Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pastor, Help! My son wants to get a tattoo!

This is a common scenario across the nation - especially in our more Evanjellycal circles. When dealing w/ this situation, we've got to get a bit of perspective. The strongest argument against your teenager getting a tattoo is that it's a really dumb idea ... and that pretty much settles it. Getting into a hermeneutical tangle over "cuttings and markings for the dead" in Leviticus probably won't prove to be the most productive way to argue, at least not at the beginning [So are you telling me I'm not allowed to wear shirts that are a cotton/poly blend now too? Or maybe you want me to stop shaving the corners of my beard?]. The principle contained in the passage should eventually be understood.  The fact that your body is not your own does eventually need to be addressed.  Gnostic assumptions about the faith and misguided attempts at "relevance" should all be dealt with.  But really, the bottom line here is the 'folly factor'.  Because the issue really boils down to aesthetics, we should cut to the chase and go straight there. Here's a helpful - if pragmatic - counterexample:

Imagine that - instead of the tattoo thing - all of your friends were rushing out to buy the same kind of custom-printed graphic tee shirts ...

... you know - to express the magnitude of their originality and individuality.  And you approach me asking for my permission to join in the craze. The catch, though, is this: Once you've bought it [for a few hundred or even thousand dollars] you have to wear this same tee shirt everywhere you go, every day for the rest of your life. In fact, at the store, they will sow it onto your skin. It will take several hours or even days for a more ornate design. And the process will be quite painful. But hey - everything comes at a price, right? And besides, what sort of a man would you be if you didn't join the billions of nonconformists, rebels, and anarchists who dutifully pay dues to the irresistible draw of such a fad!?!

Now don't worry - you can wear other shirts over top of it, but ... well, yes ... it will probably end up showing through from below or underneath your collar or sleeves anyway a good bit of the time. That's just a risk you'll have to take. And when it's hot, you'll just have to shed layers until you're down to your tee, wherever you are. Even if you happen to be at work or in an environment where a graphic tee isn't really appropriate, that's the deal - there's no turning back. Sure, a lot of folks will mentally associate someone in such a tee shirt with ex-convicts, gangbangers, miscreants, or hooliganism, but that's they're problem - judgmental haters!! ... uuuunnnnless of course, they happen to be hiring managers, would-be-father-in-laws, local traffic court judges, state troopers, admissions staff members, promotions and advancement board members, loan officers, etc. In any of those cases, well ... it's your problem too ... permanently.

And yes, as you shower, it will be washed as well - so don't worry about sanitation - but naturally, each time you wash, its colors will fade and the fabric will warp and stretch more and more over the years. If in five years, you're still as excited about it as you were the day you bought it, you can probably pay someone another few hundred or thousand dollars to recolor it all over again so that it doesn't look quite so faded ... but it will still have stretched with age at that point ... but hey - what are the chances you'll like it enough to bother in five years anyway.

And while we're thinking of it, maybe we should mention fashion, and how fickle a girl she can be. Yes, it's true. The coolest graphic tee of today will most likely be nothing short of laugh-worthy in just a few short trips around the sun, but ... well ... there's really nothing we can do about that. Just something to be aware of. Look on the bright side. Oftentimes styles come back into fashion after two or three decades ... think vintage retro. Well, if being really cool every thirty years [while really awkward the rest of the time] isn't your thing, maybe, instead of going with the latest and coolest design, you'd get more mileage out of a classic, timeless graphic tee ... not that there really is such a thing ... the medium really does seem to dictate the message ... but - well - perhaps you can at least try for something in that direction to gain a few more years of passability before the utter regret and despair set in to the point of self-revulsion.

Well, Charlie Brown, how about it? Still want a ride to the tattoo parlor? Come on - I'll buy the aspirin!

No comments: