Tattoo Time

ALTHOUGH THE BIBLE SAYS, ”You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you,” I have thought about it.

The Bible also says that if you have a rebellious son, you can take him to the city gate and the elders will stone him to death. Thankfully my parents had grace and patience, or they couldn’t find any elders at the city gate.

My decision regarding tattoos is not a moral dilemma. It has more to do with pain avoidance and artistic scrutiny. I don’t like pain, and to this point I haven’t been able to come up with an image I want inked into my epidermis. UNTIL NOW!

Before we get to that, let’s talk about one initial idea that didn’t make the cut.

If I ask, “Who was the first female in the Bible?” you would say: _____ _____ _____

Yes, of course; EVE.

But wait, what about that woman in Genesis 1:27?

Gen. 1:26 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them

reflecting our nature

So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,

the birds in the air, the cattle,

And, yes, Earth itself,

and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

Gen. 1:27 God created human beings;

he created them godlike,

Reflecting God’s nature.

He created them male and female.

Gen. 1:28 God blessed them:

“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!

Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,

for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

Yea! That one! The one made from the same clay as Adam. Not Eve, who didn’t come along until later, in chapter two.

Early Hebrew mysticism called her Lilith. She shows up again in Isaiah (34:14), known as a “night-demon”.

Now that is the stuff of a great tattoo. I don’t know what a night-demon looks like, but I can imagine. Add an inscription, “Don’t Mess With Lilith!” and you have an awesome narrative. Of course, it makes no sense for me to have that tattoo and I’m guessing it would mean a lot of needle jabs (if that’s what the tattooist does). But, it would have been awesome for someone like Frasier Crane.

For my tattoo, I’m thinking of a utilitarian message. Something that can be useful and minimalist. The inspriation came one day when I was trying to read the expiration date on a jar of pickles and thought that’s what I need for a tattoo—a “Best By” date.


Why the summer of 69? Is that when I peaked? Have I grown stale, sour, even rancid since that time? That was the summer after I graduated from high school. I may not have been at my prime, but I felt like I was—world by the tail and all that.

But to feel like you’ve peaked at 18 is a bit moribund even for a guy like me that tends to create little private mental worlds. And it ignores the fact that life has been very sweet and full since that time.

So, maybe this arbitrary best-by date isn’t the summer after my 18th birthday in 1969 but rather the summer after my 69th; not that I’m expecting to quit or check out at that time, but just an acknowledgment that by around then I will probably retire from the working world and transition to the next chapter and then set a Not-Bad-For-An-Old-Dude date.

A SERIOUS PS: The scriptures I have quoted in this post are from a translation called The Message by Eugene Peterson who passed away today, October 22, 2018. Rest in peace Eugene. You will be missed.

Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson