What does the Bible say about tattoos and piercings?

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

When we think about decisions we are about to make or simply consider decisions that were once made and consider their validity – sometimes our perspective and feelings about it seem inadequate. This is the case with many issues We search deeper, try to inquire of other people, and not infrequently… we check what the Bible says to us in this context.

Although we see verses that we feel may speak for or against human interference with one’s appearance, such as piercings and tattoos, the issue is not entirely obvious and raises a lot of questions. The answer lies in interpreting the Bible in the context of its theological and scientific basis.

As we read Bible verses, we are touched by the verses that have the greatest connection for us, at the present time for us. We focus on understanding these words as answers to issues that are bothering us in the subconscious, as well as in consciousness. This, of course, is not a bad thing and is as understandable a phenomenon as possible. Instead, it is important to be open to seeing reality from a different perspective and to look for solutions and answers in different ways. 

Returning to the Scriptures, it is extremely important to learn about the culture, customs, as well as history of the people living at the time. For example, in the Old Testament in Leviticus, we find a passage – “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord..” (Leviticus 19:28) 

At first glance, it would seem that the subject of bodily interference with one’s appearance is clearly forbidden. The situation changes, however, if we look at to whom these words were directed. At that time, pagan communities often practiced occult activities involving incision of the skin, tattooing, or making offerings in honor of their ancestors or idols. Not surprisingly, especially during the old covenant period, devotion and all activities related to the worship of other beings were seen as a direct and definite prohibition.

In contrast, there is no such prohibition in the New Testament. With the coming, God’s approach to the forgiveness of sins and, further, to the question of salvation changed. On the question of the body, in 1 Corinthians (6:19-20) one can see, among other things, such a provision – “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” This quote indicates that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we should take care of it, and it’s unknown how the Bible refers to tattoos. On the other hand, in the letter to the Romans (12:1) we read – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

 These verses are an encouragement to lead our lives, including our bodies, in holiness, as this is a viable way to avoid unnecessary worries about carnality and the negative effects of actions that would disrupt and interfere with the integrity of God’s work, which is the human body.

A list of Bible verses talking about interference on the body:

–  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.

– Leviticus 19:31 

Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

– Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

– 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

– 1 Timotheus 1:5
or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

– 1 Timotheus 4:4-5
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

– Leviticus 20:7-8 

Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

– 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God

In the examples above, we have seen verses that mark the value of respecting one’s body as God’s work, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Although there is no direct mention of piercings or tattoos, the interpretation of these texts can be applied to this topic. The interpretation of these texts may vary depending on religious tradition and cultural context. 

Some Christian communities may have a more liberal or slightly more conservative approach to piercings and tattoos. However, if we still have doubts about what the Bible says, or whether the Christian community we belong to adheres to the same principles or beliefs – talking to a clergyperson and praying will be an additional, important element in better understanding what God wants to communicate to us.

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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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