What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos? (The Ultimate Guide)

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As tattoos keep increasing in popularity, most Christians question what the Bible says about them. The Bible provides no explicit mention of tattoos as we know them today. Some Christians regard all tattoos as sinful since Leviticus 19:28 expressly bans them. 

The term tattoo appears in this verse in many common English translations, so this logic seems reasonable.

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

A Tattooed Man Praying while Holding a Book

First and foremost, the Bible revolves around interpretation, so you may accept things literally or create a meaning that sounds plausible to you. According to Leviticus chapter 19, verse 28, “You must not slash your skin for the deceased, nor tattoo any symbols on oneself: I am the Lord.”

The term writing is exclusive to this context and refers to symbols/words that are etched or carved. The term for markings, also used alone here, has an ambiguous etymology; therefore, its precise meaning is unknown. 

Additionally, tattoos only appeared in the English version in the late 1700s. It is likely that the KJV, produced in the early 1600s, is closest to the literal meaning, “you shall not print markings upon you.”

Tattoos Background

Following its liberation from slavery, Israel was situated between Canaan and Egypt at the time this law was passed. Recent archaeological evidence reveals that only women in ancient Egypt had tattoos.

Evidence reveals that women’s tattooed thighs, breasts, and abdomen were related to fertility and considered a lucky charm to safeguard childbirth. 

In Canaan, rather than using ink to mark the flesh, more dramatic scarification techniques like branding, slicing, and gashing were employed.

Archaeology, supported by biblical texts, suggests that the Canaanites often slashed their flesh for ceremonial reasons (1 Kings 18:28), particularly to grieve their dead and worship their gods.

Leviticus 19:28 appears to infer this when it states, “You must not cut your flesh or stamp markings on you for the deceased.” Given the evidence from Egypt and Canaan, God prohibited scarification rather than tattooing as we know it.

Can Tattoos Hinder Us From Serving God?

Close-up Photo of Person reading on Bible and holding a Rosary

No one’s ink will prevent them from serving God. God can transform everything Satan attempts to use for evil and utilize it for good. Some godly folks with tattoos worship God, and their markings do not hinder what God is accomplishing through them. 

There are several devoted and honest Christians with tattoos. It is not intended to imply that they do not adore the Lord. God not only uses them but also utilizes them. Based on the Bible, tattooing has “witchcraft roots.”

 Additionally to the above passage, the Bible advises Christians not to disfigure their appearance in the following passages: “And they shouted and slashed themselves as per their way with lancets and knives until the blood spilled over them.” 1 Kings 18:28


You are the children of the LORD, your God; you must not cut yourself or shave your hair for the dead.” Deuteronomy 14:1 Some individuals oppose using Old Testament verses as references to tattooing because the New Testament needs to be clarified on the subject.

However, Believers are even summoned to a greater law in the New Testament. 

Christians are instructed in the New Testament to praise God with their bodies. It could entail refraining from adorning their bodies with tattoos since the teachings of the Bible make it quite plain that it is forbidden to corrupt the body.

Should a Christian Get a Tattoo?

People Adult One Woman Male Hand Tattoo Portrait

The following Bible scriptures may assist you in reaching that conclusion:

Romans 12:1

The Bible says, “Offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, as a holy service with your intellect.” Some people acquire tattoos to define their individuality or freedom, while others do so to express bodily ownership. Nevertheless, the Bible urges Christians.

Proverbs 4:7

Use your “reasoning ability” to determine why you desire a tattoo. If you want to indicate your participation in a gang or follow a trend, keep in mind that your sentiments may be less durable than the tattoo. 

Examining your motivations may help you make a prudent choice.

New American Bible, 1 Timothy 2:9

Women need to dress with humility.” This idea applies to men and women equally. You should be considerate of the emotions of others and avoid attracting unnecessary attention to yourself.

Proverbs 21:5

“The plans of the attentive lead to success, while the plans of the impatient lead to failure.” The choice to get a tattoo is frequently made hastily, even though it may have lasting effects on relationships and jobs.

And tattoo removal is expensive and unpleasant. Research and the flourishing tattoo removal industry indicate that a significant percentage of tattoo recipients regret their decision.


Despite the absence of a definite text in the Bible on tattoos, this is certainly not a license for unfettered tattooing. Particularly if you’re a Christian, you should still consider your words before writing them. 

The following Bible scriptures are applied to tattoos and are thought-provoking inquiries to help you choose. Read the Bible, pray, ask God for wisdom, and consult the Holy Spirit for advice.

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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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