by Bill Brinkworth

1The Word “Tattoo” Is Not In The Bible.

However, there are many principles about taking care of the body taught in the Bible that pertain to what some today call “body art.”

An outer layer of skin, the epidermis is always renewing itself. Inner cells of this layer work to the outside within 14 days as outer cells die off. To keep a permanent marking, tattooists inject dye into a lower dermis that will permanently stay marked on the body.

A tattoo of “I love Hilda” is going to be there long after you’re married to Martha. There are ways to remove them. Laser and pulsed light techniques can break up the ink. The painful five to ten treatments can cost as much as $250 to $850 each treatment.

Some chemical lightening processes claim to fade them by as much as 93.7%. But, six percent of a skull and crossbones may not be too impressive to your boss when you are a 40 year-old short-sleeved executive. The flesh markings will remain as long as you live. They will last even after the skin has lost its elasticity, places sag and the pigment has lost its clearness and no one is really sure what your tattoo says.

Many claim “Tattoo” is a modern word derived from the Tahitian word “tautau.” Captain Cook brought the word back with him on his visits to the islands in the mid 1700’s. The Polynesians were often marked.

No longer is tattooing only the practice of drunken sailors or faraway heathens. It is everywhere – among our children and young adults especially. The 1999 Butterfly Art Barbie helped get young children introduced to body marking with a doll that had a butterfly tattoo on her stomach. Even Christians today permanently change their appearance with these inkings.



  1. God says my name is written in the palm of His hand so I can’t easily find a good reason why a tattoo that glorifies God would be counter to His word. Although having no tattoos of my own, I have witnessed many occasions in which the tattoos of others witnessed to the lost – testifying to God’s amazing, transforming grace. Thank God these people received, through ink on skin, The Message they could not see through ink on paper.

  2. The one verse that people use to say that tattoos are sinful is taken grossly out of context. The entire chapter is a list of rules written to the Israelites. If these rules apply to us, then we must also refrain from mixing certain fabrics with one another.
    As to the verse itself, it’s obviously talking about ritualistic markings on behalf of dead people. This entire article is simply an opinion unsupported by scripture.
    Lest anyone think otherwise, I have no tattoos, and I have no plans to get any. I would just caution against making a doctrine out of a personal preference. If you prefer not to get a tattoo, that is great, and I respect that stance.
    For me, it comes down to a simple question: can God be glorified by an individual’s tattoo? And that question must be answered by the one receiving the tattoo. It is between them and God.

    • Grayson, dear, why do you copy what others say? It is not a good argument. Have you read the very next verse, to where we are commanded not to put our daughters into prostitution? Not applilcable for today? Only to Israel? Since where does it Glorify God to go against his own written word? It does not Glorify him, much like using graffiti to glorify your name on the side of your house! God Cannot, will not, and does not change! And he will never go against his word, that would make him break scripture, and thus make him a liar!

      • I haven’t copied anyone’s saying. But the fact of the matter is that you have to make a large leap to assume that verse could be talking about tattoos. Verses 1 and 2 plainly state who that chapter was addressed to. The fact that prostitution was mentioned is obviously because the culture didn’t frown on certain behaviors that God was against. And the verse in question clearly states that it was a “cutting in your flesh for the dead.”
        Now, you may choose to believe anything you like, but to make a Biblical doctrine that there is no plain scriptural basis to support is at best legalistic, and at worst heretical.

  3. Christians are to be Christ-like and separated “from” the world. We should not act nor live like the world. For the lost of the world, if they see us going into Tattoo parlors and adding tattoos, or drinking alcohol, dressing immodestly, et al, then our testimony is weak (if not non-existent) and the “lost” will say “why do I need to be saved if “christians” live just like I do?

  4. “When we understand the holiness and character of God, we fear failing Him more than anything else.” Pastor Paul Chappell

  5. I had a choral director that used to complain when his conducting students got really worked up over something that didn’t matter all that much…even if they were right. He always told us “keep the main thing the main thing.”

    Who really cares about Tattoos?? I don’t even think it is on God’s radar. He said “Love me, and love each other.” How about some articles about loving our neighbors with a Godly love that doesn’t keep a record of rights and wrongs!!

    • Jason …I’m not judging …and far be it from me to give you anything else but just my opinion on this subject …the Leviticus verse quoted in the article is their for a reason ..your director said ‘keep the main thing the main thing’ ..agree …but God doesn’t ‘wink’ at sin …and its clear that he doesn’t want his children rationalizing worldly practices and behavior ..unwillingness to separate from the world, as we are commanded to be, has reached critical mass IMO and as an example …I refer to your post ..the main thing is to win others to the Christ that saved us …and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world ..the more you put forth that effort to accommodate the Lord, the closer you will find yourself to Him ..and even the smallest of sins is enough to condemn a man to hell ..does having or getting a tattoo make you unsaved? ..of course not ..but we will never be all that we can be for the Lord this side of heaven until we adopt Godly, Biblical standards to govern our personal lives ..and being Christlike …IS the main thing ..

      • Okay so a man or a woman gets a tattoo and then by the grace of God gets saved. Sounds like one must do more than just believe John 3:16; based on your comments we cannot be saved unless we are perfect and perfect before we are saved as well.

        • in context .. belief causes a change of heart in regards to an individuals approach to Gods will for our lives …rationalizing a behavior or practice …in clear contrast to Gods word wrong …and don’t think God ‘winks’ at it ..and says …”oh’s okay …do it anyway” ..he that cometh to God must believe that he is …and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him ..Heb 11:6 …quit playing games and serve with a whole heart …not a half

          • Again you are telling us that we must be perfect before we can come to Christ. Sure hope I am there when you arrive, if nothing else but to say you are not perfect…of course neither am I or anyone else that comes to the Lord.

          • Bruce …you are purposely mishandling my response …honestly …same thing happens in the political arena as well where am I implying we must be perfect ..but striving for that is not a sin …further seem to want to rationalize behavior that is clearly defined by scripture as error ..good luck with that ..quit making excuses ..

  6. Very good article! Thanks for writing. It has much biblical support. I read many comments along the lines of “that won’t keep me out of heaven” or “Don’t judge me” that sort of comment. And I am well aware my comment could generate more of that variety. First, I would say, you are right, it doesn’t keep you out of heaven, or else salvation would become works based. Second, to those who say ” don’t judge” they mean, don’t set yourself above me. It is not a matter of that as much as it is a matter of evaluating and being discerning, which is biblical as well as different than judging. We should never judge and say we are better, because we are all sinners who do wrong. But the christian who wants to please God should be willing to look at association ( who is the major promoter) and in this case, it happens to be the world. Second, a matter of stewardship, not just of finances, but also physical. There are adverse affects to the bodies of those who get tattoos. It is actually a health risk when you inject a foreign substance such as ink into your body. When all is said and done, it is not a wise move for the christian, and when it comes down to it, I personally know people who got them before they were saved, but are now ashamed. Because they know what is represented, and it is not godliness. So they cover it up as best they can. Ultimately, they have evaluated it in light of God’s Holiness. That in itself demands a separation with things that have a worldy association. I don’t write this to sound mean or hateful, but rather, hopefully add to be a HELP to someone!

  7. The flaw with this argument is that virtually no one who gets tattooed is doing because they are unhappy with their body. Most people get inked either for self expression, because they want to memorialize a signicant event or person from their life, or simply because they like tatoos.

    Also, when Paul said the your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit he was not referring to each person’s individual body. He was telling the church in Corinth that the church body as a whole is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That verse is very often taken taken out of context. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of our individual bodies, but if you are going to use a verse to make your argument, get the context of the verse right.

    The entire basis of the author’s argument against tattoos falls apart under scrutiny.

    • Chris- Actually, the body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit in Corinthians applies both corporately and individually. It appears in both chapter 3 and 6, and in light of it being linked to sexual immorality, it can hardly be understood only corporately, but individually as well–but honestly, that whole “body is the temple” argument doesn’t apply to tattoos anyway… It’s a non-sequitur slight of hand of the author of this article.

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