What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

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A tattooed man reads a Bible.

Tattoos have become popular these days; it’s a common sight to see in both young and old people. However, there have been times when tattoos were considered repugnant by people. Many people from the past are quick to judge people who have tattoos. They thought that these tattooed individuals are criminals or have bad records. This is why many Christians thought that having a tattoo goes against the teaching of the scriptures. But what does the Bible say about tattoos?

Perhaps you’re one of those Christians who is facing a dilemma – should I get a tattoo or not? And as good Christians, we must consult the Bible first before we start an endeavor or a commitment. Truly, getting a tattoo is a commitment. It’s wise that we study the Bible first before getting inked. Keep in mind that these tattoos are permanent and it will stay on your body for the rest of your life.

According to research spearheaded by Harris Poll, 21% of adults in the US have tattoos. There’s an increase of 16% in the data from 2003 to 2008. It is estimated that one out of five adults in the country has a tattoo. With this upward trend, it is only right that Christians must take the time to consider whether or not he or she should get a tattoo.

Quick Navigation

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?
What Does Leviticus 19:28 Mean?
Bible Verses to Think About Before Getting a Tattoo
Are Tattoos Against the Bible?



Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo
Common Christian Tattoo Styles
Choosing the Best Christian Tattoo
Conclusion

A Christian Planning to Get a Tattoo

Christians are called to be obedient to God’s word. This means that he or she should consider and obey what the Bible says. The Bible possesses all-important answers to almost every question we have in life. If you’re a Christian and you’re planning to get a tattoo, then the good news is, we wrote this article for you to ensure that you’ll be able to weigh the decision that you’re about to make. Furthermore, we understand that Biblical tattoo topics are quite limited. 

Nonetheless, by carefully examining what the Scriptures say about tattoos, we will feel enlightened and whatever our decisions may be, we will not feel guilty afterward. One of the goals of Christian life is to have a solid grasp of what the Bible says about particular things, ideas, topics, beliefs, and morals. Keep in mind that we are God’s handiwork, thus our body must be treated with high regard. 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us that “we are not our own” and that we were bought at a price, and that is by the blood of Christ. 

It also says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that in “whatever we do”, be it eating, drinking, or even getting a tattoo, we need to do it all for the glory of God. Hence, we have to consider several things first before getting a tattoo. Knowing the intentions of our hearts is also very important. Moreover, we also have to know what the Bible truly says about tattoos. 

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What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

You might be wondering, does the Bible say anything about tattoos or getting a tattoo? At the outset, it’s crucial that we consider several factors when interpreting the Bible. The context of the Bible verse must be considered, as well as the language, grammar, and history. We must also try to understand the narrative behind every verse. 

One of the most common and well-known Bible verses that talks about tattoos is Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD” (ESV). Literally, it is translated as, “you will not cut your flesh for the dead; and writing marks on your body must not be done.” Or to put it simply, the verse tells us not to cut our bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on our bodies.

At first glance, we can say that this verse is indeed a strong command against tattooing. But there are some challenges involved in this verse and one of them is that the word “tattoo” was only introduced in the 18th century. The verse does not tell us about the tattoo, as we know it today.

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What Does Leviticus 19:28 Mean?

Without considering context and language, we can immediately conclude that getting a tattoo is indeed a sin. However, the verse is not talking about modern-day tattoo practices. The tattoos that we know of today are a modern-day concept and there are major differences from cutting yourself for the dead and getting a tattoo today. Here’s what we know for sure, there is no verse or quote that we can find in the Bible that states how sinful it is to inject an ink on your body parts to create a permanent design, art, writings, or images.

Many experts and theologians believe that the verse Leviticus is not actually about tattoo but that of extreme body modifications used for sacrifices. What makes these sacrifices abominable is that they are offered to the dead and even false gods, not the true God. The tribe of Canaanites is nefariously known to slash, mutilate, brand, and cut themselves or their skin to mourn for the dead and honor their gods. For sure, this kind of practice goes against the Bible as it is written in Exodus 34:14 that “we should not worship any other Gods, but the Lord.”

The Canaanites were not “tattooing” themselves but they are mutilating it and performing extremely wicked scarification. Their rituals and practices were also exposed in 1 Kings 18:28. Aside from Canaan, Egyptians also did some markings or brandings on their skin, although it’s more limited to women. Archeologists found out that Egyptian women do this for fertility purposes.

By carefully studying Leviticus 19:28, we can infer that the Bible is not addressing modern-day artistic tattoos but about evil scarification that is performed to worship a false and different God – this is what makes it sin.

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Bible Verses to Think About Before Getting a Tattoo

As Christians, it’s important that we try to discern everything first and tested the Spirits, and that we hold fast what is true (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It was also stated in Ephesian 5:10 that we must try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Paul also reminded us in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that “all things are lawful but not all things are helpful.” If you’re getting a tattoo in order to please someone or yourself, then you must take a step back and conduct serious introspection.

The goal of the Christian life is to worship God and represent Him properly. A Christian must take care of his or her body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says that “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” For this reason, it’s important that you gave up all impure thoughts and feelings inside your heart. Thinking and considering these things before getting a tattoo is indeed very important.

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Are Tattoos Against the Bible? 

So, is getting a tattoo against the Bible? Are you sinning if you decide to get a tattoo? The short answer to this is, no. And by “no” we meant that there is no definitive answer as to whether or not it’s a sin to get a tattoo. There are some Christians who condemn tattooing, but the truth is, the Bible does not mention about modern-day concepts of tattoos. It’s also important to note that some Christians consider themselves freed from the Old Testament Law.

Yes, there are Christians out there that say that we are no longer bound by The Law. However, it’s still important to note that although Jesus has fulfilled the Law for us, we still have to be obedient. When it comes to getting a tattoo, the most important thing is to consider our convictions. It’s also very important that we consider our intention before we get a tattoo. To make things easier, we included a few of the most important things that you need to think about before getting a tattoo.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo 

Faith and Conviction

Consider the Holy Spirit and try to discern whether or not getting a tattoo is for you. “Strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” If you feel that getting inked is analogous to sinning, then the best thing that you can do is to not get a tattoo – this is much healthier for your soul. As Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Pray for us; we are convinced that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.”

Your Body as a Temple 

1 Corinthians 6:19 says that “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” The verse tells us to always consider our body as a temple, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is just proper that we take good care of our bodies. We don’t want markings that promote hate, violence, or even show evilness. We have to take care of whatever we put on (or in) our bodies since it’s where the Holy Spirit dwells. 

Design and Meaning of The Tattoo

Another very important thing that we need to consider before getting a tattoo is to carefully plan its design and meaning. We want to make sure that the design is godly and that it does not in any way offend the Holiness of God. Therefore, ponder and pray for it. Make sure that whatever message or illustration there is on your skin, it should be for the glory of God.  

Also, keep in mind that tattoos are permanent; therefore, choose the design and meaning properly. It’s also advisable that you choose a tattoo that helps spread the Gospel of Christ. 

Physical and Mental Pain

It’s no secret that tattoos can be very painful, so make sure that you are prepared for this. Try to check first if you have any medical concerns. It’s wise that you don’t take tattooing lightly – it’s going to hurt. There are also risks involved such as infections, scars, allergic reactions, and even diseases such as Hepatitis B and C. When in doubt, always have a physical examination first and make sure that you only trust reliable and reputable tattoo artists. 

Financial Capacity

Aside from being painful, tattoos can be quite expensive. It’s smart to consider your budget and your financial capacity first before getting a tattoo. Be sure that you don’t get cheap tattoos; cheap tattoos can look ugly and you may not feel satisfied with it (remember that it’s a lifetime commitment). If you want your tattoos to look neat and nice, then again, find the right artist and make sure that you’re paying the right amount. 

Fear Not Tattoo Quote
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Common Christian Tattoo Styles

You will find many Christian tattoo styles if you search on the Internet. Christianity is rich in culture and history and this particular belief and history have no shortage of icons, symbols, and artworks. You can opt for cross designs or the crucifixion. You can also try ichthus or the fish symbol. The burning bush is also a good concept. Reading the Bible and looking for great and memorable visual images are good ideas.

If you’re not a fan of images, then you can also choose to have Bible verses or biblical phrases as tattoos. There are several remarkable and soul uplifting Bible verses out there. You can also choose to get your “life verse” tattooed on your skin. The options are vast and endless – it’s really up to you. Again, what matters most is that you check the intentions of your hearts and thoughts.

Choosing the Best Christian Tattoo

Always remember, the best tattoo that you can put on your body is the one that brings glory to God and His Kingdom. As stated earlier, there are countless Christian tattoo designs that you can find on the Internet today, what matters most is that you are pleased with the design and that God is honored and glorified. Think about it and don’t forget to pray for it. 

You might know a fellow Christian who has a tattoo, you can ask them for advice or recommendations. While you’re asking them for tips or advice on what kind of tattoo you must choose, this is also the best time for you to ask where you can find the best tattoo artist in your area. Perhaps, they can recommend to you a Christian tattoo artist – isn’t that incredible! 

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Conclusion

The Bible does not say that it is against tattoos; it also doesn’t promote tattoos. But what is important is that we always take the time to pray for guidance from the Lord. In whatever we do, we must make sure that we include Him in our plans. He is the Supreme God who takes care of His children. Pray that the Christian tattoo design that you are going to choose will not harm His image (same as yours). Your tattoo should represent your character and beliefs and it should be something that you can be proud of. 

Believe it or not, Christian tattoos can bring glory to God and it can even help save someone. Yes! You heard it right. By tattooing a simple verse on your skin (such as John 3:16 which states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”), it’s possible that you’ll be able to start a conversation with an unbeliever. Your tattoo can be used by God as an instrument to bring someone back to His Kingdom.

As you can see, getting a tattoo is something serious. Careful pondering and meditation are required for every Christian who is planning to get one. Your tattoos will represent you and God; thus, we should ask God for wisdom before and after we get ourselves inked.

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