Is it a Sin to Get a Tattoo?
What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos? The short answer is... nothing. Certainly nothing definitive. in fact, there is no specific reference to tattoos in the Bible as we know them today.
There are some Christians who condemn all tattooing as immoral because God clearly forbids it in Leviticus 19:28.
Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. – Lev. 19:28
The word ‘tattoo’ appeared in the English language in the 18th century and has been adopted for the above verse in modern English translations. The KJV, written in the early 1600s, is closer to the literal translation saying, “ye shall not...print marks upon you.”
While the Bible instructed the Israelites not to mark their bodies, it was written during a time when pagan cults marked their bodies as a part of their rituals. Additionally, the verses before that verse warn against eating meat with blood in it (v. 26) and against trimming one's hair (v. 27). Even though most Christians today eat meat and get haircuts, the verse about tattooing remains hotly debated.
We must view Old Testament laws and practices through the lens of Jesus. He gives us a new way to understand the law because He fulfilled it (Mt. 5:17-20). As we could never fulfill the requirements of the law, Jesus fulfilled them for us. We have a good relationship with God because of Him (Rom. 10:4-13).
So is getting a tattoo a sin? Perhaps. that is the wrong question. The right question is why do we want a tattoo? As Christians, we have the responsibility to care for our bodies and do only what's pleasing to the Lord.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Cor. 6:19-20
Tattoos are modifications to the human body. While not all modifications are bad, you must ensure that such modifications do not distort the beauty of God's creation.
In addition to that, what is your motivation for getting a tattoo? Is it for artistic expression? Does it mean something meaningful to you? Do you plan to glorify yourself or God with it?
Paul also says,
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31
Whatever you do, including getting a tattoo, do all to glorify God. Our bodies are God's gifts, and we are made in His image (Gen. 1:27). It is therefore imperative that whatever we do to our bodies we do so in honour of Him and in order to glorify His name.
Let us pray,
Our bodies have been bought at a price and they are not ours to do as we please. So please help us to glorify you with our bodies. Help us to glorify you with our thoughts. Help us to glorify you with our desires. God, help us to glorify you with our actions. Help us to glorify you in our relationships. Help us to glorify you in the moments when we are with others and help us to glorify you in the moments when we are alone.
We pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.