Should Christians Have Tattoos?
The world has changed drastically since the Bible was written. There are common practices and goods today that never would have been imagined hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Our ever-changing society brings up lots of questions as to what God would think of these practices, such as tattoos, today. Since the Bible doesn’t specifically address things that didn’t exist at the time, a lot of these questions are left to interpretation.
So, can I get into Heaven with tattoos? Whether you believe that tattoos are a sin or not, the Christian faith says that as long as you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will go to heaven, regardless of past or future sins. Once you make that decision, God forgives all your sins and you will be welcomed into Heaven when your day comes.
What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos?
The first thing to talk about is what God tells us directly not to do. Leviticus 19:28 says “Don’t cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”
So there’s one direct scripture telling us not to have these tattoos, but let’s look at the context of this verse. The preceding verses are all about how God is a holy God, so His people should be holy as well.
Let’s say that a person got their tattoos before they even knew Him or were saved by Jesus’ death on the cross for us. If they are covered in these tattoos now, it doesn’t affect their salvation at all.
Anyone who has asked Jesus to be their Savior will go to heaven, no matter what they were or are doing now. If that person was covered in tattoos before they were saved, then God views them the same as if He had made them Himself.
Now back to people who are saved and get new tattoos. Just because you get a tattoo now doesn’t mean you are going to hell. Tattoos are not evil in themselves. The thing is, God looks at the heart of man for everything, including tattoos.
If someone says “My tattoo is my way of telling everyone I’m different from other people” or makes some other statement that indicates an evil motivation, that is not something God would approve of.
If someone says “My tattoo represents my love for God” or “I got these tattoos to honor God“, that shows that they had a pure intention for getting them.
Is It Wrong To Get A Tattoo?
The Bible doesn’t specifically say no to getting tattoos. However, we can learn about God’s desires for us from the things that he has already told us in the scriptures. Throughout history, tattoos have been a sign of religious devotion and worship among pagan groups.
The earliest form of writing was cuneiform, which is a type of picture writing used by pagans who would carve their beliefs into stones or other materials. This practice spread from Babylon all over Asia and Europe amongst various nations.
In fact, the Greek historian Herodotus recorded around 450 BC., “the Thracians had also the custom of marking themselves with various designs.” If you asked someone why they got a tattoo at that time, they would probably say that it was a religious ritual or obligation.
Now fast forward to the time of Christ’s ministry – pagan tattoos were still very common in the Roman world during Jesus’ time on earth. So if tattoos are pagan, then we can understand why God told His people not to practice this type of thing (Leviticus 19:28).
Does God Approve of Tattoos?
As was stated earlier, the tattoo isn’t a modern invention that came into being after professional sports teams started getting their logos inked onto their players.
Tattoos have existed for eons and are an ancient art form used by many cultures throughout history to mark people as someone special or different from the rest of society.
Tattoos are not inherently evil nor are they sinful. It’s how you see yourself and what you do with your body that matters most to God!
If it is something done out of rebelliousness or because your friends want you to do it to fit in, then this would be wrong according to scripture. Otherwise, if it is done for self-expression, beauty purposes, etc., there’s nothing wrong with that!
Should A Christian Get A Tattoo?
This question isn’t as easy to answer as one might think at first. Christians are expected to ask God for wisdom before making decisions (James 1:5), so this is a valid question with an answer that will require prayerful consideration before committing your skin to ink.
Preachers have tattoos. People in ministry have tattoos. Athletes have tattoos. Local business owners have tattoos. Even people who aren’t followers of a traditional faith still get tattoos.
There isn’t a particular religious group that has the corner on the tattooing market, and whether or not you should get a tattoo as a Christian is something you will have to decide for yourself.
What Are Some Religious Tattoos?
Many Christians like tattoo imagery for its ability to convey complex ideas quickly.
Some biblical themes that are commonly tattooed include:
- Crosses with dark black backgrounds
- Angel wings
- Tribal designs
- Reapers and skulls
- Scripture verses
- Crowns of thorns
- Celestial sun & moon graphics
If you get a tattoo, it shows the world what your heart is devoted to. The Roman Catholic Church has used tattoos as a way of branding members throughout its history. That is why some people get a tattoo of a crucifix or other religious imagery.
Killing someone who was not a Roman Catholic could result in being saved from death via the branding of an image on your hands or shoulders with hot irons to indicate that you were not worthy enough to kill because you were still considered a “heathen”.
They literally burned their brand into a criminal’s flesh as means of identification to those who would be passing judgment on them for killing someone not of their faith.
What Does God Think About Tattoos With Pagan Symbolism?
Remembering that tattoos are pagan at their roots, the imagery used for this type of design is representative of worship to false gods or other idols (Deuteronomy 4:15-19; 27-28).
One example is Baal, an Ammonite god/idol which many prophetic people spoke against because the followers were committing abominations to this false god by offering children as human sacrifices.
The Ammonites would tattoo themselves with images representing their false deity so that they could identify one another and ensure that their false god received a due payment of affection.
What Does The Bible Say About Body Piercings?
There isn’t much said about piercings in scripture because they weren’t common until recently.
The apostle Paul does state in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “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? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The point Paul was making here was that our bodies belong to God. According to this passage, Christians should not defile their bodies by piercing them in any way. This would include tattoos and even earrings. We are told that our bodies do not belong to us but rather they were bought by Christ at the cost of His life.
When we get tattoos or other forms of self-mutilation, it might affect how well our bodies can function as God’s dwelling place. This scripture would also go against tongue piercings because they defile what is set apart for the declaration of truth (Proverbs 6:17).
Is The Idea That Tattoos Are A Sin Outdated?
Absolutely not! As stated earlier, tattoos are still considered rebellious behavior in many faith communities today. But here’s the good news – Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins so that we can be given new life (Romans 6:23); He is offering each of us a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Many Christians believe that our bodies are a temple in which God’s Holy Spirit dwells. When we tattoo or pierce ourselves, we’re marking up the dwelling place of God with images and materials that have no business being there.
Others believe that religious tattoos express their devotion to God and are a form of worship towards Him. Either way, having tattoos will not prevent you from getting into Heaven. The only stipulation on making it into Heaven is whether you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
This article is not an attempt to condemn anyone or their personal choices. As you can see, there are arguments for both sides of whether tattoos are sinful or not, but ultimately the decision comes down to you and your relationship with God.