Does The Bible Say Anything At All About Tattoos
First of all, the Bible is all about interpretation so you can take things literally word for word or you can find your own meaning which makes sense for you. If you take the Bible word for word, in Leviticus 19:28, its exact translation is: And a cutting for the dead you will not make in your flesh and writing marks you will not make on you I am the Lord. Some modern-day versions of the Bible do have the word tattoo written in the translation and then it reads: Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord. That makes the argument against tattoos seem much stronger but since the word tattoo did not come into the English language until the 18th century, the literal translation of the Bible does not write tattoo at any point. That here is the only explicit mention of body modifications written in the Bible.
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Why Does The Bible Forbid Tattoos
And have we been misinterpreting Leviticus?
Tattoos have been around for millennia. People got them at least five thousand years ago. Today theyre common everywhere from Maori communities in New Zealand to office parks in Ohio. But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.
Historically, scholars have often understood this as a warning against pagan practices of mourning. But language scholar John Huehnergard and ancient-Israel expert Harold Liebowitz argue that tattooing was understood differently in ancient times.
Huehnergard and Liebowitz note that the appearance of the ban on incisionsor tattooscomes right after words clearly related to mourning, perhaps confirming the original theory. And yet, looking at whats known about death rituals in ancient Mesopotamia, Syria, Israel, and Egypt, they find no references to marking the skin as a sign of mourning. They also note that there are other examples in Leviticus and Exodus where two halves of a verse address different issues. So that could be the case here, too.
What tattoos were apparently often used for in ancient Mesopotamia was marking enslaved people . Egyptian captives were branded with the name of a god, marking them as belongings of the priests or pharaoh. But devotees might also be branded with the name of the god they worshiped.
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The Prohibition In Leviticus
The pertinent passage is Leviticus 19:28, You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.
Lets look at this passage in context, both its immediate and broader context. Lets also take a peek at the Hebrew behind the English translation to see what light it sheds on the verse. Well begin with the Hebrew.
Tattoos: For The Dead
A popular reason to get a tattoo is in order to honor a loved one who has died. God directed His people to disassociate themselves from Canaanite traditions such as slashing their bodies as a way to mourn their dead. What about designing beautiful markings in honor of loved ones who have passed on?
In Luke 9:60, Jesus said to leave the dead to bury their own dead. Paul wrote, We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope . Christians grieve for their dead, but they do not worship them.
Not only do they have hope of reuniting with lost loved ones who believed in Christ for salvation, but they have been commanded to have no other Gods to worship no idols. Talking to a loved one, keeping a shrine to the deceased, making a shrine of ones body by way of a tattoo: this is idolatry.
David was criticized for breaking his fast after his baby son died, but David replied, Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? .
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Who Does The Bible Say Can’t Go To Heaven
John 14:6 Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 3:5 Jesus answered, Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. We can’t get to heaven by works, because God doesn’t pick favorites.
What The Bible Says About Tattoos And Cutting Of Bodies
The Bible warns against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 which says, Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.
However, just because society approves of something does not make it right in the eyes of God. The Bible warns Christians who are considering getting one and tries to help overcome the consequences of those mistakes.
Having a tattoo will not keep anyone from serving God. Some godly people have tattoos and are serving God and their tattoos do not interfere with what God is doing through them. Anything Satan tries to use for evil, God can turn and use it for good
There are many dedicated and sincere Christians that have tattoos. This is not meant to say they do not love the Lord. God not only can use them, but does use them. Tattooing, according to the Bible has witchcraft Roots
In addition to the above verse, Scripture also warns Christians not to disfigure their bodies in following verses: And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 1 Kings 18:28
According to Shaykh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen, tattooing which involves piercing with needle and which involves colours of dye are considered Haraam. It might not cause you pain or little pain, but it means changing the creation of Allah .
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What Does The Bible Say About Getting A Tattoo
In summary, some Christians may argue that the Levitical laws against tattoos are there because God doesnt want us to violate our natural bodies. This position has problems and doesnt account for the context well. Biblical scholarship has shown the Old Testament prohibition against tattoos was likely associated with paganism and slavery, which still should guide those seeking tattoos in which specific tattoo they get.
However, since tattoos in the West are no longer associated with those sins, Christians should be free to get thoughtful, God-honoring tattoos. They are cultural markers and artistic expressions that can be redeemed and enjoyed by Christians under the new covenant.
As Paul says about cultural matters which may divide us: We endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ .
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What Is Your Purpose And Motivation In Getting A Tattoo
Christians should not live as the world lives, and Christians should focus on our insides rather than our outsides.
Do not let your adorning be externalthe braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in Gods sight is very precious. –– 1 Peter 3:34
While this verse speaks of hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing, the idea certainly spills over into the arena of tattoos.
Is your desire for a tattoo based on vanity?
Be honest with yourself. What are your motivations?
Are you motivated to get a tattoo just because everyone else is?
Again, the tattoo may not be a sin, but your motivations may be. Consider it carefully.
Bible Verses About Tattoos
You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. ~ Leviticus 19:28
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. ~ Revelation 19:16
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. ~ Ephesians 5:10
You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. ~ Deuteronomy 14:1
All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves ~ Romans 1:24
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I Have Tattoos Learn From My Mistakes
I got all of my tattoos when I was younger before I was saved. After I was saved, I was able to admit the real reason behind my desire for tattoos. Usually you dont hear about tattooed Christians saying no dont do it, but Im telling you dont do it. There are sometimes consequences of getting tattoos.
Ive heard of many people who had allergic reactions and are suffering the consequences today with scars they have to live with for life. One of my tattoos led to an unsightly keloid scar that I had to get removed. We dont think about the future.
Imagine 40 years from now. Your tattoos are going to be wrinkly, they will get faded, etc. I know so many people who regret the tattoos that they received in their youth. Although the number has decreased there are still many companies that wont hire you if you have visible tattoos. Its not worth it.
21. Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
22. Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
23. Proverbs 27:12 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
What Are The Most Important Things To Have In Mind When Tattooing As A Christian
At the end of the day the decision to get a tattoo should be your decision and only yours. If you find that it is not desirable to you or goes against your beliefs then by all means do not get one! There is no need to make a rash decision about a tattoo and it is okay to change your mind along the way. If you are still unsure then it is always a great idea to discuss it with other people who share similar values. Also, maybe more importantly, talk to God. The most important thing is that you are at peace with your choice on whether to get a tattoo or not.
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Nor Tattoo Yourselves: Bible Verses Against Tattoos
In Leviticus 19:28 it says no tattoos. I know someone is going to say, its in the Old Testament, but the fact that it says, no tattoos should cause someone to think twice about getting a tattoo.
Usually in the New Testament God shows that some things are permissible such as eating pork. There is nothing that even hints that we can get a tattoo in the New Testament.
Also, there are some things that are only brought up in the Old Testament, but we still consider them a sin like Bestiality for example.
1. Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.
What Does The Bible Say
The Bible says in Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.”
That seems pretty clear, right? But maybe not.
It’s important to look at the verse in context. This particular passage and the surrounding verses in the book of Leviticus are specifically dealing with the pagan religious rituals of the heathen nations living around the Israelites at that time. God desires to set his people apart from other cultures. The focus here is prohibiting worldly idol worship and witchcraft. God forbids his holy people to engage in idolatrous worship and sorcery which imitates those who are ungodly. He commands against it out of protection and love, because he knows it will lead his people away from the one true God.
It’s interesting to observe Leviticus 19:26: “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood,” and verse 27, “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.” Well, certainly many Christians today eat non-kosher meats, get haircuts, and trim their beards. We don’t accuse them of participating in the forbidden practices of pagans. In ancient times, these customs were associated with pagan rites and rituals. Today they are not.
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What The Bible Says About Tattoos
Unfortunately, there isnt much in the Bible about tattoos specifically. Tattooing is not mentioned in the New Testament. However, branding and cutting the skin is named in the Old Testament.
Leviticus 19:28 says, Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord. This seems pretty direct.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that it is in the same chapter with several Levitical laws, including, Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
Many of these laws were put in place to either protect the Israelites or to keep Gods people different.
In the case of tattoos and cutting their bodies, this was a way to distinguish them from other nations surrounding them.
Got Questions explains, The reason for the prohibition of tattoos in this passage is not stated, but it is likely that tattooing was a pagan practice connected with idolatry and superstition. It was probably common for the pagans to mark their skin with the name of a false god or with a symbol honoring some idol. God demanded that His children be different, and He reminded them in the same verse, I am the LORD.
With that being said, getting a tattoo is a heart matter.
According to the Bible, getting a tattoo may not be a sin for this generation, but there are other ways to determine if the reasons you are getting a tattoo may be sinful.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are a Christian considering a tattoo.
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Are Tattoos Forbidden In The Bible
Asked by: Jairo O’Keefe
Tattoos have been around for millennia. People got them at least five thousand years ago. … But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.