Religious Perspectives on Tattooing

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Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and across many cultures. And while most people today donג€™t get tattoos, it seems like theyג€™re coming back in a big way. According to the American Society of Dermatology, 28% of Americans ages 18 and older have at least one tattoo. That number is likely much higher given that many people have hidden their ink or wear clothing that covers up their skin art when they go out. From a religious standpoint, the act of getting a tattoo has been viewed with varying degrees of negativity and acceptance throughout history. So, what do different religions say about getting inked?

What religion says about tattoos?

Many religions have a view on the subject of tattoos. For example, some people believe that a tattoo is something that you should do after much prayer and reflection, while others believe that it is a way to show your faith.
If you are looking for a religious perspective on getting inked, you can start with the United Church of Christ’s website. The website mentions that they believe in “respecting God by respecting ourselves.” This means being mindful of our bodies and taking time to reflect before making big decisions.

Is it against religion to get a tattoo?

The short answer is no, but some religions have more stringent rules that prohibit tattoos.
Wiccan: Wiccans believe that the body is a temple and that it should be honored and treated with respect. They do not see any reason to get inked since getting inked goes against their belief of honoring the body. As such, ink could potentially cause a permanent scarring of the skin, which is an act of desecration. Additionally, Wiccans view tattoos as barriers for spiritual growth by preventing one from achieving spiritual freedom, which means they would never get one themselves.
Jainism: According to Jainism, you must be spiritually pure at all times and strive to maintain a state of purity. Tattoos are viewed as impurities and thusly not allowed because they are considered to be polluting ones soul. Of course, this doesnג€™t mean that Jains cannot find joy in other forms of art like painting or music (which donג€™t carry with them the same stigma).
Buddhism: Buddhism has long been accepting of tattoos because they believe itג€™s up to each individual how they want to express themselves through both body modification and what they choose to wear or not wear. The Buddha himself had several markings on his body including a tattoo on his upper arm depicting two snakes entwined around a staff (a symbol representing enlightenment).
Hinduism: Hinduism is accepting of tattooing so long as it does

Does the Bible say not to get tattoos?

The Bible doesnג€™t specifically mention tattoos. Some religious texts, however, do have sayings that seem to discourage tattoos. For example, the Quran says, ג€_x009c_Forget not thy Lord to whom ye swoon away in prayer; and do not tattoo any part of your body for the dead, but keep a cleanness for God.ג€_x009d_
In contrast to this saying is a statement from the Quג€™ran about how God created mankind with varying hues and colors on different parts of their bodies. The Quג€™ran also says that those who reject these natural aspects of humanity are those who deny Godג€™s gifts to them and thus commit an act of unbelief. This sentiment is echoed in a Christian text called the Gospel of Thomas which states that people who are tattooed have done so because they ג€_x009c_believe themselves to be something when in fact they are nothing.ג€_x009d_

Are tattoos acceptable in Christianity?

In Christianity, tattoos have gone from being a sin to being acceptable. Christians now see them as an expression of their faith and are encouraged to get inked for the sake of doing Godג€™s work. This is largely due to the change in the way the Bible has been interpreted over time and the evolving views of what tattoos could mean.
The Bible doesnג€™t explicitly forbid tattooing, but it does talk about “mutilating” yourself or another person. The most commonly held interpretation is that this refers specifically to cutting off body parts that are considered shameful, such as foreskin when a man converts to Judaism or shaving off long hair when a woman converts. So, do Christian parents know how to talk with their kids about getting tattoos?

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Michael Blau

Michael Blau

I have been tattooing for over 15 years and have my studio in Brooklyn. While I'll tattoo just about anything on anyone, my specialty is religious tattoos.
I am originally from Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its large Jewish population. This has given me a lot of experience and understanding when it comes to tattoos and religion.

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