Are you a Christian? Do you have a tattoo? Do you want a tattoo?
Is getting a tattoo something Christians should be doing? What is God’s opinion on the topic? Over the past 10 years, tattooing has become very popular for young and old alike. What used to be reserved for bikers or the military has now become mainstream culture. A lot of teenagers today either want or have tattoos. Moms and dads are getting tattoos. We even have reality T.V. shows that explore the art, business, and behind the scenes of tattooing.
Surveys today reveal there are well over 20,000 tattoo shops in the U.S., yielding annual revenues of approximately $2 billion dollars. Surveys also reveal that 40% of Americans between the ages of 26-40 have at least one tattoo. When you compare that to 1936 when only 6% of Americans had a tattoo, it becomes clearly evident that any previous negative stigma surrounding tattooing has long faded away. So how should Christians think through the world of body ink?
1. Getting a Tattoo is Not a Sin
The Bible does not directly address the topic of tattoos except in the Book of Leviticus.
Leviticus. 19:28 – Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.
This is the only verse in the bible that mentions a tattoo and is often used by those who are against tattoos to prove their case. After all, it does say, “Do not put tattoo marks on yourselves”! But take note that it also says, “Do not cut your bodies”.
Does this mean that surgery is sinful? Obviously, not.The context of the scripture involves pagan mourning rituals involving dead bodies. During the writing of Leviticus, there were pagan religions that performed rituals for the dead that included cutting hair, cutting the body and tattooing. God was forbidding Israel to be involved in these pagan cult practices. We must always consider the context of a bible passage and be careful not to make our personal opinion God’s opinion.
2. Getting a Tattoo Can Be a Sin
On the other hand, just clinging to the rational that the Bible doesn’t directly condemn something doesn’t work either. For example, the bible doesn’t directly condemn heroin addiction, sex trafficking, or ponzi schemes; but we know they are sinful and wrong based on general biblical principals. The same is true of getting a tattoo.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
When you get a tattoo the issue isn’t the ink, it is what you are saying with the ink. Are you honoring God or dishonoring God? This is how the sinless act of tattooing can become sinful. It is all about what you are communicating with your tattoo that makes the difference.
Think of it as a form of speech. With our speech we can glorify God or curse God, we can help others or tear them down. A tattoo should be approached in the same way. A tattoo can be a sin depending on what you are saying and how you are saying it. This is why it is always important to include God when you are considering a tattoo. Make it a point of prayer, consider all the practical ramifications, and ask God for His wisdom and guidance. It is a big decision with lasting consequences!
If you found this post helpful, consider sharing with others on the media links below.