Tattoos have become increasingly prevalent in contemporary culture, sparking debates about their acceptability from a biblical perspective.
Journey with us through the scriptures as we explore verses that touch upon the topic of tattoos, unraveling their meanings and shedding light on the principles underlying this practice.
Discover the insights and guidance within these verses, offering a balanced understanding of tattoos within the context of faith.
Also Read: 21 Bible Verses about Bridle Tongue (With Commentary)
Bible Verses about Tattoos
“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”
In this verse, God commands His people not to mark their bodies with tattoos. This prohibition is situated in the context of pagan religious practices that the Israelites were to avoid. The text may also be understood in the broader framework of God’s concern for the holiness of His people.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
In this passage, Paul affirms the identity of believers as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. He reminds them that their bodies are not their own but were purchased by the blood of Christ. Therefore, Christians are called to glorify God in their whole being, including the way they treat their bodies.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Paul exhorts the Roman Christians to offer themselves to God entirely, including their physical bodies, as a living sacrifice. The phrase “spiritual worship” emphasizes the holistic nature of worship, which involves one’s whole life, not just the spiritual aspect of it.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Here, Moses teaches the Israelites the fundamental commandment to love God with their entire being, including their physical bodies. This verse sets the standard for how God’s people are to live their lives in loving obedience to Him.
1 Peter 3:3-4
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
While not specifically addressing tattoos, these verses remind Christians that external appearance is not the most significant aspect of their identity. Rather, what is of utmost value to God is the inward beauty of one’s heart, which is gentle and quiet before Him.
“On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
This verse describes the scene of the triumphal return of Jesus Christ as the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords. The detail about the name written on His thigh could be interpreted as a tattoo, indicating that there may be occasions where tattoos can be seen positively in Scripture. However, it is important to note that this is a symbolic representation of Christ and not a blanket endorsement of tattoos.
“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”
In this verse, God assures His people of His constant care and remembrance of them. The image of engraving on the palms of His hands suggests permanence and unchanging love. The use of the word “engraved” implies that the marking is intentional and purposeful, which may provide some biblical basis for tattoos as well.
“From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”
In this passage, Paul speaks of the physical marks he has received through his ministry in the form of persecution and suffering. He refers to these scars as the “marks of Jesus,” indicating that they are a sign of his faithful service to Christ. This verse may suggest that physical scarring or marking can serve as a testimony to one’s devotion to God.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
This verse describes God’s promise to write His law on the hearts of His people, establishing a new covenant with them. The focus here is on the internal spiritual transformation that takes place in the heart of a believer rather than a physical marking or sign.
1 Samuel 16:7
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”
While not directly discussing tattoos, this verse emphasizes the importance of the condition of the heart rather than outward appearance. Whether or not one has a tattoo is secondary to the state of one’s heart before God.
“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”
Some Christians may view tattoos as a form of idolatry, which goes against God’s clear commandment to worship Him alone. They may also argue that markings on the body may indicate a deeper spiritual struggle with wanting to assert one’s own identity or to conform to a particular cultural standard rather than reflecting a committed relationship with God.
“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes.”
Another argument against tattoos can be drawn from the prohibition in this passage against interpreting omens or telling fortunes, which were practices associated with pagan religions. Similarly, some may see tattoos as a way of expressing allegiance to a particular group, subculture, or ideology that is incompatible with Christian beliefs.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
This verse encourages Christians to be a positive influence in the world through their actions and attitudes. Some may argue that tattoos can have a negative impact on others, particularly if they convey inappropriate or offensive messages or distract from the message of the gospel.
1 Corinthians 10:31
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
This verse speaks to the importance of glorifying God in every aspect of one’s life. Those who oppose tattoos may argue that getting a tattoo could potentially detract from one’s ability to do so, either by causing a distraction or by reflecting an attitude of rebellion or self-centeredness.
1 Peter 2:9
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
The emphasis in this verse is on God’s calling of His people to be a “holy nation” and to proclaim the “excellencies” of Jesus Christ. Some Christians may see tattoos as a potential stumbling block to fulfilling this calling by detracting from the witness of believers and obscuring their identity as Christ’s disciples.
In conclusion, while these verses do not provide a direct prohibition against tattoos, they do suggest and support certain concerns that some Christians may have about the practice. It is important to approach this issue with sensitivity, recognizing that there is often disagreement among believers about what constitutes appropriate body modification. Ultimately, the decision to get a tattoo is a matter of personal conscience and should be made prayerfully and with a commitment to glorifying God in every aspect of one’s life.