What does the Church Teach about Tattoos? (2024)

I was recently asked:

Could you please explain to me rationally without using [complex] words, and yet using theology, and convince me why I shouldn’t get a tattoo?There’s too much mumbo jumbo on the Internet, and I would truly appreciate finding something concrete and understandable.

I’m afraid that I cannot explain—either with simple, or complex words—why you shouldn’t get a tattoo.

The reason being that, in principle, the Church does not oppose tattoos.

Ceremonial Law vs. Moral Law

Sometimes people point to the passage in Leviticus that says,”Do not . . . put tattoo marks on yourselves.I am the Lord”(19:28).

But this verse is not binding upon Christians for the same reason that the verse “nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff” (Lev. 19:19) is not binding upon Christians.Namely, it is a part of the ceremonial law that wasbinding upon the Jewish people but not binding upon Christians(except for when itcoincides with the moral law).

The author of Hebrews writes:

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well(11-12).

Similarly, St. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote, “The laws of bondage, however, were one by one promulgated to the people by Moses, suited for their instruction or for their punishment, as Moses himself declared: ‘And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments’ (Deut. 4:14). These things, therefore, which were given for bondage, and for a sign to them, He cancelled by the new covenant of liberty (Against HeresiesIV.16.5).

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo

So is the prohibition against tattoos in Leviticus a part of the moral law?

Mycolleague,Jimmy Akin writessays no:

There is no reason why one cannot color one’s skin, which is what tattooing amounts to.

One can apply color to one’s skin by make-up (as is common among women), magic markers (as is common among children), press-on tattoos (as are common in Crackerjack boxes), or with real tattoos.

The mere fact that the ink goes into the skin in the latter case does not create a fundamental moral difference.

But if you do decide to get a tattoo, consider the following:

1. The images should not be immoral, such as sexually explicit, Satanic, or in anyway opposed to the truths and teachings of Christianity.

2. Be prudent. While “Mom” is probably a safe bet, tattooing your current girlfriend’s name on your arm probably isn’t.

3. Consider the arguments against tattooing (there’s bound to be a good website out there devoted to that). Just because the Church doesn’t prohibit getting one doesn’t mean that you should. Consider the following question: Would you put a bumper sticker on a ferrai?

The advice I gave to my sister when she was considering a tattoo was to give it several months. If you still feel strongly about the tattoo you had in mind after that time, then maybe get it. If, during that time, you change your mind about the type of tattoo you wanted, or where it should be located, perhaps wait another several months before getting it.

What does the Church Teach about Tattoos? (2024)


What does the church say about tattoos? ›

Ultimately scripture neither presents the idea that tattoos somehow harm the temple of God (our body) or dishonor God. In fact, God uses the idea of a tattoo favorably when he speaks of his remembrance of his people. However, while tattoos are permissible it is not always wise to get one.

What does Jesus say about tattoos? ›

There are some Christians who believe it is a sin. The verse in the Bible that most Christians make reference to is Leviticus 19:28, which says,"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord." So, why is this verse in the Bible?

Can we go to heaven with tattoos as Catholics? ›

Within the Catholic Church, there is no clear consensus on tattoos. Some priests and theologians consider it a fashionable element that is not a sin at all, others think it is correct if it does not represent figures related to the devil and others are opposed to tattoos.

What is the Catholic tattoo ideas? ›

Some common Catholic tattoo designs include the cross, crucifix, rosary, saints, and religious imagery such as angels or the Virgin Mary. These tattoos can represent a deep religious belief and serve as a constant reminder of one's faith. They may also symbolize protection and guidance from a higher power.

Are tattoos allowed by God? ›

But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.” Historically, scholars have often understood this as a warning against pagan practices of mourning.

What does the Bible say about touching yourself? ›

Like we mentioned above, the Bible never specifically mentions pleasuring yourself. It does, however, contain plenty of counsel and advice about how believers are meant to live a chaste and virtuous life, to strive to be like the Savior, Jesus Christ, and do what He would do.

What is the best Bible verse for tattoos? ›

The most popular verses used in tattoo designs include John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son"), Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"), Proverbs 3:5-6 ("Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"), and Isaiah 41:10 ("Fear ...

What are the disadvantages of tattoo? ›

Superficial and deep local infections, systemic infections, allergic reactions, photodermatitis, granulomatous reactions and lichenoid reactions may occur. Skin diseases localised on the tattooed area, such as eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, and morphea can be occasionally seen.

Is smoking a sin? ›

Faith and Smoking Status: Do Religious People Smoke? Despite the fact that smoking is a sin in the Christian faith, the evidence does show that some Christians smoke. A 2013 Gallup poll looked at just this issue, and found that smoking is less common in people who attend church more regularly.

Can you join the Catholic Church if you have tattoos? ›

Answer: First of all, the Church has not made any kind of formal decision on the matter of tattoos. There is some Biblical evidence on this, for example, a passage in Leviticus that says: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord” (Lev.

Can Protestants get tattoos? ›

There is no prohibition against tattoos in most Protestant congregations, though there may be a few more legalistic churches that frown upon it.

Can you be a nun if you have tattoos? ›

While it may be a topic of concern for the order you want to join, it may or may not interfere with your eligibility. You'll need to converse with the religious leader to discuss if the tattoos will be a problem. Most likely, your vestments will cover them up anyway!

What church says about tattoos? ›

Sometimes people point to the passage in Leviticus that says, ”Do not . . . put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord” (19:28). But this verse is not binding upon Christians for the same reason that the verse “nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff” (Lev.

What tattoo represents Christianity? ›

Christian tattoos represent the collectors Christian faith. Symbols that represent this are the cross or a Biblical scene, especially depicting Jesus Christ or angels. Crosses can be small and plac…

Can Catholics get cremated? ›

In fact, the Vatican explicitly approved cremation in 1963 as a final disposition as long as the practice remains in line with the fundamental belief in the resurrection. That means the church is stating Catholics have nothing to fear from choosing cremation as their final arrangement.

What does the pope say about tattoos and piercings? ›

He also encouraged priests to not be scared of and use tattoos as a way to encourage dialogue. “With young people one should never be scared. Never. Because always, even behind the things that are not so good, there is something that will bring us to some truth.”

Did Apostle Paul have a tattoo? ›

Paul's body was marked (tattooed) against his will, He wrote in Galatians: “I bear in my body the marks of Jesus.” How did he get them?

Can Catholic use condoms? ›

For decades, the Roman Catholic Church opposed use of condoms to prevent spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI) because of their contraceptive effect. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI said that widespread use of condoms could worsen the situation, a position rejected as 'unscientific'.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Catherine Tremblay

Last Updated:

Views: 6549

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Catherine Tremblay

Birthday: 1999-09-23

Address: Suite 461 73643 Sherril Loaf, Dickinsonland, AZ 47941-2379

Phone: +2678139151039

Job: International Administration Supervisor

Hobby: Dowsing, Snowboarding, Rowing, Beekeeping, Calligraphy, Shooting, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Catherine Tremblay, I am a precious, perfect, tasty, enthusiastic, inexpensive, vast, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.