|WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT TATTOOS
Having tattoos and piercings is a personal choice. As in most facets of life, there will always be those who don't agree with your choice to get
tattooed or pierced. Many folks will try to use the bible to make their opinions and bias more legitimate; in short the bible does not say it's a sin to get
a tattoo or piercing. Don't take our word for it though, please research the issue for yourself so you can have an educated response to those who use
religious opinion to come against you.
The bible does equate your body to a temple. It's a stretch to say a tattoo or piercing "destroys" our bodies. A tattoo or mainstream piercing doesn't
destroy your body but simply embellishes it. This page discusses tattoos and "mainstream" piercings that we perform in our shop. When I refer to
piercings, it's those such as lip, eyebrow, ears, etc. I'm not referring to scarification, tongue splitting, etc. Mutilation is different than piercing and I'd
be hard-pressed to be able to say splitting your tongue or removing flesh is not mutilation. To say a tattoo destroys our body is to say painting a
picture on a wall destroys the wall.
The Bible’s teaching concerning this issue is complex, not because it is somehow difficult to understand, but rather because it is a “side issue” that
The Bible really does not address head on. There is one passage that seems to teach against such things, Leviticus chapter 19, verse 28, which
Lev 19:28: You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.
The above passage refers to the pagan practice of making deep cuts into their flesh to give life-blood to their dead relatives; not tattoos as we know
them today. Sometimes cuttings would have ash or other substances rubbed into them which would leave an indelible mark. This was not flowers,
nautical stars and Asian designs!
To be fair and in keeping in context with the much over-quoted verse above, let’s look at the verses before and after 19:28:
26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor
harm the edges of your beard. 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.
29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 ‘You shall
keep My Sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am
the LORD your God.
In context above, the Old Testament rules were prohibiting eating bloody meats, fortune telling (horoscopes?), cutting your hair or beard, cursing out
your daughter or calling your local psychic hotline.
Nine verses earlier in the same chapter (Leviticus 19:19) the people of Israel were also commanded to avoid mixing fibers in garments:
Lev 19:19: Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.
Therefore, if someone chose to consider a tattoo sinful, then they would have to toss all their cotton/polyester clothing too!
So What Do We Do?
It helps to know that God originally set aside the Jewish people as a “higher standard” among the pagan nations, through whom the Messiah would
come. As a result, many of their laws were given to wean them from pagan customs, habits, and appearance.
The book of Romans (and the rest of the New Testament for that matter) emphasizes that we are no longer under that Law. Jesus paid for our sins,
so people no longer have to try “cleaning themselves” to be worthy of being around a holy God. Stated another way, the Old Testament made it clear
that people could NOT stay clean on their own, so God sent His Son, who could and did live a sinless, “clean” life. By accepting Christ, we benefit
from His work, not ours.
For that reason, the “ceremonial cleanliness” laws were done away with once Christ provided a new way to get right with God. Still, some laws were
not ceremonial or fashionable in nature (to set people apart from other nations) but rather civil and moral. Those laws are still valid and many of them
were repeated often in the New Testament. If you have not read it lately, read the book of James. It is a good overview of desirable Christian
There is one thing to consider, though. Since people react to tattoos, short skirts, beards, motorcycles, smoking, and other things in unpredictable
ways; a Christian must determine what their “audience” (Christian and non-Christian) will think about Christians (using that person as the example of
their admiration or scorn) if they appear or behave in some way.
Although this is a brief treatment of this subject, you should get the idea. The bottom line is that the Bible does not clearly define tattoos and body
piercing as a sin.