Coming soon to TodaysChristianWoman.com—a beautiful new design. Get an early look

Jump directly to the content
Guest | Limited Access

Should Christians Get Tattoos?

I want one, but my Bible study girlfriends insist Scripture prohibits body art.

No First PageNo Previous PagePage 1 of 2Next PageLast Page

Q: Should Christians get tattoos? I want one, but my Bible study girlfriends insist Scripture prohibits body art.

A: Christians getting tattoos is a timely and controversial topic. Google this issue, and you'll see opinions varying from "Go for it!" to "You'll go to hell for it." Many Christians have grappled with the tattoo question.

What does the Bible say?

Ink opponents typically ignore the verse that says God "inscribed" a picture of his people on his palms (Isaiah 49:16, NASB; the Amplified Bible says "tattooed"), and instead ominously quote another Old Testament verse: "You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:28, ESV). Understanding the context of the Leviticus verse, however, is imperative.

God gave this command to the Israelites around 1444 B.C. (right after the parting of the Red Sea) to forbid them from practicing the idolatrous customs they'd picked up in Egyptian captivity. Their captors had a nasty habit of slashing themselves to express grief and to appease their pantheon of imaginary gods. The Egyptians also tattooed their bodies with symbols of pagan gods. So Jehovah, the only true God, essentially said to the Israelites, I don't want you to practice those silly superstitions anymore. You're my people, and I love you. The heart of God's message isn't about body art, but about reminding the Israelites they belong to him.

Perhaps the gals in your small group didn't consider God's original intent for Leviticus. Because if Christians today adhered to the literal application of every moral and ceremonial rule handed down to the Israelites, no one could eat shrimp or cheeseburgers (Leviticus 11); moms would be "unclean" after childbirth (40 days of separation from society after a boy, twice as long after a girl), so new mothers couldn't go to Beth Moore Bible studies or Curves or book clubs for more than a month (Leviticus 12); menstruating women also would have to separate from friends and family for seven days during that time of month (Leviticus 15); no one could wear clothes woven from both linen and wool (Leviticus 19); and everyone who went out to eat after church could merit a possible stoning (Exodus 31).  

The great news of the gospel is that Old Testament law no longer binds Christians. Avoiding tattoo parlors or Red Lobster doesn't make you righteous—Jesus' death and resurrection do! While you need to remember your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16), you don't have to let other people's sense of religious propriety constrain you.  

Sign up for TCW's free Encouraging Words e-newsletter to start each day with inspiration and encouragement straight from God's Word.
Related Topics:Bible; Body Image; Idolatry; Rules
Posted:

read these next

for further study

Downloadable resources to go deeper

Your Guide to Sexual Satisfaction

God's plan for sex is multidimensional-here's how to move past making pleasure your goal to seek a more intimate connection with your spouse.
(TCWStore.com)

Living Water

A three-session Bible study designed to quench your soul thirst and invite others in.
(TCWStore.com)

Practicing Contentment

In our culture, we have more, but seem to enjoy life less. Here are tips on how to foster deep, counter-cultural contentment in your life.
(TCWStore.com)

Sexual Temptation

Desire happens. Here's how to keep a misled God-given desire from ruining our lives.
(TCWStore.com)
Today's Christian Woman
Should Christians Get Tattoos?