I do not remember exactly where but I think the OT says somewhere that doing things like tattoos to your body is not good and, to God, is morally objectionable. Is this true? I do know that some denominations strictly forbid it, however, I have never heard much reasoning other than tattoos are commonly associated with criminals and the like. I have often heard the old phrase 'The body is the temple of the Lord' but I am not sure if that is even in the Bible and do not know its context.

If this argument cannot be made Biblically then why the objection among some Christians?

4 Answers 4


The prohibition against tattoos comes from Leviticus 19:28 (ESV):

You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.


The Laws codified were to ensure that the Jews remained 'Holy', which means 'set apart' ... Meaning the pagan influence wasn't considered to be something they were to give in to and still remain God's Holy People. But obviously, they couldn't keep up with it, they lost their way over and over again, and every time they repented, they went right back to the ceremonial procedures and to reading the law out loud for all to hear it. Books of Kings and Chronicles attest to this in the split of the Kingdom after Solomon's death.

As a Christian who has tattoos, I'll 'justify' it like this: My body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19) because the Spirit of God Himself indwells me bodily -- Do I have a responsibility to maintain this temple ... Yes. I'm a vegan, and aside from smoking (which I'm trying to quit this week ... again) I have a healthy lifestyle. But this temple does not just exist as flesh, I have a spirit and a mind as well, and I must exercise those as well. So I pray, I read, I seek the clearest perspective I can on reality. But I'm not perfect, and have engaged in 'unhealthy' or risky behavior at times (smoking comes to mind ... and I was angry at God when I did get my tattoo). However, I also know that what Christ did was free me from the Law. I am set apart, considered Holy in God's eyes, now and forevermore because I'm no longer judged according to my deeds, grace has taken over.

1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23 state that

"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."

So there are things I can do (and I do, I'm still being perfected, and will be until death) that all Christians would agree are not beneficial to me, but my salvation does not hang upon it.

Going back to tattoos (and piercings), Deuteronomy 15:17 talks about getting an aul through the ear as a mark that the person was a servant to his master for ever ... Likewise, I would say that tattoos that are of scripture would be the same type of thing (tell me thats not a permanent cut in the body). I'm planning on getting the mermaid tattoo I have covered up in the future with something that will remind me to be a humble servant to God. But until then, I know my salvation is intact, and I try not to shove it (my tattoo, or my freedom) in anyone's face (both tattoos are covered by a short sleeve shirt) because of Paul's statement to the Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians 8:4-13). If other Christians don't understand that I'm not going to hell because I got a tattoo, then why stir them up?

  • +1 for Corinthians 8:4-13, as it's the best answer to almost all questions of type "is liking fashion accessory/food/hairstyle/music X a sin?"
    – vsz
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 20:27
  • "I'm a vegan" Ruh-roh. God doesn't want you to be a vegan. That's why steaks taste so good. Nutrient packed, what your body's designed for. Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 4:34

Members of the LDS church (a.k.a. "Mormons") believe that the body is a gift from God. Part of the basis of this belief comes from 1 Corinthians 6:19–20:

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Mormon's belief in the sanctity of the body goes much deeper than that. Here is a little more information on what Mormon's think about the purpose of a body. In short, our body is a gift from God and part of the purpose of life is to gain a body. Taking care of this body is one of the responsibilities and privileges of life.


I can speak to this as I have a mother who is very opposed to tattoos but I view my tattoos as an act of worship as they all have Christian themes. Christians really do not have any Biblical backing for tattoos other that Leviticus 19:28, which is right after a verse that says men should not cut their beards. Also this verse is specifically in reference to the Babylonian practice of cutting one's skin and rubbing in the ashes of a dead ancestor as an act of worship to them, which takes glory from God. The term 'tattoo' here is NOT what we think of as a tattoo today.

This verse is taken out of context to attempt to prove a societal stigma that tattoos are evil. Since the days of the pirates (when James Cook discovered Polynesia) tattoos and those who have them have been a social pariah. Now though they have a completely different view as an art form of self-expression and some Christians believe that having a tattoo is worldly and therefore a sin. I would argue that with that logic, dying one's hair is also a sin (which obviously it is not).

The point is that in everything we do we should glorify God. If a tattoo is glorifying to God, it is not a sin, and in fact a perfectly legitimate act of worship. However, I will agree that there are many tattoos out there that take glory away from God...however the same could be said for elicit T-shirts. Does that mean we shouldn't wear T-shirts because they are 'worldly'?

Hope this helps :)

  • +1 "The term 'tattoo' here is NOT what we think of as a tattoo today." This seems to be a key part of the argument here. Would be great to have a reference for this. Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 4:39

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