aren’t widespread.

  • paulpriest

     Thanks – and I agree – hence its normative moral disorder in both the thing-in-itself and the generic motive.
    But Grace has that awkwardly wonderful way of working its way round such a ‘scarring’ of human fragility and invoking something which transcends its earthly banality.

    It might seem a little gauche to introduce St Francis de Sales but he constantly reiterates it’s never enough to love someone – that person needs to know they are loved. We must be of extreme reticence to not revert to puritanical donatism when facing a somewhat vulgar manifestation of something which in its noetic reality is a little piece of Heaven by expressing the deepest devotion to another.

  • teigitur

    He s not an American. You must be relatively new around here if you have not encountered Paul before.

  • Pohlcat

    The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Just as you wouldnt graffiti a church, you shouldn’t tattoo.

  • VernacularCatholic

    What about a Catholic tattoo. I’ve often thought about getting the Chi Rho or the Immaculate Heart. 

  • BGLM

    I disagree with Father Alexander on this topic.  We’ve always been taught tattooing is a sin..and this is not from the Protestant Evangelical influence….it is from “old school” Catholicism.  Also, there’s a reason tattoos upon certain areas of a woman’s body are commonly known as “tramp stamps.”  Therefore, I think morality actually is VERY relevant in this discussion because, most often, women with such tattoos deliberately wear immodest clothing to flaunt them, whether on their breasts, extreme lower backs, extreme lower stomachs, hip bones or upper thighs.  I once heard it said by a very popular male comedic radio personality that he sure wishes women wouldn’t wear such revealing clothing and then draw his and everyone else’s attention to those places he shouldn’t be looking at by also tatting it up.  And before anyone says he should guard his eyes and simply look away, while that may be true, it sure is hard when a human billboard flashes her flesh right in front of you, defaced by tattoos clearly beckoning for your attention.  No one can argue that a tattooed woman (not lady) wearing daring clothing isn’t deliberately showing-off her body AND body art.  If that’s not disordered, I don’t know what is.

  • Oconnord

    Historically, the Rock of Ages image has been amongst the most popular of (large) tattoos. But as they covered the person’s entire back, I wouldn’t recommend it as a first tattoo.

  • BGLM

    I don’t think you “almost” did….I think she succeeded. :) I appreciate you writing about your encounter with her with respect and not derision, Oconnord.

  • Oconnord

    How could I not write about it? How often does one get the chance type the sentence ” I had a conversation on the bus about tattoos with a nun” .

  • Scotty Ellis

     I am not arguing that Christians require circumcision.  I am arguing that Christians end up having to defend circumcision.  Inasmuch as the majority of orthodox Christians regard the Old Testament as a valid revelation of God, they have to admit that God once commanded the mutilation of genitals.  This puts them between a rock and a hard place, so to speak: they must defend a practice which I assume they would otherwise condemn. 

    Have you ever read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Parker’s Back?”

  • Na

    Catholics are opposed to tattoos. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

  • Alexander Falbo


    Circumcision was God’s first form of baptismal covenant.
    Christ has declared it no longer necessary. An umbilical chord which sustains life in the
    womb is cut after birth since it is no longer needed <== Metaphor). And since its meaning
    was first established with Abraham and the Hebrews, circumcision was a brief affair to
    shed blood in loyalty from what is excess skin. God also instructed Abraham to do so on
    the 8th day which is empirically studied to be the optimal time to perform it as prior to
    that excessive bleeding can occur due to the lowest rates of Vitamin K and prothrombrin
    (to clot the blood) in a males normal life. Otherwise a pretty accurate medical guess for
    a prehistoric nomad.

    Modern procedure (some would say barbaric) is more related to the 19th century operation
    designed to discourage masturbation.

    As for being painful ("removing the most sensitive flesh") or Christian double standard?
    Jesus Christ (God) was circumcised at birth. And coming to Earth He allowed himself to
    experience and share in our condition and gravity. Infantile consent? Now THAT is irony.

    Do you remember birth? And should (even can?) an infant give its consent about whether a breathing apparatus must be fitted for a time despite any initial pain because of its malformed
    lungs? I'm not even going to bother with abortion. Remove the log from your eye.

    The amputation of a limb is technically mutilation to the body but it is NOT sinful for it
    is removing something which endangers the whole. You wouldn't disagree with that.
    Society,common sense, natural law etc wouldn't disagree. If a rock climber gnaws or hacks off his arm to escape from bondage to the boulder, morally the same applies.

    I assume that you also would agree that one who willfully engages in cutting themselves
    whether for pleasure in pain or to escape emotional trial is engaging in what Christians
    would term sin and you would agree as wrong.

    Christ willfully suffered torture and crucifixion to atone for what humans cannot. Self righteous suicide or love beyond measure? The Creator allows his creation to judge.

    Provide me an example of a Pre-Christian religion that has that quality while maintaining their god(s)' universal authority.


    Tattoos are not usually a sign of humility. They are intended to broadcast emotions, sentiments, philosophies and expressions in a usually very anti-authoritative way.

    To quote an apologist "While body modifications are not forbidden by the Catholic Church,
    defiance, deceit and rebellion toward authority are not in the spirit of Jesus and the
    teaching of the Church. This means why is as important a question as what and when and

    Granted, they are not always a sign of consent ie: WWII Holocaust No. tattoos.

    And can also signify an allegiance ie: on the forearms of the SS personnel that tattooed the prisoners.

    As for being subjective in its artistic merits, yes it is. Here's my view for example…
    Someone once described tattoos as placing bumper stickers (however ornate) on a Rolls
    The car's paint doesn't count as that is the color of our skin ;)


    Christians are human and wishy washy on a lot of things. God is not. The Deutoromical ref. is taken polemically out of context to discard the OT in which the subtleties of translation can easily, willfully be misrepresented. Rape is not condoned in that law. The consequences were in order to repay a breech of chastity to the lass' disgraced father. Furthermore pledging to marry to atone for the sin and as a corrective behavior for society.Read the whole passage in context…

    "But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces (chazaq) her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman CRIED OUT, but there was no one to save her. If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and THEY ARE found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days." Deuteronomy 22:25-29 NKJV

    The word rape in the final law is in the NIV translation which the word Hebrew word Taphas (meaning to take hold of/skillfully use) is in conjunction with the word Shakab (meaning to lie down with) It indicates that the woman in question was manipulated physically or emotionally to give what results ultimately in consensual sex. Much like teenager consenting to her manipulative boyfriend. NOT being violently, forcefully breached clearly against her WILL.


    The Church upholds that the Ten Commandments were not done away with by Christ but upheld and ELUCIDATED in love! Many of the traditions and earthly disciplines and laws of the Hebrews no longer applied. Much to traditionalist torment.Have you not understood anything about what Christ declared regarding the dangers of legalism?

    The Pharisees attempted to test Him on divorce code established by Moses; "It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce, but from the beginning it was not so." Mttw 19:8.

    The traditionalist Society of St. Pius the X and V are examples of what human traditionalism looks like in the Catholic Church. So 'catholic' they became protestant.

    You forget that the OT is also a historical record of the Jewish people. Including their
    earlier social laws. As well as God's relationship with humanity. Preparing the way for the Way.

    The OT was written during times many would judge rightly as being barbaric in terms of collective human behavior. God reveals his message through time in, his ultimate judgement of human readiness to receive what are everlasting truths. Not when you or I think appropriate. That is obedience and faith.


    So what? Jesus and the Truth of Christianity are eternal and therefore predate and outlast everything. All previous religions are either false, incomplete (judaisim) or refractions of the complete Truth through a cultural lens. And if you knowingly reject any part of the Truth you reject the WHOLE Truth.

    And please do not bore us to death with Horrus myth/Christianity similarity etc.


    The matter at hand is petty. All the priest is commenting is that the holiness of the body (holier than a cathedral) should not be altered in such a way as to deform it for selfish, rebellious motives.


    It is saddening that your logic and perspective seek constant fault in Christianity through human behaviors and proclivaties. Something you seem to do quite often on these Catholic blogs. You casually justify your tedious discrepancies with the Church Christ entrusted, because they don't match YOUR view. 

    And the article's opinion DID have enough bite to irritate you to post a reply.

    What is stranger, a Catholic priest speaking against tattoos or a lapsed/agnostic Catholic seeking to spar with believing Catholics and wasting his time?

    Peace be with you.

  • TB

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned that tattoos are also a sign of slavery. Along with all of these piercings. It is a return to the uncivilized cultures that sacrificed babies, practiced sodomy, and cannibalism…..

  • Oconnord

    You make a real point, not something you’ve just cut and pasted. I have to admit I’m curious as to how you would explain the term “tramp stamp” on a catholic site:)

    You do seem to be on the way to a slippery slope argument. You don’t mention “the eye of the beholder”. I can see an attractive female body, with all sorts of adornments, without lust. It’s a pretty simple trick… she’s female, she has female parts, they look good to me as a male, she also looks “good” to females, I admire it and think no more than that. 

    Women in modern cultures have a right to show off their bodies, they work so hard to maintain them in many cases. You can go all taliban and object to seeing them, as it does you spiritual damage. Or you can grow up and realise 50% of people have female bodies. And most are adorned in different ways to make them more attractive.

    The “sin” is yours.  

  • EndTimes101

     I would not disagree with that assessment on when the End Times started. 1940 is the date i would use as a start. Daniel talks about times, time and half time. I believe we are now living through the half time i.e. we are very close to the end now.
    But rather than get bogged down with dates and time periods it is better to look for signs and events. For example there are certain things that must happen (that have not yet happened) before we have reached the end. Working backwards, before the return of Christ to set the world in order we will be planetstruck (a giant comet will strike the earth) and a nuclear war will annihilate many cities and countries particularly in the middle east, and including Damascus (Isaiah 17).
    The Anti Christ has yet to reveal himself but i believe he is waiting in the shadows, waiting for the one world Government to form openly, to seed to him absolute power. The one world Government is here now through the international elites that control the central banks and as demonstrated in Italy and Greece, now control some governments directly. This process will continue until they have it all….i could go on and on but i fear no one is reading…….

  • Scotty Ellis

    “Circumcision was God’s first form of baptismal covenant.”

    Thank you for confirming my point that Christians must defend genital mutilation.  Regardless of whether Christ’s new covenant dispensed with the sings of the old covenant, you are still in the uncomfortable position of believing that God mandated (among other atrocities) genital mutilation.

    Now, normally, Christians would oppose genital mutilation (and in fact do so unanimously with regard to female circumcision).  However, they cannot truly place an anathema upon circumcision, because to do so would be to say that the sign of the old covenant was, in fact, immoral.

    “The amputation of a limb is technically mutilation to the body but it is NOT sinful for it
    is removing something which endangers the whole. You wouldn’t disagree with that.”

    No, I wouldn’t.  However, only a very small number of circumcisions are done for actual medical reasons, rendering your point moot.

    “I assume that you also would agree that one who willfully engages in cutting themselves whether for pleasure in pain or to escape emotional trial is engaging in what Christians would term sin and you would agree as wrong.”

    That depends upon the circumstances.

    “Provide me an example of a Pre-Christian religion that has that quality while maintaining their god(s)’ universal authority.”

    I see absolutely no connection between this request and the topic at hand, and I’m not even sure I understand the question.  Are you referring to religions that feature sacrificial gods?  There are sacrificial gods in pre-Christian mythology, if that is what you are looking for.

    “Tattoos are not usually a sign of humility. They are intended to
    broadcast emotions, sentiments, philosophies and expressions in a
    usually very anti-authoritative way.”

    I don’t think it matters at all whether a tattoo is a “sign of humility.”  Tattooing is a practice as broad and diverse as art and music and has a wide variety of purposes.  Some tattoos indicate membership within an organization and can actually be viewed as a sign of submission.  Others indicate a lasting devotion to a cause, such as the crusaders who received tattoos to remind them of their pledge.  Others are purely artistic in nature.  I am afraid you have mistaken one very small, quite modern American subculture for “tattoos.”

    Regardless, tattoos can really be quite beautiful.  I can call to mind a woman’s tattoos I saw that she received during a pilgrimage, a cross with flowers, which was quite simple and beautiful.  I see absolutely no reason to say of such a tattoo that it is a blemish on her body (indeed, I see plenty of unsightly blemishes on people’s bodies that have nothing to do with tattoos at all).

    “Rape is not condoned in that law. The consequences were in order to
    repay a breech of chastity to the lass’ disgraced father. Furthermore
    pledging to marry to atone for the sin and as a corrective behavior for
    society.Read the whole passage in context…”

    So, if you were a woman who was raped, I take it you would be fine with marrying the rapist as long as he paid off your dad?  That you would consider this a perfectly moral arrangement?

    “The Church upholds that the Ten Commandments were not done away with by
    Christ but upheld and ELUCIDATED in love! Many of the traditions and
    earthly disciplines and laws of the Hebrews no longer applied.”

    Indeed, it seems to have become quite a pick and choose buffet.

    “Jesus and the Truth of Christianity are eternal and therefore predate and outlast everything.”

    Well, regardless of your metaphysical beliefs, Jesus and Christianity didn’t appear in the world until about thirteen and a half billion years into this universe’s existence and tens of thousands of years into recorded human history, so there the sticky matter of all the things that happened B.C., including the pagan religions from which Christianity seems to have borrowed much of its form and substance.

    “And please do not bore us to death with Horrus myth/Christianity similarity etc”

    If you are already familiar with it and other similar stories, then you already know all about how Christianity’s narrative has plenty of pre-Christian prototypes.  Of course, Christianity does put its own spin on much of what it borrows; it is certainly derivative, but it is also creative and original with its source materials.

    “t is saddening that your logic and perspective seek constant fault in Christianity through human behaviors and proclivaties.”

    I am interested only in the truth of things.  I am not interested in upholding traditions or religions for traditions’ or religions’ sake.  There are marvelous things that religions like Christianity have given the world.  Moralizing about tattoos is not one of them.

    “And the article’s opinion DID have enough bite to irritate you to post a reply.”

    True.  Just as you apparently found my comment irritating enough to justify your reply.  But the truth is really that you think I am wrong, and wish to enlighten me, for which I am thankful even if I believe you are mistaken on several points.  As for me, I have been considering my own position vis a vis Catholicism, and for that reason have been sparring, as you put it, with as many Catholics as I can to plumb out the whole system (by the way, I am a Catholic, I am just considering whether I wish to remain so).

  • Proteios1

    Do you really stereotype people from different countries like this? Seems like you could stnd a bit of education. Ignorance may be bliss, but damn son, that is both arrogant and foolish!

  • Proteios1

    And THAT is why we want nuns to wear habits. We love them. We respect them. And they us. It’s like visible proof of guardian angels. Priests serve their role and I love them for it. But nuns. The sisters are amazing. Courteous. God love them. We don’t need them touring for political reasons or being administrators, we need them amongst us. We need them. We need them!

  • Proteios1

    And modesty and humility is all of ours. Together

  • aearon43

    Male circumcision has health benefits. So calling it “mutilation” is a bit over the top. Just like, say, removing wisdom teeth isn’t mutilation.

    “So, if you were a woman who was raped, I take it you would be fine with marrying the rapist as long as he paid off your dad?  That you would consider this a perfectly moral arrangement?”

    Again no one suggested that it is a perfectly moral arrangement. But using the word “rapist” again ignores the subtlety of the original language, as already pointed out to you once before. It was a step in the right direction at the time.

    Scotty, please don’t take this the wrong way but a lot of what you say seems pretty asinine. Like this: “Jesus and Christianity didn’t appear in the world until about thirteen and a half billion years into this universe’s existence and tens of thousands of years into recorded human history, so there the sticky matter of all the things that happened B.C.” Well, yes, of course it’s quite well-known when Jesus lived and founded the Church. We all know that, Scotty. The point was that the Truth embodied by Jesus is eternal. Sort of like how the Pythagorean theorem was true before Pythagoras was born, wasn’t it? I think you understand this, but seem intent on considering Catholicism in the worst possible light for some reason.

  • Alexander Falbo

    Well I must admit the real truth of the matter is I wasted three hours trying to complete a cogent reply to no avail. I’ve allowed myself to be sucked into the vortex of cyber debate in what was a feeble attempt to enlighten or to direct a fellow Catholic loosing (practically lost) his faith. I find tattoos for the most part distasteful. You don’t. I was more perturbed by your comments on the validity of the OT as God’s word and history with man; rather than with what is at this point opinion regarding ink.

    For the record, you do NOT indicate to me that you fully examined the Deut passage with pure heart and mind. Your tone points to a dismissive attitude that is somewhat dishonest. I elaborated on the translation and still you replied as if my text was never written with a rhetorical question.

    As a disciple (student) there is still much for me to learn. I don’t see the problem with circumcision because if that is what God commanded, then it must be. Abraham nearly sacrificed his only son on the same principle of obedience. The world will no doubt loathe my ‘blindness’ and condemn any declaration I have of decency or free will. But it is of no matter. Cannibalism is condemned by the Father yet here is Christ with the Eucharistic sacrament which I treasure above all confusing the faint hearted or intellectually proud. Same with the Trinity and monotheism.  Surely these ‘discrepancies’ should see you discarding the NT as well?

    Religion/tradition is useless without faith and the Truth behind it to validate that Truth. We agree there. God in both OT and NT makes no contradiction and asserts himself as my Creator (and yours) in such a way as no other. Many of the finest minds and intellectuals in all humankind can see and take no issue. You do not have to accept any reasoning. That is your lifetime given generously to decide. Just be ready for the result. (not a threat btw)

    The fact that your current search for answers is based on what I understand to be the philosophical rigor of Hume, etc reveals that you are not really looking for an answer. Christ is not who he says he is if the OT is false. Full stop. Which means hanging on to the “better” bits in Christianity is spiritually and intellectually worthless. And for someone of your disposition that would seem to me intolerable.

    Remember Pilate…”what is truth?”

  • teigitur

    Not a bad argument Damo. Thought it was lost when you used the phrase” grow up”.