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What does the bible say about tattoos?

Hey there, fellow Christian! So, you're thinking about getting a tattoo? Well, I've got some good news for you. I actually believe that there's a strong biblical ideology supporting those who want to get the right kind of tattoos.

In this post, I want to discuss the most commonly referenced passage in Scripture and explain why I think it's misunderstood. Additionally, I'll walk you through an important biblical practice that Jesus himself would have participated in, and show you how tattoos can be our modern-day version of that ancient practice. Let's dive right in!

If you bring up the topic of tattoos in any Christian circle or search online, you're bound to come across Leviticus 19:28: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." Many articles out there take this verse out of context and claim that the Bible clearly forbids tattoos. But the truth is, that's not exactly what the text is saying. God wasn't instructing Moses to prohibit tattoos; He was setting some ground rules for His people to ensure they didn't imitate certain mourning practices of the pagans.

In ancient pagan religions, tattoos were often believed to protect the individual from harmful magic. Some tattoos also indicated that a person belonged to a certain god or cult. However, it's important to note that these practices were associated with idolatrous and ungodly activities, including erotic religious rites and mourning for deceased deities.

When we consider the biblical prohibition against tattoos and self-laceration for the dead, it becomes clear that these instructions were targeted at specific idolatrous practices prevalent during that time. They were written to a specific culture, addressing inherently ungodly activities that the one true God wanted His people to steer clear of.

But let's fast forward to our modern world, thousands of years removed from those ancient practices. It's important to ask ourselves a few questions regarding the text and our desire for a tattoo.

First, what was God genuinely concerned about? Was it tattoos in general, or specifically why people were being marked and the rituals they were a part of?

Second, is God more concerned about ink on our skin or the state of our hearts? And third, check your heart. Why do you want to get a tattoo? What text or image do you want to display and why? Does it align with a God who warns us against following the desires of our sinful hearts, as stated in Galatians 5:19-21?

If your tattoo celebrates or commemorates a past sin, it might be time to reconsider that tattoo.

Not because "the Bible says you can't get a tattoo," but because it's essential to examine our motivations and ensure they align with God's desire for us.

Now, let's take a look at an ancient practice that God instituted long before Jesus' time. This practice was designed as a way for everyone to be intentional about displaying their faith. It's something Jesus would have participated in throughout His life.

In Numbers 15:37-41, God instructed Moses to give the people of Israel the following instructions: "Throughout the generations to come, you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the LORD instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt that I might be your God."

These tassels had several significant lessons associated with them, but the primary ones were as follows: First, tying the tassels to the corners of your clothes made you stand out. You were different, and these tassels served as a constant reminder of that. Even if you forgot about them, it wouldn't be long before someone pointed, laughed, or asked about them, sparking a conversation about your faith. They were a symbol that God called you to be distinct.

Secondly, these tassels served as a reminder of God's Word. Every time you saw them, you were meant to remember the Scriptures and the commands of the Lord.

Lastly, the blue cord woven among the white cords represented the priesthood. It reminded you that God called you to be a representative of Him wherever you went.

Now you might be wondering, "What do tattoos have to do with tassels?" Well, I believe tattoos can be a wonderful way for non-Jewish believers (gentiles) to honor the principles of the tassels in a modern and relevant way.

If you choose your tattoos wisely, they can serve as a constant reminder of God's Word. Unexpectedly catching a reflection in a window or passing by a mirror can trigger that reminder of what you believe.

Tattoos can also be a way to stand out, just like the tassels did. Admittedly, some take this to the extreme, but tattoos, like tassels, offer a way of expressing something about yourself before people even get to know you.

Lastly, tattoos can serve as a powerful reminder that God calls us to be a royal priesthood, ambassadors, a city on a hill, or a shining light to others.

Now, getting a tattoo is not a decision to be taken lightly. As a Christian, if you're considering getting a tattoo, you're likely to put a lot of thought into it. My advice is to stop and ask yourself a series of questions. Take time to talk to God about your answers. If you find peace with your tattoo idea, then it's probably time to move forward. However, if you feel a check in your spirit or something feels off, pause and continue praying and processing your idea. Be open to the possibility of not getting the tattoo at all or allowing God to guide you in changing it up.

To help you in this process, here are ten questions to consider regarding your tattoo idea:

  1. Is the text or image of your tattoo pure or evil?

  2. Could it be misinterpreted by others as something ungodly or pagan?

  3. Why do you want this particular tattoo?

  4. Why do you want it in that specific place on your body?

  5. Will this tattoo help you think of God's Word?

  6. Will this tattoo help people learn about your faith in some way?

  7. Will this tattoo help you remember that you are set apart as a representative for Jesus?

  8. Are you prepared to answer when people ask you about the meaning of your tattoo and what it means to you?

  9. Do you have the financial means to pay for the tattoo without sacrificing other important obligations? Remember, good tattoos aren't cheap.

  10. How will this tattoo help you share your testimony and tell your God story?

If you have questions about my tattoos, feel free to shoot me an email at I'd be happy to share!

Ultimately, my hope is that this post has provided you with a better understanding of what the Bible does and doesn't say about tattoos. I want to offer you a redemptive approach to enjoying the beautiful art of tattooing as a Christian.

And hey, if you have tattoos, I'd love to see them! Send me some pictures and let's celebrate our unique expressions of faith.

Take care and God bless!

PS: Send me pics of your tattoos! Feel free to share your tattoo stories and experiences with me. Let's continue to embrace our individuality while honoring our faith.

Remember, as Christians, our focus should always be on the condition of our hearts and aligning our choices with God's Word. Tattoos can be a meaningful and personal expression, but let's approach them with wisdom, discernment, and a desire to glorify God in all that we do.

Thank you for joining me in exploring this topic. I hope it has brought clarity and encouragement to your journey as a Christian considering tattoos. May your decisions be guided by God's wisdom and love.

God bless you abundantly as you continue to walk in faith and express your devotion to Him, whether through tattoos or any other means.

With love and blessings,




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