What does the Bible Say About Tattoos?


There is a very big debate in the Christian world about Tattoos. Some people think that Tattoos are harmless as a piece of self expression and others believe that they are reprehensible. For generations tattoos were seen as trashy and any one choosing to get a tattoo would be degraded. In cartoons we saw people like sailors and pirates with tattoos. Also many times criminals and thugs were portrayed with tattoos. Also bikers and gang members wore tattoos to display their accomplishments.

However, today tattoos are becoming more and more the norm. Socialites brandish their tattoos in public. Movie stars and athletes have no qualm about letting the world know about their ink. Even preachers and ministers have been known to have marks on their body. So then is it alright.

Not according to the Old Testament law. Leviticus 19:28 says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” Many people would say that settles it. They would side with the Old Testament and declare tattoos as unGodly and leave it at that. Those same people must also be keeping the Sabbath Day, avoiding pork and food that still contains blood, and stoning those who commit adultery.

People like to pick and choose the part of the Bible that they want to use. They try to find things that will support their prerogative, but ignore what they don’t want to hear. Paul is very emphatic, if a person is living by the law and breaks even the smallest part then he or she has broken all of the law.

We are not living under the Law of the Old Testament. We are living under the law of Grace. So then New Testament Christians would say, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” And they make a good argument. It is not Old Testament, but New Testament. It is also not about sacrifice but grace. Nevertheless, they are again choosing passages out of context. If you read this passage it is planning referring to sexual immorality.

So then where is the answer to the question? We find it in 1 Corinthians 10:23: All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Basically it says, “Under grace there are many things that I can do and know that I am still under the grace saving power of the cross. But not all things are beneficial to me.” The question should not be are tattoos Biblical; the question should be are the beneficial?

Before you choose to get a tattoo you need to prayerfully go before God. Just like any other major permanent decision that you will make, you need to receive God’s guidance. You need to also check your motive. Are you doing it as a way to rebel or make a statement that should not be made? Finally, think about what it will look like in 50 years. I have seen some tattoos that looked good in old pictures but when the person was elderly and had saggy skin or had gained substantial weight the tattoos no longer looked good.

Once you have taken the time to think about it, then you can effectively make a decision if a tattoo is right for you.

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