We had over 120 questions submitted for our Q & A series.  Obviously that means a lot of great questions had to get left on the cutting room floor.  Over the next few days I'll be addressing some of the better ones on my blog.

Cutting Room Floor Question #1: Can a Christian get a tattoo?

As with most questions in this series there are people on both sides of this question who site Scripture to back their position.

Against Tattoos:

Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

Leviticus 19 is the primary text used to suggest that Christians not get tattoos.  The issue here is that the passage is addressing idolatry more than it is tattoos.  People were cutting themselves and tattooing themselves in hopes that it would save their deceased family members.  I don't know of any Christians today who are tattooing themselves for these reasons.

Pro Tattoos:

See I have written your name on the palms of my hands.                                
 Isaiah 49:16

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 
Revelation 19:16

The indication here is that both God the Father & God the Son have tattoos.  The Isaiah passage is an expression of God's love for Israel, while the Revelation passage is in reference to Christ's return.  Both of these passages would seem to indicate that tattoos would be acceptable for specific situations. I gotta say, if Jesus has a tattoo then it'd be hard to say that Christians can not get a tattoo.

That being said, I'd give you two pieces of advice if you decide to get a tattoo:

1. Tattoos are trendy, for now.
Tattoos have become very popular today, but were not popular a just a few decades ago. Trends come and go, and this one is a little more permanent than a clothing trend.  

2. Think before you ink.
Sure that Tasmanian Devil looked sweet in 1990, but how about in 2010.  Don't just get inked to get inked.  You're making a permanent decision so make it significant. (I know you can get tattoos removed, but it's a pain and wicked expensive).

So how about you?  Ink or no ink?  If you're inked, why did you do it?  If you're not have you thought about it?

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5 Response to 'Can a Christian get a tatoo?'

  1. Greg
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2010/01/can-christian-get-tatoo.html?showComment=1262640941943#c8553307267347723473'> 15:35

    Great observations. I doubt tatooing disqualifies one from being Christian, either before or after coming to faith, but I do think given our culture, it impacts our testimony. As you say the issue in Lev. is one of idolatry, today I think it is an issue of vanity. I wonder if it isn't an exercise that demonstrates a love for the world, rather than a love for God?


  2. Brent Brooks
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2010/01/can-christian-get-tatoo.html?showComment=1262645614773#c4659048746999281782'> 16:53

    I have the word "Love" tattooed on my shoulder. I chose this due to my favorite chapter in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13. I also support the charity "To Write Love on Her Arms." The "O" is Jesus' crown of thorns. For me, my tattoo is a physical representation of my faith in Christianity, humanity and my Lord and Savior.


  3. Dale
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2010/01/can-christian-get-tatoo.html?showComment=1262648319095#c8857820556666111773'> 17:38

    Greg - Thanks for commenting. I would agree that for many people it is a vanity issue. I think that it can be both a witness or potentially a barrier.

    Brent - I'm a huge supporter of "To Write Love on Her Arms". Cutting has impacted several people very close to me. Thanks for sharing...hope you drop in again.


  4. Brian
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2010/01/can-christian-get-tatoo.html?showComment=1262652354523#c304808392914077226'> 18:45

    I agree with Dale. It would be pretty hard for me to argue against a tatoo. Both of the scriptures you used were pretty clear. As someone with a tatoo that I got over 20 years ago, I would caution and make sure you pray about this for a while before you go through with the decision to get one. The following have been touched on, but let me add them again for emphysis.

    1. They are with you forever. Tatoo removal is getting better and I have looked into it, but the cost is to high at the present time.

    2. They look good when first done, but they fade and get a little blurry over time. If yor design has a lot of detail, in 20 years it may look like a mess. My tatoo has burred edges and does not look the same as when it was new.

    3. Your body changes and thus your tatoo will change. Think you body will change a little before you die. I imagine so. Just think what that rose tatoo will look like when your 80. Hope you are into dead and drooping roses then, you'll have one with you all the time.

    Bottom line, I recommend praying about this for a month or more. If you still feel like you should get the tatoo after that time frame, then go for it. This kind of praying is also very useful when making any important decision in your life, whether a tatoo, a big purchase, or a life change.


  5. pamingo
    http://daleschaeffer.blogspot.com/2010/01/can-christian-get-tatoo.html?showComment=1262890963779#c7607766748321800604'> 13:02

    I think all thse are well-thought responses. However, in the big picture I perceive that the current acceptance of tattoos breakdown the resistance for that point in time when tattoos will be required by an anti-christ world system."...he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads...that noone may buy or sell except one who has the mark..." I think Christ followers must be cautious in setting the example of intentionally receiving any "mark".


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