Tattoos are becoming more and more popular with about 1 in 5 U.S. adults having at least one but, that doesn’t mean that the controversy surrounding them has completely gone away. Many people who are against tattoos say that their dislike for them has to do with their religious beliefs. It makes sense for someone who is religious to think before they ink and consider what the Bible has to say about tattoos before making that permanent decision. The Bible actually only explicitly mentions body modifications once and nothing about present day tattoos. Here is a further look into what the Bible says about tattoos.
First of all, the Bible is all about interpretation so you can take things literally word for word or you can find your own meaning that makes sense for you. If you take the Bible word for word, in Leviticus 19:28, its exact translation is: "And a cutting for the dead you will not make in your flesh; and writing marks you will not make on you; I am the Lord." Some modern day versions of the Bible do have the word tattoo written in the translation and then it reads: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” That makes the argument against tattoos seem much stronger but since the word tattoo did not come into the English language until the 18th century, the literal translation does not say tattoo. That is the only explicit mention of body modifications written in the Bible.
If after reading Leviticus 19:28 you still think that getting a tattoo is going against the Bible, think about it, modern day tattoo practices did not exist at the time of it’s writing. It would be impossible for the Bible to address anything about the modern day concept of tattoos because it has evolved so much since the original body marking practices. There is nothing written that it is wrong to inject ink under the skin to create permanent images, designs, or writings otherwise known as: modern day tattoos. Some experts believe that Leviticus 19:28 was actually written in response to the very extreme body modifications that were used for sacrifices. The background on this is that Canaanites would mark their bodies using methods like branding, slashing, cutting, and otherwise mutilating their skin especially to honor their gods or mourn for their dead. If you take that into consideration it would make sense that God was actually forbidding the worship of other gods and scarification, not the tattoo practices that we know today.
Some Christians believe that since it was written in the Old Testament that the law written there no longer applies to Christians. There is no mention of body modifications or tattoos written in the New Testament at all. Since there is not an explicit command against the modern day concept of tattoos, it would mean that is is not a sin to get one.
If you are Christian and have made the decision to get a tattoo you might be wondering how to go about getting a tattoo that accurately represent your morals and beliefs. So while there may not be a clear passage that forbids tattoos, if you are Christian, it is still good to keep the Bible in mind when choosing a tattoo and its placement. It is clear that in the bible, the body is viewed very highly because it is God’s handiwork. This should be considered when choosing what you would like to have on your body for the rest of your life. You should also ask yourself why you are getting the tattoo. If it is an act against your parents then that is clearly going against the word of the Bible but if it is more of an artistic self-expressive reason, then that is more acceptable. Some Christians choose to get their favorite bible verse or religious symbol tattooed on their bodies to represent their beliefs. Getting a tattoo of something that is symbolically going against your religion is obviously a big red flag. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” and 1 Corinthians 10:31 states: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Showing love and respect for God in your tattoo actually does exactly what these verses command. It is not necessary to get a religious tattoo at all but it is an idea for those who enjoy expressing their faith in that way. It is all about how you personally interpret God’s word because no two people view it the exact same way.
Christian tattoos come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want to express your love for God with a full back piece or by getting an easily hidden symbol on your ankle we have some ideas for you. Many Christians love to get their favorite bible verse tattooed on them because it helps them remember their values and how important God’s word is to them. There are also plenty of symbols that represent Christ such as a cross, doves, the Jesus fish, an angel, praying hands, or even a picture of Jesus himself. All of these can be done as big or small as you would like. Simple outlines can be just as meaningful as a huge embellished piece. If you would like to get a larger Christian tattoo, some ideas could be to get your favorite Bible story like the last supper or when Jesus dies on the cross. You could also incorporate your interests along side your religion. The ideas are endless!
At the end of the day the decision to get a tattoo should be your decision and only yours. If you find that it is not desirable to you or goes against your beliefs then by all means do not get one! There is no need to make a rash decision and it is okay to change your mind about them. If you are still unsure then it is always a great idea to talk with other people who share similar values as you to discuss the topic with. Also, maybe more importantly, talk to God. The most important thing is that you are at peace with your choice to get a tattoo or not.