With the rise of tattoos among people of all ages, some Christians wonder whether or not getting a tattoo is a sin.
Apparently, the question stems from “not wanting to make a mistake” or “staying in the Will of God”. Normally, people who ask things like “can I or not?” give the impression that the Gospel is a manual of rules that must be consulted and strictly followed. And when they consult it, if what they want to know is not specifically written, they sigh in relief and go do the will of their flesh.
But, what does the Bible say about tattoos?
“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
According to studies, it was common for pagan people to get tattoos during rituals for the dead, rituals for gods, to distinguish between families or professions.
When the Israelites received this teaching, they had just been delivered from slavery in Egypt. But, since they had been slaves for many generations, they lost their identity, and because of that God gave clear instructions so they could know Him and acquire His characteristics. This way, they could be distinguished from all other people.
As I researched this subject, I came across the following information:
Tattoos on hands had the purpose of worshiping deities and drawing strength to the person.
Facial tattoos were a morning practice for many nations. This originated from the worshiping of god baal, when “el” Canaanite, named his father, rose from among the dead. His followers worshiped him by cutting their bodies and faces. They also did this to honor their dead relatives. During this idolatrous cult there were wild dances, prostitution, group sex, self-mutilation, witchcraft and even the sacrifice of children.
At the time, prostitutes showed their devotion to idols by tattooing their bodies. Priestesses would have the back of their neck tattooed. These marks were a sign so men could recognize them and seek their services.
It’s easy to understand why God wouldn’t want His people involved in this practice, right?
Times have changed and the excuse for those who stand by tattoos is that today they are done for others reasons, such as: declare love to someone, support a favorite sports team, as vanity, to identify themselves as part of a group, to be in-style, etc., but the roots of this practice are still the same.
But, has the Almighty changed His way of thinking about this practice? And, just because this warning is not clearly reinforced in the New Testament, does this mean He now approves?
Imagine you build a beautiful and expensive house. You let someone live in it, but that person does not like the finishings, so he covers the walls with graffiti! As the owner of the house, would you be happy? Certainly not.
Likewise, life is a gift from God, and each one of us will have to give account of our body, which is an instrument used for living in this world. This is, the Almighty created mankind with the intention of having a relationship with us, to the point that our body would be His Temple. Therefore, I don’t feel comfortable with destroying, marking or degrading in any way something that was created to be God’s dwelling! Like Paul said, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Galatians 6.17 Authentic faith is unique and the only mark we need to have.
An easy way to put an end to spiritual doubts like this one is to submit our behavior, desires and dreams to this teaching:
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10.31
In other words, all of our actions, whether they are big or small, should be imbued with the intention of glorifying Him and never stem from a personal vanity.
Fashion trends change, your mind changes, loved ones pass, what is beautiful in your eyes today, might look horrible tomorrow; the inflated biceps that show off that tattoo today, will sag all the way down to your armpit tomorrow, lol…
In the end, what really matters is keeping a peaceful conscience, with the conviction that we are pleasing the Lord God with fear and obedience to His Will.
But, if you came to the Lord already with tattoos, He will not reject you or condemn you for that. Nobody should discriminate you due to your past or prior decisions. However, from now on, make decisions based on the Word of God and glorify Him with a pure and holy body, worthy of being His dwelling place.