I had planned to get another tattoo while home on furlough this past year. I even had it approved by the wife.
I intended to get the Hebrew word, hesed, permanently placed on my wedding ring finger, perhaps even inside the outline of a ring itself. My wife didn’t approve the 3/4 sleeve I wanted, and this was my second choice. But I never got the tattoo.
I’m not sure if I ran out of time… or if I just didn’t want the tattoo all that much anyway… or if I felt that, because other individuals and churches pay our salaries, I shouldn’t spend money on a tattoo?* I’m really not sure why I failed to hesedify my finger. [It wasn’t because of Leviticus 19:28.]
A Quick List of Bible Verses Which (may or may not) Relate to the Issue of Tattoos — But Given Without Any Context or Commentary so I Remain Safe From Being Labeled a Heretic
So here’s that Leviticus 19:28:
Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.
I am the LORD.
And here’s Isaiah 44:5, which is not my reason for wanting the tattoo — though it does seem to relate to the issue in question.
Some will say, “I belong to the LORD;”
others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, “The LORD’s,”
and will take the name Israel.
And God’s the one with a tattoo in Isaiah 49:16:
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
The Why of the Hesed Tattoo
My Hebrew isn’t great.** [I took it during graduate school while working full-time and coaching a high school soccer team. Hebrew was a night class, and we had games and practices. I promised the teacher that, if he wouldn’t count the attendance policy against me, I’d study really hard on my own from the book and would be there for the mid-term and the final. He agreed. I went to class three times and ended up with a ‘C.’ I could kind of read Hebrew for about two weeks after the final — and then it was all gone except knowing my alphabet and a little vocabulary.]
But if I understand correctly, hesed is a Hebrew word for which there exists no English equivalent. It deals with God’s love, while pointing to a covenant relationship. Hesed represents kindness, steadfast love, loyalty, commitment, and probably some other ideas of which I’m not aware.
I like the idea of a second wedding ring, if you will (or rather a first), to remind me that my commitment to Christie, our covenant of marriage, and all the loving kindness present within that relationship is built upon the foundation of our covenant with the Lord himself. And that I can only love Christie as Christ loves the church when I’m first completely and totally in love with my Father in heaven. [I’m of the mindset that a husband shouldn’t love his wife with all his heart, as his love’s probably not any good in the first place: how i love my wife.]
One of my favorite hesed passages is in Deuteronomy 7, but I’ll give you just verse 9 (read the larger context when you get a chance):
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love (hesed)*** to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
I’m in covenant with God and Christie, and I might as well wear two rings. That’s basically what I was thinking with the whole hesed thing. Also, I plan, on the evening of the next full moon, to begin wearing a vial of Christie’s blood in a hemp necklace.
Voice a Complaint, Show Off a Tattoo, or Teach Us Hebrew
What do you think about tattoos: good, bad, ugly? Do you have a tattoo? If so, what does it mean; why’d you get it? How old will your kids be before they can have their first tattoo? [I’m thinking I’ll get Baylor a tear drop on her left cheek when she turns 3.]
And does anyone know Hebrew? [I welcome more information about the word I want permanently placed on my hand.]