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What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos?

What does the Bible say about tattoos? Are tattoos a sin?

The Bible references tattoos in Leviticus 19:28, associating them with pagan rituals. However, the New Testament’s concept of freedom through faith in Christ leads some to believe this may not directly apply to modern Christians. The decision to get a tattoo is personal and should be made with careful thought, prayer, and a clear conscience before God. 


As tattoos become increasingly mainstream, Christians around the world grapple with the question: What does the Bible say about tattoos?

We invite you to journey with us through the pages of the Bible as we search for answers.

What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos?Why Does the Bible Forbid Tattoos

Tattoos have been a part of human civilization for thousands of years, acting as symbols of status, markers of milestones, or simply as forms of self-expression.

Like many aspects of life and culture, the Bible offers unique perspectives on the topic of tattoos.

To comprehend what the Bible says about tattoos, we first need to inquire into the historical context within which these scriptures were written.

In the times of the Old Testament, tattoos were often linked with pagan rituals and death cults. This association is crucial in understanding the Biblical viewpoint.

One of the most direct references to tattoos in the Bible can be found in Leviticus 19:28, which states, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

This verse seems to condemn tattooing explicitly, but a deeper exploration of its historical and cultural context suggests a more nuanced interpretation.

When Leviticus was written, society was keen on distinguishing itself from the surrounding cultures, many of which practiced tattooing as part of their pagan rituals or as a way of mourning the dead.

Therefore, this verse was a cautionary directive against adopting these practices, which were seen as idolatrous and contrary to the worship of Yahweh.Why Does the Bible Forbid Tattoos

The book of Leviticus is part of the Torah, the Jewish law, which was explicitly given to the nation of Israel.

These laws included moral, ceremonial, and civil regulations, many of which were culturally and historically specific.

The New Testament later introduces the concept of freedom from the law through faith in Jesus Christ, leading some to argue that directives like Leviticus 19:28 may not directly apply to Christians today.

However, this does not mean that the underlying principles behind such laws are irrelevant.

The essence of Leviticus 19:28, like many other Biblical laws, centers on honoring God and refraining from practices that could lead one away from Him.

In this light, the verse might be seen as discouraging tattoos that are disrespectful, idolatrous, or contrary to Christian values.

The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt: A Unique Tradition of Faith-Based TattoosWhy Does the Bible Forbid Tattoos

On Earth, there’s a unique tradition followed by a single Orthodox community – the practice of tattooing a small cross on the wrist.

This custom is upheld by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt.

The Coptic Church is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. It has preserved this age-old tradition as a symbol of faith and an assertion of Christian identity in a predominantly Muslim country.

In Egypt, where Christians are a minority, these tattoos have a purpose beyond mere expression of faith. They also play a practical role: in the event of a person’s death, the tattoo can help to identify them as a Christian, ensuring they are given a burial in accordance with their faith.

The Coptic cross tattoo is typically received at a young age, often when children are baptized.

The cross is usually tattooed on the inside of the wrist, making it a visible testament to the faith that accompanies them throughout their life.

Tattoos as an Expression of FaithWhy Does the Bible Forbid Tattoos

Today, tattoos have transcended their historical connotations and have become a dynamic platform for personal expression.

For many, especially among Christians, tattoos have morphed into a unique medium to articulate their faith.

Common tattoo designs among believers include crosses, Bible verses, and religious images, each serving as a testament to their spiritual journey and convictions.

This perspective sees tattoos not as sinful or profane but as a celebration of faith – a vibrant canvas where ancient beliefs meet modern aesthetics.

The human body becomes a living testament to the power of faith, with each ink mark symbolizing a personal and spiritual milestone.

But how prevalent is this phenomenon? A study analyzed 752 photos of tattoos taken at a Christian university in the United States.

The results indicated that faith-centered tattoos are a significant trend among young believers.

In fact, students with religious tattoos demonstrated a stronger faith, prayed more, and attended religious services more often than students without tattoos.

Interestingly, this trend is not confined to Christianity. Several other religions either encourage or allow permanent tattoos or body markings, including Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tattoos, Freedom, and Personal ConvictionWhy Does the Bible Forbid Tattoos

The topic of tattoos within the Christian community is not just a question of aesthetics or cultural relevance; it’s also an exploration of personal freedom and conviction.

The Bible speaks to the idea of Christian liberty, suggesting that what may be considered sinful for one person may not be for another, depending on their personal conviction.

One of the key verses that discuss this concept is Romans 14:23, which states, “… everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

This verse is part of a larger passage where the Apostle Paul discusses disputable matters among believers, such as dietary restrictions and observance of special days.

Paul encourages believers to act according to their faith and not to cause others to stumble by their actions.

Applying this principle to the topic of tattoos, many Christians believe that whether getting a tattoo is considered a sin depends largely on personal conviction and faith.

If a believer decides to get a tattoo, and this decision is made in good conscience and with genuine faith – perhaps even as an expression of their faith – then it is not considered sinful.

However, this freedom is not without its boundaries. Paul also cautions in 1 Corinthians 6:12 that “Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything.

This suggests that while Christians have the freedom to make decisions like getting a tattoo, they should also consider if it is beneficial and if it could potentially master or control them.

Therefore, the decision to get a tattoo as a Christian is profoundly personal and should be made with careful thought and prayer. It’s an exploration of individual freedom, faith, and conviction.

The key is to ensure that every action, including getting a tattoo, is done in faith and with a clear conscience before God.

The Cultural Shift in Perception of TattoosWhy Does the Bible Forbid Tattoos

Tattoos have been a part of human civilization for millennia, serving various purposes – from tribal identifiers to symbols of rebellion. However, the perception of tattoos has undergone a radical transformation in recent years.

Once relegated to the margins of society, tattoos have now become a prominent feature of mainstream culture. This shift is not just a fashion trend; it reflects changing societal norms and cultural attitudes.

Historically, tattoos were often associated with deviance, rebellion, and counterculture. They were seen as markers of nonconformity and were typically linked with subcultures like bikers, gang members, or sailors. However, the rise of pop culture, fashion trends, and the influence of celebrities sporting tattoos have significantly altered public perception.

Today, tattoos are viewed as a form of personal expression, a statement of individuality, and even an art form.

This cultural shift has also impacted the Christian community.

Traditionally, many Christians have held reservations about tattoos due to Biblical references and the historical associations of tattoos with pagan practices. But, in recent years, there has been increased acceptance of tattoos among Christians.

Many believers now see tattoos as a unique way to express their faith and share Biblical truths.

Despite these changes, it’s important to remember that while cultural trends change, Biblical truths remain constant.

The Bible offers timeless wisdom that transcends shifting cultural norms. It encourages believers to pursue a life of holiness, respect for the body as God’s temple, and consideration for the potential impact of our actions on others.


The Bible’s stance on tattoos is not black and white. It’s a complex issue that requires thoughtful consideration of historical context, personal conviction, and respect for others.

It’s also a recall that Christianity is not about adhering to a list of do’s and don’ts, but about living in a way that reflects the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Whether you choose to get inked or not, remember that our identity as Christians is not defined by our outward appearance but by our heart and relationship with God.


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