Where do we learn God’s will if we don’t go to the Bible? It’s the only place to discover the questions about life. Take for example the issue of Tattoos. Can Christians get tattooed? Is it a sin? That’s a good question and for some Christians it’s too late to be asking because they already have them. In the New Testament there isn’t anything directly stated about tattoos. However in the Old Testament there is this in Leviticus 19 that at the least causes us to pause.

26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 ‘You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19).

Now these things which God forbids are in the context of participating in idolatry and various practices of the pagans – cutting, tattooing, special haircuts. Because God wanted His people to be distinct, He frowned on it when His people looked to the nations to imitate their ways, their styles, and particularly their religious markings. You know how it is, first you want to dress like the world and then, if you aren’t careful you become like them. That was the idea there. Does that mean no tattooing today? I can’t say because I don’t speak where God does not speak. But a principle ought to be considered that if we are giving the appearance of excessive vanity, of if there is a perceived immorality in the actual tattoo, then you have to ask yourself if it is appropriate. I don’t think there is anything pagan about a butterfly tattoo. But certain tattoos probably do fall under the principle of not participating in evil. The wearing of gang tattoos as an example.

What about “taters” in the Lord’s Supper? First off, there is instruction in the New Testament on this matter. And a rock solid hermeneutic principles says that when something is specifically commanded, it excludes all other options. We don’t butter the bread and we don’t fortify the communion with a side of potatoes (was Dan Quail right on the spelling?). God said “unleavened bread” and “fruit of the vine”. Because we learn from 1 Corinthians 11 that this is not a meal for satisfying the belly, we have no excuse or need to bulk up the “meal” called the Lord’s Supper. Christians follow a principle of letting God’s Word speak. And if God’s Word is silent on the matter, we view it as adding to God’s Word to approve something in the face of His silence. Paul said to the Corinthians that for the sake of being unified, “do not exceed the things which are written”.

So what about taters and tattoos? We would have to say no to the taters. And on the tattoos, it just depends. It’s an individual thing. Keep it modest. The body should not be inappropriately exposed to the tattoo artist. Above all things, think about souls and what is best for leading others to Christ. The tattooed person in the photo I pray will become a Christian. Jesus loves all kinds of people including the person pictured. We all have things from the past that we can’t change or undo. Blessings to you.

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Legalism is not the strict adherence to God’s word

Categories: God's word, tattoos

2 replies

  1. Saying you should not get tattoos according to this verse, apparently also means that no one should never shave or cut their hair as well. This is the way they believed in the Old Testament, which in my opinion, is no longer relevant to life today–that’s why God gave us the New Testament after Jesus died. A true sign of a believer is one who can look like the world, yet everyone knows they are different. Romans 14 talks about the weak and the strong. It says that if a man does not eat meat, it is for the Lord. It’s because he thinks it’s wrong. However, if you are fully committed to the Lord and you eat meat (although some Christians say it’s wrong), you do not believe in your heart that it is wrong. Therefore, you are walking in faith and not sin. I believe the same is true with tattoos. I have two of them. Before I got any, I sought God. I knew I wanted one, but I would not do so without God’s consent. When I prayed about it, God showed me this verse. As long as I keep my eyes on Christ and I know in my heart that those tattoos are not an “act of rebellion” or a “sin”, then I am walking in faith and am not sinning.


  2. Dear Trista,
    I agree with you and wouldn’t want to suggest that all tattoos are pagan and sinful. But there are some tattoos that clearly are sinful. If it is a gang tattoo for example, it is a mark of affiliation that one accepts to be part of something against Christ. The Lord in the Old Testament didn’t want His people identifying themselves with pagan things.

    And tattoos can cross a line into vanity, as I think the photo illustrates. It’s just over the line the way that clothing and jewelry can be over the line – only it’s permanent.

    I know Christians who have tattoos and I don’t judge them.

    “Walking in faith” is walking that is informed by the Word of God. The Old Testament passage is a good passage for teaching Christians a timeless principle not to do things that would affiliate us with the world instead of Christ.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Please come again.


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