Joyful Exile LogoJoyful Exile

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?



The topic of tattoos and their acceptability within the Christian faith has been a subject of debate and differing interpretations for many years. At the heart of this discussion is a single verse in the Old Testament and various teachings in the New Testament, which believers interpret in various ways to support their stance on the matter. This article delves into the primary biblical references concerning tattoos, presenting arguments from both sides of the debate. By exploring these perspectives, the article aims to provide a balanced view, enabling readers to make an informed decision based on their understanding of the Bible, their cultural context, and personal beliefs.

Biblical Prohibition and Its Context

The primary scripture cited in discussions about tattoos within Christianity is Leviticus 19:28, which reads, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.” This verse, part of the Mosaic Law given to the Israelites, explicitly prohibits tattoos and body markings. The prohibition is often understood within the historical context of separating the Israelites from the pagan practices of neighboring communities, where body markings were associated with idolatry and mourning rituals for the dead.

Scholars who advocate for this view argue that tattoos were a part of heathen religious rites. The Israelites were instructed to avoid these practices as a way to maintain their distinctiveness as God’s chosen people. This perspective upholds the literal interpretation of Leviticus, suggesting that tattoos, as a form of body modification, are incompatible with Christian living.

Cultural Relevance and New Testament Perspectives

On the other side of the debate, many argue that the Levitical laws, including the prohibition of tattoos, were contextually bound to the cultural and religious circumstances of the time. They suggest that these laws were specific to the Israelites and were part of the old covenant, which Christians believe was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. This interpretation is bolstered by the New Testament’s focus on faith and the condition of the heart rather than external appearances.

Advocates of this view point to scriptures such as 1 Samuel 16:7, which states, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” They argue that the New Testament emphasizes internal spiritual values over external religious symbols or practices. In this light, tattoos are seen as a matter of personal freedom and artistic expression, not necessarily tied to religious or moral implications.

Furthermore, proponents of tattoos in the Christian context often cite the Apostle Paul’s teachings on Christian liberty. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul writes, “All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial.” This suggests a framework where Christians are free to make choices, like getting a tattoo, as long as it does not lead them or others away from God.

Tattoos as a Form of Witnessing or Personal Expression

Another perspective within the Christian community views tattoos not only as permissible but also as a potential tool for witnessing and personal expression of faith. Some Christians get tattoos of religious symbols, Bible verses, or Christian imagery as a way to express their beliefs and open conversations about their faith. In this context, tattoos are seen as a modern medium to convey a timeless message, similar to wearing religious jewelry or clothing.

This viewpoint is often supported by the belief that personal expressions of faith, like tattoos, can be powerful testimonies to one’s commitment to Christianity. It recognizes that in contemporary society, tattoos have evolved beyond their ancient associations and can carry a variety of meanings, including spiritual ones.

The Importance of Personal Conviction and Community Standards

Regardless of the theological stance on tattoos, there is a general consensus among many Christian scholars and leaders that the decision to get a tattoo should be made with careful consideration of one’s personal convictions and the standards of their faith community. Romans 14:23 says, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” This suggests that actions, including getting a tattoo, should be done in full confidence of one’s faith and conscience.

Additionally, Christians are encouraged to consider the impact of their choices on their community. 1 Corinthians 8:9 advises, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” This implies that while one may feel free to get a tattoo, they should also consider how it might affect the beliefs or attitudes of others within their community. This aspect of communal responsibility and sensitivity plays a significant role in the decision-making process for many Christians contemplating tattoos.



The debate on tattoos within the Christian community encompasses a range of interpretations and perspectives, from viewing them as prohibited by biblical law to seeing them as a form of personal or spiritual expression. This diversity in thought highlights the importance of individual discernment and respect for varying convictions within the faith. Whether one views tattoos as incompatible with Christian teachings or as an acceptable form of personal testimony, the key lies in making a decision that aligns with one’s own faith, understanding of the scriptures, and the influence on their immediate faith community. Ultimately, this discussion invites Christians to reflect deeply on their beliefs, the teachings of the Bible, and how they choose to express their faith in the modern world.

Related Posts



Become a part of the Exile community
YouTube | Patreon | Substack
YouTube|Trivia|Apps|Articles|Library|Verses|Contact|About|© Joyful Exile 2024
Hi! Would you consider subscribing to my YouTube channel Joyful Exile? If you don't like it then just ignore this :). Joyful Exile