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Can Christians Get Tattoos? What Does the Bible Have to Say?

Much has been written and said about the subject already, so this article shares a few resources to help answer the question of whether Christians can get tattoos.

This issue is so major for some Christians that some have even Googled “Jesus on tattoos.”

Sure, it would be helpful if Jesus had said somewhere in his Sermon on the Mount: “Tattoos are sinful” or “Tattoos are cool.” But no, Jesus is not recorded in the Bible as saying anything on tattoos.

If you’re curious, some other popular search terms and phrases on the subject include “is it a sin to get a tattoo of a cross” and “biblical reasons not to get a tattoo” (apparently, by folks aiming to talk someone out of it).

Well, what’s the word on Christians and tattoos?

Over at Doctrine and Devotion, pastor and author Joe Thorn examines a few verses that explicitly or implicitly refer to tattoos, such as Isaiah 49:16 and Revelation 19:16. After examining what these verses (and 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 and Romans 12:1–2) may be telling us, Thorn states:

“Scripture does not condemn tattoos themselves. But that does not mean one should get a tattoo. In fact when people tell me they are thinking of getting tattoos I caution them to think soberly and long before heading to the tattoo studio.”

Thorn then presents a series of questions Christians should ask themselves before making an appointment at the tattoo parlor. Though he himself is tattooed, Thorn also lists several reasons why Christians should not get a tattoo. “TATTOOS AND CHRISTIANS” is a pretty thoughtful post and will likely be a huge benefit to Christians weighing what the Word has to say about getting a tattoo.

Wait, there’s more.

Will Honeycutt writing over at takes a closer look at Leviticus 19:28 in his effort to answer the question “Should Christians Get Tattoos?”

According to Honeycutt:

“Leviticus 19:28 literally translates, ‘And a cutting for the dead you will not make in your flesh; and writing marks you will not make on you; I am the Lord.’ The word writing refers to inscribed or engraved symbols/words, and is used only here. The word for marks, also used here alone, has an uncertain root, so we’re not really sure what the word means. Further, the word tattoo did not enter into the English language until the late 1700s. This is probably why the KJV, written in the early 1600s, is closer to the literal translation saying, ‘ye shall not…print marks upon you.'”

Honeycutt, a professor of contemporary issues and apologetics at Liberty University, goes on to explore the possible context for why God would tell newly-freed Israelite slaves to avoid getting body marks. The professor mentions the possible uses of such markings in Egyptian and Canaanite cultures.

Like Thorn (though Honeycutt wrote his article years earlier), Honeycutt asks Christians to consider things like motivation, message, and money concerns when considering the possibility of getting a tattoo. If this is you, give the article a read.

But, wait. What does the Catholic Church teach about Christians and tattoos?

What Jefferson Bethke think about it? People really care what the spoken word artist has to say about Christians and tattoos, because they’ve watched his video on the subject more than two million times.

Hold on, Joyce Meyers has thoughts on tattoos, too.

So does Craig Groeschel. He even went to a local tattoo studio to talk about it. Frankly, Groeschel looks kinda cool leaning against the door frame of the studio while an artist is busy tattooing a client in the background.

OK, why do Christians seem so obsessed with whether or not they can get tattoos? And why do there appear to be so few resources from Christian women on the subject?

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FM Editors
FM Editors
Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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