Are Tattoos Sinful?

Are Tattoos Sinful?

Tattoos was a hot topic of conversation on my viral post. In all of the years that I have been blogging, I have never written about this topic. I had never even thought about it much until my viral post. I do know that I have never wanted a tattoo and when I was growing up, we knew that tattoos weren’t for godly women. The more I have thought about tattoos, the more solid my convictions have become against them.

I want to make sure that you all know that having one or many tattoos will not keep you from eternal life with Jesus Christ. The only way to be saved from the wrath to come is to “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and … believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9). The convictions that I am going to share are my convictions and you will have to study the Word to come to your own.

Most people today, even those who call themselves Christian, follow along too easily with the flow of culture instead of examining their actions to see if they are compatible with the Word of God. Let’s first see what God’s Word has to say about tattoos.

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28). Yes, this verse is from the Law which we, as believers in Jesus Christ are no longer under (“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes” – Romans 10:4). However, we can know the heart of God by what is in the Law and we can see that His heart is for us to not cut our flesh or put any marks upon us (no, not even the mark of the beast!).

Secondly, women are commanded to be “shamefaced” (1 Timothy 2:9) and modest which means to do nothing to draw undue attention to ourselves. Tattoos draw attention. I always notice them on people if they are visible.

We are also commanded to be discreet. Discreet means “wise in avoiding errors or evil; cautious; wary; not rash; reserved; showing good judgment in conduct.” Before we take any action, especially something like getting a tattoo, we must carefully consider if this is being shamefaced, modest, and discreet as the Lord has called us to be. Is it showing good judgment?

I know there are many reasons women have for getting tattoos and I’m not going to judge those who have them or think any less of them. I am simply appealing to those of you who are considering getting one to ponder if they are feminine and the right thing to do.

Another thing to consider is that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. There are certainly risks in getting tattoos. They can cause an allergic reaction, skin infections, bloodborne diseases including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and MRI complications. This is just too risky in my opinion.

There are also studies that show that men think women are more “sexually available” who have tattoos, so no godly woman would want to give the impression to men that she is sexually available by having tattoos. From Psychology Today, “While men see tattooed women as less attractive, they also see them as more promiscuous.” We want to live our lives above reproach. Many regret having tattoos later in their lives and they do get uglier with age.

Whatever you do, women, make sure you study the Word and ask the Lord for wisdom. Don’t simply follow our culture on the broad path that leads to destruction. We are called to be set apart and holy in all of our ways with the Holy Spirit working mightily within us. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

31 thoughts on “Are Tattoos Sinful?

  1. Well said Lori, I agree with the points you’ve raised. I pray you continue to throw light on these issues.

  2. As someone who has worked in the nursing home setting for 15+ years, written tattoos become unreadable and pictures become so faded you can barely tell what they are supposed to be. I agree that tattoos do not age well.

  3. The Leviticus 19:28 Scripture always comes to mind when I think of tattoos. From the New Testament, I think of Luke 16:15, as it seems tattoos are more and more highly esteemed among people these days. Anything the world is esteeming and running after is something I want no part of {I John 2:15}.

    I’ve read that back in the day, only “rougher” sorts of men {sailors, stevedores, etc.} had tattoos, but they’ve now gone mainstream. I especially hate to see women deface their bodies with them.

  4. Skin doesn’t age well so it makes sense that tattoos wouldn’t age well! Most people only have short-term vision instead of long-term. It’s not a wise way to live.

  5. I have heard often that the Church is only ten years behind the culture. Few “Christian” women are virgins when they marry and more and more are getting tattoos. I believe it’s because no one is teaching them biblical womanhood and the ways of the Lord. It absolutely hurts the younger generations. God’s admonitions are for our good and protections and many fail to understand this.

  6. Thank you Lori. I would never get a tattoo because 1. I don’t believe we should deface our bodies especially godly women. 2. I’m terrified of needles. When I get flu shots, I want to run the other way. And don’t even get me started on getting my blood drawn! Oh the horror! The horror!?

  7. Thumbs up…more and more I am the odd one out. I have never wanted a tatoo, I’ve seen some pretty ones but find my self hearing that verse in the back of my mind. “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28) Even before I new the verse, it just never felt right in my heart. You discuss a lot of valid points about being modest too, I wish there was more modesty in this world. Anyway…thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter.

    One of my friends shared your post…I’m glad she did, I’m always looking for fb pages that will fill my heart with things of the Lord.

  8. I am in the middle in this as I have tattoos and haven’t always lived my life in a way that would please God, I get confused because I am saved but have always questioned whether I should ever get them and heard if you get tattoo they should not be evil in nature, idol worshipping. This makes me question my choices to have ever gotten one let alone 11. I live the Lord and want to please him, I have come a long way in my walk and this makes me question it all. I do read scripture but can’t say I fully understand it all. I know old testament law is important, but I did hear a rabbi one-time say that old testament law was only applicable to the Jews (not cutting your hair, not eating pork, not marking the body only applied to the Jews, not the gentiles) and that all those particular laws were thrown out with the new Covenant . Things like sexual sin, murder, and the like were carried forward into the New Covenant, so this is all very confusing. Thanks

  9. Lori,
    I can tell you that tats look awful when women get older ! I worked in a dermatology clinic years ago and I assisted the laser surgery . One moderately sized tat took 45 laser treatments to remove . It is painful and you are left with some scarring. Think twice!
    I do love how you said we aren’t under the law anymore , but we can know the heart of God on this. ?

  10. Hi Lori! Thank you for writing out your thoughts on this subject. And I love that you are reading scripture and seeking God’s wisdom. But may I respectfully push back on your hermeneutic?

    May I submit to you that the Levitical verse does not reveal that the heart of the Lord is necessarily against cutting “our flesh or put[ing] any marks upon us;” but rather God is concerned here with idol worship? God was commanding the people not to identify with idol worshipers by engaging in their same practices–the use of cutting and markings associated with their pagan worship. But instead to e holy, set apart as His people. Also, not to be crude, but circumcision, which was commanded of all Israeli men, is literally the cutting of flesh; so your interpretation of the Levitical law here is inconsistent.

    Culture is a funny thing, in that even christians have our own culture. Sometimes in that culture, we put stumbling blocks up for each other that God never commands; in fact He warns against that very thing (Romans 14)! But I hear your heart in wanting to seek God in your writing, and I pray that you continue to do so! He is good to reveal Himself to those that seek His truth. Blessings!

  11. Unfortunately it is very true. Men look at women differently when they have tattoos. Especially huge guady ones in particular places. I have a small tattoo on my wrist and it already causes some issues of judgement. Very good article. He that hath an ear, let him hear.

  12. I once saw a video about tattoos by a priest. He basically said that from a Christian point of view, tattoos should not depict inappropriate images/slogans or placed on/near inappropriate spots, like by drawing attention to your private parts and the like.
    This said, he would dissuade people to get one.

    There are a few more issues, beside the risk of disease due to poor hygiene (now thankfully rare at reputable parlors).
    The first one is the ink composition. Since tattoos are a fairly recent mass phenomen, there are no extensive studies about the safety of inks. Maybe some ingredients are safe, but in combination with others, are not. Maybe only tattoos not larger than x amount of square centimeters are safe, while the larger ones are not. Maybe tattoos are safe only for x numbers of years and after are not. Who knows?
    The second issues is that tattoos work thanks to our immune system that works hard in order not to absorb the ink. I dont know about you, but I very much prefer for my immune system to deal with viruses and bacteria rather than be busy with tattoos ink.
    The article linked explains this new discovery
    This one cautions against tattoos for people with weakened immune systems

  13. @Gina

    I live the Lord and want to please him, I have come a long way in my walk and this makes me question it all.

    Stay with it, Gina! Your tattoos were part of your old life, and though when we turn to Christ we are saved from God’s wrath, our past does nevertheless have earthly consequences. But that should not cause you to doubt your salvation.

    this is all very confusing

    Yes, there is probably a lot of disagreement on this, and one person will say one thing and another person will say the opposite. Maybe it might be worth talking to another Christian who has tattoos: I don’t know any, personally, but I used quite often to watch Now You See TV (probably one of the most way-out weird Christian video channels on the Internet — I don’t agree with all they believe, but they are interesting and very sincere in their faith!), and the host Jon Pounders was heavily tattooed, since he was in a gang before he was saved. He sometimes mentions his tattoos — he strongly regrets having them done, but he seems to have come to terms with living with them.

    Whatever the case, may God guide you the right way and give you peace.

  14. Gina, scripture teaches that Jesus did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill it. We can even today learn a lot from the old testament. You have tattoos. Tattoos will not send you to hell. What you do with Jesus Christ determines where you spend eternity. We have all sinned, come short, but if we believe Jesus is who he said he is, believe he died on the cross to save us from our sins, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth and believe in thine heart that he arose from the dead, ask him to forgive you and come into your heart. He will do what he said he would do and save you. You can’t change the past but God does forgive and will cast our sin into the sea of forgetfulness, NEVER to be remembered again.

  15. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. I think the article was very well written and we need more men and women willing to speak the truth to this backslidden generation.

  16. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. I think the article was very well written and we need more men and women willing to speak the truth to this backslidden generation.

  17. I believe that tattoos are as prohibited as they have always been for Christians. The argument that the commandment to not have any is part of the Old Testament is easily rebutted. So are the Ten Commandments; I guess we don’t have to obey those any more either.

  18. Suzanne is correct that tattoos age poorly, and that goes doubly for women, given that their skin averages about 20% thinner than does men’s. Throw in that men’s skin contains considerably more collagen than does women’s, and that starting around menopause, women lose skin collagen due to advancing age substantially more quickly than men do, and tattoos = a guaranteed appearance disaster for women in later life. (That’s aside from more than a few men’s hindbrains screaming at them when they sight a tattooed woman “slept with 50 guys and has Hepatitis A, B, and C”.)

  19. interesting….

    Well, there’s wisdom, and there’s legalism. I believe 1 Corinthians (first few chapters) talk about wisdom. Wisdom and power in Christ alone. Then there’s legalism. Jewish religious leaders in the time of Christ were very good at following the laws. And that’s not bad! However, they did reject the wisdom and power found in Christ.

    All that to say, I believe not getting a tattoo is wise. To say it is a sin (which might not be what you’re saying, but it sure seems that readers of your blog are interpreting that what you’re saying is tattoos are sinful…) is flirting with legalism.

    I hope and pray you speak wisdom to this generation, and not legalism. May Christ (wisdom and power) lead you!

  20. I believe that having a tattoo is more likely to interfere with a young woman’s marriage prospects in ‘socially conservative’ circles than debt or ever lack of virginity. Tattoos are an immediate ‘turn-off’ for a lot of people who might excuse graver sins as the expected human weaknesses of our present age.

  21. Another thing to consider is the atmosphere one has to go into in order to get a tattoo. The types of people who are tattoo artists are very sketchy characters. Also the images on the walls of the facility and the music blasting from the speakers creates an atmosphere that is completely defiling and evil. No Christian woman should want to go there and do that, and this is coming from someone who has a tattoo and regrets it. I have been there and know what that scene is.

  22. Julia, above, said: “To say it is a sin (which might not be what you’re saying, but it sure seems that readers of your blog are interpreting that what you’re saying is tattoos are sinful…) is flirting with legalism.

    I hope and pray you speak wisdom to this generation, and not legalism. May Christ (wisdom and power) lead you!”

    Good post.

    For some ppl there is a fine line between seeking by God’s grace to be circumspect and cautious, but also avoiding legalism.

    I talked to a young woman with the wording of John 3.16 tattooed on her wrist; it was her favorite Bible verse and mine also, and I’m sure other conversations have arisen as a result of her willingness to have it done.

    So I guess I can see the matter from varying perspectives (if this makes sense?)

  23. To extend your argument:
    The Christian follows the life of Christ and the tradition of the Apostles.

    Jesus is shown to be perfectly righteous by how the Gospels and Epistles reveal how He fulfilled every law, especially important here is the priestly laws in Leviticus. He is clean and pure and vindicated by the resurrection.

    Likewise, the account of the apostles in the Gospels and Acts show what they did, and no argument from silence is acceptable regarding adoption of pagan practices. They never scarred their bodies with tattoos.

    We as Christians are righteous in Christ’s righteousness and we live according to His way; tattoos have no room in our lives.

    The myriad of points regarding wisdom only supplement and encourage this obvious point.

    Think on this: being exposed is shown to be shameful and a curse for those under God’s derision. Choosing to expose and mutilate your flesh shows how God gives you up to your flesh.

  24. Hmmm…

    I have a few religious tattoos. So does my husband. We are both Saved.

    I can’t speak for God and won’t (neither should absolutely anyone, ever including you, Lori) but I don’t THINK in the grand scheme of things tattoos matter that much.

    It’s a personal preference.

  25. Lori, I’ve recently found your blog and it has helped me tremendously in seeing who God has intended me to be all along as a Christian wife and mother—thank you!!

    As someone who has two tattoos from my life before Jesus, I have to agree that they are ultimately not beneficial. I suffered many years of demonic oppression from those tattoos, until Jesus. Blood-letting is a very serious, dark act that our Heavenly Father knew would lead His children into idol worship.

    Be set apart Church! We are not our own!

    Thank you again Lori!

  26. I absolutely agree! I would also add that in a lot of cases, women (specifically young girls) get tattoos out of rebellion, and I have an impression that many women who have tattoos come off as rebellious in general, and as Christians, rebellious is the last thing we should be.

  27. I’ve always believed in God. I have always been a Christian. I was 21 before I got my first tattoo..I have 4 total and I’m 32 now, and much closer to God. I regret my tattoos, but I have ask God to forgive me. I agree with you Lori, I don’t believe tattoos will keep me from heaven but I do believe I disobeyed God by marking my body. If I had been as active in church as I am now I never would have gotten these tattoos. I also agree it does draw attention😢 all of mine are hidden except for one on my inner arm in the summer. Again, regret my decisions but God knows my heart, and I’m so so thankful for that❤️

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