To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo: That Is the Question

There are mixed reactions among Christian believers with regards to sporting a tattoo. A number of conservative believers sees it in connection with pagans so they discouraged their church members to even have one. While this practice is in contrast with the other group of believers who sees nothing wrong with it. 

So what does the Bible say about tattooing? 

The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible explains that a tattoo is “a permanent mark or design fixed upon the body by a process of pricking the skin and inserting an indelible color under the skin.” 

The mention of tattoo can be found in Leviticus 19:28 where the Lord warned the Israelites that they should not cut themselves nor paint their body since this is forbidden by their moral and ceremonial laws

An explanation about this passage from The Nelson’s Study Bible says, “Cutting one’s flesh for the dead and tattooing (or perhaps painting) one’s body had religious significance  among Israel’s pagan neighbors. In Israel, such practices were signs of rebellion against God.”

Since this is a pagan associated practice during that time in relation to mourning for their dead, any kind of laceration or cutting of their own body is banned or forbidden among the Hebrew people. 

In the course of time, tattoos became associated with those who went to jail, thus the social stigma that went with it. A reason why it became a stigma to many people that if you have tattoos in your body, they immediately conclude that you spent time probably for many years in incarceration. 

How times have changed. Gone are those days, and so is the stigma.

Now it is even fashionable to sport one. Many people and even millennials had temporary henna tattoo or permanent ones painted not in association with any pagan gods. This is not even because they spent time or so in jail. But because as a means of self-expression, that is.

However, we, as Christian believers, like Jesus, don’t do something just to be in the swim of things. Everything we do must have valid reasons. Ask yourself this question: Why do you want to have a tattoo?

To have a good self-image?

To be accepted?

To go with the flow? 

To grab attention? 

Better yet, do you really need one? 

Can it be used as a starter to engage with the lost people around you? 

Is your tattoo giving glory and honor to God? 

Is it for face and body improvement? 

There are a thousand and one reasons for sporting a tattoo which only that person knows why. 

Although not every believers (like me) are comfortable with sporting a tattoo on their body parts it is still not our job to judge nor criticize our fellow tattooed believers in the way they express themselves to God with this body art to honor and glorify him.

Tattooing is more of a conviction.

But if they are unbelievers, in the course of your relationship with them, given the opportunity, you may want to ask them the why and the what of their tattoo. And from there find ways to connect and introduce Jesus Christ as the one true source of our identity.

Biblical References:

You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD. – Leviticus 19:28

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. – Romans 14:4

Picture lifted from Bible Study Tools

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