Does the Bible forbid tattoos?


Question: Lately I have been struggling with whether or not tattoos are forbidden in the Bible. Is there any Biblical certainty here or does it fall under the conscience?

Answer: Leviticus 19:28 says, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” It appears from the cultural context that this was a prohibition against tattooing some image related to pagan idolatry on one’s body as a way of showing fidelity to that god or gaining some control over that god. Unless this is somehow analogous to what you are wanting to do, it would not seem to apply to you. The principles of the Law of Moses are still applicable to us, but we are not under the Law of Moses anymore, but under the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-21).

The Bible does warn us to treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18-20), and there is potential for infection from tattoos done in places that do not take proper precautions. The only other consideration is wisdom to consider whether you will always want this tattoo. They are removable but at great cost and discomfort.

I would ask the Lord if He wants you to get a tattoo and to help you evaluate your motives for getting one. This will help you make a decision. For more input check out these links for a variety of opinions: for it, against it, balanced, balanced, Jewish perspective.

Randall Johnson


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