Does The Bible Say You Can’t Get Tattoos

Biblical Perspective

The Bible is divided on the issue of tattoos and it doesn’t outrightly forbid believers from getting them. As far as the Old Testament is concerned, the only reference to tattoos is in Leviticus 19:28, which states: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” Initially, this passage was thought to forbid all tattoos, but theologians have since argued that the commandment was intended to prevent ancient Israelites from practicing the pagan custom of cutting oneself in mourning for the dead.

However, it’s important to remember that the Bible was written for a different culture at a different time, and in this light, it is not clear whether this passage forbids tattoos in all circumstances. The New Testament is silent on the subject, so it should not be used as a direct justification for or against the practice.

Cultural Significance

For many people, getting a tattoo is an important part of their cultural identity and a way to express their beliefs. For example, followers of Buddhism often get tattoos of mandalas, yantras, and other symbols to symbolize the path towards enlightenment. In Christianity, tattoos can be used to commemorate important Catholic or Protestant events.

Tattoos also can help to define a person’s identity or celebrate a significant life event. They can be used to mark a rite of passage, commemorate a life changing moment, or simply to express oneself. In many cultures, tattoos also represent strength and courage, so it could be argued that getting a tattoo could be an empowering experience.

Health and Safety Risks

Getting a tattoo involves the introduction of ink into the dermis layer of the skin, and this carries with it the risk of infection, nerve damage, and scarring. There is also the risk of allergic reactions to the ink, although this is very rare. It is important to ensure that the tattoo parlor is professional, hygienic, and uses high-quality equipment. Make sure to research the tattoo artist before booking a session, and if you have any concerns, it’s best to avoid getting a tattoo entirely.

Additionally, it’s important to note that some medical procedures such as MRI scans can cause severe burning or swelling if conducted on tattoos. In some cases, tattoos can also inhibit the ability to donate blood, so it’s important to research these rules before deciding to get a tattoo.

Long-Term Effects

Tattoos are permanent and can be difficult to remove. There are several methods available but they can be costly, agonizing, and not always effective. Laser removal is often recommended but can leave stubborn scars, and the treatment can take up to two years. Additionally, tattoo removal creams are often not effective, as they usually only work on tattoos that are less than four years old.

It’s important to consider the long-term implications of getting a tattoo, as it is something that will be with you for the rest of your life. It’s best to make sure you are completely sure about the design, placement, and artist before committing to the process.


In conclusion, the Bible does not expressly forbid tattoos, and different people interpret the relevant passages differently. Ultimately, it is up to the individual believer to determine whether getting a tattoo is right for them. Nonetheless, it is important to consider the health and safety risks associated with the process, as well as the long-term implications of getting a tattoo.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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