Teaching Pages

Page display options: 1-column; 3-columns

Tattoos and the Christian

Part 1: The counsel of God's Spirit


"Tattoos seem to have become a fashion item in the Western youth culture. This is my reply after I was asked if I could offer some Biblical insight into the acceptability of tattoos for Christians."


A visitor to this site sent this email:

"I'm currently looking into the question of whether or not it is Biblically acceptable for a Christian to have a tattoo. Leviticus 19:28 seems to suggest that this might be forbidden but the English translation doesn't make it clear whether the prohibition is due to it being on behalf of the dead, as the prohibition against cutting oneself is. I would be very grateful if you might offer me some Biblical insight into this or refer me to some helpful material, resources or links. Thanks."

(Content of this section: Tattoos and the ruling we find in the Law of Moses)


This is important topic to address at the moment because tattoos seem to have become very fashionable among the youth culture of the West. It is bound to have repercussions in the church and we ought to address this matter.

I wonder what translation you are using. I looked it up in my New King James Bible and there seemed no lack of clarity in the ruling.

"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord."

Leviticus 19:28 - NKJV

(Content of this section: Referring to the Law of Moses isn't the way to judge about tattoos and the Christian)


The Authorised King James Version is just as clear as New King James Bible and so is the Amplified Bible and the New Living Translation. All those translations convey two things not to be done - 1) make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead and 2) tattoo any marks on you.

However, a legalistic approach - by which I mean referring to the Law Code given by Moses - is not the appropriate one for dealing with this issue as it relates to Christians. The simple reason for this is that we, as Christians, are not under the Law Code. There are numerous declarations of this in the New Testament. Perhaps the clearest is as follows,

"The Messiah has made things up between us so that we're now together on this...He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped."

Ephesians 2:14 - 15 - Message Translation

(Content of this section: Looking at what we are under obedience to if we are not under the Law Code)


You might well then ask, "What are our constraints if we are not under the Law Code?" The New Testament gives us a wonderfully direct answer to this,

"For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us."

2 Corinthians 5:14 - Amplified Bible


Paul also expands on this answer in his letter to the Romans. He writes,

"Now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained us and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness of life."

Romans 7:6 - Amplified Bible

(Content of this section: Starting to look at tattoos and the Christian now we are under obedience to the promptings of the Spirit)


Having recognised that as Christians we shouldn't use the Law Code given by Moses to declare on tattoos and the Christian, let's consider the issue through these questions. Is it possibly justifiable for a Christian to accept a tattoo? Could we say that getting a tattoo is a good idea or acceptable for a Christian?

I believe the issue centres on what any tattoo represents and, most seriously of all, the life-long commitment the receiving of a tattoo makes to what or whoever it represents. The nature of a tattoo means it makes a statement of commitment or allegiance to who or what the tattoo represents.

God throughout the Bible says to us that He is the only One worthy of absolute commitment and allegiance. At the same time, if it's a commitment to God you want represented by a tattoo one can only say that we find nothing in scripture indicating God has looked for such a mark.


There is another issue here too. The Spirit of God in the New Testament has made some very definite statements about our bodies. By Paul the Holy Spirit has declared,

"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in you body and in your spirit which are God's"

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - NKJV


Can a tattoo be considered to glorify God? Can a tattoo be considered appropriate adorning to the Temple of the Holy Spirit?

Any Christian must answer some very searching questions if they are considering adorning themselves with a tattoo. I believe the questions the Spirit of God poses from the Word of God must lead a Christian to conclude that a tattoo is not for them!

Preview of content in next part:

  • Reflecting on what marks us out as followers of God
  • Considering whether a tattoo is an effective or appropriate way of promoting Jesus
  • Looking at what makes us visibly different from those around us in the absence of tattoos
  • Examining a New Testament scripture some say refers to a tattoo or tattoos

Related pages

Use the links below to get to other pages on this site that have a similar subject to that which you've read about above.

Suggested eBooks

The following ebooks have been found by some readers of this web page to be potentially helpful to them:

Double Your Church Attendance Teach The Bible To Change Lives Building A House Of Worship