Is tattoo a sin in Catholic and among Christians in general? One of the most popular question among youths today in our inbox is if it’s okay for Christians to have a tattoo.
Having a tattoo is a fashion trend in our society today and we all know most Christians are against tattoos. Let’s look at facts on these issues. We will also look at tattoo Bible verses to clarify this question.
People have different tastes and we have to all agree that we are all attracted to different things in life. Some people cannot just resist tattoos and they love them so much. Some tattoo lovers will even fill their all body with different kinds of tattoos if given a chance.
Is Tattoo a Sin in Christianity?
Let’s talk a little bit about tattoos. What does the Catholic Church think and say about tattoos? Some of you might know I have a tattoo right here which I got a few years ago and when I post something on the internet which reveals it, people respond with mixed reactions.
I get inundated with emails saying hey you shouldn’t have tattoos. The Bible in the book of Leviticus says this and 1st Corinthians also relates to tattoo on the body.
They argue through the scripture that I shouldn’t talk positively about tattoos and Christians, Catholics or even priests should not have tattoos.
The question is, what does the church teach about having tattoos in reality? I’ll just sum it up and saying that the church doesn’t teach anything about tattoos because it is not a moral issue. However, let me explain.
Let’s start with tattoo bible verses. The book of Leviticus talks about not marking your body with tattoos or cuts. However, we have to put it in the context of which it was written.
It was written in a time where law the law was needed because so many people were adoring false gods. They were tattooing their bodies to mark themselves for those gods and cutting themselves for those people who had died.
They were claiming that they were gods. With that in mind, that is why God is saying; hey no I am God and I am the one you should be focusing on. Don’t mark yourself nor claim yourself for false gods.
You just take a couple of words before a verse on the same law with instruction that says you should not cut your hair on the sides or you should not trim your beard.
It also says you should not eat any meat with blood in it so you have a medium steak. For example, that is just as bad as cutting yourself in this law.
It also talks about not wearing clothes made of two different types of cloth. Well, you get my point here that we are no longer under the law Jesus came to break that and set us free.
Another argument people come to me with is this, hey your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I say amen to that. Of course, it is a temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to look after it in our health. The way we exercise, the way we eat, the way we bring ourselves up or work.
I think it has nothing to do with tattoos because it is not obvious that all tattoos will disrespect the body. Having a tattoo is equal to having earrings or makeup on.
You see when Saint Paul was talking about this in 1 Corinthians, he was actually talking about the sexual morality saying look after your temple that is your body, respect your body, your dignity and who you are.
Do not give yourselves away into sexual promiscuity. That’s what he was talking about. He was not about tattoos. You see there is no moral stance on tattoos.
I’m not here endorsing tattoos in any way or form but you should be smart enough to know that there is a moral stance on is what you tattoo your body.
With what are you glorifying with that tattoo, what is your aim, why do you want that tattoo? what are you pointing at? basically, if you putting tattoos on your body that aims at glorifying death and Satanism, you’re glorifying false gods.
Then, in this case, common sense would dictate that you should research and check what you want to have on your body as a Christian tattoo. don’t just put a Chinese sign because it looks cool or some funny symbols that you don’t even know the meaning.
If it’s a symbol because it looks nice, check what you are marking onto your body. Make sure it glorifies God at all times. The second thing I would say about that and morality is just being to be prudent about your tattoos.
If you’re dating someone, don’t tattoo your date’s name onto your arm because later on, that might not be what you want.
Think, reflect, wait a few months until you actually put the tattoo on to your body because it is forever. Watch what you put on. You should have a tattoo that you will not ever want to remove.
I’m not too sure if I’d want to have an ex-girlfriends name on my arm or something like a big skeleton on my back. These are the things we need to reflect on let’s not make rules or judgment on other people who have tattoos.
The church doesn’t say that we should not have tattoos either does it say we should have them. However, at the end of the day, what is most important is that we glorify God with our bodies, we glorify God with our thoughts, we glorify God with our minds with everything we have.
Everything we do should strengthen our faith and promote peace, love, and unity in Jesus Christ as a family.
Tattoo Bible Verses
So, you want to know if a Christian should have a tattoo? Well, we will answer this question in a detailed manner, let’s go in and talk about it. Tattoos can be controversial in different circles, especially in Christian circles.
Some people would say, “Oh, no! You can’t do that! You are being very rebellious!” Others would say, “Hey, tattoos are just an artistic expression on my body.” Some would say, “Oh no! It’s a dangerous, satanic and cults practice.”
Others would simply say, “You know, it’s a personal expression.” The bottom line isn’t as much as what do people think, but what does God think about tattoos?
What does the Bible say about tattoos? And the answer is, not a whole lot! There’s one verse that speaks directly to tattoos. It’s found in Leviticus 19:28, when the Bible says:
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:28
You could say that God is very, very clear and says, ‘You should not have tattoos,” right? Well, to understand this verse, you have to look at the text in the context of what Leviticus 19 was saying as a whole.
What The Bible Says About Tattoos
You see, the Israelites had just escaped from Egyptian bondage and passed through the Red Sea and God was telling them, ‘Don’t take on the Pagan practices of the Egyptians.’
When an Egyptian would die, the remaining relative, they would often cut into their body to let out what was known as the lifeblood.
This was a pagan ritual, God said, ‘Don’t do that!’ Some would also tattoo on their bodies pictures of pagan Gods; and again, the One True God said, ‘Don’t you ever do that!’
If you want to take Leviticus 19 literally, we need to be careful, because this was the Old Testament Law, fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament. Leviticus 19 also tells us:
“Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. Leviticus 19:27
It also says: “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” Leviticus 19:19d
Things that we all do every day. Some of those things need great understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. You really need to seek the help of a pastor or someone who really is good at digesting the word of God before you conclude is having a tattoo is sin or not.
Leviticus 19; the bottom line, was talking about idolatry. Don’t take on the pagan practices of the Egyptians.
Some of my Christian friends that are very pro-tattoo, make a very good argument that a Christian tattoo can be a good witness or a good conversations starter.
They will also argue, if you want to be against tattoos, you should probably be against ear piercings, because Leviticus 19:28 says, “Don’t cut your body.”
If you are considering getting a tattoo, there are a couple of things to think about. First of all, you might be considered rebellious by some.
If you are going in for a job interview or meeting someone for the first time, people can be very judgmental, and they may look at the outside and make a judgment on you, so it’s something to think about.
Secondly, you need to remember that you might be making a decision that you would later regret. I had a friend who tattooed, ‘I love Beth’, and then he married Susan; which was awkward for everyone. And what looks good on you at 22 might look very saggy at 62!
Just think about it, if you are 19 years old and living with Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad are paying the bills, and you want a tattoo and Mom and Dad say no, there’s no tattoo for you! If my kids ask, “Daddy, can we get a tattoo?” I’m going to tell them; I don’t think so right now!
When they are grownups, if they want to get a tattoo, I’d simply say, let’s make sure it’s something you want forever, in a place you want forever, and a size you want forever.
I’m not going to recommend they get it, but again, it’s like a haircut, style; it’s the outside, what’s on the inside matters most. That’s my take on tattoos.
Are Tattoos a Sin in Catholic
Religion has always been a key factor that dictates our actions in society. Be it Catholics or protestants, it doesn’t matter. All are Christians and at the end of the day, they all serve God in the name of Jesus Christ.
There are obedient Christians out there but they still wonder if they can get a tattoo. Some always ask if there is something like Christian tattoos or if it is a sin to get a tattoo of a cross. This aims at satisfying they thirst to have tattoos without giving up their faith thus they question if holy tattoos exist.
Before making any further decisions on modifying our body, we need to make sure that we as Christians are not going against the word of God. Don’t just consider the tattoo safety on the aspect of the needle used being safe in order not to get any infections.
Whatever we do should always uplift and glorify the name of the Lord our God. You should ask yourself if the tattoo you are going to have will glorify the name of the Lord.
A proper and true Christian should know what is right and what is wrong in this case. Let us look at some of these bible verses that will help us clarify if having a tattoo is sin in Christianity or not.
Church tattoos are tattoos considered to be glorifying the Lord and most people look at them in a positive way. Some ask if it is a sin to get a tattoo of a cross.
I think having read the above, it is okay to have those tattoos that do not offend anyone. Church tattoos are always classified in the categories below:
- Cross Tattoo
- Jesus Tattoo
- Catholic Tattoos
Most Professional artists will always have a collection of these tattoos and it is just a question of an interested Christian choosing what he or she wants to have on their bodies. If your parents don’t have a problem with you having those tattoos, then you are good to go.
Those that live on their own are however free to make their decision since they are adults and they can make sound decisions without any negative influence. For those that are still under their parent’s roof, it is advisable as a Christian to accept and follow what your parents wish.
If they say no, then please obey. The Bible tells us that we should obey our parents as children in Christ. Never hold it against them or think about being rude to your parents.
You definitely don’t want to fight your parents just because of a Christian tattoo that you think is good for you.
Your parent’s blessings are important in your life whether you like it or not. So learn to listen to them and obey what they say.
Before you conclude that it is okay to have tattoos, ask your self this question. Why do some Christians think having a tattoo is a sin and they are against tattoos? lets look at this below.
Christians Against Tattoos
Is it a sin to get a tattoo? this is a question that we always ask since most Christians are against tattoos. There is only actually one verse in the Bible that specifically addresses the subject of tattoos and is highly controversial.
“It’s Leviticus chapter 19 verse 28 which reads that you shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor print any marks upon you I am the Lord.
The reason why this verse is so controversial is because it is probably discouraging a pagan practice or ceremony which included getting a tattoo in honor of a pagan idol and not the practice of tattooing in and of itself.”
Pagan idols or gods have often deified heroes of pagan cultures. After their heroes died, they sometimes became a pagan god or Idol. Psalm chapter 106 verse 28 mentions this stating that they joined themselves also unto bale pur and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
It caused the sacrifices of bale pur or here the sacrifices of the dead because Bell pur was apparently a deified pagan hero which had died. Apart from Leviticus chapter 19 verse 28, There are other Bible verses which contain principles that discourage getting tattoos.
First of all, our bodies are not our own and we don’t have the right to do whatever we want with them. 1st Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 through 20 says that;
“what know ye not that your body is the temple the Holy Ghost which is in you which ye have of God and ye are not your own for your bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit which is Gods.”
Therefore, the excuse that it’s your body and you can do whatever you want with it and to get tattoos is not a good excuse according to the Bible. in addition, the Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image. Genesis chapter 1 verse 27 puts it this way “so God created man in his own image”
In the image of God, God created male and female and when you get tattoos you’re ruining that image. Tattoos are actually a form of mutilation. You are mutilating your body when you get a tattoo you are cutting yourself and changing the purely natural form that God created.
Christians against tattoos always say that you basically poke a bunch of holes in your skin with a needle to the point of bleeding and fill those holes with ink. Then after you mutilate yourself you get swelling and scabs.
After that heals, what’s left is the ink in your skin and people call this body art. Although it may look kind of artistic when you first begin getting tattoos, that starts to change when you start getting older and your skin stretches. Your tattoos stretch too and then it doesn’t look so good anymore.
Trust me I knew old guys in prison which were covered in tattoos and you couldn’t even really tell what their tattoos were anymore. Not to mention, as we age we mature and our preferences change. What we think is cool when we were twenty is not so cool when we are 30 or 40 or 50.
That’s one of the reasons why tattoo removal is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. Christians against tattoos consider these as good reasons to avoid tattoos. Let us return to biblical principles which are against tattoos.
Why Christians Discourage Having Tattoos
The Bible encourages wise financial management. We are not to waste our money. For example, Proverbs chapter 21 verse 20 says that “there is desirable treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise but a foolish man squanders it”. Tattoos are a waste of money since they’re in unnecessary expense.
Not to mention, getting your tattoos removed can cost more money than the tattoo itself. If you end up not liking your tattoo, later on, it’s also more painful to get your tattoos removed. Besides that, the Bible teaches that Christians should maintain a modest appearance.
1st Timothy chapter 2 verses 9 through 10 says “in like manner also that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel with propriety and moderation, not with a braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing but which is proper for women professing godliness with good works.”
Now, although this verse is specifically addressed to Christian women, it applies to Christian men as well. Maintaining a modest appearance means that not dressing or doing anything which attracts attention to yourself.
Getting tattoos definitely attracts attention to yourself. Then there’s the possibility of damaging your healthy skin as a result of getting tattoos.
The Bible encourages healthy living. 3rd John verse 2 says “Beloved I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth.”
So we want to avoid things that can potentially harm or damage our health. Some unhealthy possible side effects of getting tattoos include allergic reactions to tattoo ink or substances in the ink which can leave scars infections from unsanitary equipment and also blood-borne diseases.
Hepatitis C. When you contract hepatitis C, you may not even know it until the late stages of the disease when you start to feel sick. Hepatitis C can be fatal since it can cause your liver to swell and form scars which can lead to liver failure.
We have Christians who say their tattoos are Christian tattoos. They’ll get tattoos of Jesus, the cross and things of that nature. I even saw a guy who said that his Christian tattoos were a witnessing tool but that raises a couple of major red flags.
First of all, just because you get a tattoo of a Christian symbol doesn’t automatically make that tattoo holy and acceptable to God especially when tattoos already violates so many principles in God’s Word.
Tattoos even if they are Christian tattoos are more likely to hurt your witnessing efforts rather than help them. That’s because if you’re covered in tattoos, people are less likely to approach you because of the stigma attached to tattoos.
People still associate tattoos with rebels, prison inmates and they are less likely to come up to you to strike up a conversation about your tattoos because they’re probably not sure how you would react to that.
I don’t really see how that helps someone’s witnessing efforts not to mention just because someone has a tattoo of a cross or Christian symbol doesn’t automatically make them a good Christian.
Now, I’m not saying we should necessarily judge someone who has tattoos, I’ve had some good friends in my life who were covered in tattoos but at the same time, I’ve known guys with tattoos of the Cross Jesus or the Virgin Mary who did not live the Christian life at all.
The best way to judge someone is by their actions. Jesus said at Matthew chapter 7 verse 16, “he shall know them by their fruits” not you shall know them by their tattoos.
It’s true that tattoos are becoming more of a trend in society with an estimated 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 having at least one tattoo according to one statistic I read.
Trends in society change and God’s Word never changes. What is popular in society is oftentimes not popular with God.
Romans chapter 12 verse 2 says, “be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that he may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
All things considered, it is my belief according to the Bible that tattoos are sinful and Christians should avoid them. If you already have a tattoo, just don’t get any more.
God will forgive you for the ones you have now if you ask him to. It’s important that you stop getting tattoos after you ask God to forgive you.
You may also look at: Is smoking shisha a sin