Tribal Winged Cross Tattoo
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
We use the word Tribal because although tattoos help people to feel unique, independent and in control of their bodies, tats also enable them to belong to a particular subculture. Both standing out from the crowd and being a group member sounds contradictory, but membership of a 'tribe' is quite exclusive; those who lack the brand are excluded.
After David Beckham had a winged cross tattooed on the back of his neck during the 2004 World Cup, fans had similar tattoos done to feel closer to their hero. If some people in the gang/chapter/tribe have a tattoo, then it's a must-have for others who want to be part of that group.
For the past hundred years or so, tattoos have been associated with gangsters, convicts, low-ranking military for men; and for women, heavy drinkers and sexually promiscuous. This holds certain glamour for people who are not gangsters, convicts, low-ranking military, heavy drinkers or sexually promiscuous, but nevertheless want to be viewed as such.
And this is often OK. The problem comes when something unforeseen occurs - causing embarrassment in minor cases or life-threatening situations in extreme cases. Hundreds of years ago, legend has it that a tattoo of a Christian Cross on a sailor's back was his insurance against excessive flogging. Today, corporal punishment is no longer permitted1. A Cross tattoo would be unfortunate for any of today's British or American military who happened to be captured by somebody wanting to payback Abu Ghraib and other atrocities. Sometimes being in a tribe has undesired consequences.
Fashions and tastes are forever changing. What might be acceptable now is often unacceptable later. We just cannot accurately predict where we will be in the future, who we will want to be associated with, and who we will not want to be associated with.
That's the down side.
Advantages of Tattoos
In a tattoo's favour is that the artwork, if done properly, can be very attractive. A tattoo has the advantage over jewelry, in that for certain jobs, jewelry is not permitted for uniform reasons or safety. Jewelry can be easily lost, stolen or broken. Such things do not affect tattoos.
Non-Christians and the cross tattoo
For a non-Christian to sport a Christian symbol has its drawbacks. No matter how attractive the cross might be to the bearer, he or she has no control over the reaction of people who see it. Some may assume the bearer is Christian and ask awkward questions. With no faith, the bearer loses credibility. If persecuted for bearing a cross that has no religious significance to the bearer, then that is a double tragedy.
Christians and the cross tattoo
Conversely, if a Christian sports a cross tattoo, they will have no problem in supporting that with their faith.
A cross tattoo can be an opportunity to evangelize and it's the Christian's duty to do so by whatever tactic possible. However, a Christian should read Christian tattoos before having pigment injected into their bodies.
Cross designs used for tattoos
In addition to the Tribal Winged Cross Tattoo, all the designs shown in our Index could be used for a tattoo. A few are shown here (click image for more information):
And here's one more design and to be honest, we're not sure if it's a Christian design. We've called it an Evangelists' Cross and also added some information about it on our Puzzles Page. If you can shed light on the meaning of this symbol, please let us know
(For more information on Christian tattoos and actual tattoo images, visit www.religioustattoos.net. There are more tats at http://files.vector-images.com, and innumerable other sites.)
Christians have a duty to evangelize and a tattooed cross is a constant advertisement of one's faith. However, a tattoo must be a minor advertisement in comparison to our actions. As Saint Francis said; "Proclaim the Gospel. Use words if you must."