What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos?

What Does The Bible Say About TatoosWhat does the Bible say about tattoos?  The truth is that this is a very controversial question today.  More than ever before, young Christian people are going out and getting tattoos.  Many pastors and priests are getting tattoos.  In fact, some very high profile Christian ministers have gotten a lot of attention for their tattoos.  Tattoos have been a very hot topic on Christian radio and Christian television.  Tattoos have become extremely fashionable both inside and outside the church.  There has never been a time when we have seen more tattoos in the Christian community.  In fact, many Christians have used tattoos as a way to express their faith.  But what does the Bible say?  Is God pleased with these tattoos?  The answer to this question might surprise you.

In Leviticus 19:28, God gave the people of Israel a direct commandment not to get tattoos.....

Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

But wasn't that just for Old Testament times?

Is it possible that God has changed His mind?

Unfortunately for those of you who wish to run out and get a tattoo, the truth is that God does not change as we read in Malachi 3:6.....

For I am the LORD, I do not change

In fact, Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same from the very beginning of time until the very end of time.....

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The truth is that God told us that getting a tattoo is a sin and He expects us to continue to follow that commandment today.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we read that the body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that we are to honor God with our bodies.....

Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.

If you are a Christian, you are to honor God with your body.  God does not want you to damage your body or to pollute it with a message which you might want to get rid of a year from now.  If you insist on getting a tattoo you are in rebellion against God.

While you might not like that fact, that is what the Bible says.

It is your choice whether you will obey God's commandments or not.

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  • Scott

    My girlfriend and I are both serious about our relationship with Christ. She has gone through a tough time in her past. Before we started dating. She wants to get a tatoo under her arm that symbolizes what God has brought her thru. My first reaction is to support her. Any comments?

    • Admin

      Scott it is great that your girlfriend wants to honor what God has brought her through.

      Unfortunately, as the article above explains, God does not want us doing that to our bodies.

      There are many other great ways that she can express her gratitude to God however.

      I know that it is tough to hear that getting a tatoo is not right, but God’s ways are higher than our ways. We have been so indoctrinated by our culture to think a certain way that it can be really hard to see things from God’s perspective sometimes.

      But that is what we need to start to do.

      • lori

        How is it that the very church that teaches that the laws were done away with can pick and choose which ones they want to keep. The custom of that time was to cut and mark yourself for the dead. God said dont do that for the dead. God Himself will mark man as He did in Zechariah. We are the temple and we should be careful what we do to these temples. But we also need to be careful about picking and choosing which parts of the bible we want. I believe that it is all from our Father and we should carefully consider how we will follow.

  • jude

    the law also says we cant eat lobsters or crawfish.

  • Mimpi Ngeri

    Lobsters and Crawfish are forbidden in the old testament for the jewish people only

  • Gerald

    so what do you do if u already have tattoos and never realized before that doing so was sinful?

  • Tim

    You are not judged by the things you did before you were born again of the water, { JESUS NAME BAPTISM } and the SPIRIT, { The HOLY SPIRIT of GOD }. The Apostle Paul was persecuting Christians before his conversion and he was a chosen vessel.

  • nick

    I got a tattoo back when things in my life were going bad, I was on drugs and alcohol really bad and even though I was a christian I still did it. Do I need to get the tattoo removed I really wished I would have never got the tattoo.

  • Seth Kinard

    I am 16 an by no means the wisest of people an I have just recently renewed my faith in Christ actually. I have read the above article. I know getting a tattoo is a sin. I still plan on getting one. God gives us the chance to repent an be forgiven. I openly acknowledge that getting a tattoo as being a sin an know I will have to pay for it. So I have 2 questions. Is getting one in ignorance of it being a sin any worse than getting one with the knowledge it is? An so we can be forgiven for getting one…right?

    • Alan

      If one knows something to be wrong and does it anyway, that is a sin. To knowingly and willingly commit sin with such forethought indicates that one is living in sin. How can one living in sin expect to receive forgiveness? Can one living in sin be truly repentant? Can one living in sin be truly saved?

  • Eddie

    Hey just a question why don’t Christians get circumcised ? Why do we eat pork ? Yes god doesn’t change his mind but the old and new testaments do not mix . And why don’t we avenge eye for eye why did god laws change ? Shouldnt we as Christians refermore to Peter and Paul instate o the old testament . It’s really confusing

    • Evangelio

      For the answer of this confusion, read the book of Romans. Not all of it, or perhaps if you read all of it you would understand. Many of God’s laws point to a greater thing in the future. For circumsion was a requirement of the Law, where as NT the Law was fulfilled with Christ and circumsion of the heart is more important (Romans 2:28-29). With pork/unclean foods, God used those as an example that there are unclean things in the world and how to stay away from them. Paul’s story in Acts 10:9-16 is how God opens up food, but definitely more that. With the last one, the “eye for an eye” is the law of equilvency. So what you do you get equal… Kinda like our sin equals hell… So! God is unchanging and He uses his Law to point out future stuff, not that it is literal. Long answer I know, but hope it blesses you!

  • Jo Ann D

    So what about the verses in the entire chapter you base your writing on? You are also not to trim the ends of your beard or cut your sideburns. You are also to wear clothing made from one fabric not mixed fabrics. How silly to pick and choose what you are to do and not to do and call one sin and not even mention the other. Think about it. I don’t like tatoos either, but to give that short verse (by itself) …without taking it in the culture it was written, is shallow.

  • Betty

    Seth,
    In the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament there were sacrificial offerings for intentional & unintentional sins. Jesus fulfilled the law, died for our sins. When we sin willfully even though we know God says not to that is offensive
    to Him and rebellious. Obedience to God is better than sacrifice. Please don’t tattoo, imagine what happens when one keeps willfully sinning & die before repenting.

  • Betty

    Eddie
    The Old Testament provides historical background knowledge to understand the New Testament.
    There isn’t a need for an eye for an eye due to Jesus dying for our sins. When He died we were reconciled with The Lord. The revelation of Jesus Christ can also be found in The Book of Isaiah in the old testament. Peter & Paul focus was to reach out and preach the Word. Ask Jesus to help you when you read the Bible. Jesus is the mediator between the Father and man. We must repent, as well as forgiving one another.

  • Sam

    Cultural context please. That verse does not apply to all people at all places. If we are to treat this verse as universally applicable, should we not also treat the verse before with like reverence? “You shall not round of the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard.” Surely we do not accept this as a universal statement.
    The Bible is not specific on tatoos, and that is ok.

  • Tattooed Pastor

    I am not going to get into a theological debate about this subject, I am going to simply state that the Bible says to not mark your bodies to commemorate the dead. The people of those times would take the ashes and mark themselves to remember and honor the dead….it does not even address HOW they marked their bodies, it very well could have been just superficially by making a paste and painting themselves. The only other mention is in Revelation where it states that Christ will have our names written on his thigh. The whole temple of God argument gets skewed to fit agendas. The purpose of this scripture is to tell us to have us not defile our bodies with alcohol, drugs, sexual impurities, etc. The subject of tattoos being good or bad comes down to personal taste and should stay that way…..I really do not think that God cares (except if it is to honor the dead or is an evil image that can hinder furthering His kingdom). If you really want to split hairs that much, getting braces or any other “corrective” alterations is altering how He made you and therefore is defiling the “temple”. Just my thoughts…oh, and I have 3 tattoos….. All of them to honor God!

  • Joseph

    Just think of all the time…and I mean all the time put into Tatoos, from thinking of getting one to what if I don’t like it to what others will think, what it will be of, where it will go, how many should I get, covering an entire body, the time it would take to remove, all of the time people spend learning how to become a Tatoo artist, learning of the process, what tatoo joints are the best, all the designs and photos of Tatoos, seminars, workshops Tatoo competitions, Magazines, all the conversations of and about Tatoos… we could go on for ever with this…Basically, could you imagine if all the time ever envolved with tatoos was used to truly worship God………………………….

  • http://www.religioustattoos.net/Bible_Support/index.php Blake

    I believe the Bible has a lot in scripture that can support tattoos. I personally do not have any tattoos nor do i intend getting one, i love this site and a lot of the info/scripture that is puts out. This article only uses one verse that may be verry well taken out of context. I found myself on a website called religioustattoos.net that expounds and gives multiple verses in the correct context that may support tattoos.

    http://www.religioustattoos.net/index.php

    I am not a member nor do i support everything that this site releases. But, it does provide a lot of scripture and context, that very well supports tattoos. I hate to use this as a comparison but it somewhat resembles the idea of drinking alcohol in the bible. Only reason i say that is i do believe it can both be wrong to a certain extent and it could also be rite. I personally cant draw that definite line as to wether its 100% ok or 100% wrong. As always God has given us our own discernment, If you have prayed about it and God gives you peace by all means get a tattoo. On second hand, again after praying about it, if you have any second thoughts about it do not do it!

  • apperentice

    If you know what god truly wants/expects from you while you are on earth, material objects would hold no value or importance. righteousness must be from the heart and not outwardly. So it does not matter what you do as long as you are righteous. Once you commit your life in being faithful to our heavenly father, you will feel your needs and cravings disappear. Anything that gives pleasure to the flesh over the holy spirit in you, with your knowledge, IS A SIN. Jesus came to us to tell us to forget the ‘law’. The old testament talks about high priests memorizing the laws(which were so ridiculously many)that they forgot to be righteous from their hearts. There came a point when the more laws u could follow, the more holy you were. Jesus came to tell us to discard this blind habit and follow just the 2 commandments – love your god with all your heart ; love your neighbor as you love yourself. By truly loving god, we will understand that he has important and blessed plans for each of us, which goes beyond tattoos, food and other things attached to the body. God wants you to be happy and peaceful and not pressurize your holy spirit with laws.

  • Woman of God

    Why do people ib thw church always have something to say about everyone. This guy I know he attends church he’s gay (trying to get delivered ) ???? He talks about everyone in the church. Is this because deep down inside he still has a problem. Crazy or what?

  • Woman of God

    I just want to Love as Christ Loves. With no Questions about it. When it’s my time to go before God I don’t want home to say, Who Are You? I never knew You!

  • Jordan

    Would this include earrings in the ears of young girls? Is that considered defiling your body? Having someone interpret God’s word for you is asking to be controlled and informed with an agenda, not the truth. In order to make a decision about this, read the Word yourself.

  • Kristin

    if your going to obey that verse then men also need to obey the one right above it “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” Leviticus 19:27 You cannot pick and choose the verses you follow in the bible. and not only that but every other verse in leviticus. Leviticus was all of the rules that the ISRAELITES needed to follow. My pastor preached a full sermon on this last year.

  • Tony O

    Amen!! Kristin

  • Dale

    Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Would you scratch up a Mercedes Benz? Would you paint a mustache on Mona Lisa? Tatoos have more to do with paganism. God does have things to say about cutting or tatooing our bodiesand right afterwards says I am the Lord thy God I do not change. Thats pretty clear.

  • David Munoz

    This was for the Isreal a long time ago. It was God’s old commandments. And now we have shorter commandments to follow which is just 10 commandments..

    Don’t tell me by shaving my chin or cutting my hair is a sin! The law changed! We are to follow the 10 commandments.

  • Georgio

    THE TRUTH IS THAT.. you don’t need a tatto.
    and for you to back her up? thats so wrong on your part.. i thought you are sooo deep relationship with God?? if that was true..you would not have backed her up on it and would have done the opposeit DUH!!

  • http://WhatDoesTheBibleSay? HEATHER HESS

    I’M JUST SAYING THIS I HAVE TATTOOS YES I DO AND I ALSO SERVE MY LORD AND SAVOR JESUS CHRIST…BIBLE SAYS JUDGE NOT LES YE BE JUDGED..SO WHY DO PEOPLE CONDEMN?NO ONE KNOWS MY HEART KNOW ONE KNOWS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.JUST BECAUSE I HAVE TATTOOS DON’T MEAN GOD DOESN’T LOVE ME!HE IS A LOVING GOD A FORGIVING GOD!HE FORGIVES EVERYTHING BUT BLASPHEMING THE HOLY GHOST!!!IF I AM TO BE JUDGED FOR WHAT I HAVE ON MY BODY THAT IS GODS DECISION TO DO SO NOT PEOPLE..AND I BELIEVE GOD DOES NOT LOOK ON THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE OF US HE LOOKS AT OUR HEART..AND BESIDES THAT OUR BODIES WHEN WE DIE GOES BACK TO THE DUST TO WERE IT CAME FROM OUR SPIRITS GOES TO HEAVEN NOT OUR SHELLS WE DON’T TAKE OUR BODIES WITH US..AND IF I AM WRONG GOD FORGIVE ME BUT I HAVE NOT BEEN CONDEMNED FOR ONE TATTOO BY GOD SO I’M NOT GOING TO LET MAN CONDEMN ME EITHER.JESUS SAID LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU….SO LOVE AND QUIT PUTTING GODS PEOPLE DOWN!!!!!!

  • Mary

    IF you are a christian you are to help your brother if you have taken the log out of your eye to remove the speck that is in your brothers eye. We judge all the day long and God expects us to make righteous ones. If we closed our eye to everything how much more worse would this would be. We are to take a stand. I am sure they said the same thing to Paul when he spoke too. “Do not judge me.” We are to love and help one another but people don’t want to feel condemned so they come out with the do not judge! Do you not know that we judge the Angels? How much rather those who are of this world? Corinthians 6:3

  • Reverend Alex LaFountain

    This article is wrong. You can not take one piece of scripture and say this law and then reject the rest. God is indeed an unchanging God but that doesn’t mean some of His laws were meant for all people throught out all time. If you continue reading Leviticus and that chapter in particular you will also see that God commanded the Isrealites to not shave the sides of their heads or trim their beards. So since we as Christians know that it is not a sin to trim or shave a beard or the sides of our heads it must be understood that these laws were not meant for any one outside of the Isrealites. Now you fail to understand and teach the reason behind these laws. At the time of which Leviticus was recorded in, many pagan religions and cults enforced shaved heads, sides of heads shaved a and g

  • Reverend Alexander LaFountain

    Gods people are destroyed for lack of knowledge and your contributing to that lack of knowledge with this erroneous article. You CAN NOT give one part of Scripture and say this is law then reject the other parts of the Scripture. This is also a sin. If you continue reading Leviticus particularly that chapter your going to see that God also commanded the Israelites to not shave the sides of their heads or trim their beards. Yes your were correct in stating that God does not change. Your right, He is forever the Eternal Loving God and Creator. He isn’t ever going to change. However you also have to understand that some laws given to the Israelites in the Old Testament were not meant to be followed in today’s time. This is evident by any serious student of God’s Word. Do you believe eating pork is sinful? You have to understand the context in which these laws were given. You see at the time of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, God wanted the rest of the world to know His chosen people. He wanted the Israelites to be separated from the rest of the cultures, nations, empires, and kingdoms that at the time were abound. This is also why, up until the time of Saul and David, Israel remained with out a king or a human system of authority. This distinguished them as they relied solely on God’s direction and His priests and prophets. Hence the esteem and respect of Moses as he led them through the wilderness. These people were seen by the rest of the ancient world as weird and odd and some one to be feared because of the reputation of God and His might. These laws given to them separated them as a nation apart from the rest who lived lives in opposition to these laws. This is the main reason these laws were given. On top of that, many if not all pagan religions at that time required shaven heads or odd hair cuts from their religious leaders. They also required markings to celebrate the dead and remember the dead while marking themselves to show they serve their many false gods. God saw this and told the Israelites to never imitate these people by shaving the sides of their heads, trimming their beards, or marking themselves in the same fashion of the false religious leaders. Also particularly among Egyptian mystic cults members had to be clean shaven. Now do you believe that it is a sin to trim a beard or shave the sides of your hair? No. Our culture is not the same as the cultures of the ancient world there for those laws can not be held as a standard to Christians today. Back then those were huge signs of ones faith and culture, now a days a beard is just a beard and you can have any hair cut you want. I myself have short hair and have a lot of tattoos. I know first hand that these tattoos do not hinder my relationship with God. I have a very rewarding relationship with Jesus and the tattoos in no way impact that relationship. Now I will say this, if you get a tattoo do not get a tattoo that promotes violence, drugs, abuse, sex, or anything of that like. These are in my beliefs sins because your promoting that which you know is sinful. To break this down further, if you have a tattoo of a bunch of stars on your arms is that a sin? No. If you have a tattoo of a naked lady smoking a joint and holding a bottle of whiskey is that a sin? Yes. Your promoting and encouraging that which is sinful and that is offensive to God. If you get a tattoo just make sure it does not promote the occult, the sins of the flesh, or any other sinful act that the Bible clearly denotes as being a sin. Stars, crosses, skulls, hearts, birds, flowers, religious tattoos (such as praying hands and a rosary or the face of Jesus or angels), ect are not in any way sinful or offensive to God. In closing, if your going to preach or teach the bible to God’s people you need to have your facts straight before hand. Don’t give part of the message and distort the rest to serve your needs. This is perverting the Word of God and this is a far more horrible sin than getting an offensive tattoo.

    Yours truly,

    Reverend Alexander LaFountain
    Senior Pastor of Divine Freedom Ministry
    Demonologist/Exorcist

    • Pastor Daniel Zuniga

      Poeple change. Thus, times change. Gods word (laws) in the Bible will never change to suite man’s own (modern) desires. Matthew 5: 17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.NIV”
      , Revelations 22:7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. KJV” Best of luck to you and yours.

    • Pastor Daniel Zuniga

      A simple key to understanding the Bible and God’s laws. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah also thought the same way you do. In that, their society had changed so their views of the law also changed to keep up with the times. What ever happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? Oh yes, they were destroyed! Best advice, keep to the scriptures and you CAN’T go wrong. Stray from the scriptures and you WILL go wrong. It’s as simple as that.

    • John

      This is amazing. What a spectrum of willfulness, ignorance, and stupidity!
      Salvation is about god changing our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Jesus alone is the head of the church. We get into trouble when we judge rather than accepting god’s judgements. Jesus said, Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness. God hasn’t changed his mind about his moral law. Nothing new under the sun. God saves sinners. Those saved belong to him. We are his temple. We live to glorify god. If you disobey the bible, you are greiving the holy spirit. We Repent when we sin, if we belong to god. If you are an advocate for disobeying god’s word, you are rebellious and probably lost. God clearly told us not to tattoo ourselves. If you love him, that’s all you need to know. Lev 19 is about god’s holiness and his will for us to be holy. He uses different literary forms to explain his will. Paraphrasing, don’t mix cultures. Don’t do what unsaved people do. He is not against haircuts or blended fabric. The tattooed pastors are not speaking for God. That’s god’s judgment that I am honoring. If you are a fence sitter saying I will disobey now and seek forgiveness latter. You are on thin ice at best and likely someone god never knew. Since I know that it’s god’s choice who is saved, you may not get another opportunity to repent. Somehow, people who delay obedience, typically remain disobedient. God isn’t mocked.
      I pray that everyone who has read this far will seek god’s face and repent now.

      God bless !

  • RP

    The Lord clearly states that you are not to put tattoo marks on yourself. It never states a condition regarding anything for the dead or if it is a Christian-based tattoo then is ok. Because of this, we as Christians, who are to be different from society by being light in a dark world, should not get tattoos but rather set ourselves up as role models.

  • christian

    when you know better the exspectancy is to show better. that beimg said being ignorant to Gods word, people make mistakes,and the lord is faithful to forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness.tattoos included.

    • Pastor Daniel Zuniga

      Mistakes are things you learn NOT to do again, tattoos included. If you know before hand that it is a sin and still do it, it is no longer a mistake but a choice. God gave us free will. Free will to make our choices. Think about it as a test from God. His way, mans way or, Satans way. Again, it’s your own free will to choose so, choose wisely!

  • Pastor Daniel Zuniga

    I believe Matthew 5: 17-19 also covers this.

    • John

      You wouldn’t know any godly churches in the chandler area of az? I’m looking for one.

  • Monthrae Sampson

    This is very informational and clear. I appreciate this dialogue regarding tattoos.

  • John

    This is amazing. What a spectrum of willfulness, ignorance, and stupidity!
    Salvation is about god changing our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Jesus alone is the head of the church. We get into trouble when we judge rather than accepting god’s judgements. Jesus said, Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness. God hasn’t changed his mind about his moral law. Nothing new under the sun. God saves sinners. Those saved belong to him. We are his temple. We live to glorify god. If you disobey the bible, you are greiving the holy spirit. We Repent when we sin, if we belong to god. If you are an advocate for disobeying god’s word, you are rebellious and probably lost. God clearly told us not to tattoo ourselves. If you love him, that’s all you need to know. Lev 19 is about god’s holiness and his will for us to be holy. He uses different literary forms to explain his will. Paraphrasing, don’t mix cultures. Don’t do what unsaved people do. He is not against haircuts or blended fabric. The tattooed pastors are not speaking for God. That’s god’s judgment that I am honoring. If you are a fence sitter saying I will disobey now and seek forgiveness latter. You are on thin ice at best and likely someone god never knew. Since I know that it’s god’s choice who is saved, you may not get another opportunity to repent. Somehow, people who delay obedience, typically remain disobedient. God isn’t mocked.
    I pray that everyone who has read this far will seek god’s face and repent now.

    God bless !

  • Woody McBreairty

    I believe the whole Bible is man made myth, created by very greedy, selfish politicans and religious “leaders” who counted on the ignorance of the masses in order to have control over them, much as the politicians & religious leaders of today. What a travesty against humanity all “religions” are.

  • Shane Bucher

    I have had several discussions about this topic with people because I am heavily tattoo’d. They all say the same thing, “The Bible says not to” but they say that the other laws don’t apply anymore. Since when can we pick and choose which laws we want to enforce? If you follow one then we must follow all. They also give me the “your body is your temple and you are destroying your temple” to which I reply “Well, 90% of church people are fat, Being overweight is harming their temple much more than me getting some ink put on mine!” They have never had a response for that reply. I also say that the physical church building we go to worship in is the temple, and the church ladies hang pictures and decorate the temple, so then I am just decorating my temple!
    Now as far as the laws go, either follow them all or none at all.

  • Guy

    I want a tattoo. A meaningful one. I understand it is against God’s law though. It’d sure be cool, but I won’t go to Hell over some ink. I wanted a cross or something really cool, just one on my forearm. Can’t though. Oh, well. That’s fine.