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What does the Bible say about Tattoos?

Today’s Question: What does the Bible say about tattoos? I found a really awesome image of a cross with Jesus spelled out as the vertical part and thought it would be a great tattoo, but wasn't sure what the Bible said about them.

Ben Bomberger

Bible Answer: The main passage that is used by some Christians to forbid tattoos and body piercing is Leviticus 19:28: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Sounds like a clear prohibition, doesn’t it, until you recognize this is part of the Mosaic Law that the believer is not under obligation to follow. Before one uses this passage to forbid tattoos, they should take a look at the previous command: “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (Lev 19:27). I haven’t seen many Christians with uncut beards, have you?

            The issue of tattoos and body piercing falls under the category of disputable matters mentioned in Romans chapter 14: Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way” (v 13). Now simply because you feel like there is nothing wrong with tattoos is not a reason to put one on you. I do not personally feel anything is wrong with a Christ-centered tattoo, however, I know it might offend others for me to have one, so I refuse to even consider it (of course I hate needles too).

            Someone at this point might argue, “Well, I just think that God is absolutely against us putting tattoos on our body, because our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Well I understand your position, but remember, according to the Book of Revelation, God will put his name and number on our foreheads. So even He will put a mark on us.

            Marks on bodies have signified for centuries what kind of person an individual is. In the Book of Revelation there were some that had the  mark of the beast which signified the kind of people they were, so God counters and gives His mark to His servants to show the righteous character of His people. In the end, no doubt, a Christian should only have a Christ-centered tattoo if he is going to have one.

            If you are a teen still under your parent's authority, then you must abide by their rules against tattoos. It is more important to show obedience to parents then to get a tattoo, which shows rebellion. The same goes for members of churches where pastors set rules in this area. If the pastor does not allow tattoos or body piercing for members who are in places of authority, then one must abide by the pastor's rules. Don't try to justify the tattoo by pointing to this article, because I will not back you up. I believe obedience and submission is more important than getting tattoos and, thus, causing strife.

Finally, remember a tattoo is permanent, and do you really want something permanent on your body? It’s like wanting a coat you see in the store, and buying it with the condition you have to wear it always. How much do you really like that coat? I offer this advice to people wanting tattoos; why not put a good, professional, temporary tattoo on your body instead of a permanent one? After it wears off, you can put a different one in its place. I am just offering practical advice, not rules.

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