Getting a tattoo is very clearly condemned in the bible (Leviticus 19:28) but did the Early Church Fathers condemn getting tattoos?

  • 1
    Can you state how it is clearly condemned? For instance, are the "marks" here indicating "any marks at all" or "marks for the dead"? Nov 23, 2022 at 22:25

1 Answer 1


Did the Early Church condemn getting tattoos?

Tattoos would at the very least be frowned upon. St. Basil the Great banned tattoos in his zone of influence and the Christian Emperor of both East and West, Constantine I banned tattoos on the face in 316 A.D.

There is in the Old Testament as far back as c. 1500 BC a law banning tattoos: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:28 NIV

The Christian Emperor Constantine I banned tattoos on the face in 316 AD reasoning that “man has been created in the image of God and to so defile the face is to disgrace the Divine.”

The Christian theologian Basil of Caesarea aka St. Basil the Great (330—379 AD) wrote:

“No man shall let his hair grow long or tattoo himself as do the heathen, those apostles of Satan who make themselves despicable by indulging in lewd and lascivious thoughts. Do not associate with those who mark themselves with thorns and needles so that their blood flows to the earth.”

In 787 the Second Council of Nicea banned all tattoos as a “pagan practice.” - Tattoos in the Ancient World

You must log in to answer this question.