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What does the Bible say about tattoos / body piercings?


The Old Testament law commanded the Israelites, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). So, even though believers today are not under the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15), the fact that there was a command against tattoos should raise some questions. The New Testament does not say anything about whether or not a believer should get a tattoo.

In relation to tattoos and body piercings, a good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use that particular activity for His own good purposes. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The New Testament does not command against tattoos or body piercings, but it also does not give us any reason to believe God would have us get tattoos or body piercings.

An important scriptural principle on issues the Bible does not specifically address is if there is room for doubt whether it pleases God, then it is best not to engage in that activity. Romans 14:23 reminds us that anything that does not come from faith is sin. We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God. Although 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 does not directly apply to tattoos or body piercings, it does give us a principle: “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.” This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies. If our bodies belong to God, we should make sure we have His clear “permission” before we “mark them up” with tattoos or body piercings.

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Comment by Prophet on July 11, 2012 at 1:51am

things that we have done and confessed and repented for are finished, if you have a tattoo and you have confessed and repented for this then you can se it as a talking point in your witness, if people ask about it, and explain the biblical principles about not having tattoos, but be assured that this will in no way have any affect on your salvation status. Be Blessed

Comment by autumn stacey fontenot on November 8, 2011 at 9:59am
I've received a lot when reading your blogs this morning. This particular one is something I wanted to comment on and see what you think. 20 some odd years ago, I believe I was somewhat rebellious and not living in the word of God, not reading or learning or even talking to Him. During a course of four years of that time, I can remember when anyone that had a tattoo was stared at and seemed to be almost immediately placed by sterotyping into a particular "type" or "group" of people. Being the rebellious person I was when younger, I jumped in with bad influences and wrong friends and got four of these tattoos. Although they are tasteful, (a horse, a heart, and a star of life) I did not have the maturity to really take in that these things would follow me, on my body, forever. I didn't have the foresight to consider that who I was in my early 20's would change as I grew and doing something so permenant was probably not a smart idea. Now that I have them and Im 41 with a completely different outlook on life, a different and spirit filled heart and soul, I do not have the monetary means to have them removed. So, I have had to take the stand that by expressing myself through body art is only an expression and says nothing about who or what I am. I tried to not defend what Ive done and tell others its a bad thing to do, don't do it, you will regret it, and so on. But because they are there, I try to show that we should not judge others. We should not assume that because someone likes something, it makes a statement about who they are. It's not an action or a word, its just a picture. I have seen horrible tattoos that have distasteful images and Ive seen praying hands and crosses. So, I really have no idea how to feel or what to think about a tattoo. Like you said, there is no mention of it in the new testament, but the whole idea of treating your body as a temple of God is there. So, here is my question I guess. I have not harmed myself by doing anything that will diminish my health, but I have marked myself and I don't want something I did years ago for all of the wrong reasons, to damage my ability to witness for God. What might be the best approach for anyone who has a tattoo from before being born again? Is it a way to say, look what I did before God took hold in my life? Or is that just me still defending a not so well thought out decision? Not wanting a debate or anything, I am honestly wondering how it affects me as a child of God and my testimony because when you take the whole bible into context, it does seem like something God would rather his children not do. Thanks!

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