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Christian Life

Girl to Girl Talk: Are Tattoos Sinful?

Every week I go through the “Girl Talk” section of Project Inspired and look for those seeking advice and council. I want to help answer some questions you may have about living out your Christian life and walk of faith! We want PI to be a safe place where you can ask questions.

This week, a PI girl is wondering if tattoos are wrong or sinful. She wrote:

I personally think it depends on WHAT the tattoo is. I honestly think it…depends on like what it is, the size of it, and the placement of it…my brother-in-law has a GORGEOUS sleeve tattoo that he designed himself and took it to a Christian tattoo artist (so there was nothing morally wrong about it), plus he also took size in careful consideration and only had the tattoo go 3/4 of the way down his arm that way he can cover up the tattoo with a 3/4 or long sleeve shirt.

Read the full post here.

Girls, we all know we need to respect and honor our bodies as God’s temple. We are called to be set apart from the world…but does that mean that getting a tattoo is sinful?

Leviticus 19:28 states:

“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”

The above scripture is often cited as a primary reason Christians shouldn’t get tattoos. And for Presbyterian Pastor Joe Mullen, Leviticus 19:28 is something we just can’t ignore.

I think we need to ask ourselves whether we’re trying to create a special identity that marks us — and really, in Jesus, we have our special identity.(Pastor Joe Mullen, CBN News).

Others believe in a less literal translation. Randy Mastre, a tattoo artist and founding member of the Christian Tattoo Association, thinks the message of Leviticus is different from that traditional interpretation.

The word ‘tattoo’ is not in biblical manuscripts…This verse in Leviticus has nothing to do with tattoos (Randy Mastre, beliefnet.com).

Rather, for Mastre, tattoos are all about the intent behind the tattoo and what’s in your heart.

My opinion? I’m not against tattoos, but I wouldn’t get one myself. I WOULD caution against getting a tattoo if you are doing it for attention, to rebel against your parents, or if you are just plain bored. Remember PI readers, whatever you tattoo on your body is there for life–that is, unless you want to pay a lot of money to get it removed (and it is never really fully erased!). Also, tattoos are expensive, so think about where you are investing your money and if that is God’s will for you to get it.

What is YOUR opinion on tattoos? Would you ever get one? What do you think the meaning of Leviticus 19:28 is? God bless you, PI girls! 

Poll

What do you think about tattoos?

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More Stories Like This on Project Inspired:

Girl to Girl Talk: “Should Christians Listen to Secular and Explicit Music?”
Girl to Girl Talk: Struggles with Cutting and Depression
Girl to Girl Talk: “Is Popularity a Sin?”

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120 Comments

  1. ljonczy

    Posted by ljonczy on April 23, 2015 at 10:10

    I really like how Jefferson Bethke talks about this topic in his video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN3voADV14Y

  2. emma4623

    Posted by emma4623 on April 15, 2015 at 16:07

    it seems that a lot of people forget that the phrase “for the dead” is in there, I’ve watched a few videos on the topic, and it seems that this rule was put in place so that God’s people wouldn’t be confused with Pagans, who, as a form of worship for the dead, would tattoo their bodies. Back then, that was the most common reason for having tattoos, but now, when we see a tattoo, we don’t automatically think that person worships the dead, so I’d say it depends on what you get and why.

  3. Trinity

    Posted by Trinity on March 8, 2015 at 22:03

    What we have to ask is if the old law, and by extension, rules put forth in Leviticus, is applicable to Christians. If you want to get a tattoo to represent your relationship with Christ that’s great, and if you want to get one because you think it’s pretty that’s a fine reason to get it, too. I mean, who exactly are you hurting? How are you damaging your relationship with God? The only way I could see a tattoo as a problem is if it’s inappropriate (cussing is an example) If your body is a temple decorate it with murals. Knock yourself out. I don’t have any tattoos now, but I plan on at least one in the future when I have money.

  4. EastaHooley_

    Posted by EastaHooley_ on March 8, 2015 at 18:15

    I have a tattoo. A small cross on the inside of my left ring finger. My wedding ring finger. It’s there to remind me that Jesus is my first love. Before my future husband. Before anyone else. And it’s in a place that only I know where it is. It doesn’t draw attention, it doesn’t go against God. I personally believe that tattoos are okay, unless (as many others have stated) it goes against your faith. They’re a good reminder of God’s love for us. They’re a good conversation starter as well for nonbelievers. Yes, the bible may have warned against them, but things do change over time. I don’t think little things like that can really be heavily applied to today’s society. I mean, the bible also states not to wear clothes of blended materials (Deuteronomy 22:11), yet today, you can hardly find clothes that are made with only one kind of material. I guess it’s kind of the same for tattoos, in a way. Not everything is 100% literal today. Times change.
    Also, think of it this way: our bodies are temples of God. Tattoos, piercings, dying your hair, whatever, is just a way of decorating it and personalizing it, to honor him. 🙂

  5. eponastone

    Posted by eponastone on March 8, 2015 at 10:09

    I personally think that it’s really the intent behind getting the tattoo that matters. For instance, I want to get three tattoos when I am old enough and I have thought and prayed about it a lot and I find that God has told me that it’s okay to get them. The tattoos that I want symbolize first, a chapter in my life, and second, how I got through it. I got through it with God and I want myself to remember that experience and how I ended up being able to pull through with His help. It reminds me that though at the time things might suck, it’s for a reason and part of God’s plan, and because his plan is always good it will get better and this time of pain will pass. In conclusion, I think that if you are getting a tattoo for a personal reminder between you and God, then they are okay. And even so, God will not send us to hell just because of getting a tattoo, especially if we had good intentions.

  6. Busygirl996

    Posted by Busygirl996 on March 7, 2015 at 23:42

    I would choose the option “I’m not against tattoos but I wouldn’t get one myself.” providing they don’t have anything that’s displeasing to God that is 🙂

  7. Project Inspired

    Posted by CheerGirl1 on March 7, 2015 at 14:49

    Also tattoos are a great visual reminder. and People use them to relate to non-christians with tattoos and spread the Gospel!

  8. Project Inspired

    Posted by CheerGirl1 on March 7, 2015 at 14:45

    So I grew being taught that tatttoos are a sin. I personally used to not like them. But a few years ago my perspective on them has totally changed. I am in support that tattoos are not a sin. Based on Levitcus 19:28 I believe in that time period tattoos were a sin, because of the cultural in their society. I think we need to pause and think who were the people getting tattoos and wh, this helps understand why at that time tattoos were a sin. I know all the verses about our bodies belonging to Christ and being his temple. But my question is what about 1 Corinthians 3:17 ” Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the Glory of God.” and what about Hebrews 8:13 “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” Older translations say the same thing. So would you agree this means tattoos are no longer a sin? I personally believe that God does not ecourage us to get tattoos, but if its what we want to do and it glorfies him then he is content with us doing so! So for me I like them and want a few. I just feel that first off it cannot be anything against God or conflicting with Jesus and on a preference side it should have meaning!

  9. Project Inspired

    Posted by wrbates on March 7, 2015 at 12:32

    Rev 19:16

  10. Project Inspired

    Posted by horsefreak16 on March 7, 2015 at 12:28

    I have wanted a tattoo for a while and my parents and other adult figures in my life have suggested not to and quoted this exact verse. I want a tattoo to symbolize the struggles I have faced and overcame, to show how god has worked in my life. I don’t want to flaunt them around but I want them so that it opens an opportunity to share my testimony to someone who might not have asked or I wouldn’t have thought to share it with them for one reason or another.Tattoos open different door and some people are not supposed to go into those doors, not because they are better than someone else just because they have not faced the same struggles as others.

  11. Project Inspired

    Posted by shinebrightalways on March 7, 2015 at 12:22

    Just like paintings, and sculputures, tatoos are another form of art. I personally wouldn’t get one because I dont like needles and they’re permanent. I dont think its wrong if someone else wants to get one unless it says something that goes against or might cause others to question your faith. If it’s something that’s not of God, don’t get it tatooed.

  12. GraceLeah

    Posted by GraceLeah on March 7, 2015 at 11:45

    I have a tattoo, its an infinity cross with a heart shape woven into it. For me, this is a constant reminder of Gods infinite love for me. I guess it all depends on your mindset because I don’t NEED a tattoo to remind me, but I LIKE to have it. Also its a good conversation starter, who doesn’t like to talk about tattoos?

  13. Rachel love

    Posted by Rachel love on March 7, 2015 at 11:25

    But the bible says no piercings. See things are taken out of context. u have to look more closely at the verse and its context

  14. Val-Gal

    Posted by Val-Gal on March 7, 2015 at 11:20

    I don’t think they are wrong … but it does matter why you are getting one… The Lord has personally convicted me not to get one but I don’t think it’s wrong. I don’t think it is wise for it to a spur of a moment thing. It should have some time and thought into it. Remember it is forever it isn’t going away

  15. kath660

    Posted by kath660 on March 7, 2015 at 11:20

    The problem with using Leviticus to condemn things is that Jesus came to replace the laws in Leviticus and in other Old Testament books with a simpler set of laws: Love God and love others. He and Paul repeatedly assert this fact. Now the only things that we should not do are things that the Holy Spirit will lead us to not do. Be free to glorify God in the art on your bodies. 🙂

  16. Project Inspired

    Posted by emily_Andrews on October 4, 2014 at 20:52

    I would totally get a tattoo except that it would hurt really bad lol but I really don’t see anything wrong with them.

  17. fearfullymade

    Posted by fearfullymade on July 26, 2013 at 17:52

    In all honesty you need yo take the context of the verse into consideration. The verse is God telling them not to do it because of the reason the Canaan’s were doing it. They were using the tattoo’s and piercings to worship idols/false gods/the dead.
    I don’t see anything wrong with tattoo’s because of the research I’ve done and seen. But I would only get a tattoo if it honored god. Like a verse or word with godly meaning behind it. My really good friend Kayla has a butterfly on her foot because it symbolizes how once you give your life to god there’s no turning back to what you originally were.

  18. MorganAndJESUS

    Posted by MorganAndJESUS on July 7, 2013 at 09:51

    Well I have 3 tattoos and they all have meaning behind them.. I know God forgives me for mine even tho I have nothing bad on me.

  19. Project Inspired

    Posted by nahla on July 4, 2013 at 22:55

    I respect everyone’s opinion of tattoos. However, I think that if you choose to get a tattoo of a cross, heart, bible verse, faith, hope, love, etc., these will remind you of God every day. I do not think it is sinful to express yourself through a tattoo unless if it is something you do not think God would apprive of. But if you truly believe you might feel guilty getting one, then don’t. Anything you feel guilty about is sinful. If you do not believe marking your body is honoring God then don’t do it. Everyone has an opinion about it and it is such a personal choice to get one. Just think long and hard about it and make sure you are firm with your decision. Dont do it on a whim.

  20. Project Inspired

    Posted by Jessxoxo13 on June 17, 2013 at 13:28

    I personally think getting a tattoo is wrong. Our whole body was created by God. When you get a tattoo you are putting material stuff in your body. Who wants earthly, material stuff inside their temple?Even if it’s a picture of something Christian. Did Jesus have any tattoos? No. Did Jesus promote tattoos? No. Did Jesus announce, “It’s okay to get tattoos, even if it’s a picture of something holy!”? No. Are we supposed to follow Jesus? Yes!! Since Jesus did not wear/promote tattoos, we should follow him and NOT get/promote tattoos. God did not start tattoos, the Egyptians started them. Did the Egyptians believe in God and Jesus Christ? NO. They worshiped false gods and God did NOT approve of that. Some Christian person took the idea of tattoos, that the Egyptians created, and thought lets tattoo ourselves and God will approve of this since its a picture of something holy. God wants nothing to do with materials. Tattoos put the materials in you permanently. Now I’m not trying to judge, and I’m not saying that you are not a good person if you have tattoo(s). God is the one to judge.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by jesusroxmysoxoff7 on January 4, 2014 at 21:37

      God made is humans out of the earth, so I don’t think that putting ink into our bodies is wrong because it’s an “earthly material stuff.” However, tattoo ink can be unhealthy and it releases toxins into the body that create the body to dislike itself and can cause depression. Our body is the temple of God. I think that it is up to the person an their conviction whether or not they think it is harming God’s temple or benefiting them in their relationship with God. As for the memory verse: I think that “tattoos are sin” is out of context. There is sin which is set in stone. And then there are things that God will personally convict us about that would be sin if we go against what he has asked us to do. My personally? I do not have any desire to get a tattoo.:)

  21. vickysamone

    Posted by vickysamone on June 14, 2013 at 12:41

    well i thought what leviticus taught is old law. what plp had to do then to get r8 with god? i herd someone say jesus to break the mosaic law and now what we follow from the old testament is the 10 commandments…..

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by jesusroxmysoxoff7 on January 4, 2014 at 21:47

      No. There were laws that the Old Testament talks about that were laws that the Jews made up culturally that supposedly benefited spiritually. Those we do not have to follow. In order to know the difference between a law that God wants us to follow and a Jewish cultural law, you have to read the bible in context. There are many other laws in the Old Testament (including the Ten Commandments:). ) that God wrote for us to follow. However there were laws that were required by God for the Jews that are not required anymore, because of His death on the cross (no longer need for a sacrifice, etc.). My best advice is to read the full story and all of it’s context and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.:)

  22. Project Inspired

    Posted by neon.lova.4122 on June 5, 2013 at 07:28

    I think getting tattoos is up to God. If he says you can get one then go ahead. If he says no then don’t do it, God has a reason for everything. Just like in life. When you talk to God more often it is easier to hear him.

  23. Project Inspired

    Posted by tink98 on May 1, 2013 at 22:07

    I do not think that getting a tattoo is wrong. I like some of them. but I would never get one

  24. reflectioninawindow

    Posted by reflectioninawindow on May 1, 2013 at 15:17

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with tattoos. I mean, like anything, if they’re promote things that are wrong, that’s not okay, but I find tattoos rather beautiful.

    Get this, I saw a guy with his entire back covered in tattoos, an entire tattoo scene. Guess who was in the center? Jesus on the cross(:

  25. atla_bee

    Posted by atla_bee on April 23, 2013 at 08:25

    I think it all depends on why you’re getting it and what it is. For a lot of people, it seems, it’s an identity thing which is not the right reason to get a tattoo.
    Personally, I think they’re ugly; I’d never get one…but ya know 😉

  26. AlexisDavinaMonroe

    Posted by AlexisDavinaMonroe on April 20, 2013 at 11:20

    I believe that tattoos are fine, i mean.. As long as you wont regret it in the future and you dont place it on your hands, feet or face they are fine. I believe that you shouldnt place the tattoos on places that Jesus was iinjured on the cross, along with the crown of thornes.

  27. Project Inspired

    Posted by Couturecub on April 1, 2013 at 09:33

    I think a tattoo is bad only if it sends a sinful message. Personally, I would like to get a tattoo that says Romans 1:16, to remind myself to not be ashamed of my faith.

    • atla_bee

      Posted by atla_bee on April 23, 2013 at 08:26

      That’s a cool idea(:

    • annikamarie15

      Posted by annikamarie15 on April 4, 2013 at 15:08

      I would love to get a tattoo that says ” Im a princess ” because im gods princess along with all you other girls! I would just love it, but im such a wimp when it comes to pain! anyways, i only believe really people should get tattoos if they are getting one for a reason, not to just get one for fun because it will look cool! i mean,they will always be there…and when your 75 and wrinkly,i dont think a gory or pin-up tattoo you got when you were young is gonna look to cool anymore…just saying 😉

  28. Project Inspired

    Posted by BlankCanvas-025 on March 21, 2013 at 18:42

    I personally wouldn’t get one, (too scared) But if it means something to you, and you’ve thought it through, you should do it.

  29. heatherleigh1994

    Posted by heatherleigh1994 on March 20, 2013 at 21:23

    I don’t think God will judge me on my tattoo. I have two tattoos that are in good taste. I have praying hands and a rosary on my back in memory of my grandfather and great grandmother, and the Autism puzzle piece dedicated to my brother, on my ankle. I personally cannot wait to get more tattoos, and i get them done professionally by a family member so i am not exposing my body to people i do not know. So, i think it depends where, and what they are and who you get them done by.

  30. ilovedogs18

    Posted by ilovedogs18 on March 20, 2013 at 09:40

    I think that getting a tattoo is wrong. Don’t get me wrong I sometimes like them but I could never get one. We are the temple of God so therefore we should respect our body and never harm it.