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Follow the Prophet on Body Art Issue

Jeff Cox from Seattle, Washington, writes:

This tattoo business got me thinking. Let’s assume that after a spotless life of good works, I am elevated to the office of Tribal Council of the 94. I walk into my new office, with a suitcase so brim-full of seals and keys I look like a janitor at the City Aquarium. On my desk is the perplexing problem of Brother Lamar.

It seems that Brother Lamar spends his days stocking many copies of the Pearl of Great Price at the Deseret Book Store. He takes his Postum with cream and sugar and, after one or two too many cups, he restlessly wanders the gritty streets. He wakes up the next morning, much to his chagrin, with a splitting headache and a tattoo of Moroni on his bicep.

This problem is on my doorstep. First, I check the scrolls and discourses to see if this is a felony excommunication or a misdemeanor black mark on the recommend. The statutes are vague, so I decide to interview the suspect.

It seems that Brother Lamar is recondite, truly wallowing in remorse. He wails and bemoans his stupidity, and wonders if tattoos of Moroni appear on the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. I suggest that if he gets the thing removed, all can be swept under the rug, but the bookstore salary doesn’t find that kind of thing in the budget. He is still paying off the $250 he paid for six horseshoe clothing hooks at the scout auction.

What do I do? I send Brother Lamar home under a black cloud while I wait for a revelation? Do I need oil for this sort of thing, or can it be handled by asking the patriarch to tune in to one of his Higher Frequencies?

Hopefully, they cover this sort of problem in the Tribal Council meetings. Solomon never had it as bad as this!

Kathy says:

In a church with a living prophet, there are few tough questions. Um ?you already noticed that. No tats. Not even a CTR ring tattooed on your finger, in case you lose your metal one. Sort o’ frees you up for more productive pondering, such as, “Oops maybe I need to be more careful of how quickly I judge people with body art of all kinds from their scalps to the beds of their toenails.” Happily, we are not required to critique anyone else’s behavior or appearance. Only to follow our modern prophets as we study the ancient ones in the scriptures. Elder Cox can tuck his Pearl of Great Price under his arm along with his current Ensign, and scoot home to his family with a light heart. We at the Circle of Sisters recommend he whistle a medley of his favorite hymns during his commute.

Alison says:

A few years ago I was near tears while reading Application to Date My Daughter to one of our employees. When I got to line ten, he retorted, “Hey, I have a tattoo.”

“Oh …um …nevermind.”

I have since learned to perform a complete body check of my conversation companions before making tattoo jokes. It’s safer that way.

{ 73 comments… add one }
  • Reader Comment June 15, 2008, 11:02 pm

    Carol from Gilbert, Arizona, writes:

    Great column for LDS women to read. About the tattoos: What about women who tattoo on their eyebrows and eyeliner? Are those considered tattoos?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 11:02 pm

    I had never thought about this until just over a year ago. I was at the dry-pack cannery, of all places, when a woman I was working with began touting the wonders of her new eye/lip makeup tattoos to everyone present. To be honest, I was a bit taken aback. Not because I thought she must be horrible and evil, but because the prophet had just made a point of telling members not to get tattoos, it seemed odd in a church setting that a church member would make such a point of promoting them.

    Personally, I see no difference in tattooing lip liner on your lips or tattooing a pair of lips on your arm. A tattoo is a tattoo is a tattoo. I didn’t hear the prophet making exceptions, so we shouldn’t either.

  • klgreen1 June 15, 2008, 11:03 pm

    Alison, I see a complete and obvious difference between tattooing a pair of lips onto your lips versus onto your arm. But I still admire your obedience and logic. Because you are one of my wittiest friends, I promise to show up at our next reunion with a dandy red cupie bow on my arm and no lipstick on my lips.

  • Reader Comment June 15, 2008, 11:05 pm

    Judy Kay from Maryland, writes:

    This is an interesting topic. And it bears noting that the prophet’s proscription on tattooing was only made a year or two ago. So, that leaves decades of time for current and future members of the church to have already acquired their tattoos. It leaves us with a large number of people who are festooned with a very obvious image of their “rebellion.” Some of the people who have tattoos didn’t know anything about a prophet when they acquired them and so will join the Church and learn of this direction and be stuck with the skin art after the fact. Some of the people wearing them now were members of the Church when they were inked and did the deed for whatever reasons they chose. Fashion afflicts many people with odd souvenirs from bunions to multiple earrings to hair-color disasters. Tattoos are a permanent reminder of a temporary impulse (I think I’m quoting Jimmy Buffet or someone).

    Anyway just as it has always been wrong to judge people by their appearance, it is still wrong to start using tattoos as a cut-off point for personal worthiness. It seems pretty clear that from here on out, a church member who chooses to get one is making a statement about their willingness, or lack thereof, to follow the prophet, but we still cannot judge people’s hearts. It’s not our job. We can however, teach all the youth we have any influence over to listen to the prophet, and get their own testimony of his wisdom and authority. We can work hard to instill in our people the desire to follow God, and not popular culture.

    Many times, I’ve been in the temple with tattoed people. Just a couple of years ago, I reached my hand across the altar and clasped the tattooed hand of the man I’d been married to for 27 years to be sealed to him for eternity. Sure, he wishes the ink were not there. But his heart is much more important than his skin as an indicator of worthiness.

    This reminds me of when I was a child, growing up in “Mormonland” (that little corner of Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho where members were a huge majority of the population). Several times a year there would be the Sacrament Meeting talk about the Word of Wisdom. It seemed that cigarette smoking was a vastly greater sin than dishonesty or gossiping or coveting. After all, cigarette smoking was very difficult to conceal. Maybe we needed that Word of Wisdom talk right then, in the era before the surgeon general had validated God’s revelation with science. But, it seems scary that people who are decorated with skin art might feel the same judgmental attitude that anyone with a cigarette addiction felt in my childhood. Tattoos cannot be removed as “easily” as giving up smoking. So, I’m thinking that we’re going to be attending meetings, and the temple, for many years to come with folks who have skin decor. So remember: hearts count more than skin.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 11:06 pm

    What a tribute to your dear husband. How true that God judges on the heart!

    When speaking of this “new” directive, I wanted to bring something out. I have known all my life that that the general authorities have strongly discouraged tattoos, although I can’t tell you what all the sources were. Mormon Doctrine, which is older than I am, says:

    The practice [of tattooing] is a desecration of the human body and should not be permitted. Latter-day Saint servicemen in particular are counseled to avoid the pitfalls of tattooing. Persons who are tattooed are not, however, denied the ordinances and blessings of the temples.

    Leviticus 19:28 (which is also way older than I am) reads, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord. And now that the prophet has emphasized it again, there is no question of the will of the Lord in the matter.”

  • Reader Comment June 15, 2008, 11:07 pm

    Debby from Australia, writes:

    Hello ladies:

    I agree in principle with the prophet’s tattoo thing. But a discreet tattoo on one’s ankle, side of leg, shoulder, behind one’s ear, etc., is surely not a drama. Discreet in my book is about the size of a small coin. There is something fascinating about the human desire to brand oneself. I actually do think of myself as a cow at times! Large and elaborate tattoos may be exciting when one is a teen; but what about those ugly unseemly tattoos that crinkle over the sagging, aging skin of a geriatric body. Not a pretty sight. The human body does have its way when you get older. Hence a small tattoo might work better in your old age, if it is well positioned. This is just a thought for I am without tattoo!

    If there is a perceived thrill gained from body art, I’d go for temporary tattoos or use a “nikko” pen every time a bit of doodling on the arms and legs is fun and whiz bang it comes off! Removable tattoos add no scars for later life and provide enormous variety! Now, there’s a thought.

    Indeed I have tale to tell. We recently had a “family funny legs triathlon.” The idea was to wear/paint anything bizarre on our legs whilst we ran, cycled, and swam as a family. This was an extended family event by the way!

    Well, I was running out of ideas and decided that the quickest thing was to grab a “nikko” pen and draw flowers etc. all over my legs. The effect was fantastic! The little nieces and nephews loved it and my 70-year-old parents and younger siblings thought it was a laugh and a half! No harm done and we all enjoyed some light-hearted mirth!

    What can I say! Encourage this unique fascinationwith body art. It is satisfying at some level and it is no different from face painting. The big bonus with both suggestions is that they lend themselves to variety and removal!

    Incidentally, my teenage son comes home with biro inscriptions all over his arms and legs and frequently has all his nails blacked out with ink pen of some kind; all his mates do it, but none of them have tattoos.

    None of this bothers me as it appears to be a phase and it entertains me. What will my dear teenager come up with next? In fact, my dear teen has just had a six-month burst of dread locks and whilst he was somewhat attached to the image, he was quite happy to cut them when he decided he wanted to be an usher for our upcoming temple open house. Thus I have learned that he’s a good fun loving person, who has emerging spiritual interests but just needs a little room to be a teen.

    The big plus was that he made these decisions when he was ready. Perhaps parents can encourage their “tattoo tempted teens” to try trendy fashion approaches that aren’t as lasting as tattoos. Just a few thoughts!

    After all, the body art issue probably isn’t the major issue, it’s the self- expression issue that needs to be appreciated. Interestingly, teens and “teen-adults” like me, can siphon off these desires for self-expression by painting/decorating their rooms or painting a picture or making a clay pot or designing jewelry.

    Alternatives always exist.

    As far as I can see, the notion of teenager self-expression needs to be an important focal point for parents and youth leaders; and when these are manifest as either adornment or acts of creation they are wholly desirable. Often, when these developing energies are effectively channeled they can be precursors to creative problem solving later in life.

    Just want to mention this. We have several Polynesian people in our stake. I have seen many designs on the wrists of some of these good people. Evidently from the answers I have received when I remarked on their beauty (they usually are very attractive designs) this is a long-term custom among some Polynesian groups. I am sure that Heavenly Father doesn’t frown on them anymore than on the women who follow a long term custom by having their ears pierced. I don’t, personally, agree with this practice, however.

    I would like to say that generally I like my body the way that Heavenly Father made it. However, this is not entirely true, as I have died my hair on and off for over 40 years. The one thing that does get to me is the fingernail issue. The rumor was, when I was a child, that the rich Chinese had such long fingernails that they had little boxes made for each finger to protect them. This was supposedly (as was the binding of the feet) a sign that that individual did not do any labor. Since I know that labor is good and that riches ill spent are evil, it kind of turns me off when I see such long nails on the sisters hands. I always think, “Don’t they do any work?” Since I see them turn their hands in funny ways when they do things on Enrichment Night, I know they are actually not among the useless.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 11:07 pm

    This is an interesting point, how culture interacts with, and sometimes contradicts, religious belief. My husband served a mission to Samoa. Traditionally part of the right of passage to becoming a “man” was having an intricate tattoo done from the lower chest to the knees and every inch in between.

    I would suggest that the prophets counsel is not confined to any particular culture or ethnicity. If what God wants us to do doesn’t align with our culture or heritage or tradition, then we discard that part of our culture. We don’t ever discount the prophet’s counsel.

  • Reader Comment June 15, 2008, 11:08 pm

    Wilma writes:

    Your article about tattoos caught my eye. A young woman in our ward, who has Down’s Syndrome, is a wonderful little spirit. One of the youth leaders had a tattoo painted on her ankle. She was waiting one night for a bishop’s interview and our Roxy saw the tattoo. She jumped all over this good sister, and you could understand her when she said, “The prophet said ?” She was not happy until the guilty person went into the bathroom with her and washed away her painted-on ankle bracelet. I doubt that good sister will ever paint on another tattoo.!

    Sometimes it takes these special little spirits to lead the way, doesn’t it?

  • Reader Comment June 15, 2008, 11:09 pm

    Janet Bernice writes:

    Well here I am, ladies, commenting once again. I totally agree with the adage: “Let him who is without sin ?”

    Yes, in our ideal celestial world no one will wear more than one set of earrings or have tattoos. Including me. But for now, I have one (a tattoo) on my left ankle. I got it in a fit of artistic “needing to be different” energy (I’d also just broken up with the latest boyfriend). Silly, of course, as we are all innately different, and having a tattoo only makes you more like some others, after all. (In fact the sign in the tattoo parlor said, “Tattoos: not just for sailors and whores anymore.” Now there’s a big clue!)

    It was a few years before the edict came out; and I will say I did look high and low for anything about tattoos in the scriptures. And, since my intentions were to do something daring just to please myself and I didn’t care if anyone saw it or not, I went ahead and made my “statement” of individuality. In fact, I often tell people who ask about it, “Well, I used to be a hippy before I joined the Church,” and that usually takes care of it. (Is that lying? I really was a hippy before I joined the Church. Heaven forbid anyone would think I’m still that stupid!)

    Imagine my chagrin and embarrassment when President Hinckley made his statement. I felt terrible. I don’t mind if others in my ward think I’m different, but I don’t want the Lord to be unhappy with me. So, as the years went by, I made it a point to always tell my bishop and Stake Presidency member when I went for a temple interview that I have a tattoo. Do you know, not one of them said, “Now sister, why did you go and do a stupid thing like that? We can’t let you have a temple recommend!”

    Actually, what I’ve been told is, “Yes, it’s not a good idea, yes President Hinckley has spoken. However, do you pay a full tithe, attend your meetings, etc.?” Add the rest of the temple questions ?and on we go.

    I attend the temple regularly and try to do my best. I suppose my transgression will be with me until I’m resurrected, but so is my inability to see without glasses and the scar from doing something dumb and getting my finger stuck in a hinge!

    I am thankful though, every day, that it is the Lord who understands my heart and my intentions and is compassionate and forgiving.

    And I apologize in advance to any of you I’ve disappointed by writing about this additional imperfection I have. Sigh ?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 11:09 pm

    Janet, I think the big difference here is that while I cannot judge the worthiness or righteousness or position of any tattooed individual on earth, I can say that any member of the church who gets a tattoo today (or during my lifetime) is not following prophetic counsel. I can also say that any male church member who sports earrings and any female who wears more than two isn’t following the prophet. That doesn’t mean that we should point out the flaw, gossip about the person, treat them poorly, or anything of the sort. But we can determine what behaviors are appropriate for a member of the church and determine to align our lives in that way. That isn’t a judgment of an individual’s salvation. Only God can do that. But we must be able to determine the difference between right and wrong and be able to tell what following God means. Scriptures that teach us not to judge are not telling us to live without discernment.

    I’ll put my money where my mouth is. I have three empty holes in my ears. They’ve been empty for over two years now and haven’t grown back yet. One that I loved is up high in the cartilage. It was painful to get and was done, similar to your tattoo, marking a specific passage in my life. I loved that earring. I loved that it set me apart. I loved that the Young Women I taught thought I was cool and hip.

    When the prophet spoke, I hate to admit, I anguished over the decision whether or not to follow the counsel. I mean, what did it matter? It was just an earring!

    After a few months of pretending that the counsel didn’t apply to me and trying to justify my inaction due to which particular audience was being addressed by which particular statement, I simply stood up in front of “my” Young Women, apologized for setting a bad example, and took out the extraneous earrings, for good.

    Am I a better person than when I wore five earrings? Yes! Because I was obedient even though I could not determine a reason and even though I didn’t want to be. To be honest, that is the only difference that I can see. Well, and that people now view me more conservatively than they used to (which isn’t always a positive thing!). But it doesn’t matter whether or not I have evidence of the soundness of the counsel. It came from the prophet, and that is good enough for me.

  • Elena June 16, 2008, 3:21 am

    My little girl was recently given cutsie temporary tattoos by a relative. So exited, she insisted I put them on immediatly. I wasn’t prepared for the issue- she’s only 3! So I caved when the tears came, & triedto call them stickers, so as to avoid later confusion. Oh,… I didn’t realize the prediciment I got myself into until she began arguing w/me: “no! there tattoos! not stickers!”, & went prancing around…”look at my tattoos!”

    Lesson learned: stick to your guns with your little ones. And when they bring home those temp. tattoos in their birthday treat bags- stick ’em on paper! And try to explain the ‘why’s’, even if you think they won’t get it, they might surpise you some day!

  • delmar June 16, 2008, 7:08 am

    I was cutely told by several members when I joined that I would NEVER be allowed into the temple with my tattoo. The same people even said it was a temple recommend question! Glad to know its not and that on July 5th (only 18 months after my baptism, finally!) I will be able to receive my endowments and my family will be sealed from time and all eternity….DESPITE my decisions while a non-member AND my hubbies decisions while he was LESS than active.

    Let me tell ya, when I was orignally told those rumors, I wondered. But then again I know several military retiree members who are festooned with tats and are worthy TR holders, as I am now. I also know one of my hubbies tats was there prior to his mission, but hes still good. One of my favorite missionaries and one who gave me discussions is Samoan and has a couple, but hes good too.

    Personally if we go back to our most perfect state when we are resurrected, I’m sure we will all be gorgeous clean slates with no body art. I’m not condoning getting any more and not following prophetic counsel, but its probably true.

    I imagine it: Extra ear holes and assorted piercing scars, gone! Tattoos & accidental scars gone! Stretch marks and blemishes, gone! Excessive body weight, gone! All will be right in the world ladies!!!

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 7:18 am

    Welcome to Mormon Momma, Elena!!!

    Funny timing! We recently had the same issue in our house!
    We spent a part of this past Saturday at my sister-in-law’s house. Her neighborhodd was having their yearly neighborhood garage sale. One of the things my youngest found on the “kid table” at a particular sale, was a little book of washable tattoos of popular cartoon characters, and of course, she wanted to buy it.

    I was just getting ready to say “no”, when my 11 and 13 year olds’ both chimed in, practically in unison. “Emma–the prophet said “no tattoos.” She goes, “Even the kid ones that wash off?”

    Noting that the couple sitting in lawn chairs monitoring the cash box were both adorned in REAL tatoos, I quietly suggested that we save the discussion for the car. 😉

    I told them how back when I was little (in the 70’s) I used to LOVE getting Cracker Jacks and was always excited to get the prize, which was frequently, washable tattoos. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, and neither did my parents.

    Something else I used to get was candy cigarettes. Some of them were a harder candy, similar to the consistenty of those small pastel colored party mints, and some of them were bubble gum. But either way, they were designed to look like cigarettes, complete in the “hard pack” box with the cellophane wrapping and the little red-line tag that you pulled to unwrap it. We thought we were so cool walking around with ‘cigarettes’, acting like we were smoking and blowing out the smoke. (My father was a smoker, by the way)
    My kids about had a heart attack! Even Emma. They were like “That’s SO stupid!! Why would they make cigarettes out of CANDY!! That would make kids LIKE cigarettes!!”
    My son goes “That shouldn’t even be LEGAL!” 🙂

    I told them how somewhere along the line, my mother realized how ridiculous it was for candy companies to be making candy for children that looked like cigarettes, and I REMEMBER her telling us we couldn’t get them anymore. And now that I think about it– that would have been shortly after they joined the church– so that probably had something to do with it!

    Anyway– so I asked the kids why they thought it was a bad idea for a candy company to make candy cigarettes for kids, even if they’re just pretend and it’s only candy. They all gave great answers, and were spot on.

    Then I asked Emma “So if the prophet said we shouldn’t get tattoos, do you think you should use the kid ones, even if they’re just pretend and wash away?”

    She very easily made the connection. It was interesting how it was so obvious to her with the candy cigarettes, though. I’m thinking it may be that smoking gets additional attention– they hear it at home and church– but they ALSO get it in school.

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 7:26 am

    Delmar– don’t mean to sound harsh toward your member acquaintences, but any member who’d tell someone that they can’t go in the temple with tattoos (especially ones that were acquired BEFORE getting baptized, and/or before the counsel from President Hinckley) would have to be a rather unknowledgable member of the church. They might know the principles by information, but what’s the point of knowing the information about the principle, if they don’t know how to apply it and balance it with OTHER principles– like accountability and repentence??

  • jennycherie June 16, 2008, 7:28 am

    AND, let’s not forget that some people got them AFTER President Hinckley’s statement but can still repent of the behavior. A tattoo at any time is a not a one-way ticket to outer darkness!

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 7:34 am


  • davidson June 16, 2008, 10:00 am

    I think these are good ideas, and I’ve appreciated the points of view. I am convinced that the body is a temple. We wouldn’t paint graffitti on one of the Church’s temples, even if it was washable paint. Call me a religious fanatic; I even ask my children to not draw on their skin, and to not let their friends draw on their skin, and for the same reason that I would ask them not to paint graffitti on the walls of our local temple, even if it was washable paint. To me it is just a matter of respect. I like the way you taught your children that principle, Face. It gets them thinking, coming to conclusions on their own.

  • jennycherie June 16, 2008, 10:22 am

    by the way, face, thanks for sharing that (and others of you too!) about the temporary tattoos. I had never considered that temporary tattoos might be similar to candy cigarettes but I see the connection! It hasn’t been more than a month or so that my girls each got a sheet of temporary tattoos inside a coloring book. They had a great time decorating themselves with the whole sheet (at once!). My daughter, who is generally pretty spacey and moves at her own speed which is a very slow speed, actually was quite determined and persistent and had the WHOLE sheet (around 25 tattoos) on within 30 minutes. So, that will give us something interesting to discuss now!

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 10:29 am

    :shamed: :shamed: oooooh!! Forgot about that! I remembered as soon as I saw your post! ooops!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 10:30 am

    Posted By: delmarI was cutely told by several members when I joined that I would NEVER be allowed into the temple with my tattoo. The same people even said it was a temple recommend question!

    All this seems to indicate is that the people in question have never, themselves, had a temple recommend interview. 😎

    Now I’m going to disagree with some of you.

    A tattoo is: a mark with an indelible design by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin

    It is NOT writing someone’s phone number on your hand or putting washable paint on your arm. By that re-defining, regular grocery-store makeup is elevated to a “tattoo.” And it’s just not. Even if the marketers start calling makeup “washable facial tattoos.” It still isn’t remotely what President Hinckley was talking about.

    To me moving from the actual prophetic counsel of “don’t get a tattoo” to “don’t put anything that is colored anywhere on your body” is akin to those who extend the actual Word of Wisdom to exclude cola, chocolate, meat, and dairy.

    I don’t CARE how you deal with those things in your home or with your kids–and understand why you might draw such lines–but we can’t elevate those things to be PART of the prophetic counsel. They aren’t.

    Personally, I think the piercing/tattoo counsel is almost entirely culture-based policy and has nothing at all to do with doctrine. IMO it is very similar to how today’s acceptable missionary attire is white shirts, dark suits and ties, clean-shaven faces, and short hair. While Christ’s own “missionary attire” was almost the opposite.

    We should still follow the counsel, but realize where it sits in the whole scheme of things.

  • jennycherie June 16, 2008, 10:40 am

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smith
    I don’t CARE how you deal with those things in your home or with your kids–and understand why you might draw such lines–but we can’t elevate those things to be PART of the prophetic counsel. They aren’t.

    Oh, I definitely agree–and I don’t feel bad about the girls having had tattoos before, but I can see the connection between a temporary tattoo and a real one (pretending to be tattooed, glorifying having a tattoo, pretending to do something we shouldn’t) just like I can see the connection between candy cigarettes and real ones. I just think it will be a good opportunity to talk to my girls about it and to think about others things we might do that walk the line or that imitate sin.

  • davidson June 16, 2008, 11:39 am

    Yup. What Jenn said.

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 11:52 am

    Agreed, Alison. I wouldn’t say “The prophet said you can’t have pretend tattoos”, or that allowing kids to use the tattoos in a Cracker Jack box is “sinful” or “going against prophetic counsel”, anymore than I’d say it’s a “sin” to eat a candy cigarette.
    This is more a matter of a parent or oneself determining how THEY are going to APPLY a piece of prophetic counsel in their lives and how they want to teach a concept/principle to their children- a matter of where one personally decides to draw a line.

    Your example of the white shirts is a good example. We know that’s preferred and suggested by the Brethren, even though it isn’t required.

    But as soon as our son turned eight we started having him wear a white shirt and tie to church and he’s never worn anything else since then. (Okay, having gotten to know Ray, I better clarify. Yes, he also wore underwear, pants, shoes and socks. 🙂

    It certainly wouldn’t be “wrong” for him to wear a nice polo or whatever, but we felt like baptism age was a good age to really encourage him to follow counsel, even if it isn’t required. If it’s suggested to wear a white shirt and tie to pass the sacrament, and he was going to be doing that the rest of his life once he turned 12, we figured we might as well have him get in the habit, and baptism was a good place to start. In fact, that’s when he got his first suit. (nope– came back to correct. He got his suit when he got ordained not when he got baptized)

    I made the same personal choice as a teenager when it came to modest dress. We didn’t have the clear cut standards saying “no bare shoulders”, or anything determining the proper length of shorts– at least not anything that I recall (???) other than “dress modestly”. (Out of curiosity– anyone have a FSOY pamphlet from the early 80’s? I found one online from 1966— you should check it out! Pretty funny!)

    Either way, I distinctly remember when I was sitting in a Youth Conference planning meeting as a youth committee member, and they were talking about dress standards and where they should draw the line in regards to sleeveless tops, shorts length, etc. The leaders were going back and forth and one of them suggested that they should set the standard at whatever would cover temple garments. Another disagreed, saying essentially, “Well the youth don’t WEAR garments. They aren’t under the same restrictions that we are. We can’t hold them to the same standard.”

    Believe it or not, that was the first I knew about garments. Neither of my parents had been to temple. I’d never seen garments before. So I didn’t know how far down the leg they went, if there was anykind of a sleeve, or cap sleeve.

    When I realized where they DID go, and only because of their conversation, (which I now realize probably shouldn’t have happened in front of the youth committee :), I stopped wearing several pairs of shorts that were too short. Not because it was required of me, but just because I figured that if that’s the standard the Lord set for endowed members, then that’s probably what he would want me to do anyway, even if it wasn’t expected or required.

    n regards to the tattoos– we look at it in the same way. The prophet certainly didn’t say “you can’t even do the tattoos in a cracker jacks box”. But even BEFORE the prophets counsel about tattoos, we didn’t let our kids use the “kid” ones.

    Tattoos are one of things that even though there wasn’t specific direction (unless there was and I just didn’t know about it and with the current trend, the prophet felt the need to re-emphasize it) most members just sort of “knew” that it was something the Lord wouldn’t approve of.

    I’m sure that a the majority of members sort of mumbled a “duh” or even a “does he really need to say that? doesn’t eveyone sort of know that?” when the President Hinckley made the announcement. And I’ll bet a lot of parents had a sigh of relief, too. Like– THANK YOU!! THANK YOU FOR VALIDATING WHAT I”VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL MY TEENAGER FOR SEVERAL WEEKS!

    I just never wanted my kids to think of tattoos as cool or fun, even if they were just pretend ones, anymore than I’d want them to think that candy cigarettes were cool or fun, even if they’re just pretend ones. But again I think that’s a parenting thing and how each parent decides to teach their kids certain principles and when and how to implement them.

    One could say, “well then, if you don’t want your kids killing people, or thinking that killing people is fun and cool, then why do you let them play Army or cops and robbers and shoot each other with Nerf guns.”

    It’s another parenting thing for each set of parents to decide. To me, there’s a difference, even though I can see why someone would draw the comparison. The way I see it, there isn’t anything inherently wrong about the Army, or cops chasing the bad guys. Additionally, being in the army isn’t a super popular “fad” that 80% of kids are getting into that the prophet has counseled against.

    Now, if my kids wanted to do the SAME THING, and chase each other around with Nerf guns while dressing up like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, or calling themselves the Bloods and the Crips (or however you spell it) and play like they were gangbangers, then I’d have a real problem with that. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 12:35 pm

    Posted By: facethemusicYour example of the white shirts is a good example. We know that’spreferredandsuggestedby the Brethren, even though it isn’t required.

    Actually, I want to clarify a little. I wasn’t talking about men wearing white shirts to church. That isn’t policy at all, with the exception of those DOING ORDINANCES (the only authoritative reference I can find is ages ago to boys administering the sacrament). I’m talking about the official, written policy for MISSIONARIES to have a very specific attire that is only moderately modified by culture.

    The policy that is required TODAY in that respect, is quite contrary to what Christ wore and, in fact, Christ’s attire would not be accepted today for missionaries. My point was that such a policy is obviously based only on culture, not on doctrine.

    FWIW, there has been specific authoritative direction on tattoos for decades and I don’t think there is any problem with talking about garments in from of youth. Much better than for them to be shocked when the go to the temple and find out they have to wear “magic underwear.”

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 1:11 pm

    The policy that is required TODAY in that respect, is quite contrary to what Christ wore and, in fact, Christ’s attire would not be accepted today for missionaries. My point was that such a policy is obviously based only on culture, not on doctrine.


    And now I should clarify–.. I didn’t mean that they shouldn’t have mentioned garments in front of the youth– when I went back to reread what I wrote, I realized I didn’t word it very well– or place it very well in what I wrote. I meant that the dress standards should have been something decided on by the adults previously, not something debated on back and forth in front of the kids. They were clearly in disagreement– one thinking the other was being too lax and lenient and the other thinking that the former was being too strict.

    We’re finalizing our Youth Conference right now– the dress standards aren’t up to the youth committee. Those standards are already set and we don’t debate them or other things in front of the kids.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 1:24 pm

    Oh, I see. Yes, presenting a unified front is best.

  • Ray June 16, 2008, 3:02 pm

    “But as soon as our son turned eight we started having him wear a white shirt and tie to church and he’s never worn anything else since then. (Okay, having gotten to know Ray, I better clarify. Yes, he also wore underwear, pants, shoes and socks.”

    Nice. Very nice.

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 4:48 pm

    hee hee hee :bigsmile:
    … as soon as I read over what I’d written, I thought, “Ray’s going to come back with something like…
    ‘someone so conscious about what their son wears to church might want to consider that he should wear something more than JUST a shirt and tie… like… oh… I don’t know.. pants, maybe?”

    So, was I right? Come, on Ray. Spill. Did you think it? Huh? Did ya? Did ya?

  • shanant June 16, 2008, 8:15 pm

    To get back to the tattoo question in a regional conference for our stake, years ago, we got to go downtown, I went by myself and got into the Assembly Hall. Dallin H. Oaks spoke on not getting tattoos. He said if you feel like you need one go draw on yourself with a pen because the pen isn’t permanent. My neighbor (who was there with her family) said her teenage daughters had never so enthusiastically followed a church leaders counsel!

  • Ray June 16, 2008, 8:24 pm


  • davidson June 16, 2008, 11:03 pm

    HA! Okay. I stand corrected! :bigsmile: Thank you, Shanant.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 11:13 pm

    Posted By: shanantMy neighbor (who was there with her family) said her teenage daughters had never so enthusiastically followed a church leaders counsel!


  • Alison Moore Smith June 16, 2008, 11:23 pm

    Seriously, though, I was thinking about this today…ahem…in the shower. I was thinking about the permanence issue. Obviously it IS an issue with tattoos, but not so much with piercings . My three “extra” holes are still there, but no one can see them and I’m not even sure I could force an earring through them anymore. And we aren’t prohibited from some other permanent changes to our bodies. So permanent change isn’t prohibited.

    I think it’s about cultural perception. There was a time (in my mother’s…and certainly President Hinckley’s day) when, as my mom put it, “only loose girls get their ears pierced.” And, to a great extent that was true. Today, single piercings have no negative cultural ramifications or moral implications. But multiple piercings push closer to the rebellious edge. They are LESS mainstream and LESS conservative ways to dress. And tattoos, popular as they are today, are still on the edgy side of things.

    I think our counsel isn’t so much fixed as it is always going to be RELATIVELY on the conservative side, whatever that is. With Brigham Young, conservative was one thing, today it is quite another. But we are always on the more conservative side of the culture.

    We’re always going to be counseled to be peculiar, but probably not ever to be edgy. And, golly, I do like to be edgy.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2008, 12:07 am

    Just read this article and thought the following quote was apropos.

    Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. That ground becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.

    Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm ?s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path that was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.

  • nanacarol June 17, 2008, 12:16 am

    What next will they outlaw-most likely it will be hair color. After all it isn’t natural either. HE HE!!! I love edgy too and It was hard to obey but I did. I just could not go teach Seminary with two earrings in. I wanted three but glad I stopped. I once toyed with the tatoo idea just to get a reaction from hubby and would have if it hadn’t of influenced another member of this wonderful group. Ah, San Francisco is such a bad influence!!!

  • davidson June 17, 2008, 12:27 am

    Alison, I was really impressed with that article too. Thanks for sharing it. Nana, Brigham Young said, “Even a barn looks better with a little paint.” (He was talking about makeup, but maybe it applies to hair color, too.) HA!

  • nanacarol June 17, 2008, 12:31 am

    oh, I am so glad, cause this ole barn needs lots of help lately!!!

  • davidson June 17, 2008, 12:32 am

    Mine, too.

  • kiar June 17, 2008, 9:41 am

    ummm, nana, would the same person who told you not to get the tat be the one that had blue hair??? lol?

  • Lewis_Family June 17, 2008, 9:49 am

    Does this mean I can’t get a breast augmentation anymore? :devil:

  • Ray June 17, 2008, 10:38 am


    Michelle vetoed mine.

  • Ray June 17, 2008, 10:39 am

    So, Alison, what you are saying is that the piercings / tattoos issue is much like the cursing / swearing issue I discussed a while ago? It’s probably obvious that I agree.

  • nanacarol June 17, 2008, 11:05 am

    could be Kiar!!?!!

  • kiar June 17, 2008, 2:19 pm

    Ray, I am speechless… I know you must work very hard to keep your girlish figure. For shame Michelle, keeping him from his fabulosity.

    Nana, it totally could be! I am pleased to report that I have “normal” hair, and no peircings(extra) this year.

  • facethemusic June 17, 2008, 2:23 pm

    😉 Fabulosity??? Is that a word?? Or do you make them up the way I do??
    Either way, I love it! Great word!! I’ll have to fit that one in sometime today!

  • delmar June 17, 2008, 3:53 pm

    oh my goodness. kiar is officially banned from watching tv. kimora lee simmons? really! although the term fabulosity has totally fit into certain conversations recently!

    sorry ladies, the smut daytime tv is getting to some of us!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 17, 2008, 3:59 pm

    Yes, Ray.

    And I, too, am enveloped in fabulosity.

  • davidson June 17, 2008, 5:30 pm

    As is every Mormon Momma here (and every Mormon Poppa.) :rolling: (I accidentally typed Poopa. Sorry, Ray.)

  • Ray June 17, 2008, 6:28 pm

    I accidentally typed Poopa.”

    This has to be one of the most twisted – and funny – threadjacks in a while.

  • kiar June 17, 2008, 8:51 pm

    dude, delmar, I haven’t even watched that show!! I swear, I came up with it myself. At least I didn’t call him “Fierce!” that would tell on me for watching Project Runway! (I love that show!)

    Ray: are you the “Grand Pooba?” of our esteemed little community? Do we get to wear funny hats? Perhaps stand and declare our loyalty to the art of bowling and drinking rootbeer?

  • davidson June 17, 2008, 9:44 pm

    I second the motion.

  • nanacarol June 17, 2008, 10:46 pm

    I totally resemble all this remarks!!! Also, i third the motion. who’s getting the rootbeer?

  • kiar June 17, 2008, 10:47 pm

    I have my very own Bowling Ball!

  • delmar June 17, 2008, 11:21 pm

    I want a rootbeer float now! and bowling would be fun…although my belly is slightly bowling ball like right now so it might look funny for a preggo lady to be bowling.

  • kiar June 18, 2008, 9:38 am

    delmar, remember, we went bowling when I was pregnant! that was a disaster! I bowled the worst I ever had, and almost fell on my face! I had no balance!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 18, 2008, 9:49 am

    I have no idea what we’re talking about. Please continue.

  • marathonermom June 18, 2008, 9:50 am

    Lewis_Family: Does this mean I can’t get a breast augmentation anymore?

    Ray: Michelle vetoed mine.

    Orange juice, meet keyboard. Thanks, guys!

  • Lewis_Family June 18, 2008, 10:31 am

    sorry? :bigsmile:

  • delmar June 18, 2008, 11:50 am

    kiar, when we went bowling while you were preggo I was also in a wheelchair! both of us looked horribly “special”

  • agardner June 18, 2008, 9:09 pm

    Lewis, you would be amazed at the LDS women I know who have augmentations. I can think of at least 5 who did it in my last ward (Pleasant Grove, UT!). My sister in Springville said there have been a bunch in her ward as well.

    Something kind of funny. When I was primary president, one of my counselors was always talking about how she hated being small-chested and how she stuffed to make her clothes look normal. She used to make sometimes snarky comments about other women in the ward who she said had done the surgery.

    Then she went through a couple of weeks where she made excuses not to come to meetings or church. Stomach flu, sick kids, things to do. Then suddenly, she was flaunting her chest like crazy, and I wondered….

    A few weeks later, it was confirmed when the lady who did both of our hair said, “How do you like so-and-so’s b___ job?”. I just had to die laughing because she went sooo out of her way to hide it from me. I never did say anything to her about it.

    So the moral of the story is this: I personally think it’s really sad that anyone thinks they need to permanently chanage their body through surgery. I would wish that they wouldn’t do it. Then again, it’s a personal choice and I’m not going to judge it.

  • delmar June 18, 2008, 11:47 pm

    Ah…..like tattoos and extra piercings I’m sure silicone and saline items will too vanish at ressurection.

  • Tinkerbell June 18, 2008, 11:57 pm

    I am so behind I didn’t even read all the comments – just wanted to say this: It seems to me that a lot of commandments aren’t necessarily about worthiness – they are for our own protection and happiness. I think that if you get a tattoo, you get to live with the consequences of that. I don’t necessarily think it makes you “unworthy”. Also, a lot of commandments are to keep us from becoming addicted or entrapped. Tattoos are addicting – my little sister is addicted to them. It is almost scary.

  • Tinkerbell June 18, 2008, 11:58 pm

    Oh, and Alison, I did the same thing with my extra earring. When President Hinckley made the announcement about the one hole per ear, I went home and took mine out. I figured that if I didn’t heed the prophet’s counsel on the little stuff, how did I expect to heed him on the big stuff?

  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2008, 12:23 am

    Unfortunately, Tinkerbell, I did NOT do what you did. I fussed around about it for weeks first. I WISH I had done what you did, but I did learn a lesson from it all.

  • Lewis_Family June 19, 2008, 11:17 am

    I was only joking. If I were to augmentate (sp?) my breasts, it would be to downsize, I tease hubby about that all the time.

  • Michelle D June 28, 2008, 8:57 pm

    So I finally had time to read the 66 comments on this thread. Marathoner, if I had been drinking OJ, mine would have been spewed all over the keyboard, too! I laughed so hard! Ray is by no means the only one in our group capable of this, but he certainly helps liven up the party, doesn’t he?! :jumping:

    Everything I would say on the actual topic has already been said… and then some. How did tattoos get to breast augmentation?!?! I’d have to go back and read the comments to find where it segued into the discussion! :rolling:

    Have I said how much I love being here at MM?! This turned into a hilarious thread and it was fun to read!

  • Lewis_Family June 28, 2008, 10:41 pm

    lol, my fault on the breast augs, it was mentioned to not permanently alter your body, so I threw it in.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 29, 2008, 11:18 am

    I intend to place blame for this and any and all past and future offenses at MM on Lewis.

    So let it be written. So let it be done.

  • Michelle D June 29, 2008, 12:56 pm

    Lewis, I remember it tied in somehow, I just couldn’t remember how… You’re in trouble now – Alison has it written in stone that all offenses are at your feet. But we still love you!

  • Lewis_Family June 29, 2008, 12:57 pm

    You better 🙂 especially those who are wanting a saved place at the parade 😉

  • Michelle D June 29, 2008, 12:59 pm

    That would have to be a pretty B–I–G blanket to reach far enough for us to join you! I hope you guys have fun!

  • Lewis_Family June 29, 2008, 1:03 pm

    I’ll take lots of pics and post them to my blog, so those who don’t make it can still share the fun 🙂

  • Michelle D June 29, 2008, 1:05 pm

    Cool! I’ll have to check them out.

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