In 2011, Glamour had women write down their negative thoughts about their bodies for a survey; about 97% reported having at least one moment where they expressed disgust for their form. It varied from, "You're fat and ugly," to "You're too thin. No man will ever want you."
From a young age, I've battled body negativity. As a woman with tattoos who also believes in the power of Christ, I've battled tattoo negativity from family and strangers alike and have wondered how Jesus perceives my tattoos. In the Bible, Leviticus 19:28 states, "And a cutting for the dead you will not make in your flesh; and writing marks you will not make on you; I am the Lord."
While this passage condemns the act of tattooing, there is a historical context that readers may not be aware of. In the times that this passage was written, Egyptians and Canaanites used tattoos and scarification to protect their women during pregnancy and childbirth. They would tattoo/scar their bodies around the thighs, breasts, and abdomen to honor their fertility gods.
In a sense, they were tattooing for a spiritual reason. The priestly source who had written this chapter in the Bible did not believe that a Christian God would forgive his sons and daughters if they idolized other gods through their skin.
When I mean that Christ loves all of me, even my tattoos, I'm signifying that he loves me for all my flaws, all my mistakes, all my errors, that even my body holds. That he loves me because I'm human. He loves me because I've self-harmed; he loves me because I've turned my life to him and want to mirror his unconditional love to the people in my life and on the street.
I've always understood that having tattoos is taboo for a woman. My parents would often talk with me whenever I expressed my interest; while they mocked me about what that says about my potential partner (who they believed would be heavily tattooed), they were not at first on board. My mom would tell me that "your body is a temple - you should treat it like one."
Over time, their beliefs changed. Yet when I had my fifth one done, my mom was surprised by its size and where it was. I would explain that I was planning on a half-sleeve. "In moderation," she had said in concession.
I believe that when Christ looks at me, he looks at my entire personality - not just my tattoos. In fact, in the Gospels, we see him love three types of people. The arrogant, the deceitful, the overbearing. I'm not trying to okay my sinful nature through this justification. I'm trying to fortify that his love does not see labels or appearances. That his love defies expectation.
My relationship with Christ is not defined by my tattoos, my gender, my weight, or anything else that is anchored to this world. So if you ask me, "What do you think God would say about your tattoos?" or another passive-aggressive attempt to poke holes in my argument, I will quote John 4:24 and walk away.