a sin to get a tattoo? Some of them are really bad, but what about flowers
and nice things, or religious pictures? My daughter got one on her ankle,
and I think it looks cute. I was thinking of getting one too.
n the story of Cain and Abel from
the book of Genesis we learn that God warned Cain to discipline his passions,
but that Cain, not listening to God, and out of anger and envy, slew his
brother Abel. God then put a mark upon Cain so as to indicate to other men
that Cain was being punished by the hand of God and that he should not be
slain by the hand of man.
No one knows what sort of mark
God put on Cain. Now, some commentators claim that this mark was a tattoo
and that it relates to the practice, prevalent in ancient times, of using
tattoos for tribal identifications. Nevertheless, even if the mark were a
tattoo, it bears a distinction that separates it from any typical
A typical tattoo has one fundamental
characteristic: it is placed on the individual by the hand of
manthat is, its the work of human hands, whether those hands
belong to a man or a woman.
A tattoo, therefore, signifies
a social identity. Whether it serves the function
of a tribal membership or whether it fulfills your idea of
nice, it points to an identity that
you choose for yourself. But notice carefully: you place
this identity upon your body. And here, precisely, we come to the place
where a tattoo receives it own mark as sinful.
By the Hand of
God put a mark upon Cain to indicate
that Cain belonged to God. Moreover, this belonging was not just a bodily
belonging; it was also a belonging of soul. Cain belonged to God
body and soul, and the mark pointed to this reality.
As such, the mark foreshadowed another reality, a future reality.
The book of Ezekiel (9:4) tells
us about the mark of the Thau (or Tauthe last letter
in the Hebrew alphabet) that God Himself would put on the foreheads of those
who belong to Him. This Thau therefore signifies the mark of the cross
which, as a consequence of the Redemption worked
by Christ, is placed on an individual at baptism
to mark his or her identity as a Christian.
Note that this redemption is
a gift from God and is totally unmerited on our part. There’s nothing we have
to do—or can do—to earn it or be worthy of it. To be redeemed is to be rescued—rescued
from sin—simply as an expression of Gods love for us. Our redemption,
therefore, comes from the hand of God. It comes only from the hand
of God. Any identity we have, therefore, is meaningless unless it comes from
the hand of God, and so the only mark on our body that can ever legitimately
identify us is the mark of baptism.
Consequently, any indelible mark
that you place upon your body is the work of human hands. It identifies your
bodywhich God intended to be a pure and chaste
temple of the holy Spiritas belonging to
something other than God. Belonging to something other than God is idolatry,
and so any tattootribal or cuteis ultimately Satanic
because it marks your body with the sin of idolatry, and that sin marks
your soul with, well, something not very nice.
The fact that your daughter got a
tattoo and that you approved of it points to your failure as a mother in teaching
your daughter about bodily modesty. That’s a sin that
you will have to pay for.
As for your daughter, a tattoo cannot
be easily removed by human hands; laser surgery, for example, is painful and
expensive. Only the fire of Purgatory can remove a tattoo
completely—and the only way for your daughter to have Purgatory do its work is for
her to get there through sincere repentance. Therefore,
it will first be necessary for her to acknowledge that she committed a sin by getting
a tattoo; then it will be necessary for her to confess her sin; and then, for the rest
of her life, she will have to pay the penance of keeping the tattoo hidden from public
view, no matter what the inconvenience, lest she give scandal to others.
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information
gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips
in book form.
Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do
our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for
God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle
with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living
faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful
devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external
acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that
contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility,
children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for
identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval
than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.