Is getting a tattoo a sin in christianity?

by | Jul 6, 2023 | Christian Ethics | 0 comments

Being a Christian means being authentic with what the Bible commands. It means knowing Jesus, trying to imitate his actions and to love and bless your neighbor in every form. So many issues need to be considered through the lens of the Bible – the important ones, as well as completely trivial ones. Judging to what degree of priority an issue lies is a completely individual matter and is not perceived in the same way for everyone – and this applies to tattoos, among other things.

We make a decision – we want a tattoo! And now what? Making an appointment, preparing the money, we are determined to take these steps… finally, the thought comes to us – is it God’s way to tattoo your body? Is it a sin? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not clear.

What is a sin?

In answering the question of whether having a tattoo is a sin, one must first define for oneself – what is sin? There are two ways to define sin – the religious context and the moral context. In the first, sin is called a violation of God’s will, as well as religious duties and these in turn can vary from one religion to another. 

From a moral point of view, sin can be understood as an action that goes against ethical norms or social values.In some religions and ethical approaches, sin is associated with an activity that always brings negative consequences for the individual. For believers, in addition to the consequences in mortality, this perspective is further broadened to include a future life after death. Hence also the familiar concept of atonement or forgiveness for sins, in order to restore harmony with God and the rest of the Church.

Bible verses talk about whether tattooing is a sin

There are more than a dozen passages in the Bible showing verses that are somewhat more or less appealing to us. When analyzing the Bible, it is important to take a broader look at the context, as well as the translation of individual words, as these once had a different meaning than we see them now. Scripture directly mentions the prohibition of tattoos only once: “You shall not incise the flesh as a sign of mourning for the dead. You shall not tattoo yourselves. I am the Lord!” (Lev. 19.28). 

It might seem that this is a direct message from God, and there is no doubt that getting tattoos is an opposition to God. This is not the case, however, if we look at the entire context, which tells us that this prohibition applied to pagan practices of ancient Israel aimed at worshiping or sacrificing to other idols. 

Tattoos were not viewed as we think of them today. The New Testament no longer mentions tattoos as such but speaks of bodily purity and the sanctity of the body, which we should keep for insight and respect that we are God’s creation. Verses such as “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (First Corinthians 3:16) or “Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you have from God, and that you do not belong to yourselves?” (First Corinthians 6:19) are cited as guidelines for people following Jesus and wanting to imitate him as much as possible. Some see these quotes as sufficient to conclude that these are verses that should dissuade us from getting a tattoo for ourselves. On the other hand, do not read anything in this passage to prohibit it, as long as the principles of respect and humility for oneself and God are maintained and are not a reason to offend one’s neighbor and God.

What does the Christian community say about it?

In reading the Bible, much depends on the context. Equally important is also the affiliation to a faction of Christianity and its community. Each faction establishes its traditions, rituals, and ceremonies, which it tries just as hard to follow as the words in the Bible. Although we live in the 21st century and many issues have been approved by society, the subject of tattoos is still considered a controversial topic and arouses many negative comments. 

This negation is largely due to the belief that in this way we affect God’s creation, which is the human body, and unnecessarily expose it. On the other hand, slightly less orthodox Christians argue that if tattooing does not in any way stem from pride and does not constitute blasphemous and unpleasant behavior then it is permissible. Thus, if the symbolism of the tattoo is not in any way offensive and unpleasant to another person then the decision to tattoo is an individual matter, considered on the basis of one’s own beliefs and motivations. 

In such a case, we make this decision keeping in mind the passage “…but whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). In Christianity, it is important to grow together. It is important to know what underlies our decisions. Nevertheless, it is far more important to do God’s will and believe in God’s works and presence and unconditional love.

In conclusion

it is not easy at times to read the truth contained in the Bible. The book was created thousands of years ago, and it often referred to events and situations that sometimes have nothing at all to do with the world we know every day. In situations such as this – to have or not to have a tattoo – it seems trivial to approach the sacrifice Christ made for us. However, living with Jesus imposes on us the desire and willingness to become a better person, including in such simple matters as getting a tattoo. Jesus’ teaching speaks emphatically about not acting against one’s own will and conviction. I believe that some people desire to have a tattoo, thus glorifying God. Being with Jesus, behind every possession and non-possession is an attitude of the heart, and it seems crucial in the decision we will ultimately make – “Let your love be without hypocrisy. What you do not bear to have done to you by men, that you also do not do to them.” (Romans 12:9)

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About: Krzysia

An enthusiastic lover of travel and meeting new people! For most of my life, I was raised in the tradition of the Catholic religion, and for the past four years, I have been consciously and actively getting to know God in the Protestant community.

I believe that every person, regardless of the faction of religion or denomination, can be a witness and image of the living Jesus. I adhere to the principle - be the change I would like to see in the world, and I find inspiration and real ways to realize these changes in the Holy Scriptures.

<a href="https://walkingcrossroads.com/author/krzysia/" target="_self">Krzysia</a>

Krzysia

An enthusiastic lover of travel and meeting new people! For most of my life, I was raised in the tradition of the Catholic religion, and for the past four years, I have been consciously and actively getting to know God in the Protestant community.

I believe that every person, regardless of the faction of religion or denomination, can be a witness and image of the living Jesus. I adhere to the principle - be the change I would like to see in the world, and I find inspiration and real ways to realize these changes in the Holy Scriptures.

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