Is it okay for Christians to get tattoos?

(Bronwyn pearse) #1

Hi as a New Testament Christian I understand the grace message and how legalism and rules can easily creep into our Christian walk . We are to avoid the long list of do’s and don’t s
I understand that in acts when speaking about the new Greek converts Peter emphasised that they are not to eat food offered to idols, eat animals that were strangled, or eat blood or commit sexual immorality. That being said what about a Christian getting a tattoo as opposed to a new Christian concert already having a tattoo . I know of some young Christian’s who ard getting tattoo s . Does anything from the Old Testament apply in the new . As far as I see it we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, made in the image of God and as such we should be careful about what we do to our bodies. But perhaps I’m being too legalistic. Mmmmm anyone have some ideas on this
Regards Bronie

(SeanO) #2

@Bronie It is our heart that is really the core issue, so I think it is inappropriate to say that tattoos inherently defile a person. That is a misunderstanding of what it means to be defiled. Lazarus’ body was covered in sores and the rich man’s body was clean and healthy, but it was Lazarus whose heart was clean and the rich man whose heart was defiled by his lack of compassion.

My personal opinion is that we should not get tattoos because they can be a hindrance to our ability to spread the Gospel. A person may argue that tattoos can be used to express spiritual truths, but I would say that your actions speak louder than your tattoos, so why alienate people unnecessarily? That said, I do not think having tattoos prevents God from using people if they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit - God’s love will shine through their outward appearance.

So, I think it is not a salvation issue but more of a wisdom issue. A person can be saved and get a tattoo. But is it wise to get a tattoo? That is another question.

For a fuller discussion, please see the following Connect thread. One of our fellow members also shares his story of how his Biblical tattoo has led to some great conversations about God and some links to additional resources are provided. Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

(Bronwyn pearse) #3

Thanks Sean . Good food for thought.

(Kathleen) #4

Hi, @Bronie! I’m chuckling to myself, because your question reminded me of how the great American cultural commentator and songwriter Jimmy Buffett once described tattoos: ‘a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling’. :joy:

While I myself do not have any tattoos (I’m too scared of the pain and of having something so permanent on my body!), I have many wonderful, thoughtful, passionate Christian friends who do, and who actually got them as reminders for themselves of spiritual truth. I can see @SeanO’s point that in certain social or cultural circles, having an obvious tattoo could hinder your witness, however, it could also be a good conversation starter.

I haven’t had the chance to read over the more spiritual component of the conversation in the above thread, but I look forward to doing that! :slight_smile:

(Timothy Loraditch) #5

The thread I see through each of these comments is that it is more of a cultural issue than a spiritual one. When I was a kid only really bad kids had tattoos, so when I see someone with a tattoo I naturally connect with past experience. That seems more like culture than the spirit of Christ.

There are arguments for getting tattoos and ones for not. Whether on not it is sin depends on what God is sawing to the tattooee (is that a word?) God told Isaiah to walk around naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-6). That was a serious violation of cultural norms for his time and ours, but to disobey God would have been a sin.

As much as I may be uncomfortable with seeing someone tattooed we know that God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:1)

(SeanO) #6

@tfloraditch Just as a side note, Isaiah was probably not totally naked. He had probably only removed his upper garment.

as Hebrew scholars Keil and Delitzsch point out, “With the great importance attached to the clothing in the East, where the feelings upon this point are peculiarly sensitive and modest, a person was looked upon as stripped and naked if he had only taken off his upper garment. What Isaiah was directed to do, therefore, was simply opposed to common custom, and not to moral decency.”

(Bronwyn pearse) #7

Hi Kathleen yes I agree there are many Christians who have no problems with it. I suppose it is a little like alcohol some don’t drink others do. The Old Testament references by God himself though are very strong . I for one would not consult a medium or get involved in anything like that because of the apparent spiritual ramifications which I might say are largely in the Old Testament And I just wonder l. It will probably be a no go for me because every thing we do must be done in faith. That goes with what we do to our bodies.
Other people will be happy to do it. But will it be a block for them . Mmmmmmm It’s interesting anyway and not really on the important issue though . Thanks for your thoughts

Regards Bronwyn

(Bronwyn pearse) #8

Thanks Timothy for your insight


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(Chase Adams Johnson) #9

Bronie: Thank you for asking your question. It is a broader idea than just an inquiry about tattoos, one that we all work through everyday. Is our outward physical appearance to be something we should control in order to display the condition of our soul and spirit? Can we rightly emphasis our internal experience and belief through premeditated external presentation? Modesty is a more easily achieved standard but is it acceptable if we dress a certain way to create a look, wear makeup or fragrance, paint nails, color hair, shave or not, etc.

I am encouraged by the responses from others that they would first listen for the Spirits testimony through the person’s behavior, since we are to disregard anyone according to the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16.

There are still whitewashed tombs among us. It would be as wrong to judge thier goodness by thier appearance as to judge someone bad by thier appearance.
It is easier to rightly judge someone (and so understand how we should behave with them) by thier actions than by thier appearance.
Matthew 12:34-37 / Luke 6:45
Thank you everyone here in this thread for being an encouragement to me through your obedience to Christ’s commands; His love shows in your behavior.

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(Bra Krox Effectx) #10

This might be a follow-up question to the tattoo issue. In some ministrations of some Pastors during what we term as “Deliverance session”, I’ve heard times when a demons troubling a person has been linked to having these tattoos on. What can we say about such scenario. Thank you

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(Bronwyn pearse) #11

I believe that ‘ greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world .’ Perhaps if this is the case repentance would bring deliverance.


(Micah Nyatsambo) #12

Greetings everyone,

One of the things that I have observed about tattoos is that often they are used to “fit” in to some part of culture. We are supposed to be part of this world but not assimilate to it. One interesting commandment that the Lord gave the Israelites in the old testament, Numbers 15:38, was for them to make tassels and affix them to their garments so that they could remember God’s commandments. I don’t see God saying tattoo my commandments on your body, so that you don’t forget my commandments.

Peace be with you.

(Bronwyn pearse) #13

Hi Micah you make a really sound biblicaly based observation. It is a New Testament directive “ to be in the world but not of it” but keeping the non judgmental Christ like quality would also be important.

Thanks for your contribution to our discussion

Regards Bronie

(Jimmy Sellers) #14

This is s little late but I posted this awhile back and wonder if this would have any bearing on the discussion

(Joe Gregory) #15

I find this question fascinating because me and my wife have had these discussions. Right after we got married, she got a tattoo. She is more of the artistic type so that’s understandable. One of the things I mentioned to her is that if this is what she wants to make sure her motives are in check. While I find nothing inherently wrong with Christian getting tattoos, you can get it for the wrong reasons and go about it the wrong way. So I always like to fall back on 1 Cor. 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. So a Christian getting a tattoo of Satan or just tattoos of things that have no meaning to them would not be good. For example, I don’t what is happening globally in this area, but in the US, there seems to be a trend of people getting tattoos of Chinese text, but the person getting it has no idea what it means.

But to address a concern in an earlier comment about tattoos in being a hinderance in spreading the Gospel, I think there is some merit to it but it depends on the individual. There is a perception from many in the non-Christian world that Bible gives a universal prohibition on Christians from getting tattoos and it can be viewed as hypocritical to see a Christian with them, thus a hinderance. While I would say their perception does not match reality, I could see this being an issue if they just keep it to themselves and silently judge as opposed to engaging in a dialogue about this, which is the case for many. But I would say that’s a reflection of something deeper going on with them and in some cases, there are simply looking for whatever ammunition to use to justify a conclusion they are already entrenched in.

This does present a unique dilemma. One problem I see with this is that Christians can fall into a similar trap as the Pharisees did with this thinking in that we could create rules that go beyond biblical commands but carry the same weight. Another problem is that of Christian liberty. We are free in Christ to live within the “grey areas”, such as eating meat sacrificed to pagan idols, drinking, dancing, etc. But we are also called to restrict our liberty if it causes someone else to stumble. Tattoos are unique in the sense that you can’t remove your tattoo if you are meeting someone who is weak in their faith. Just cover it up as best you can.

But if they are willing to engage you on this, that can be huge opening for the Gospel. My wife has gotten a few more tattoos since, some relating to some tragic events we have gone through in recent years. It helps that she works in a profession where many have tattoos and it has created some good conversations.

In end, I won’t say that no Christians should ever get a tattoo, because there is no biblical support for that. But I will say if a Christian is going to get a tattoo, to do so thoughtfully, selflessly and strategically. Thoughtfully in that it is meaningful to you because this is going to be a reflection of who you are, at least in other people’s eyes. Selflessly in recognizing that we are placing permanent art on the temple that God has given us, so it should be ultimately for HIs glory. Strategically in that if can be used as conversation starter to help advance His kingdom.

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(Bronwyn pearse) #16

Well put joe thanks for your insight

Regards Bronwyn