Tattoos go back thousands of years.
Humans have marked their bodies since ancient times. Tattoos then served many purposes: amulets, status symbols, signs of love and beliefs, adornments and punishment.
In the Philippines, as I remember, only hoodlums and criminals had tattoos, graphic signs of “bad.” People would speak in whispered derision or fear when they saw people (mostly men) with tattoos.
This photo from a newspaper reminded me of those days—convicts in a jail were stripped bare for illegal-drugs inspection. This is not a photo of “then.” This is a photo of “now.”
Tattoo is more in now than ever before. In fact, it is now a part of life.
In addition to convicts and would-be convicts, all strata of society are enamored with tattoos—from high-schoolers, to millennials, to celebrities. The designs may be different (finer, more colorful and artistic today) but they are called the same name: tattoo.
Aside from tattoos, I can cite a myriad of things that were once not-okay but have become okay.
In fashion, one couldn’t wear pearls or lace with jeans. Neither could one wear dresses without hose or a slip. Just look around any day, everything is okay—short hemline, uneven hemline, or sheer hemline matched with denims, slippers, or rubber shoes.
In parenting, a child couldn’t talk back to his parents. Today, children are encouraged to speak their minds and they feel entitled to equal respect. Laws are such that capital punishment is now illegal.
What were once wrong are now "right." Lying, name-calling, cursing, accusing, ranting, shaming, and killing are a daily fare on the Internet, especially social media. I can’t name all that has become a norm—from what used to be wrong—due to my self-imposed blog word count.
But I am afraid, deathly afraid, that soon, we may no longer see the difference between what’s wrong and what’s right. The yardstick for what’s okay has radically changed.
Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) warns and reminds me and anyone who shares my faith: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
The grace to see the difference is what we seek, because not everything is okay.