Our Life on Christ

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Does the Bible Speak About Tattoos?


Last night at Bible study, we studied a behavior that is very popular in our society today and whether or not that behavior is considered a sin: tattooing.

Turn with me to Leviticus 19:28. We see, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Pretty plain and simple: tattooing IS a sin. Period.

Some people may say that because Leviticus is in the Old Testament, before Jesus died to pay for all of our sins, we are not bound to this directive. Maybe, but what about the “catch-all” statement in Romans 14:23 (the New Testament): “…If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning”? So if you ever even let the thought, “Hey, maybe getting this name tatted on my neck is wrong” go through your mind, then getting the tattoo is a sin.

If you think about it, our body, like everything else is a gift. Do you think God is okay with us defacing his property? I don’t.

If you have a tattoo, you may think I’m condemning you. I’m not—don’t stop reading yet!

A sin, is a sin, is a sin and no one sin is worse than another. So your tattoo is no worse than me going over the speed limit. I do not think that if you have a tattoo already you will go to hell unless, of course, you are already headed there! That being said, if you do not already have a tattoo, don't go out and get one!

As I am growing in my relationship with God, I have found that too often people focus on NOT doing the wrong thing instead of actually DOING something that is right.

So yeah, I think getting a tattoo will be displeasing to God but no more so than not sharing your faith with others or refusing to help your brother because he has wronged you in the past.

Let us not concentrate so much on what we view as sins that other people (or ourselves) are committing. Instead, we should ask God what it is that He would have us do and simply do that.



  1. Great post! Would you spray paint the church? We are not our own. Our body is a temple.

    1 Corinthians 6:19

  2. Thanks for commenting, Mr. Morton (don't know if this is David or Danny)! "We are not our own"...too true...we couldn't borrow something from someone and return it completely altered. The same is true with our bodies.

  3. I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

  4. Yes we will. We will also continue to post on the different things that we learn from the Bible. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I love that your small group is wrestling with the Word and seeking to be faithful. Just wondering what you do with the rest of the Levitical Law. Are ALL of them to be followed by the logic you present here? There are some truly great standards and instructions in Leviticus, but a few I'm not sure we can be held to. Here's the verse right before the tattoo verse: Leviticus 19:27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."
    Just sayin'...

  6. Thanks for replying, Anji! I wish others had commented on here as well. I hope you don't feel like I or anyone was trying to "make you feel bad". I think the point of a blog is to have a semi-public discourse.

    I think you are asking great questions. Maybe we should follow all of the laws? At least perhaps more than we do? I do think it's important to read all scripture with a little context, both the verses around it and the culture surrounding it. I've come to believe this one is more about God asking the Israelites to separate themselves from the pagans living around them. Perhaps that's still true today? But I've also known a few folks who use their tattoo clad bodies as a tool to gain acceptance in a world of street kids in order to share the gospel.

    Thanks for making me continue to think on all this.


  7. Hey Guys,

    I read your blog posts often and the one on tattoos really sparked my interests. I wanted offer some other points to consider when reading chapter 19 and the entire book of Leviticus in general.

    As you guys know, I am a Christian and I have tattoos. I was 18 and 19 when I got them. So I became very familiar with Lev 19:28. But as I read I realized that there were several laws that we no longer follow. That being said I would want to ask how you understand:
    verse 19d ( on clothing)
    verse 27- on hair on the sides of our heads and beards
    verse 30- on the Sabbath(sundown Friday to sundown Saturday)

    There are others that jump out at me. But I would like to hear your thoughts on these. Be blessed and keep working for the Kingdom.

  8. I agree that we should focus more on the things that we SHOULD do and not so much on the things that we shouldn't. But I also find that many of the levitical laws are very contextual. We can not pluck out verses and say what is and isnt sin. The logic is that if one is a sin then they all are.I would be sinning when i wear clothing that is made of different materials or cotton blended with something else.
    Jesus Christ was a Jew and he often broke Jewish/Levitical laws and followed others, but he seemed to have come to fulfill the law that we are to love God with all our heart,soul,mind, body and strength. I don't think he cares if I have tattoos or if I get new ones. But as you all have suggested, God does care if I lose sight of hurting people and allow them to keep hurting.

  9. Tattoos are a minor issue. We're free from the law of Moses according to Romans 3. Paul says

    "Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are."

    We are right with God through our faith in Christ Jesus! Now, does that mean that the law of Moses is just completely done with? No! We now operate under the Holy Spirit's guide instead of our sinful nature which can be found in Galatians 5...

    "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

    But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"

    So whether you shave or not... or wear mixed fabrics or not... eat shrimp or pork or choose not to... tattoos or not... circumcised, uncircumcised... Jew or gentile...as long as you're living your life for the glory of The One True God, it doesn't matter!!

    Paul warned us about petty criticism in Romans 14. I like the Message version...

    "Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval."

  10. You are very right. I wrote this post a few months ago after, like I said, a Bible study and a message at church. I will never get a tattoo but, I am starting to feel differently about them. I think the point of that post (I honestly have to go back and read it!), more so than to criticize others, was to point out that many people focus so much on what they (or other people) shouldn't do, that they miss out on actually DOING what God wants them to do.

    I think I'm going to go back and re-write the post and/or right a follow-up post to it...just to clarify my thoughts/feelings.

  11. This verse is linked to Lev. 21:5, which touches on priests shaving off the edges of thier beards. The NIV note on this verse reads, Such lacerations and disfigurement were common among pagans as signs of mourning and to secure the attention of thier deity ( see 1 Ki 18:28). Based on that observation, I believe the purpose of God banning this practice was so that his people would not be identified as those who BELIEVED the same thing that these pagans did, and as a symbol of religious conformity, followed suit. I'm convinced that God's greatest concern is that he be given the honor that is due him and that we have the right motivation for things we do. And I belive that is expressed in those verses. Tattooing was not the issue, nor is it, in itself, a sin. Serving other gods was what God had a problem with. THAT was the sin. Tattooing is no more a sin than speaking. Both forms of expression (http://watchesofthenightblog.blogspot.com)

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