My First Tattoo (June 2004)

I designed my tattoo in PhotoShop, then took it to the artist. It took less than an hour, and really wasn’t painful because my adrenaline level was so high. What took the longest was searching through hours and hours worth of Christian artwork to ensure I had designed something original. Leslie’s tattoo

I chose the ichthus because of it’s ties to both early Christianity and professional ministry. After Jesus was crucified, Christians could not be open about their faith for fear of persecution. They created a kind of “underground railroad” system to determine who was trustworthy with information. To check and see if someone was “in the know,” one person would take his foot and draw the lower arc of the fish. If the person did share the same faith, he would respond by creating the other arc, thus completing the symbol. In terms of professional ministry, Jesus calls the disciples to be “fishers of people.”

The writing inside the fish is Hebrew for YHWH, or Yahweh. Yahweh is the name of the creator of the universe, and comes from the scripture where Moses asks God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” Then God says to Moses, “I am who I am.” Yahweh literally means “I am.”

It was also important to me to have a design signifying my faith without the use of the cross. As I have said before on this web site, Jesus’ death is not really a part of my “guiding principles,” because I believe that the political messages of equality that he gave the people of his time were way more important than the way that he died.

And, as I quipped to the tattoo artist, “look at it this way… if I lose my faith, I can always add feet.”

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