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The Prohibition In Leviticus
The pertinent passage is Leviticus 19:28, You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.
Lets look at this passage in context, both its immediate and broader context. Lets also take a peek at the Hebrew behind the English translation to see what light it sheds on the verse. Well begin with the Hebrew.
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The Bible neither favors nor forbids the process of cremation. Nevertheless, many Christians believe that their bodies would be ineligible for resurrection if they are cremated. This argument, though, is refuted by others on the basis of the fact that the body still decomposes over time after burial.
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The Principle Of Modesty
The point being made here is not what you might think. Although it could be related, this is not in reference to showing too much skin. Rather, we are referring to a word that appears in the Bible in 1 Timothy 2:9-10. It says, In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array but which becometh women professing godliness with good works.
Let us consider four words and phrases in this text. First is the word modest. It means orderly, well-arranged, or decent. The idea is that this woman is not to adorn herself in a way that draws undue attention to herself. In the immediate context, Paul is discussing a woman overdoing itwearing flashy clothes, lots of makeup, and expensive jewelry. Of course, a woman could also draw undue attention to herself by under doing it, that is, by wearing too little. But consider this statement in light of the tattoo and body piercing discussion. Can we draw undue attention to ourselves with tattoos, nose rings, or navel piercings? Of course we can!
So What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos
There is not a lot of direct biblical references to tattoos in the Bible.
This is in part because the only people who practiced placing tattoos on their body during the times of the Bible were people outside the covenant of God.
They were the people who practiced pagan religions.
In Leviticus the Bible says
Leviticus 19:28 28 Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.
Now on the surface that seems like a very blunt statement with no question about this subject doesnt it?
God said no!
However as those of you who know me can attest to, I dont always just look at what the Bible says without first asking the question why.
Why does the Bible say this about tattoos?
In order to understand that question you have to understand the culture of the day.
Besides the barbaric nature of all the cultures of that time, the nation of Israel was a newly formed nation.
This verse was part of the laws of Moses that were the building blocks for that nation. Part of what God was doing with the nation of Israel was setting them apart to live by a different set of values and standards than the people who surrounded them.
This is why the Bible says not to mark your skin with tattoos.
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Did Jesus Have A Tattoo
In the New Testament, there is Revelation 19:16 that states that Jesus has something that resembles a tattoo, although not explicitly said:
On His robe and on His thigh, He has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. While this doesnt directly specify that theres a tattoo on Jesus thigh, it highlights that theres something written, and for all, we know it could be just figuratively written.
How Do Christians Interpret This Verse Today
Today, many Christians use the Leviticus verse to justify their refusal to tattoo, since they believe that it would be to maintain a pagan custom of antiquity. Others, on the other hand, consider that there is no type of problem, since the verse refers to practices to honor pagan gods, so if the motivation of the tattoo is not to honor one of them, there should be no problem. And it is that as we have commented, most of todays tattoos represent a tribute, a reminder, a prominent aspect of his life.
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Why Did God Prohibit Tattoos In The Old Testament
Some commentators say the statement forbidding tattoos only refers to pagan customs for the dead. For example, the writers of the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary believe that there is nothing morally wrong with tattooing, but that these practices then, and also now in some places, were parts of heathen ritual .
Other commentators disagree. The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, for example, says in reference to this verse, The prohibition of tattooing had no reference to idolatrous usages, but was intended to inculcate upon the Israelites a proper reverence for Gods creation. The Jewish understanding of this command is that the prohibition against all forms of tattooing regardless of their intent, should be maintained .
To gain a more complete perspective, lets consider how other passages and principles relate to this subject.
Our Creator tells us: Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God . Consecrate means to be purified and set apart from the worldas clean and holy people in service to God.
Tattooing has a very long history among the pagan cultures of the world, for different reasons at different times. But God called His chosen nation to come out from the world and be different in many ways.
Are Piercings A Sin In Christianity
There is a Christian belief that partaking in activities or a lifestyle that one believes to be a sin indeed makes the act a sin, even if its not objectively clear or fact than the act is a sin. Believing body piercing is a sin and doing it anyway, makes it a sin essentially, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Many People Get Tattood To Honor God
What does God say? He says He does not want to be honored in the same way the world honors their idols. He does not want to be worshiped in the same way. God is not like us. Just because the world is changing and the culture is different does not mean Gods ways and desires are changing.
7. Deuteronomy 12:4 Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.
8. Leviticus 20:23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.
Our Bodies Are A Temple
When the Lord created man and woman and placed them in the garden along with His other creations. He spoke these words in Genesis 1:31, And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. When the Lord created the human body, He pronounced that the way He created it was very good. The Lord desires that our bodies be a reflection of His own beauty. When people tattoo their bodies they are tampering with what the Lord said was very good the way He made it. We should never mark our bodies as this is unnatural. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are admonished not to defile them. Tattoos on ones body is like graffiti on a wall. Having tattoos on our bodies does not glorify God.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Just because a person has had a tattoo, it will not prevent God from using people to witness, nor keep them from being a minister of God. God looks on the heart and can use different things to testify of Christs love, even tattoos. However, well-meaning people can be deceived in their methods of evangelism. The highest form of testimony is a life lived for Christ before the world.
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What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos & Piercings
The Truth About Tattoos and Piercings covers the controversial topic of modern tattoos and piercings. How should Christians view tattoos and piercings?
Its nearly impossible to go out in public these days without seeing someone with a tattoo or body piercing. The movie stars have them. The sports figures have them. In fact, a news story dated April 30, 2009 says that Barbie now has them. In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Barbie doll, Mattel has created a new Barbie, complete with tattoos and a toy tattoo gun so children can stamp themselves with washable tattoos. The American Academy of Dermatology website says that 24 percent of people 18 to 50 reported having a tattoo. A Harris Poll dated February 12, 2008, stated that 32 percent of those aged 25 to 29 had a tattoo, and 25 percent of people 30 to 39 had them. Because tattoos and piercings are so popular, its a topic young people have to deal with and about which they naturally have many questions. Is it right for a Christian to get a tattoo? Is it right to have multiple piercings in your ears? What about a ring in your nose? Parents dont always know how best to answer these questions.
What Does The Hebrew Show Us
The word translated as tattoo entails two words in Hebrew: ktovet and qaaqa . Both words occur only here in the Bible. The first, ktovet, is derived from the common stem/root k-t-b which means to write or engrave or mark.
The second, qaaqa, is much more difficult to pin down. The standard scholarly dictionary of biblical Hebrew defines it as tattoo but notes, the exact meaningis unknown it could even be a simple decoration . The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains defines qaaqa as a marking of skin by incision, as a non-verbal sign of mourning.
This leaves us in a bit of a quandary. Were not even certain that tattoo is the correct translation of that Hebrew word. A literal translation of the latter half of Leviticus 19:28 might be, A writing of tattoo you shall not give yourself. Or it might be A writing of incision you shall not give yourself.
Therefore, we cannot speak with 100% certainty as to what this writing or marking looked like.
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People Also Ask About Tattoos
We explained the meaning of tattoos in Christianity. While theres no speculation that Christianity forbids tattoos, theres also no permission saying that its permitted. A lot of people like to make an analysis of the Biblical verses and draw their conclusions, so finally, tattooing is an individual choice.
Still, we answered some additional questions about tattooing and Christianity.
Q: Is Getting A Tattoo A Mortal Sin?
A: We dont think that tattoos are a mortal sin, as long as they dont promote some of the mortal sins such as wrath, vanity, or sloth. Tattooing does not harm you or others so its not considered a mortal sin.
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What Are The Common Christian Inspired Tattoos
Christian tattoos come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want to express your love for God with a full back piece or by getting an easily hidden symbol on your ankle, we have some ideas for you. Many Christians love to get their favorite bible verse tattooed on them because it helps remembering your values and the importance of Gods word. There are also plenty of symbols that represent Christ such as a cross, doves, the Jesus fish, an angel, praying hands, or even a picture of Jesus himself. All of these visuals can be done as big or as small as youd like. Simple outlines can be just as meaningful as a huge embellished piece. If youd like to get a larger Christian tattoo, an idea could be to get your favorite Bible story like the last supper or when Jesus dies on the cross. You could also incorporate your interests alongside your religion. The ideas for your Christian tattoo are endless!
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What Is The Righteousness Of God In Matthew 6 33
And if you consider what is the righteousness of God, what He loves, and what He hates, the righteousness itself will show you His ways, as it attends on those that love it. Seek righteousness therefore, and thou shalt not lack food. Wherefore it follows, and all these things shall be added unto you.
Does This Answer Apply To People Today
That, then, is a brief summary of what Leviticus 19:28 is talking about. But to whom is the Lord speaking when he addresses this subject? Who is prohibited from engaging in these actions? To everyone in every circumstance in every era of history? No. God is speaking only to the Israelites under the old covenant.
This takes us back to the point we made earlier: even when the Bible does answer a question, we need to be certain that the answer is addressed specifically to us and not to an individual, people group, or historic situation. The prohibitions in Leviticus 19:27-28 are never repeated in the New Testament, never applied to everyone, and certainly never included in prohibitions for Christians.
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What Does This Mean And Can Christians Get Tattoos
For those whose bodies already bear the marks of a pre-Christian past, take comfort: they are still part of personal testimony. In conversation with others who sport tattoos, they provide a natural avenue to discussing the gospel and demonstrating that the important change has taken place inwardly, where Christ has exquisitely and tenderly marked the inner person.
What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos And Body Piercings 2021
What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos And Body Piercings. 47 bible verses about body piercings and tattoos leviticus 19:28 esv / 84 helpful votes helpful not helpful you shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: 9 bible verses about tattoos body piercings leviticus 19:28 esv / 180 helpful votes helpful not helpful you shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves:
According to the bible, our body is a temple for gods holy spirit dwelling within us. An important scriptural principle on issues the bible does not specifically address is if there is room for doubt whether it pleases god, then it is best not to engage in that activity.
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Nor Tattoo Yourselves: Bible Verses Against Tattoos
In Leviticus 19:28 it says no tattoos. I know someone is going to say, its in the Old Testament, but the fact that it says, no tattoos should cause someone to think twice about getting a tattoo.
Usually in the New Testament God shows that some things are permissible such as eating pork. There is nothing that even hints that we can get a tattoo in the New Testament.
Also, there are some things that are only brought up in the Old Testament, but we still consider them a sin like Bestiality for example.
1. Leviticus 19:28 You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.
Biblical Teachings Relevant To Tattoos
But even if tattooing continues to gain wider acceptance, is that proof of acceptance in Gods eyes? Consider these passages:
- Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness .
- Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are Gods .
Fashioned in Gods own image, our bodies are precious gifts from God. Refraining from unnecessary cuttings or marking them with tattoos shows respect for our bodies and our Creator.
As noted earlier, commentators are divided over whether the prohibitions against cuttings in your flesh for the dead and tattooing any marks on you as recorded in Leviticus 19:28 are applicable today. Some mistakenly dismiss this passage because it is in the Old Testament and they wrongly think that all laws of the Old Testament have been replaced with new laws. Others say it only applies to pagan practices for the dead and therefore, it doesnt apply to Christians who want a tattoo as body adornment or as a symbol of their Christian faith.
In response to these claims, it is important to remember that the instructions given to ancient Israel also apply to us today. Psalm 119:160 says, The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus upheld Gods law as revealed through the prophets in the Old Testament .
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