I like tattoos and I love Jesus. I want a full sleeve. I also want a job in a church some day. Apparently, these two things tend not to go hand and hand. I have been involved in numerous conversations since coming to seminary about tattoos and none of them has left me feeling too great. We all wish that we lived in a world where people are not judged by their appearances but alas, this is unfortunately not the case. I have one friend that has a full sleeve. It is from just above the shirt cuff all the way to his shoulder. If he needs to, he can hide it. Personally, I do not think he should ever have to hide it. It is beautiful artwork and now a part of him.
The year after my father died, I got a tattoo in memory of him. I knew instantly what I wanted to get but the difficult aspect was figuring out where I would get it. I want to be a pastor some day so it had to be in a location that is easily covered but at the same time, I wanted it to be in a location where it could be displayed if I wanted it to. One major factor was that I want it to be visible on my wedding day so my father is visibly with me. In the end, I got a starfish tattooed onto my left shoulder blade, easily concealed, and easily revealed. Three years after my Dad died, my Nana Rosie passed away of the same type of cancer. I want to get a tattoo to remember her by and once again, the problem I run into is since I am going to be a pastor and will need to cover this up, where do I get it?
I want at least three more tattoos:
- A rose to represent my Nana Rosie who passed oflung cancer two years ago
- A shamrock to represent my Auntie Barbie who passed from a Pulmonary embolism this summer
- A PCUSA cross that represents my love of the church and the role Fourth Pres (South Boston) serves as a place of refuge when home was not
Tattoos are beautiful pieces of art. They can carry so much meaning to a person. If done for the right reasons, they can carry a story that is otherwise untold. Tattooing has been practiced for centuries and yet it is still taboo. There is a Christian tattoos movement. People get back pieces that are the full crucifixion scene. People get scripture tattooed on them. But is it okay for the pastor to have tattoos? I want to be a tattooed pastor. I understand the Leviticus 19: 28 reasoning behind not getting tattoos but I also eat lobster.
I suppose my whole point is that I wish the appearance was not such a huge issue in society. I think someone with facial piercings and tattoos can be a better pastor that someone that is entirely clean-cut because it is not our appearance that determines our suitability for ministry but rather our heart, our faith, our experience. I love Jesus and I like tattoos and I do not think that these need to be mutually exclusive. I am a future pastor with one tattoo and plans for more. I’m pretty sure Jesus loves me and my tattoos.