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Is It Wrong to Get a Tattoo?

  • Gregg Farah Ask the Expert for Guys
  • Published Mar 28, 2001
Is It Wrong to Get a Tattoo?
Q. Is it wrong to get a tattoo? Isn't there somewhere in the Bible that says it's a sin to pierce my body and have tattoos?

A. Oh boy ... lots of opinions on this one! This is a highly cultural issue and a biblical one. Culturally, it wasn't too long away when it was considered wrong for guys to have tattoos, or earrings, or long hair! During the '50s, people considered these things wrong because they weren't masculine ... and then came the '60s, when everything changed. Since then, tattoos, earrings and hair length (and everything else) have gotten pretty casual. Today, those issues are more a reflection of style, fashion and individuality than a statement about masculinity.

But the Bible does speak specifically about tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 and Isaiah 44:5. Here's the Leviticus verse: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD." Seems pretty clear: don't get a tattoo, except that we need to consider the context of the verse.

When Moses wrote those words, the Israelites were living in the lands of people who cut their bodies or tattooed them for religious reasons, meaning it was a form of worship to a god other than the God of the Bible. This practice was also used like a "good luck" charm to keep evil spirits away. God instructed His people not to do this because He wanted them to trust Him only - not some other god.

Today, people tattoo themselves more for individual expression than to worship another god, so I don't believe this verse addresses the majority of tattooed biceps, wrists, and ankles we see today. Of course, there are people who still do this.

My advice? Before considering getting a tattoo, think through these questions:

1) Have you prayed about it?
2) Does your tattoo honor God?
3) What do your parents think?
4) Are you willing to deal with the consequences of living with it for the rest of your life - or paying for the painful tattoo removal?
5) Will you be content with your tattoo if popular opinion changes and tattoos are no longer cool?

Let me know what you decide!