Is it OK for a Christian to have a Tattoo?

Note: I’m sure not everyone will agree with me on what you are about to read.  I’m OK with that.  I have my opinion.  You have yours.  And I respect that.  For real.   On with the story.

Last week, my 18-year-old (semi-adopted) daughter asked me what I thought about her getting a tattoo.  I posted the question on facebook and the comments blew up.  Everyone has an opinion on tattoos.  And many have been asking for mine,  So, here goes.

Is it OK for a Christian to have a tattoo?
I think it depends.  Hang tight and I will explain.
Many people throw out Leviticus 19:28 as a scripture against tattooing.  It states Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. Seems pretty clear cut. But a deeper look may challenge our understanding.  The verse just before that says  Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. (Lev 19:27).  Following this reasoning, if we are to live by these instructions today, we should not have tattoos and should have long hair at the side of our head accompanied by a scraggly beard.
It also appears that the historically these verses are instructing people not to be involved in pagan worship (cutting their bodies for the dead, etc).  Because of the context, I do not believe that this scripture forbids tattoos for art.  (If you are getting a tattoo to promote some form of mystical or demonic worship or cutting yourself as a form of worship, that is a different story.)  I believe a tattoo is not a salvation issue, it is an area of freedom.  So you are thinking, “Awesome, time to pick out my new tat and get inked.”  Not so fast.

So, can I get a tat or not?

If you live at home and your parents say no, the answer is no.  End of conversation.  Their house, their rules.  Period.  If they are helping to finance your life (paying for college, helping with rent, etc), you should honor their wishes.  You are still under their authority (and help).

If you are thinking of a tattoo (and I am not encouraging), here are some thoughts.  (Many of these were offered up by my facebook friends).

1.  Pray about it.  Seriously.

2.  Ask yourself: “Why do I want a tattoo?”  Be honest.  If it is so that you can be cool, let it go.  You will be no more cool with or without.

3.  Think long and hard about it.  A decision made when you are out at 2AM with your friends is a bad decision.  Many of my friends with tats now wish they would not have rushed into the decision.

4.  Make sure it can be hidden. Say what you want, but some places will not hire you if you are inked.  It’s a fact of life.  Plus there are times and events when you will not want it shown.

5.  Make it tasteful.  I had a friend in college that had an extremely vulgar tattoo from his younger days.  Bad idea.

6.  What are you trying to say with your tattoo?  Again, why do you really want it?

OK.  OK.  I know some of you think that I am just making excuses so that I can justify the tattoo I have.

[insert long dramatic pause while processing mixed emotions]

Oh, you didn’t know I have one?

Maybe I do.

Or maybe I don’t.

photo by J Jackson Photography




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 thoughts on “Is it OK for a Christian to have a Tattoo?

  1. very good answer and oh the one about women not cutting their hair or wearing make-up, on and on
    Their are alot of people that got tattoo before they became a Christian too

  2. I agree with what you said about living with your parents and honoring their rules.

    Of course the short answer is “yes”, a Christian can have a tattoo, because many of us do, including me !!

  3. I agree completely, I have allowed my daughter to get a tattoo. She accomplished a very hard and well worked for task and I let her “honor” it with a tattoo. She was 3 months short of her 18th Birthday and I had to sign for it. It is in no way offensive and very well hidden in every day clothing but also not placed in a questionable place either. I would personally NEVER get a tattoo and even dislike many of them that I see, but I’m not so heavenly minded that I’m no earthly goood either 😉

  4. you know its one of those things that Im not gonna die if I dont have one, it better really be meaningful to me.But if Im not sure of what GOD thinks of tatoos maybe Its better to let it go,I know thats really more meaningful.

  5. If I really want to draw someone’s attention, I hope it’s with my eyes or my smile…something God blessed me with. I don’t want someone else’s interpretation of what art is on my body. I didn’t tattoo myself. Someone else did.

  6. “Very well written~said Pastor Scot! Thanks for the follow up as promised! You absolutely amaze me as a pastor and as a down to earth human being! I respect everything you stand for! Thanks for all you do! As i had mentioned before on your FB post I do broadcast somewhat my religious beliefs on my right arm and chest with tattoos because of “FREEDOM”. As long as we all choose to show the love of Jesus Christ in thought, word, and deed it’s all GOOD! Tattoo or not!” have an awesome DAD!