• For users new and old: the forum rules were streamlined when we transitioned to the new software. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. Continued use of the forum means that you (a) know the rules, and (b) pledge that you'll abide by them. For more information, check out the OrthodoxChristianity.Net Rules section. (There are only 2 threads there - Rules, and Administrative Structure.)

Orthodox Christians and Tattoos

Is it proper for an Orthodox Christian to get a tattoo?

  • It's fine, nothing wrong with it.

    Votes: 55 24.7%
  • They can if they want, but I wouldn't.

    Votes: 32 14.3%
  • Only in some circumstances.

    Votes: 31 13.9%
  • I don't think it's proper, no.

    Votes: 41 18.4%
  • It is absolutely, positively sinful!

    Votes: 17 7.6%
  • I'm not sure.

    Votes: 43 19.3%
  • None of the above.

    Votes: 4 1.8%

  • Total voters
    223

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
We've had tattoo threads before, but I don't think we've had a poll, and I think quite a few new regularly participating members have joined since the last thread. So... is it proper for an Orthodox Christian to get a tattoo? I assume that the content makes a difference--I'm not talking about flaming pentagrams here. Does the culture that you come from make a difference? Does the sex of the person make a difference? Does a tattoo not being publically visible most of the time make a difference?
 

Alveus Lacuna

Taxiarches
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,428
Reaction score
10
Points
38
Location
Missouri, USA
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
OCA
I'm not sure. 

I understand it, as I always wanted to get a full sleeve in earlier years and had many friends that did.  I am very glad I didn't now, but it is mostly because of the temptation of vanity. 

However, considering that we all primp ourselves in front of mirrors like harlots, it's probably not a sound criticism.  ;)
 

copticorthodoxboy

High Elder
Joined
Oct 23, 2004
Messages
653
Reaction score
23
Points
18
I have no problem with it.  Happy I didn't get a tattoo of a cross on my wrist when I was practicing (a common practice amoung members of the Coptic Orthodox church) since I'm trying to get into the Navy OCS program and a tattoo on the wrist would most certainly disqualify me (U.S. military is getting strict with tattoos now-a-days).
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
So... I was mostly wondering about this because I had planned on getting a second tattoo, and I wanted to see what other Orthodox thought. Specifically, I got this one on my upper left arm about a week ago (I just printed it out and gave it to the tattoo artist)...



Whether I'm Orthodox or not (and fwiw I am attending an Orthodox parish at the moment), Orthodoxy has had far more impact on me than other things I might get a tattoo of, so I figured I might as well get this one. Of course, had I waited a week I might very well have gotten a memorial tattoo instead, but you can't change the past I guess, and what's done is done. :)
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
3,397
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
42
It's always been my understanding that tattoos are a "no-no" in the Church, regardless of content.

I could be wrong though.
 

genesisone

Archon
Joined
Aug 20, 2005
Messages
2,906
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
69
Location
Niagara Region, Ontario
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antioch
What concerns me is respect for our bodies. A tattoo (and piercings) really aren't necessary, so should they be done?

When my son was a teenager he suggested that he wanted a tattoo. I told him before he did that to visit a seniors' nursing home and ask all the veterans to show him theirs. He still doesn't have a tattoo, and he'll be thirty-two in a couple of weeks. And what's more, he's a naval officer (reserves) now!
 

GammaRay

High Elder
Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
574
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
29
Location
Greece
Asteriktos, if you ever get the time to, post a pic of it! I can imagine that it looks nice.

I also thought of getting a tattoo, but I'm afraid that I'm going to regret it later. :-\
 

Bogoliubtsy

Archon
Joined
May 14, 2003
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Serbia
Faith
Other
Jurisdiction
Other
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)

[attachment deleted by admin]
 

Rosehip

Archon
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
2,755
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<
 

Bogoliubtsy

Archon
Joined
May 14, 2003
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Serbia
Faith
Other
Jurisdiction
Other
Rosehip said:
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<
For me, they can go both ways- either be hideous and/or trashy, or look quite nice.
 

BoredMeeting

High Elder
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
722
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
The People&#039;s Republic of Maryland
I have heard tattoos should be avoided as it involves the sort of body modification that Orthodox Christians should reject.

But this got me thinking (assuming that this teaching is correct), if you have the tattoos when you become an Orthodox Christian, wouldn't having them removed be considered body modification?

Are pierced ears ok then? If those are ok, what about other piercings? I know an Orthodox mom who was upset about her son getting a tattoo (a three-bar cross) but she sports a navel piercing (around the community pool).

How about cosmetic surgery?

It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.
 

Bogoliubtsy

Archon
Joined
May 14, 2003
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Serbia
Faith
Other
Jurisdiction
Other
BoredMeeting said:
It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.
Yeah, like an Orthodox Christian Talmud or something.
 

Rosehip

Archon
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
2,755
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I agree. We need a set theology about these matters. :) Piercings are pretty barbaric in my books too. Have never been able to make the leap and get my ears pierced. I always back out at the last minute. For me, earrings are quite nice-vanity would be involved there, definitely- and I would be sorely tempted to undergo pierced ears just so I could wear these items, but the thought of dealing with the holes etc. is too exhausting and uncertain, so I forgo it.
 

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,772
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Asteriktos said:
So... I was mostly wondering about this because I had planned on getting a second tattoo, and I wanted to see what other Orthodox thought. Specifically, I got this one on my upper left arm about a week ago (I just printed it out and gave it to the tattoo artist)...



Whether I'm Orthodox or not (and fwiw I am attending an Orthodox parish at the moment), Orthodoxy has had far more impact on me than other things I might get a tattoo of, so I figured I might as well get this one. Of course, had I waited a week I might very well have gotten a memorial tattoo instead, but you can't change the past I guess, and what's done is done. :)
My brother had the Byzantine Cross tatooed on the back of his calve.
 

Rosehip

Archon
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
2,755
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I just realized what a hypocrite I am. I have at least three tattoos on my body, but, you know, "out of sight-out of mind". I have no idea what they look like either.
 

BoredMeeting

High Elder
Joined
Apr 10, 2006
Messages
722
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
The People&#039;s Republic of Maryland
Bogoliubtsy said:
BoredMeeting said:
It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.
Yeah, like an Orthodox Christian Talmud or something.
I was thinking more along the line of at least finding a few links to Orthodox clergy referencing the Church's teachings on this question. ;D
 

GammaRay

High Elder
Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
574
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
29
Location
Greece
Bogoliubtsy said:
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
That's a nice one, though I think that the birds are a bit of thin. Cool. ;)
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
Bogoliubtsy said:
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
Sinner!  Just kidding. It looks nice... certainly blows my small, black/grey ones away! It looks like it almost goes down to your elbow, if you don't mind my asking, do you ever have issues with people seeing it (e.g. work related)?


GammaRay said:
Asteriktos, if you ever get the time to, post a pic of it! I can imagine that it looks nice.

I also thought of getting a tattoo, but I'm afraid that I'm going to regret it later. :-\
Fwiw, I first wanted to get a tattoo when I was a teenager, but waited till I was 30 to get my first one. I'm glad I did, otherwise I'd probably have Metallica's Master of Puppets album cover across my back or something  :D  I'll post a pic whenever I get another digital camera, maybe in a couple days. I used to be able to use my webcam and then hit the print screen key and paste it into a graphic program, but for some reason that doesn't work now. *shrugs*

I'll be going to get a memorial tattoo for Mary on Tuesday. Nothing elaborate, just a black rose with Mary's name by it. I gave the tattoo artist a few pictures I pulled off the net to let him know sort of what angle and whatnot I'd prefer for the rose, but I haven't seen what he's drawn up yet. Hopefully it'll be something as nice as this one.
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
Rosehip said:
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<
Throws tomato  :p  Nah, everyone has their opinion, which is perfectly fine. I sometimes react the same way when I see some tattoos... like "how could you get that permanently put on yourself?"  But to each their own. Both my grandfather and father had/have multiple tattoos, so maybe it just seems like a normal form of expression to me.
 

Alveus Lacuna

Taxiarches
Joined
Sep 17, 2008
Messages
7,428
Reaction score
10
Points
38
Location
Missouri, USA
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
OCA
Bogoliubtsy said:
BoredMeeting said:
It would be helpful if there were a set of rules, including the theology behind them, that could be referenced.
Yeah, like an Orthodox Christian Talmud or something.
So sassy!
 

SolEX01

Toumarches
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
13,881
Reaction score
34
Points
48
Location
Central Maryland
Website
www.goarch.org
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey
Asteriktos said:
Rosehip said:
I think original culture does make a big difference. I personally find tattoos to mar the beauty of the wearer and can't understand why anyone would consider this vanity. It's just icky. No offense to those who have them please, but I find them intolerable.

>ducks for cover<
Throws tomato  :p  Nah, everyone has their opinion, which is perfectly fine. I sometimes react the same way when I see some tattoos... like "how could you get that permanently put on yourself?"  But to each their own. Both my grandfather and father had/have multiple tattoos, so maybe it just seems like a normal form of expression to me.
Or a mechanism for inflicting pain in order to tolerate more pain or a mechanism to remind oneself of past pleasure, pain or both.  The following is extracted from a Boston Globe book review on Why People die of Suicide by Thomas Joiner

The third factor in Joiner's theory is the development of the capacity to perpetrate lethal self-injury. Joiner identifies the root and branch of this ability in repeated painful experiences that desensitize the individual to the ultimate injury. Among many examples he cites is his father's maneuvering a pleasure boat through a stormy sea. When the steering wheel snaps off, badly lacerating his hand, he continues to grapple with the shattered tiller, seemingly oblivious to the blood streaming from his hand.
source

>ducks for cover<
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
SolEX01 said:
Or a mechanism for inflicting pain in order to tolerate more pain or a mechanism to remind oneself of past pleasure, pain or both. 
Perhaps. :)
 

Robert W

Elder
Joined
Jul 31, 2007
Messages
469
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
39
Location
Vaasa, Finland
Bogoliubtsy said:
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
Heraldry as tattoos are AWESOME!!  8)

My wife recently got these two symbols as tattoos on her wrists

They both obviously represent the trinity. Our priest commented positively (he might have just been polite :p) and said that unfortunately priests are not allowed tattoos.

Have anyone else heard this about priests not being allowed tattoos?
 

Irish Hermit

Merarches
Joined
Oct 11, 2003
Messages
10,980
Reaction score
3
Points
0
Location
Middle Earth
I've got my son tattooed with a Celtic cross.  He is a solvent abusing street kid and so if he ever gets mashed by a bus or a train we will have a better chance of identifying him.  I thought of having a chip put in but it seems they only do that for dogs <joking>

Just to remark that I live in the South Pacific where tattoos are a significant part of the local cultures, whether Maori or Samoan or other Polynesian cultures.  They are very common.  Nobody is offended by them and they do not denote that one is a member of the underworld or of the criminal classes.  :)

Here is a tattoo very similar to Nick's, except his is smaller.

 

Riddikulus

Protokentarchos
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
4,788
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Queensland, Australia
Robert W said:
Bogoliubtsy said:
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
Heraldry as tattoos are AWESOME!!  8)

My wife recently got these two symbols as tattoos on her wrists

They both obviously represent the trinity. Our priest commented positively (he might have just been polite :p) and said that unfortunately priests are not allowed tattoos.

Have anyone else heard this about priests not being allowed tattoos?
Yes, the priest at our old parish mentioned this. Something to do with self-mutilation, if I recall correctly. But he was against tattooes for everyone; piercings, too..... except a female's ears.  ??? I like those trinitarian symbols, btw.
 

Riddikulus

Protokentarchos
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
4,788
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Queensland, Australia
Irish Hermit said:
I've got my son tattooed with a Celtic cross.  He is a solvent abusing street kid and so if he ever gets mashed by a bus or a train we will have a better chance of identifying him.  I thought of having a chip put in but it seems they only do that for dogs <joking>

Just to remark that I live in the South Pacific where tattoos are a significant part of the local cultures, whether Maori or Samoan or other Polynesian cultures.   They are very common.  Nobody is offended by them and they do not denote that one is a member of the underworld or of the criminal classes.   :)

Here is a tattoo very similar to Nick's, except his is smaller.

Like that, very much!
 

SolEX01

Toumarches
Joined
Apr 22, 2008
Messages
13,881
Reaction score
34
Points
48
Location
Central Maryland
Website
www.goarch.org
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey
Asteriktos said:
SolEX01 said:
Or a mechanism for inflicting pain in order to tolerate more pain or a mechanism to remind oneself of past pleasure, pain or both. 
Perhaps. :)
Thanks for not throwing rotten tomatoes, at least publicly.  ;)
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
I can't seem to get my new digital camera working properly. It was fine the first day I used it, but now it shuts off after every pic I try to take, and doesn't save the image.  :-\ So I don't have a pic of the cross tattoo, but I did get a pic of the memorial tattoo...



I'm not crazy about the coloring outside the leaves, and wasn't asked about that... but what's done is done now.
 

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,772
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Irish Hermit said:
I've got my son tattooed with a Celtic cross.  He is a solvent abusing street kid and so if he ever gets mashed by a bus or a train we will have a better chance of identifying him.  I thought of having a chip put in but it seems they only do that for dogs <joking>

Just to remark that I live in the South Pacific where tattoos are a significant part of the local cultures, whether Maori or Samoan or other Polynesian cultures.   They are very common.  Nobody is offended by them and they do not denote that one is a member of the underworld or of the criminal classes.   :)

Here is a tattoo very similar to Nick's, except his is smaller.

I thought monks couldn't have children?  ???
 

Quinault

Protokentarchos
Joined
Nov 11, 2007
Messages
4,979
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Age
43
Location
Seattle, WA
Faith
Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian
Irish Hermit said:
fennik said:
You guys think a tattoo of a cross is on your body is wrong?
A streetkid-solvent abuser has lived on our church premises for many years.  It's a long story - a lifetime of physical and sexual abuse from his "fathers" in multiple foster homes.  In other words, more sinned against than sinning.

Some years back I wanted to get him a birthday present - his name is Nicholas and he was born on Saint Nicholas day.  In the past any presents, such as walkmans, have been stolen from him by his street "friends" within a few hours.

He loves Irish things and he is a Christian in his own way, comes to church venerates the icons, says his prayers.  So I got him a present that couldn't be lost - a tattoo of a Celtic cross on his forearm.  He loves it -and there is the odd advantage pointed out to me by a policeman that if he is ever hit by a bus or burnt in a derelict house they can use the cross to identify him!
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,5844.0.html
 

Rosehip

Archon
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
2,755
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I was puzzled too, about Irish Hermit's children. Unless he means spiritual child? Asteriktos, I don't really like tattoos but yours is quite lovely.
 

Irish Hermit

Merarches
Joined
Oct 11, 2003
Messages
10,980
Reaction score
3
Points
0
Location
Middle Earth
Papist said:
I thought monks couldn't have children?   ???
Many monks have children.  Patriarch German of Serbia had two sons and they both became his deacons at the patriarchate.
 

Jibrail Almuhajir

Taxiarches
Joined
May 15, 2007
Messages
7,220
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Location
The Ozark Mountains
Faith
Eastern Orthodox OCA
I've really wanted one for a long time but I've never talked to my priest about it.  My housemate has a really nice tattoo very close to Asteriktos' cross, and I've always wanted one that looks very similar to Fr. Ambrose' son's Celtic cross (big surprise  :p).  But for me, unless I get my priests' permission, it ain't gonna happen.  But, I pass absolutely no judgment on all y'all for getting one (or many).  :)
 

Bogoliubtsy

Archon
Joined
May 14, 2003
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Serbia
Faith
Other
Jurisdiction
Other
Asteriktos said:
Bogoliubtsy said:
Among others, I have this on the inside of my arm/bicep.  :)
Sinner!  Just kidding. It looks nice... certainly blows my small, black/grey ones away! It looks like it almost goes down to your elbow, if you don't mind my asking, do you ever have issues with people seeing it (e.g. work related)?
Yeah, I have to wear long sleeves in work/work-like environments. Kind of a bummer, but not too much of a pain. Occasionally I wear short-sleeves. Students think it's either cool or weird, but either way want to know what it's all about and will keep pestering you til they get the full story.  :)
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
Bogoliubtsy said:
Yeah, I have to wear long sleeves in work/work-like environments. Kind of a bummer, but not too much of a pain. Occasionally I wear short-sleeves. Students think it's either cool or weird, but either way want to know what it's all about and will keep pestering you til they get the full story.  :)
Lol, well I guess if you were more evangelically minded you could use it as a way to break the ice on your way to converting them ;)
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,023
Reaction score
542
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
So today my camera is working normally again. *scratches head confusedly* Anyway, I don't have anyone else to take the pic, so the cross is sort of twisted, but fwiw here is a pic...

 

scamandrius

Merarches
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
9,407
Reaction score
12
Points
38
Location
Omaha
Faith
Greek Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
I have been told that a carry over from the old Jewish Law is that tattooed Orthodox christians cannot be buried in an Orthodox cemetery.  Is that correct?
 

Bogoliubtsy

Archon
Joined
May 14, 2003
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Location
Serbia
Faith
Other
Jurisdiction
Other
scamandrius said:
I have been told that a carry over from the old Jewish Law is that tattooed Orthodox christians cannot be buried in an Orthodox cemetery.  Is that correct?
Haven't heard that. Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II is out of luck, I guess.  ;)
 
Top