What does the Bible say about Tattoos?

The Bible does not speak directly about tattoos as we know them today, but it does mention marks on the skin, which are related to ancient tattoos.

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Tattoos are a form of artistic expression that involves injecting ink into the skin with a special machine. Many people get tattoos for different reasons, such as to decorate their body, remember something important, identify with a group or an idea, or simply for pleasure. However, what does God think of tattoos? What does the Bible say about it? Is it allowed for Christians to get tattoos?

The origin and meaning of tattoos

To answer these questions, it is necessary to know the origin and meaning of tattoos in different cultures and times. According to historical data, tattoos were mainly used as a form of worship or worship of false gods or idols. For example, in ancient Egyptian culture, tattoos were done for ceremonial purposes, to honor their gods. In Greek and Roman cultures, tattoos were used to show military hierarchy, social position, or ownership over a slave. In Asian culture, tattoos were used to mark criminals or mafia members.] In Native Americans, tattoos were used as a symbolic rite, associated with the religious and magical world. In Central America, tattoos were used to represent the Aztec gods.

These examples show that tattoos had a dark origin, based on worshiping demons, which the Bible calls “other gods” (Deuteronomy 32:17) or “dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 10:20). In addition, tattoos also had a meaning of belonging, identity or slavery, which marked people for life.

What the Bible says about tattoos

The Bible does not speak directly about tattoos as we know them today, but it does mention marks on the skin, which are related to ancient tattoos. In Leviticus 19:28, God tells the people of Israel: “Do not get wounds on your body because of the dead, nor tattoos on your skin. I am the Lord.” This prohibition was intended to separate the people of Israel from the pagan practices of the nations around them, who made wounds or marks on their skin to honor their dead idols, to express their mourning, or to show their belonging to a god. or a gentleman.

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God wanted his people to be holy, that is, set apart for him, and not to be contaminated by the customs of people who did not know him. Being holy means being different, being unique, being special. God is holy, and there is no one like him. For this reason, he wanted his people to also be holy, and to demonstrate their love and obedience to him by keeping his commandments. One of those commandments was not to get tattoos on the skin, because that implied dishonoring God and an alliance with idols.

What the Bible says for Christians today

Now, what does this mean for Christians today? Can we apply the commandment of Leviticus 19:28 to our current situation? Or can we ignore it, because we are under grace and not under law? These are difficult questions to answer, because there are different opinions among Christians. Some think that there is no problem with getting a tattoo, as long as it is not to honor an idol or a false god. Others think that Christians should not get tattoos, because that goes against the will of God and respect for the body.

To have a clearer answer, we must consider some biblical principles that can guide us. These are:

  • The principle of freedom. The Bible tells us that we are free in Christ, and that we are not subject to the law, but to grace (Galatians 5:1). This means that we are not required to comply with the ceremonial standards of the Old Testament, such as sacrifices, feasts, meals, clothing, etc. However, this freedom is not a license to do whatever we want, but rather an opportunity to do what pleases God (Galatians 5:13). Therefore, before getting a tattoo, we must ask ourselves: Is this bringing me closer to God or distancing me from him? Does this glorify God or dishonor him? Does this edify others or stumble them?
  • The principle of responsibility. The Bible tells us that we are responsible for our actions, and that we will have to give an account of them to God (Romans 14:12). This means that we cannot do things without thinking about the consequences, but rather we must act with wisdom and prudence. Therefore, before getting a tattoo, we must ask ourselves: Does this benefit me or harm me? Does this help me grow or stagnate me? Does this open doors for me or close them?
  • The principle of holiness. The Bible tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we should care for our bodies as a pleasing offering to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This means that we cannot treat our body as a worthless thing, but as a masterpiece of God, created in his image and likeness. Therefore, before getting a tattoo, we must ask ourselves: Does this reflect the beauty and glory of God or dull it? Does this respect the integrity and dignity of my body or violate it? Does this express my identity in Christ or deny it?

10 Key Biblical Verses related to Tattoos

Certainly, here are ten key Bible verses related to tattoos:

  1. “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:28 (ESV)
  2. “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.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV)
  3. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
  4. “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4 (ESV)
  5. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'” – 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
  6. “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” – Song of Solomon 4:7 (ESV)
  7. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30 (ESV)
  8. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15 (ESV)
  9. “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” – Proverbs 3:3 (ESV)
  10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)