Are Tattoos a Sin In The Bible?

Are tattoos sinful? There is no definitive answer, as the Bible does not specifically address tattoos. However, some Christians take issue with tattoos, believing that they are associated with paganism or other forms of idolatry.

What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos?

“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28)

This verse is often cited as evidence that tattoos are a sin. However, it’s important to understand the context in which this verse was written. In ancient Israel, tattooing was often done as part of pagan worship practices. As such, this verse is likely more concerned with forbidding the idolatrous practice of tattooing oneself for the dead, rather than condemning all tattoos outright.

“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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

This verse reminds us that our bodies are not our own, but are temples of the Holy Spirit. As such, we should take care to glorify God in our bodies and not dishonor them with things like tattoos.

Tattoos Symbols That Could Be Sin

Bible considers certain tattoo symbols that could be associated with pagan worship or other sinful practices. These include:

  • Crosses
  • Pentagrams
  • Ankh crosses
  • Images of Jesus or other religious figures
  • Swastikas

If you’re considering getting a tattoo, it’s important to ensure that the symbol you choose doesn’t have any negative associations.

Tattoos: Pain on the Mind and the Body

Sometimes people self-harm for the same reasons people get tattoos: the pain helps them deal with problems or gives them a brief feeling of power.

Attempting to run one’s life without God is analogous to the first rebellion in the Garden. However, while one has many plans in mind, the purpose of the Lord will remain (Proverbs 19:21). He desires that when we face adversity, we turn to Him and say that His consolation cheers our soul (Psalm 94:19).

When a person’s body bears the scars of adversity, God utilizes those scars to highlight His Sovereign touch – His eternal healing. Many scars have been transformed into beautiful works of art by gifted artists, but Christians must consider whether those tattoos stimulate a sense of inner fortitude or remind them of God’s firm grip on them through times of darkness and pain.

Is it Okay For a Christian to Get a Tattoo?

The question of whether or not a follower of Jesus Christ should acquire a tattoo is not addressed in the New Testament. As a result, it is impossible to conclude that obtaining a tattoo is sinful. Getting tattooed comes within the category of a “gray area” due to Scripture’s omission, and believers should abide by their convictions in this regard while showing tolerance to individuals who may have differing convictions.

Children should respect and follow their parents (Ephesians 6:1–2). The Bible does not condone a minor getting a tattoo against the will of their parents. Rebellious tattoos are sinful.

God looks into the heart, therefore we should strive to honor God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Reasons like “to fit in,” “to stand out,” etc. for obtaining a tattoo fall short of the glory of God. The tattoo may not be sinful in and of itself, but the reason for obtaining it may be.

The Old Testament commandment that forbade tattoos must be reviewed before we conclude our topic of tattoos (Leviticus 19:28).

Although it is not mentioned in this text why tattoos are forbidden, it is likely because they were a heathen practice associated with superstition and worship. It was undoubtedly normal practice for the pagans to tattoo the name of a false god or a sign commemorating an idol on their bodies. God expected His children to be unique.

The Israelites belonged to Him; they were His craftsmanship, and they should not bear the name of a false god on their bodies, as He reminded them in the same phrase, “I am the LORD.”

Although New Testament believers are exempt from the Mosaic Law, we can draw a lesson from this rule that a Christian should never get a tattoo for superstitious reasons or advance worldly philosophy.

The truth is that getting a tattoo is not inherently sinful. It is an issue of Christian freedom, which ought to be anchored in love and governed by biblical precepts.

What Christians can do if they are considering getting a tattoo

If you’re a Christian who is considering getting a tattoo, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you should prayerfully seek guidance from God. Ask him if getting a tattoo is something that would honor or dishonor him.

You should also consult with your church community about whether or not they think getting a tattoo would be appropriate for you. It’s important to get input from people you trust and who know you well before making any decisions.

Finally, if you do decide to get a tattoo, be sure to choose a design and placement that will be respectful of your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Alternatives to getting a tattoo if you want to show your faith

There are many ways to show your faith without getting a tattoo. Here are a few ideas:

  • Get involved in ministry or service opportunities at your church.
  • Witness to others about your faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Display Christian symbols or artwork in your home.
  • Wear Christian jewelry or clothing.
  • Pray for those who are considering getting a tattoo

RELATED: Is Not Going to Church a Sin in the Bible?

Tattoos and Jesus

Jesus was a Jew, and Jewish Law warns against tattooing oneself. As an obedient follower of God’s commandment in Mosaic law to not cut our bodies for dead or put tattoos on ourselves (Lev 19:28), it would be improper if Jesus did so himself today because He fulfilled this particular requirement when walking among humans as His spirit dwelled within them until judgment day came at last.

Although it does not seem as though Jesus had an actual tattoo, there is a possibility that he might be pictured wearing the “banner or sash” which extends from shoulder to thigh, and on this banner King of “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” is written. However, we cannot confirm the truth until after his return when war wages against those who have taken mark beast’s name.

What Pastors Say About Tattoos?

Some pastors take a middle-ground approach, saying that while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with getting a tattoo, Christians should be thoughtful of what they choose to put on their bodies.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to get a tattoo is a personal one and should be made after prayerfully considering all factors involved.

Bottom Line

The Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid tattoos, but it does warn against certain activities that are often associated with tattooings, such as idolatry and sexual immorality. If you are considering getting a tattoo, prayerfully seek guidance from God and wise counsel from mature Christians who know you well. Be sure to choose a design and placement that will be respectful of your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Finally, remember that there are many ways to show your faith without getting a tattoo.

RELATED: Is Sex or Having Sex a Sin in the Bible?

Pastor Christopher Turk
Pastor Christopher Turk

Christopher was the lead elder/pastor of the local Christian church in Penticton, British Columbia but he was forced to close his church due to a COVID-19 impact. He has a dedication to serving his Lord's church and a pulpit competence that honors the legacy of his predecessor. Christopher is a passionate visionary for the Lord and His Kingdom! His church ministry background spans over 30 years of full-time service. Support Christian by buying him a coffee.

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