Christians Should Not Get Tattoos

I’ve written on this before and even battled with those on Facebook about it. But there are many good reasons why Christians should not get tattoos. Douglas Wilson gives 7 good reasons. Here are a few of his reasons and I will give you my 8th reason at the end of the piece. Wilson writes:

1. Let us begin at the beginning. What does the Bible say?

“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:28, ESV).

The point here is not to say, “here’s the verse, that settles it.” Rather it is to say, “Here’s the verse. You are 21-years-old and are thinking about getting a barbed wire tattoo around your bicep. How settled and mature is your understanding of the relationship of Old Testament law to the question of Christian ethics? What is the likelihood that you might ever come to change your views on that question? And if you are already inked, does that create any pressure to not be open-minded about this pressing theological question?

This is the strongest argument against the practice. Not that we, as Christians under the New Covenant, are to keep all the Old Testament laws. But Christ died on the cross for those who broke this law. God, in His infinite wisdom, declared that the practice, which has its roots in pagan idolatry, was not to be a part of the believer’s life. Yet, for some reason, we think that today (the only generation of Christians ever to fall for such foolishness) that adopting pagan practices is found in Christian liberty. We are to be set apart to God for His glory, yet somehow, we think making ourselves look like pagans is honoring to God. Exactly how are we honoring God by making ourselves look like practitioners of idolatry?

There is also the issue of being modest in a apparel. There is a sense in which we are always to be modestly dressed. If this is the case, then the display of many of the tattoos would never take place. Since this is true, why bother?

One more of Wilson’s reasons for not getting tattoos:

2. What else does the Bible say?

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15–16).

All the energy in the tattoo industry is coming from the world. This is a thing, it is a fad, it is a fashion, and it is all these things because of what the world is doing. If no unbeliever in the last hundred years had ever gotten a tattoo, you can be assured that it wouldn’t be such a thing among us. That being the case, how confident are you that this is not simply yet another massive display of evangelical copy-catism? Before you go under the ink, ask yourself if you would be able to lead a thorough Bible study on a very important question that runs this way: what are the differences, if any, between being cool and being worldly?

This, again, is another very strong argument against getting tattoos. The practice is purely of the flesh, which we are to die to, and buffet. Yet, many indulge the flesh in getting tattoos. Listen to Paul’s words:

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:12-14).

Please don’t think for one moment that the Spirit of God led you to get a tattoo. That was purely of the flesh and of the world. The Spirit of God does not lead us into something that is sinful and a reproach before God, which is what all sin is.

We are not to live according to the flesh, nor glorify the flesh, which is what getting a tattoo is. It is trying to beautify the flesh and make the flesh worthy to be kept. We are never called to do such as believers.

Jesus even tells us to take up our crosses and follow Him.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25). 

Where was He going? To the cross, to die. The implication is that we are to die daily to our fleshly desires and live unto Christ.

Finally, and this is the 8th reason, think about this: getting a tattoo is really ugly. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen with tattoos and had to look away because of the ugliness of the entire affair. I know that many think that somehow, the dark green ink is going to enhance their ease on the eyes. But let me be blunt with you: it only makes your pale white skin all that more ugly. In fact, it enhances the ugliness of your skin. The best thing to do for all involved is, cover it up. Please, dress modestly. Cover your bodies.

Remember that God, in Genesis 3, didn’t implore Adam and Eve to embrace their nakedness, He covered them up. Nakedness is not something to be embraced as a believer. Since this is so, we have another reason not to get a tattoo. If you are covered, then we won’t see it anyway and therefore you dance into exhibitionism is unnecessary. Please, spare us the ugliness. Don’t get a tattoo and dress modestly.

See also: Tattoos Are Still Sinful for Christians.


6 thoughts on “Christians Should Not Get Tattoos

  1. Timothy, thanks for all you write. I love your blog and enjoy the posts. I do happen to disagree with you on this particular topic. The Leviticus verse is in the context of the fact that “cutting one’s flesh/getting a tattoo” at that time was solely done in direct correlation to mourning of a death or pagan worship. The New Testament covenant does do away with several of the religious rituals/festivals/practices of that time, and all the verses on modesty and presenting my body to God as a living sacrifice are clear and true as you have referenced. Scripture teaches in both the OT and NT that God always looks on our hearts rather than outward appearance. I see nothing in Scripture that teaches me that getting a tattoo for any reason other than demonic representation/worship is sinful. I can also dress modestly while having a tattoo or several in fact. I believe the argument today shouldn’t be “should Christians have a tattoo” or “are tattoos sinful”, but rather, “what are our motives behind getting a tattoo”. Have we adopted to this “worldly/non-Christian” fad – yes, I agree. Is God looking at my tattoo and automatically disregarding who I am in Him because of my body art – biblically, no! Are we out of hand/crazed with the “tattoo movement” – quite possibly this is the case! But lets call it what it is – a fad, not a sin! And like so many other “fads” or trends we personally may not agree with or like, we label them as sin. Just wanted to send my thoughts. BTW love the Joel Osteen post you did recently!!


    • I do understand your point of view and appreciate your thoughts. However, I just can’t see any just reason for getting one when the Bible declares it to be sinful in Leviticus. Yes, I know that ceremonial law and dietary restrictions have been removed, but many of the principles found there still apply, and I think this is one of those times.

      But… I also know that my view of tattoos is in the minority. Also, there is now no condemnation… for those in Christ… who have tattoos.



  2. Timothy, I agree that Christians should not get tattoos. God does not change, and if he was against it in the Old Testament then he would not approve of it in this day and age. They really look awful. Sometimes I just want to say to some pretty young girl that she looks ridiculous and that some day she might be sorry she did that to her body. God created us without tattoos and I think he wants us to remain that way. Also, what kind of a Christian witness are we when we look exactly like the pagan world out there. We are not of this world, we are different, and we should show it. We cannot pick and choose what scriptures we want to follow and what ones we don’t. We don’t have to go along with the crowd, or follow the latest fads. We must stand out in the crowd and be a light in the dark.

    Another one that I really hate is all the ring noses and piercing. They really turn me off.

    Just my 2 cents.


  3. I never thought that tats were something Christians should get. I can see men who served in combat together all getting something that signifies their brotherhood forged in their facing death together and surviving, but beyond that, it just seems like a way to draw attention to ourselves in a manner unpleasing to God.

    I will say that I don’t at all think they’re all ugly, and some of those artists are incredibly talented. However, that’s what canvas is for.

    But regardless of how good a particular tat might look…art-wise, that is…I really hate it on women. My opinion on that specifically is as follows:

    If a woman is attractive, it detracts from her beauty.
    If a woman Is unattractive, it doesn’t help.

    Superficial, perhaps, but it’s true from my perspective. And truly, the same can be said of men. I once was in a pub watching a co-worker perform (fantastic blues guitar player!) and this absolutely extra-ordinary beauty behind the bar caught my eye. She was Hollywood hot, but alas, she had an entire sleeve on one arm. It led me to believe that other parts of her body covered by her clothing were likely defaced in such a way. And that’s how I see it. SHE was a defaced work of art. Sad.


Comments are closed.