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Published on October 20th, 2016 | by Discussion Questions

Is it okay for Christians to get tattoos?





REBEKAH WRITES: I was talking with my friends the other day, and we saw that one of our Christian teachers had a tattoo. We were wondering: Are tattoos wrong for Christians to have?


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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected]



  • Personally, I think that’s something everyone has to decide for themselves. I know a lot of great Christians who have tattoos. In the Bible it says that we should not put any markings on our body. Today, it’s a different story. That was the culture at their time. Tattoos were usually paganistic, and as Jews and early Christians, it was important not to be identified with that.

    Today, tattoos aren’t uncommon at all. Rather, they can be flattering and great conversation starters. It’s culturally acceptable, even amongst Christians. Now, I’m not saying that you should go out and cover your body with tattoos. There’s that fine line between cool and trashy.

    If someone says that tattoos are wrong then it brings in a whole lot of other issues. Are piercings wrong? Should women only wear ankle-length skirts? If we can’t have tattoos, then is face painting ok?

    We, can all too often, get caught up in the rules of Christianity. That is why a lot of people can’t stand Christians. Because we’re too caught up in all the do’s and don’ts and forget that God’s plan is all about grace and forgiveness and acceptance. So yes, I personally think tattoos are completely acceptable. I would focus more on our spiritual health and our relationship with God than all the ‘rules’ we can put on ourselves.

    I hope this is helpful!

    • It is helpful! Very much so. Thanks for this thoughtful, educated response :)

    • Jason

      I totally agree with you. I personally don’t think tats are wrong, but I’ve been reading Leviticus and in chapter 19:28 it specifically says, “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” I’m not sure if this still applies. I lean towards thinking it’s an Old Testament law that no longer applies, but I’m not sure about this one. I know that personally I don’t really like tattoos so I haven’t thought that much about this.

  • Olivia W.

    Like Liana said, the only places in the Bible where it suggests that tattoos are wrong, it’s because of the cultural context. I think that in issues like this where the Bible doesn’t specifically say that something is wrong, we should judge based on our conscience and general biblical principles. I personally wouldn’t get a tattoo because it may be harmful to your body, and because of the biblical principle that my body is not my own since I was bought by Christ and therefore I must glorify Christ in my body.

  • Rachel M.

    Like Liana Grace said, tattoos aren’t uncommon. She did bring up that the Bible says we shouldn’t mark our bodies. (Leviticus 19:28: Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.) Again, she also commented that tattoos were symbols of pagan worship, which the Jews wanted no part of. In today’s culture, tattoos wouldn’t symbolize pagan worship, so it is not the same concept as it was in the Old Testament.

    I personally wouldn’t get a tattoo as I do not desire one or like them. I do feel slightly uneasy when I am around people with several tattoos. This might be just me, but it makes me feel uncomfortable.

    I do believe in the entire Bible and will not get a tattoo because the Bible says to not mark your body. I definitely understand that there are laws in the Bible that we do not have to obey; such as sacrificial laws. However, this is a law that could go either way.

    I do not discriminate against anyone who has a tattoo. If a Christian decides to get one, that is their choice and I will still love them.

  • My church partners with a missionary couple in South America. They live in another country now, but they used to work in the Bogota ghetto. The guy’s tattoos helped him fit in because everyone there had tattoos. He is one of the strongest Christians I know. I also have a couple of friends with small, tasteful tattoos–one girl has the word “rejoice” on the inside of her elbow, and another girl has a little cross on the inside of her wrist. They can be great conversation starters. I don’t think I would personally get a tattoo because I feel like I would regret it at some point haha, but as to whether it’s WRONG or not, I’m not sure. Like Liana said, it brings up lots of other issues. (Liana’s answer was really excellent haha, everyone has been referencing her!!)

  • Hannah

    I think a lot of it has to depend on your motive for getting a tattoo. Are you getting one to just look “cool”? Probably not the best reason for one. I know there are some Christians who get them and it helps them “fit in” with the people they are trying to witness to so that they are more effective for Christ, kind of how Hudson Taylor grew his hair out to fit in with the Chinese.

  • The Bible only ever mentions tattoos once, in Leviticus: “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” Not saying we should obey that per se since it’s in the law, but it’s def food for thought. I used to think that that verse just meant avoiding like, pagan rituals, but looking at the context my personal belief (emphasis on personal, please don’t jump down my throat for this anyone lol) is that is was a calling to be different from the culture. Since our culture loves and embraces tattoos, my personal conviction is to stay away from them because for me they would have no purpose other than to be more like the world. That’s just me tho =)

    Oh, plus they hurt like heck to get….

    And they’re impossible to remove….

    And they’ll look disgusting when you’re old….

    And you can never get an MRI if you have a tattoo. XD

    • Oh wow I didn’t know you couldn’t get an MRI. I looked it up, sounds painful!

    • Jo Schulz

      lol Are you planning on getting an MRI any time soon? jk

    • Rachel M.

      I totally agree! I was trying to find a way to explain my views, and you did it perfectly!

  • Okie Gal

    Personally, I think tattoos are really neat (especially when they mean something). The biggest drawback, for me, is that they’re expensive. So as a steward that might be a thing to avoid.

  • Emma R.

    Hey guys it’s been a while. I had some interesting stuff come up with a friend which took a lot of my time so I didn’t really have a ton of time to get on here. Problems with my friend is still happening so could you all please pray for me. Anyways I know that didn’t answer the question but it is my opinion that we shouldn’t get tattoos. It’s just my opinion because someone I put church got one and he said that he regretted doing it.

    • Praying for you <3

      • Emma R.

        Thanks :) We’ve been going back through the same situation and I’ve been sharing the same things over and over and just praying for her. I’ve been praying that God will allow her to see where she is going wrong.

        • You’re welcome. I’ll be praying for God to give you continued patience and compassion for your friend. I know how hard that can be.

  • tmselden

    Rebekah:

    Good question for a lot of thought. Blessings to you.

    Coming from a different perspective and meaning to speak to all ages, I wish to share what I see in this generation of “Christians.” I leave the conviction to the Holy Spirit through His Holy Word to teach.

    There has been an increasing bent in our churches today that has lost the whole point of serving Christ. It seems as if we are okay about loving God with our whole mind, soul, heart and spirit. Going to church and concerts singing and praising Him is easy and can be fun. And that is as far as it goes. We seem to have forgotten the second important commandment and that is to love others. It is extremely hard and difficult to die to ourselves and put others before us.

    The questions I hear most often from people are almost always concerned about them and their rights. We have forgotten that if you call yourself a believer, the rules haven’t changed. What was sin in the past, is still sin. Our duty is to God and then to others. When was the last time you heard someone ask if a certain activity might offend or hurt another Believer or what impression might be given to the lost by our activities, speech and actions. We have replaced loving others as ourselves with loving ourselves over others.

    Paul was very direct in telling us to renew our minds, to come out and be separate, and to do absolutely nothing to offend another. Now it seems our selfishness and narcissism overrules.

    Whether we get tattoos or not is irrevelant. The reason we do or do not do things should always be compared to the impact on Christ and the impact on others. Our own wants and desires are very deceptive and if we continue to let the world sway our standards about our decisions, then we have left the narrow road. Our problem is the condition of our hearts that refuses to die to itself. We are not in a popularity contest. The road is very narrow, and if you are walking in a large crowd, you just might be in trouble. Submission to following Christ is just that. Read about His life. What part of His life do you find easy? None of it was easy. Was Jesus concerned about fitting in, being cool and hip, getting attention for worldly things and worldly ways? No, He abhorred them.

    When I used to teach Sunday School, I saw the ever increasing involvement with church kids in the world’s ways. They always wanted to see how close they could get to the other side and not fall over. That is a dangerous game and only shows the depths of wickedness of our hearts. Testing God with His limits will only bring heartache and destruction to our lives. The parameters and total separation from the world was a mandate from the beginning for His Glory and our good.

    What I see in the “church” today is no recognition of compromise, no repentance for sin, no preaching unless it benefits me. Many, many false teachers are leading multitudes away from Christ by showing them a Christ that smiles on all of our behavior if we can find others, even the church, to justify and support us.

    That is exactly how drinking has become acceptable in the church. I personally know three people introduced to drinking in a church setting. Two are now problem drinkers, one is a full blown young mother of three who is an alcoholic and they are all supported by their church.

    That is the results of even coming near to the world and accepting their practices. The world can no longer tell what a Christian is or is not and it is all because we choose not to take on the suffering and trials that comes with giving our whole lives to serving Christ.

    Here is my list of why I would not get a tattoo:

    The practice has history of darkness and rebellion. We are to have nothing to do with “the evil deeds of darkness.”

    It is marking God’s creation.

    It offends many believers. We are to do nothing, absolutely nothing, that might cause an offense to our brothers and sisters in Christ–and that means any age of believer.

    It makes me look part of the world to others that do not know Christ.

    It draws attention to me and not to Christ. If I want to make a statement say it with acts of kindness towards others.

    We are called to be a peculiar people not swayed by fashion and worldly ways.

    I have no rights as a follower of Christ. I am indebted to Him and to showing Him to others. That means totally separated from even a hint of darkness. We were bought with a price. We are not our own.

    Love and blessings to all!
    Mrs. Jean

    • Regan Seba

      I would just like to point out that Jesus was not against alcohol… He turned water into wine for a wedding. It is alcoholism and drunkeness where the sin lies, not in the alcohol. There are many people who drink in moderate amounts, and I do not believe that they sin. The Bible never condemns drinking in moderate amounts anywhere I have read. It’s a little bit(not exactly but a little bit) like in the 1800s when we condemned dancing, despite that the Bible says nowhere that dancing is prohibited.

      All that being said, I mourn for these people that you have mentioned. That such a thing happened within the church body is tragic, and I am incredibly sorry.

      • tmselden

        While I appreciate your responding, I know that you are amongst the majority of church goers today. There is definitely a lack of bible knowledge in this generation and a whole lot of false teaching based on feelings instead of facts.

        Alcohol is devastating to this society and it has destroyed more lives than any sort of drug on this planet. Is that something that a Christian would want to be part of? Just exactly when do you know when it from moderation to drunkenness? People can be legally drunk after one drink. Are you sure one is capable of stopping at any time and what do you base that on because it cannot be supported by scripture. Just exactly why do Christians drink alcohol? It is labeled as dangerously addictive.

        God tells us the dangers of alcohol and the slow demise into alcoholism in Proverbs.

        Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

        Proverbs 23:29-35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.” Are you exempt from that? He also says that our hearts are wicked above all else and we don’t even understand the

        How do you determine whether you are offending brothers and sisters in Christ that struggle with addictions? We are told in scripture to do nothing to cause a weaker believer to fall. Who are we looking out for–ourselves or others?

        Romans 14:20-21 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

        Romans 14:13-21 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

        When out with a group, just exactly what differentiates you from the world when holding a drink in your hand? Non believer drinkers love our decline into more and more worldliness, as they don’t see their lives any different than theirs.

        1 Peter 4:1-7 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

        Church drinkers have fallen for the lie that they are in control of the capacity to sin, but they are not. They do not know the depths of wickedness that lies within them and that makes them a target for Satan. They are making provision for the flesh that is commanded for us all not to do.

        Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

        Romans 13:11-14 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify your desires.

        God is Who we answer to and willful ignorance and rejection of his mandates will only lead to destruction. If church drinkers were honest with themselves, they would admit that they drink because they want to because it offers them a temporary relief from the stresses of life. It does alter your thinking and we are told in scripture to be alert and sober-minded. We medicate ourselves with the world instead of the refreshment that comes from our God through the washing ourselves with the Word.

        1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

        Jesus says Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you soul.

        The church of today is now anesthetizing themselves with the wrong “comforter.”

        To say that anyone who drinks is not saved is wrong. But for anyone to feel secure enough and above committing any sin is just as wrong.

        Respectfully,
        Mrs. Jean

        • Bekah Fenn

          I somewhat agree with everything you are saying. On the topic of Alcohol, it is only a sin when you get drunk, as said in the Bible. Meaning you can have a drink, as long as you don’t drink too much. Otherwise it is not a sin.
          Yes, I will never even take a drink, because I took a once and it was gross, but, it is not a sin unless I drink too much.

        • Sadie Clements

          How would you explain the fact that the very first communion was taken with wine, then?
          Also. You underestimate and denounce the Christians of today, in general. True, many members of the church in this modern culture do not live to the fullest of their lives for the cause of Christ, yet that does not give anyone the right to lump everyone in the body of Christ together in that category. I am personally acquainted with many people who are the exact opposite of the apathy you perceive and describe. People who do enjoy a cup of beer on occasion and yet would not partake of that when they were aware someone who was present had a struggle with alcoholism. As for tattoos, that is no other Christians place to say that it is a stumbling block for them unless it contains inappropriate content. Ink on a skin is a personal decision, and it is not the place of the other members of Christ to judge that decision, especially when it comes from the motivation of seizing a perceived opportunity to witness to others about the power of the gospel. I ask you, is it more important to adhere to the molds of the traditional church and avoid judgment, than to take a unique opportunity to share the word of Christ with someone who has not heard?

          • tmselden

            Hi Sadie. Thank you for your comment.

            First, never in scripture are we given a reprieve from living our fullest with Christ. If we are truly born-again, the Holy Spirit gives us all access to living a life of holiness and righteousness. Anyone who chooses to live less than that is not in obedience to Christ. “Be Holy as God is Holy.” We have no excuse to live less than. It would be wise, as Paul says, to “examine ourselves and see if we are in the faith.”

            And, second, if anyone is adhering to the molds of the traditional church and not adhering to Christ’s teachings is not Christian, but religious, having a form of Godliness but with no power.

            As far as tattoos and drinking. “Everything is permissible but not everything s beneficial.” The follower of Christ is to walk a cut above anything going on in society. Never, ever, has it been beneficial to consort with the world and its ways. There is nothing spiritually beneficial with either drinking or marking your body. The lost want to see a difference. They need to see God’s works in us so He is glorified. Social drinking and tattoos gives the lost more security in that they are no different from us. When we are told to live as dead to this world, anything that hints of the worldly, secular life clouds the Cross. We are not our own–we were bought at the highest price and it is shameful what people are trying to pass off as okay. As Paul says “they are turning the gift of grace into licentiousness.”

            True freedom comes only when we stop considering our rights and give all our rights to Christ and to die to ourselves and made alive in Him. Trying to justify worldly behavior falls flat in the sight of God. You will not know a full complete relationship with Christ until your wants don’t matter anymore–just His.

            I pray the best for you.

            Always for Him,
            Mrs. Jean

  • Regan Seba

    My thoughts… The only passage in the Bible that even mentions tattoos has been cited numerous times. It has also already been noted that it could possibly fall under the “law does not apply cause it was fulfilled by Jesus” category. Honestly, I don’t think it’s the biggest deal to get a tattoo as far as sin goes. Again, as has been mentioned, what is the motivation behind it? What message are you trying to send?

    My personal opinion is that I would never get a tattoo. They are expensive, hard to have taken off, painful, they look awful as you get older, and they tend to make it hard to get a job depending on where you have one. There are quite a few organizations that will not hire you if you have odd piercings or a visible tattoo. Also, my mother has always said, “don’t do anything to your body that you can’t reverse.” Hair grows back. Tattoos and piercings pretty much are perminent or leave permanent scars… There are many people who regret having gotten a tattoo, and there are plenty who don’t. My sister once met a lady who could not cry, she had been abused and had such a hard childhood. Her way of expressing grief was through her tattoos, a permanent reminder of the person or thing she was grieving for, just as our grief leaves inward scars on us. She was a believer, and I would argue that her story is so interesting it draws people in to look past the surface.

    I also want to tell you to be wary of legalism. We(by we I mean I) tend to put rules on everything, to look at our and other’s outward appearance instead of examining our heart and truly loving other people. Be careful of being judgmental, because the Bible says we will be judged as we have judged. Who has the authority to judge? None but the King of Heaven. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    Just some food for thought.

  • Just a quick thought, I have one friend who is a very strong and kind christian girl. After some really careful thought she ended up getting a tattoo on her upper back so that if she ever regretted it, a T-shirt would easily cover it. I thought that seemed smart. That’s kinda random, I know. Oh well.

  • Wow, this is a tough question. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback! I love hearing all the different perspectives!

    Honestly, this is a matter of conviction. Having a tattoo could become a stumbling block to another believer and even if we think it’s ok we should still be careful of the message we send to fellow believers.

    The main passage I would go to for this would be Romans 14. There Paul talks about how we each have different convictions about different things (none of them being sin issues) and that we should respect each others convictions and not be judgmental. God gives us those convictions and we should follow them!

  • Hello, everybodeee! Grover here… Nah, just kidding. It’s Delaney.
    Ooooo! Tattoos!! I’ll throw in my two cents here I spos.
    I have seen the passage in the Pentateuch referenced a time or two. I would like to point out, as has already been done) that that was in the old law. We are no longer under the law (Romans 8: 1-3). I would say that this is a matter of personal conviction. Again in Romans, it talks about how one thing may be a sin for you and not for someone else (Romans 14). My music pastor at my church has multiple tattoos. He even has a sleeve. Not the creepy kind, in fact it is a lyric of a worship song he wrote. He has gotten a lot of flak over it and some people even left the church BUT he has had an incredible amount of opportunities to share the gospel with people that would never talk to a pastory looking guy. He has made friends at the tattoo parlor (it takes a long time to get a sleeve) and even kinda discipled the guy that did his tat. It is one of his witnessing tools.
    Also, this may come as a surprise but there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that Jesus Christ has a tat. Yep, Jesus. Revelation 19:16 “on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written “King of kings and Lord of lords.” All I’m saying is that is sounds like Jesus has got a tat right on his thigh. :) lol
    I will probably get a tattoo when I am older and my sister has one already. (The Greek for “in Christ”)
    Sorry this was so long! 😳

  • Andrew Gwinn

    1 Corinthians 6:9-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

    As far as tattoos go, I believe tattoos are not something we should get. The Bible tells us to honor God with our bodies. Getting a tattoo doesn’t glorify God. Sure, you could get a tattoo of a Bible verse or a cross, but you shouldn’t have to put ink in your arm to show your a Christian. Instead of getting a tattoo of a cross, you should just live as an obvious Christian. Instead of getting a tattoo of a Bible verse, live out that verse as best as you can. Then others can see you living that verse instead of just having it printed on you arm. Instead of sporting a tattoo, just live it out, and that will speak louder than any tattoo.

    Another reason why you shouldn’t get a tattoo, is the fact that it can cause others to stumble. Paul says in Romans 15:13 “Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put and stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

    • I would personally like to make two comments here.

      1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is specifially in reference to sexual immorality , so applying it to tatoos is kind of an out-of-context situation. As for your point on being holy as God and not getting tatoos, Revelation 19:16 seems to hint at Jesus having a tatoo, though that depends how you interpret the symbolism I suppose.

      2. Ignoring the context of 1 Corinthians 6, I heard a very good question considering this point. The question was proposed, “When you build a temple, do you keep it bare and undetailed, or do you add stained glass or artwork to display the beauty of God and His creation?” Of course, this is a very personal question, but ’tis good food for thought.

      You do make some very good points though! You definitley seem to have studied the matter thouroghly, which is good in situations like this.

      • Andrew Gwinn

        Thanks for being kind and honest! As for you second point, Of course you would make it look nice. But, the problem with that is that our bodies can glorify God without getting a tattoo. God never said that we were incomplete and need something else to show off how great his is. Instead he called us very good when we was finished creating us.

  • Rita

    Here’s something I wrote recently that would apply to this discussion:

    The Grey Areas

    I think it’s far too common for Christians to rationalize that if God doesn’t have a specific Bible verse about something, then it automatically falls into a “grey area,” which leaves us with our “personal preference” as the determining factor in making a choice or forming a conviction. (which starts sounding strangely like religious relativism…)

    2 Timothy 3:16 says, “ALL Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness.” That means the whole counsel of God’s Word is useful and necessary to guide us in every area of life. Because the whole Bible speaks to the whole of life. And let’s face it…to God, there are no grey areas….He cares about it all.

    If man is to “live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” then shouldn’t our personal convictions be shaped and formed by a broad understanding of the full scope of Scripture? The more Scripture… the more wisdom…the more wisdom, the more light to view all of life with.

    Here’s just a few principals I came up with in considering this topic (and I’m sure you could find many more):

    Why do I want to do this? (“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” – 1 Cor. 10:31)
    Have you spent time in prayer about it? Don’t assume you already know your true motive. The heart is deceitful and you can’t just trust yourself because you don’t know yourself as God does.
    If you find yourself thinking, “well, so and so does it and they’re a Christian,” then you’re being motivated by man, and not by God. (And you won’t have to go far to find someone who agrees with/practices what you want to justify yourself in.)
    Don’t measure yourself against other Christians; don’t be peer-oriented. God says this is not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12). Only Christ can give a true reflection of God’s standards. So ask yourself, “will this make me more conformed to Christ? To my peers? To the world? Adopting cultural trends may make you less offensive to the world, but it only blurs the necessary distinction that sets you apart from it.

    Will this be to the edification of the body of Christ? (“all things are lawful, but not all things edify” – 1 Cor. 10:23) The Christian life is not one of autonomy. Your personal decisions are to be made with consideration as to how they will affect the whole body to which you belong (1 Cor. 12:14-15). Will your example in what you are considering build up other believers and draw them closer to Christ?

    Could this cause my brothers/sisters in Christ to stumble? (“let no man put a stumblingblock in his brother’s way” – Rom. 14:13) Is your “Christian liberty” going to make a brother/sister weak in any way? Are you are striving to “please your neighbor for his good to edification?” (Rom. 15:2) We ought to be concerned about how our actions/example will influence and direct others….especially those who are younger in the faith.

    Will this defile/deface God’s temple? (“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 you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” – 1 Cor. 6:19)
    What you choose to do with your body and to your body matters to God, because it belongs to Him. If you lend your body to what God forbids or alter His design of it in some way to please yourself, are you really glorifying Him in it…or yourself?

    What kind of message will it send to the world around you? (“Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Rom. 12:2) No Christian ever proved the will of God to the world by conforming to it. What makes you “peculiar” (1 Peter 2:9) to the world is your opposition to it. If your “grey areas” are making you look/act/think more like the world, your testimony is being compromised and weakened. How can you expect to aid a lost and dying world with more of what they already have?

    Will this be a source of contention? (“as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men” – Rom. 12:18 “Let us follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” – Rom. 14:19) Let’s face it…much of what we choose to do is based on selfishness, without much concern for how it will affect our relationships. But if we really are striving to be at peace with one another, we will consider whether our actions may stir up strife, rather than promote peace. Is having your own way really worth the expense of a broken relationship?

    Have I sought Godly counsel about it? (“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that hearkens unto counsel is wise.” – Prov. 12:15) Do you have a humble, teachable spirit? Getting counsel from seasoned believers is a necessary part of the Christian life, no matter how old you are. If we are to succeed in living lives that glorify God, we need the wisdom of others who are drawing their personal convictions from Scripture. Someone who only tells you what you want to hear and pampers your pride is not equipped to help you like someone who is willing to explore what God’s Word says with you. Pull mature, Godly people into your life…on purpose.

    One last thought: If you are using the “grey areas” to see how close you can get to the world without “crossing the line,” you are already heading in the wrong direction. But if conformity to Christ is your true objective, then your personal choices will be a reflection of your love for Him, which stands in contrast to the world around you.

  • Okie Gal

    A few of y’all have mentioned getting a bible verse, or said it’s bad to put ink in your skin. So, what do you think of writing verses in normal pen ink? (I do it on my forearm when I want to remember a passage, and wear it till it rubs off or even rewrite it for a few weeks.)

    • *realizes this question wasn’t pointed towards me*

      * adds opinion anyhoo*

      I don’t think its wrong at all inherently. Since I was little though, my parents just didn’t want me and my siblings to write on ourselves. I don’t think their reasoning was particularly spiritual, however 😉

    • Jo S.

      *realizes like Haylie that this probably wasn’t pointed towards me either*

      lol I tend to draw on my hand when I’m bored…

      • Olivia R.

        Doesn’t everyone? I know I do. It’s fun to make designs knowing that it will come off later. :)

    • Hannah T.

      I don’t think that’s bad. I tend to do that a lot, too.

    • Okie Gal

      Okay, that’s pretty much what I was thinking. Lets take it a bit further, what about henna?

  • Alex

    There are some pretty good answers here but I just want to mention something. Are we asking the wrong question?
    Is it a sin to get a tattoo? It almost seems like we want to know how far we can go before it is a sin. Does that make since? We shouldn’t spend our whole lives trying not to cross the line where something becomes a sin. Why don’t we ask the question instead –
    Am I glorifying God by getting a tattoo? or
    Can I connect with an unreached people more effectively with a tattoo?
    Think of people like Lecrae. He is connecting with a rough society by fitting in with them.
    Think about what this says:
    19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law,[a] I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

    22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

    1 Corinthians 9:19-23

    • Sadie Clements

      This is where I personally stand on the issue of getting a tattoo, that it should be entirely to the glory of God, and when possible, strategically done to open up opportunities to share what God’s done in your life. A friend of mine once told me when we had this same discussion that in Leviticus when the Bible is saying not to ink our bodies to look at the context of that verse. If I’m not mistaken, it does mention marks that are evil or for people who are no longer alive.
      I love how you put in your comment that part about connecting with an unreached people more effectively. That’s where I’m more leaning toward. A lot of conversations are started up with non-believers about tattoos. It’s a great conversation point, and a great way to get to know the person you’re interacting with, as well as a great way to turn the conversation to spiritual things. I remember when I worked in a restaurant having these conversations about tattoos and I know had I taken it further or had a tattoo of my own(not yet, but eventually that is something I plan on doing), it could have gone somewhere and resulted in sharing the gospel and planting a seed to the glory of God.
      This is a great conversation guys. Keep ’em coming!

  • Amanda Pitre

    Very tricky.
    I personally have a tattoo – however, this decision was made after much thought and consideration.
    God looks at our hearts. No, it doesn’t mean that we scrap the rules or laws, but it does mean that in the issues God has not specifically mentioned, we need to understand our reasoning.
    As someone who has struggled largely with anxiety and depression, my tattoo (“Soli Deo Gloria” – Glory to God Alone – around a Celtics cross) is a constant, visual reminder for me that my life is not my own, but my life is dedicated completely and solely to bring my Saviour glory.
    I got my tattoo a couple of years ago, and it is the only one I have. I have no plans to get another one. I have one tattoo as a reminder of my purpose and why I’m here – in my mind, to have 20 is simply unnecessary. Also, once you have one tattoo, it’s easy to want more “just because”. That’s where the tricky part lies. When you are doing something “just because”, you aren’t carefully considering your choices – you’re doing things because it’s an option. Everything you do should be done purposefully, and for God’s glory.
    Just remember, once you get a tattoo, it’s on for life. Don’t just get one (or do pretty much anything else) on a whim. Also, think about where you put it. I decided to get my on my upper back/ just below the neck – an area that I can keep hidden, esp around those who view tattoos as a stumbling block.
    I personally would not encourage anyone to get one, simply because for many, the purpose of a tattoo is because it’s trendy or “the in thing to do”. But, if someone gets one for God-glorifying reasons and not simply for self-pleasing reasons – as long as they’ve carefully thought it through, I won’t say much about it. Make sure you understand your motives – everything goes back to the heart.

  • Hey Rebekah!

    This is a tough question!
    I personally grew up always thinking “tattoos are wrong”. However, as I think about it more and more and study the Scriptures, I’m not sure that’s necessarily true.
    The verses I always used were the OT; Levitical law verses…but like a friend likes to point out: “Well if we take that literally then we can’t shave the hairs on the sides of our head” (or something like that). So while the OT laws are a part of the Bible, Christ fulfilled them in the NT making those the guidelines we need to stay within…

    Here’s where I’ve landed on this issue:

    I think it’s a matter of personal conviction and more specifically, a matter of the heart. The Bible says “Man looks on the outward appearance; but God looks at the heart.”

    I recently read a story about Sadie Robertson where she shared how she got a tattoo saying “Fearless” as a symbol of her overcoming challenges wiht anxiety and fear. Here’s the article on the subject: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/sadie.robertson.says.new.tattoo.isnt.to.be.cool.but.to.remind.her.of.living.fearless.in.the.name.of.jesus/96447.htm

    Sadie’s words seem to indicate an honorable heart motive behind getting her tatt. For something like that, I have no problem with the tattoo.

    I personally have no desire to get one. I don’t see the need or value personally. I think it’s possible, Sadie being case in point, to honorably get a tattoo. But I think it is truly a matter of the heart behind it. Why does the person want a tattoo? What are they hoping to accomplish by having one?

    As for specifically addressing your teacher, I think we need not be quick to judge. Maybe her heart motive when she got the tattoo was wrong; but maybe her heart has since changed. We can’t judge someone by something like a tattoo on their body. Like that Scripture says, ‘man looks on the outward appearace’…but what really matters is the heart! Maybe it’s a symbol representing someone she lost or something like Sadie’s story! Maybe not…I don’t know. But just be slow to judge her. 😉

    Another quick example, I met a man once at a church who had massive gauge holes in his ears, multiple other piercing holes, and every visible area of his body apart from his face contained multiple tattoos…I’ll be honest, he scared me to death at first!! We were visiting friends and he was a member of their house church and the man we were visiting quickly led us to the tattooed man to hear his incredible testimony!
    After hearing his story, it was clear this man didn’t have a right heart in the past and thus his actions of tattoos, piercings, etc, weren’t done from a right heart; but God sincerely got ahold of his life and changed his heart!!
    So who am I to continue to judge those marks on his body? God sees his heart.

    Hope this maybe helps some. =)

  • Yesterday in Sunday School my youth group started talking about this topic. After reading this comment thread all week, I was very well informed on the matter :)

  • Sadie Clements

    K related question: if you aren’t convicted that tattoos are wrong, and you think they can both honor God and open doors to witness to people, but you’re parents believe it’s wrong, and we’re supposed to honor our parents, what do you do in that situation?

    • I would say honoring your parents while living under them would involve abstaining from tatoos if they disagree with them on a Biblical level. It shows them respect for not only their opinion, but also their rules and authority as parents.

      Personally, if the tatoo is made for the glory of God, I don’t see much problem with it, and others have already mentioned Revelation 19:16. On the other hand, my mother strongly disagrees with getting a new tatoo after you become a Christia. So to honor her, I personally have no tatoos, even though I am 18 and legally an adult. Since I still live at home with her, I consider myself still to be under her authority.

      At the end of the day these highly debated areas of faith are mostly matter of opinion and personally interpretation. But if those Godly Authorities above you have rules about it, then you should follow said rules.

  • Tiana

    I had been wondering the same thing. Because i want a tattoo of a scripture verse on my back. (and of the Eiffel Tower with my anniversary date on it, because i want to go to Paris for my honeymoon. ) I was discussing this with one of my friends, and he pointed out that Jesus had a tattoo on his thigh. But then we were trying to figure out if it was on the section of His robe that was on His thigh, or on His actual thigh, So i googled, and this is what i found:

    In John’s vision of the Battle of Armageddon, he sees Jesus riding from heaven on a white horse, waging war against the beast’s evil forces. Revelation 19:16 includes this description of Jesus: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.” Some people have read this verse and concluded that Jesus has a tattoo on His thigh—and, therefore, tattoos are good and proper for all followers of Christ today.

    However, Jesus was, and is, a Jew. The Jewish Law warns, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). Jesus, as an obedient Jew, bound by Mosaic Law, would not take a tattoo. Jesus came to Earth to fulfill the Mosaic Law, not violate it (Matthew 5:17).

    So then, what does it mean that on Jesus’ robe and on His thigh He has “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” written?

    The book of Revelation is filled with symbolism, and the description in Revelation 19:16 is symbolic. In the same passage, Jesus’ eyes are said to be “like blazing fire” (verse 12), His robe is soaked in blood (verse 13), and there’s a sword coming out of His mouth (verse 15). Obviously, none of these descriptions are literal; the name written on Jesus’ thigh is probably figurative, too. The mention of the name being written on His robe and His thigh could very well mean that the words were not on His skin at all; rather, they were written on the part of His robe that covered His thigh.

    In ancient times, a king or noble would often have his title or honorific woven into his garments and engraved upon his blade, its hilt, or its scabbard. Given that the scabbard would hang from a band at the waist, the words on the scabbard would fall at roughly thigh level. This would be a reasonable explanation, given that Jesus would never violate Levitical law by taking a tattoo.

    Another possibility is that Christ is pictured as wearing a banner, or a sash, which extends from shoulder to thigh, and it is on this banner that “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” is written.

    In any case, it does not seem that Jesus has an actual tattoo. The best way to confirm the truth of the matter is to be with Jesus when He returns to wage war upon those who have taken the mark of the beast. You can see for yourself.

  • Angela Pycroft

    It isn`t neccesarily wrong, but do beware that most people see tattoos as not very Christian things. I mean, if you go to a tattoo parlor, they are generally not the nicest places, and to be honest I usually respect someone less if they have one (although I shouldn’t use something like a tattoo to judge someone; I’m working on that but I know a lot of people feel the same way) simply because tattoos are surrounded by a certian culture and are used by a certian type of people that aren’t generally the best people to follow. Now, as with most rules of that type, there are certiantly exceptions, but in general that is the case. Don’t let any of the above affect your respect or liking of your teacher; like I said, there are many people with tattoos that are not part of that general culture.
    Anyway to sum that up (sorry this was so long!!):
    Tattooing is not against Christianity or the Bible but because of the culture surrounding tattoos and what many people think of that culture it is probably not the best thing to get/have one.

    • Joaquin. A. Fernandez

      How do you interpret this verse: Lev 19:28 “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.”
      now this verse has a context and when you look at the context, tattooing is right in the middle of God telling his people not to adopt pagan practices, like calling up spirits, prostitution, eating meat with the blood, divination, etc.

      • Angela Pycroft

        Hmm, I didn’t even know of that verse at all. I suppose you could interpret that verse as pertaining to the culture at the time because, like you said, God did not want the children of Israel taking up pagan practices, and tattooing at that time was just such a thing, often even meant to show your devotion to a pagan god (I am reminded of Revelation, where the followers of the beast had the number of man tattooed to their foreheads as a sign that they worshiped him). With that in mind, I would probably say that God still doesn’t want us to (true, such commands about not eating shellfish are now obsolete, but Jesus specifically declared all foods clean during his ministry, something He did not do towards tattoos), so I’d stay away from it.
        Thanks for bringing up that verse, I’d never heard of it before!

        • Joaquin. A. Fernandez

          Yep, tattoos have always been a pagan practice in any culture. Christians should not go look like pagans, But if somebody got saved after they got some tattoos, I think that would be a different story. I’m not sure if they would be obligated to try to remove all of their tattoos; they might be able to say to an unbeliever: “You see all of these tattoos? That’s because…” Potential conversation starter. But Christians should not go look like pagans on purpose, we are to be in the world, but not of it. Nice chatting!

          • Angela Pycroft

            Interesting. I agree, too; that’s a good way to tell your story. Thanks!

  • help me

    I love this topic simply because it’s controversial in Christian circles. Some Christians don’t agree with tattoos. My children’s minister, a woman in her sixties whose been in the ministry for 25+ years, has multiple tattoos and dyes part of her hair purple, she is one of the godliest mentors I have. I think it’s important not to judge based on outer appearance. As far is the tat itself, you just have to ask, is it honoring or dishonoring to God? I think a bible verse or a meaningful quote could make great tattoo, and a great reminder. Personally, I plan to go into the military, I will prob get a tattoo of my branch (NAVY). But seriously, It’s not a wrong or right thing, it’s really a personal decision about whether or not the tattoo is honoring to God, and I think it’s wrong to question someone’s faith based on a tattoo.

  • Kyrie Nielsen

    In my church we believe that our bodies are given to us from God, and we want to honor Him. Besides that, our bodies are a temple, and you wouldn’t vandalize (for lack of a better word) a temple, would you? There are many other things that could substitute for a tattoo like jewlery and clothes. Our appearance, basically, isn’t meant to be a distraction, and we want to be able to turn to God and think about Him always, and if our hair is dyed and we’re covered in tattoos, we can’t feel the Spirit.

  • Joaquin. A. Fernandez

    Interpret this verse: Lev 19:28 “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.”
    now this verse has a context and when you look at the context, tattooing is right in the middle of God telling his people not to adopt pagan practices, like calling up spirits, prostitution, eating meat with the blood, divination, etc.

  • Erica Floret

    I agree with Joaquin. :) I think Leviticus 19:28 still applies even today. Good question!

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