To Tattoo or Not too Tattoo, That is the Biblical Question

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES - Matt Sawdon covers Erica Armendariz's tattoo with plastic after working on her religious iconography at Sunday's 10:30 a.m. service at the Gold Creek Community Church in Mill Creek. Below left: Armendariz started her tattoo with religious images a year ago.  Tattoos at Mill Creek church pierce skin, soul

 A Mill Creek church invited its members to be tattooed during Sunday services.

By Nick Perry  Seattle Times staff reporter – November 23, 2009 

[Notes by DTW in Green – updated 1 Dec 2009.]

The sight of a woman being tattooed live on the altar accompanied by the sound of a buzzing ink gun provided a startling backdrop to Sunday’s evangelical sermon.

Your parent’s church service this was not. In the drive to stay relevant, the Gold Creek Community Church has been hosting a series called “Permanent Ink” that featured Sunday’s live-tattoo finale.

The Mill Creek church is not exactly staid – booming 20-minute rock sets launch regular sermons – yet the pastors acknowledge this series was pushing societal norms.

“We’ve said from the start that we are not advocating tattoos – nor discouraging them,” said pastor Larry Ehoff.

“We think of it as amoral. It’s neither immoral nor moral, it’s just the choice of a person.”

Ehoff said the church is telling the same story of Jesus as always, it’s just finding different ways to tell it.

Sharon Snell was one of several congregants who volunteered to be tattooed Sunday. At the noon service, she got on stage and faced away from about 150 parishioners while tattoo artist Matt Sawdon worked on the image of a police shield on her lower back.

It was Snell’s third tattoo and represents her husband’s work as an Everett police officer. Snell said last month’s shooting death of Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton forced her to confront the fragility of life and the dangers inherent in her husband’s job.

“Anything can happen at any time,” Snell said. “Him being an officer is a big part of my life and of who I am.”

As Snell’s tattoo took shape, pastor Dan Kellogg told the congregation that permanent markings, both good and evil, are mentioned in the Bible. The most famous symbol, he said, is “666,” the sign of the devil.

But there’s also mention in the Bible of markings on Jesus, saying he is the king of kings and lord of lords, Kellogg said.

Another congregant who volunteered was Erica Armendariz, who was getting work done on an arm tattoo she calls her “faith sleeve.”

“Surprisingly, I was not nervous to get up on stage,” she said, adding that the tattoo process, which in her case stretched through two sermons, was getting painful toward the end.

Tattoo artist Matt Sawdon said he’d never tattooed anyone at church before. Aside from the limited time he had during each sermon, he said, it wasn’t much different from a normal day’s work.

Last week, as part of the Permanent Ink series, a member of the church had a tattoo of Texas removed.

Because the equipment was too cumbersome to transport, parishioners watched a video of the process.

The man now lives in Washington, and he doesn’t see much need for the Lone Star State anymore.



Tattooing, carvings, cuttings, piercings, etc.  Throughout history has been seen as pagan practices.  God wanted Israel to separate from these practices.

Strict instructions to not mark your body in ANY WAY

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.”

Your body is the temple of God

1 Corinthians 3:16    16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19    19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

You do not follow after the World, you abandon the things of this World

Deuteronomy 18:9    9  “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.

Sin is a stumbling blog for others – sends message that sin is OK.

1 Corinthians 8:9   9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

Associated with rebellion.  Rebellion is sin, Stubbornness is iniquity.  Satan rebelled against God.

1 Samuel 15:23     23  “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”


Many religions practice tattooing, carvings, cuttings and piercings for religious purposes / witchcraft

Tattoo Hindu GodHindu followers of Shiva or Vishnu (two manifestations of Brahma) could be recognised by the tattoo on their forehead, the former having three parallel lines and the latter a “V”

Hindus believed that a person dying without tattoos wouldn’t be recognised by his relatives in the world of the spirits.

Hindu devotees pierce their cheeks and other body parts with metal rods and needles to express their devotion toward Goddess Mariamman

Westerners are tattooing Hindu gods


Tattoo StigmataRoman Catholicism:  During the papacy of Boniface VIII-  1292,  A sanctuary was built called the Sanctuary of Loreto.  The tradition of tattooing in this area came from the stigmata of the saint to reproduce them symbolically.  The tattoos, were done on the forearms or on the hands.

Knights Templars took the marking of the “amorous” tattoo representing an oath sworn to God during the papacy of Sixtus V.  Sixtus V, came from Le Marche and belonged to the Order of Saint Francis.


tattoo cross

The Cross  is a very universal symbol used in many cultures and religions, including the Celtic cross, the Egyptian ankh cross, and many others.

tattoo crucifix


Crucifix is the cross representing Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.  But in reality it is the Eucharist Christ who’s mother is Mary the Goddess of Fertility.  tattoo sacredheart


Sacred Heart:  The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Roman Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learnt the devotion from Jesus in visions. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Christian mysticism.


tattooceltic-trinity-knotCeltic knots (aka mystic knot, endless knot) work really well as a tattoo design or part of a tattoo. The symbolic meaning of Celtic knots is not really clear, although some people attribute magical powers to the knots. The Celtic trinity knot is a very simple, but powerful symbol and very suitable for a tattoo. It is a triangle knot, the 3 corners have various meanings:

Celtic Trinity Knot Tattoo:

Christian: Father, Son and Holy Spirit   /  Pagan: Mother, Crone and Maiden    /   New age: Mind, body and spirit

tattoocrescentmoonIslam:  Koran forbids tattooing.  However Muslim pilgrims who go to Mecca or Medina will tattoo themselves. Muslims who indulged in this justify the practice by saying that before entering paradise they would be purified by fire, which would cancel their tattoos.

The crescent moon and star tattoo has a certain popularity as a tattoo design. It is the symbol of Islam and in a more political meaning also the symbol of the Middle East

Sudan, where Islam is widespread, black Muslims, would scar their cheeks with three lines, saying that Mohamed himself wore the same markings.


Arabic:  Another Arabic inspired tattoo design is the Hamsa tattoo. The Hamsa, aka Hand of Fatima or Eye of Fatima (Fatima is the daughter of Muhammad), is a symbol that protects against the evil eye.

Judaism:  The hamsa is also known in the Jewish culture, as Hand of Miriam. The hamsa is used on charms, painted on houses and… used as a tattoo design.


Egyptians loved to adorn themselves elaborately, and even restricted certain types of body piercings to the royal family. In fact, only pharaoh himself could have his navel pierced. Any one else who tried to get a belly button ring could be executed.

Fiji Islands:  the spirits of non-tattooed women were attacked by the souls of other women, cut to pieces and served as food to the gods

Eskimo women also treated their tattoos very seriously, believing them to be signs of divinity in the afterlife

Aztecs, Maya and some American Indians practised tongue piercing as part of their religious rituals. It was thought to bring them closer to their gods and was a type of ritual blood-letting.

Thailand:  A devotee of the Sapam Chinese Shrine in Phuket, will work himself into a trance prior to having his cheeks pierced multiple times with sharp steel rods, an assortment of weapons and other large implements during a religious Vegetarian Festival.

North American Indians had other types of religious tattoos as well. In a ceremony called the “ghost dance”, a tattoo was performed with ritual precision according to the indications received by the person to be tattooed, who falls into a state of trance during the dance and has a vision of a relative tattooed with the subject that he is to have on his skin.

tattoos sakyant-Buddism

Buddhism:  Sak Yant (aka yantra tattoos) is the art of sacred tattooing as done by Buddhist monks in Thailand and Cambodia. Sak Yant tattoo designs came from India together with Buddhism and were tailored by the Khmer. The scripts used for these tattoos are Pali and Khmer. The tattoos are meant for protection.



Om (aka ohm or aum) is the sacred syllable in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Every Hindu text begins with it and it is alsouttered before praying or doing puja (a ritual).

tattoo Mill Creek Church 2010333386Angel Tattoos:   The word angel comes from the Greek word aggelo, which means to pass along something new or to announce something. The word aggelos stands for the God Acolytes.  Angels are a link between heaven and earth. Angels belong to Judaist, Christian and Islamic traditions.

According to the Koran and the “Bible”, angels have the following tasks:   (DTW Note: see my notes below on what is true and what is not true.)

  • Bring messages to the people, warn them or bring the word of God.  (DTW note:  The Word of God is our messenger, the Bible brings the Word of God to us, nothing else with the guidance of the Holy Spirit)
  • Worship God.  (DTW note:  True, but they serve the one and only Living God who’s only begotten Son is Jesus Christ.  Today when someone says God, it could be any God, any Christ as there are many religions with a God and await their saviour.)
  • Angels serve and protect humans.  (DTW note:  Jesus Christ protects us.  Angels do not serve humans, they serve God only.  The only angel that will serve a human is a fallen angel for the sole purpose to deceive them and lead them astray – Satan appears as an Angel of light.)
  • They fight evil.  (DTW note: The Bible speak about the angels clearing the heavens before Jesus returns.  If they did fight we would not need Jesus Christ the Son of God as our Saviour and Jesus Christ is the one who delivers us from ALL evil.)
  • They carry out God’s orders (they do have a free will though, they can choose to obey or disobey, just like humans).  (DTW note: No, those angels who disobeyed were cast out with Satan in the beginning.  There are no angels that currently disobey.  On the other hand humans will be punished for disobedience and refusing to repent of sin and will go to hell WITH Satan – Hell was created for Satan and his followers.)
  • Angels guard heaven and hell. (DTW note: Guard heaven and hell?  No)
  • They keep track of all deeds done by every human being  (DTW note:  No, this sounds like something Choo Thomas would have written in her Heaven is So Real book.  Oh wait she did write this.)


And last but not least, let us not forget Todd Bentley from Freshfire Ministries who had no tattoos, then became a ‘Christian’ and then covered himself with tattoos.

Todd Bentley BEFORE he became a Christian
Todd Bentley BEFORE he became a Christian
Todd Bentley AFTER he became a Christian

Todd Bentley AFTER he became a ‘Christian”

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Deborah (Discerning the World)

Deborah Ellish is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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Elmarie A

The world is just getting worse everyday for a christian to live in. The word of God warns us about these things. Just the more reason for us christians to beware of these places they call “churches” and become very very discerning once agian. I firmly believe that satan is very busy in these type of “churches”. There are so many people being deceived and it just breaks my heart how sociey is changing and so so quickly. Thank you for being a watchmen once again Deborah


Thanks 4 this article Deborah! this is one of those things that makes me grab my hair and think: should I colour it or not? and which colour – deception has no colour …
The ‘amazing’ thing is this: most of us have friends with tattoos. most of us go to one or other christian fellowship/meeting. in all of these there is at least one person with tattoos (whether it’s stick on or grind on). very few of us will have the guts to ask the person if they know the meaning of their tattoo and then go into deeper conversation of how it came to that that they decided to get the tattoo and then deeper conversation to lead them to the truth in the word of God – the uniqueness of each individual – leading in the end to, in a sensitive way, make sure the individual do not have “false” salvation (which many people nowadays do have).

well, this is just my observance…

by the way, tattoos CAN BE removed! if you don’t have the money, I have people who can testify of praying ernestly and God in a miraculous way, whilst they were sleeping, ‘removed’ the tattoo… no side-effects!

the other alarming fact is that MANY who calls themselves christian are NOW getting tattoos imprinted in their flesh. and we don’t talk about it to them ….


Leviticus 19 v28: You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any TATOO marks on yourselves: I am the lord.

I believe that God is the only on who should leave his mark on you.


Gert van Kraayenburg

“We’ve said from the start that we are not advocating tattoos — nor discouraging them,” said pastor Larry Ehoff.

Well, well…..This is how Satan will deceive as many as do not want to obey the Almighty Creator and His Word, the Bible.
Tit 1:10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
Lev 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
And so shall they who do unjustice and lie and deceive many and reject the Word of God Father Almighty, and do not turn back and repent, be cast into the great lake of fire by the anger of our Mercifull Creator. Unto them who obay and be streadfast into His will and Word, will be blessed to receive eternal ife.
Personal choice of each and every individual without due force.
The churches of Satan now openly and by law approved (USA) so the New World Religion through this systems may bloom for the New World order. Steadfast children of God will be prosecuted and send to murder camps (Plenty in USA to be said as rehabilitation centres, what a lie) and some never to be seen again.
The time has come so this scripture may be fullfilled…..Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
The choice is yours and mine.
Please give Jesus Christ a chance in your live to give you eternal life.



This is something I have been wondering about for a while now.

I have a tattoo, what now? Am I eternally doomed?

Elmarie A


“What does the Bible say about tattoos / body piercings?”

Answer: The Old Testament law commanded the Israelites, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). So, even though believers today are not under the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15), the fact that there was a command against tattoos should raise some questions. The New Testament does not say anything about whether or not a believer should get a tattoo.

In relation to tattoos and body piercings, a good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use that particular activity for His own good purposes. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The New Testament does not command against tattoos or body piercings, but it also does not give us any reason to believe God would have us get tattoos or body piercings.

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. Romans 14:23 reminds us that anything that does not come from faith is sin. We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God. Although 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 does not directly apply to tattoos or body piercings, it does give us a principle: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies. If our bodies belong to God, we should make sure we have His clear “permission” before we “mark them up” with tattoos or body piercings.

And read also here:

Trends of our day- Body Piercing and Tattoos

This is a difficult subject to write on, and I have pondered this for a number of years. But I have found it to be necessary to write on it now because of what is taking place. I have noticed people having more and more tattoos. It has become very “in,” to have body Piercing and Tattoos. The popularity of Tattoo and body piercing has increased tremendously. A 2006 survey taken by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology an estimated 36% of Americans aged 18-29 now have tattoos. A Harris Interactive poll conducted in January 2008 concluded that 14% of all adults in the United States have a tattoo, with the highest incidence (25%) found among gays, lesbians and bisexuals. This article I would like to address both of these subjects, starting with body piercing.

I understand many may have done these things prior to becoming a believer so this is not meant to condemn anyone but to put things in perspective. Likewise, I realize that there are believers who went ahead and had their body pierced or put tattoos on their body. It’s not my intention to bring guilt for what they have already done. This article is being written to hopefully give answers to those who have been thinking about this and with the intent of giving those who have done so a better perspective on what I see as an important matter. It is not a subject so easily discussed.

As Christians we are not to be dictated by the culture and body piercing and tattooing is certainly a trend of the world; you could say it is the spirit of our age. It seems that each preceding generation pushes the envelope further in music, attire and this includes the trends of body piercing, or body painting. The youth, which normally refuses any of the previous generations traditions, have instead, accepted this one.

If you are not a Christian you can tune out, for none of this will matter to you. Since those outside God’s directives do not care what the Lord says about this subject, there are many other areas they need to yield to first. There is no prohibition in eastern or western culture to say this is wrong; one must go to the Bible. Please have patience and hear this out.

The cultural revolution has gone through many stages from dying ones hair to outrageous clothes (remember bell bottoms-yikes), to spiked hair, Goth dress and various other expressions of ones individuality. The newer trend is body piercing and tattoos. As Christians we are not to be influenced by the world or its culture. The Bible teaches us “not to be conformed to this world” (Rom.12) and in 1 Cor. 6:12 Paul writes of our new freedom “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Again he repeats this, saying in 1 Cor. 10:23: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”

However we need to read this in context- it says 1 Cor. 10:21-23: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” Paul is telling us that we are now free but we need to make right choices, ones that side with the Lord. Things that are not ordained by the Lord can be detrimental to your spiritual health and growth. With the influence of the world getting stronger, peer pressure on those under 20, it has become more difficult to do the right thing. Sometimes it can get very confusing between what is acceptable to man and to God and make a decision.

Many say body piercing is just like long hair was in the 60’s. Longhair was a sign of rebellion against the establishment. If this is an answer for the Christian, it fails. We are not to be rebelling against the establishment (Rom.14 –we are to obey government- unless they are specifically telling us not to obey God in a certain area). Second- hair grows naturally; it is not something foreign added to our body. We do not need to go to someone to grow our hair like we do to puncture our body.

This is now the acceptable way of rebellion or making a statement that you are not accepting the status quo. For a Christian we have the Old Testament principle- Deut. 14:1: “You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves … It was the priests of Baal that cut themselves for their God to react against Elijah. These were common practices in cultures that did not know God and served other gods. The practice of gashes on the face and arms and legs took place in time of bereavement, was universal among the pagans. It was used as respect for the dead; they would also mark themselves to some idol or god for service.

Many wore jewelry in the eastern culture and dressed themselves up as if they were going out on a night on the town- they clothed them-self with crimson, adorned them-self with ornaments of gold, enlarged their eyes with paint (Jer. 4:30).

“The earrings usually worn by Egyptian women were large, round, single hoops of gold, from 1 1/2 to 2 1/3 inches in diameter, and frequently of a still greater size or made of six rings soldered together. Sometimes a snake, whose body was of gold set with precious stones, was worn by persons of rank as a fashionable caprice, but it is probable” (from New Unger’s Bible Dictionary).

Hebrew women, the men among the ancient Ishmaelites wore earrings (Judg. 8:24-25) (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

Gen 35:4 Jacob was given the idols (foreign gods) and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.”

In Exod. 32:2 The Israelites used the golden earrings “of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, in building the golden calf. In Exod. 35:22 When they were going to build the tabernacle they donated earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD.”

These objects when melted were used for both the Lord and for idolatry.

Hosea 2:13 The Lord said he will punish the people for going after other gods: “She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; but Me she forgot,” says the LORD.

Isa. 3:17-20 mentions the judgment of the Lord on the people that used “the jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents; The pendants, the bracelets, and the veils; The headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands; the perfume boxes, the charms.”

They used these as amulets and charms and wore them for protection as well as ornaments.

It was acceptable in Israel for people to put an earring in their ear as they worked as slaves to a certain household. Exodus 21:5-6: “But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ “then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”

They did not put the earring wherever they pleased and certainly did not put it in their private parts.

Today wearing jewelry is acceptable attire in our society, yet the Bible has a caution for the women:

1 Tim. 2:9-10: “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

We have an issue with modesty. To dress modestly means that the body should be adequately covered by clothing. We are not to draw attention to our self. Tattoos and body piercing draw attention to ones self, there may be many reasons but it’s usually about standing out.

Some of these practices today are extreme among those who are rebelling against tradition. There are those who shave their teeth to look like vampires. Some get Teflon implants in their head looking like horns. Others have multiple piercing on their face and body.

The Hebrew people were prohibited from any laceration or marking of the body. Cuttings in the skin was associated with pagan cults that tattooed their followers while they mourned the dead. Lev 19:28 “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” Israel was to be different than the nations around them and so is the Church. While we are not specifically under these laws, since Israel was a theocracy (no nation today is a theocracy today) they are principles still there by the examples found in the Old Testament.

Any voluntary disfigurement of the person was in itself forbidden to be done upon God’s workmanship, the body. Because we were made by God to be the Temple of God, we were made in the image of God and should not deface it (Gen.1:26-27). For the simple reason we are to give our body as a proper reverence for God’s creation (Lev. 19:26-28).

Some may say, “God said to be circumcised, that’s cutting the flesh.” True, but this is only on males and it is not a cutting anywhere one chooses on their body. And this small operation was instructed by the Lord on the eight day, not any day we choose. It was significant for Israel, as it was a token of the Abrahamic covenant, and was mandatory for those who joined Israel to worship the one true God. It symbolized the new heart that God gives to those who follow Him. (Gen.17:10; 34:15; Ex.4:26; Acts 7:8; Col.2:11; Rom.4:10-11). While it was part of the covenant God made with Israel (only), Paul actually stands against this ordained practice given in Judaism in Gal. 5:2-6. Saying it profits nothing if you are in the New Covenant.

There is a principle that is to rule our individual conscience, even if it is not explicitly mentioned in the Scripture. We need to ask “does it glorify God, or does it glorify man?” Also in reference to this question- what is the reason we are doing this. The world (society and culture) operates by fads, and we should not be copying the world. These are current trends of fashion that the Christian is Not to be influenced by. People worshipped their gods by these things. When a Christian gets their body pierced or have a “Christian tattoo”, it is obvious their intention is not about worshipping OTHER gods by, but in the same sense can we say we are honoring God with them?

The first mark put on man was by God and was for his protection. Gen.4:15: “And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.”

The original words literally rendered, are, ‘the Lord gave a sign, a token or pledge, to Cain, that no one who found him should kill him;’ i.e., God assured him of his personal safety by some external sign or evidence granting him continuance of life for his punishment of murder. (Ex.12:13, 23; Joshua 2:12) the sign was recognized later (Gen. 4:24).

Some of the interpretations of this mark have been an imprint upon his forehead to be seen by all, containing Abel’s crime; the sign of the cross; leprosy, a general paralysis of his frame, or a sickness, a horn on his head to fight off an attacker. More realistically it could have been a letter of his name on him, or his name or possibly a hat of some sort. The mark which God put upon Cain is not to be regarded as a cutting upon his body, but a certain sign which protected him from vengeance.

Also in Ezekiel, a visible mark (sign) was put on people to protect them, to preserve them because they were righteous and the unrighteous were to be slain (Ezek. 9:4) and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

This was a temporary identification for the righteous to be distinguished from the unrighteous. It was not to be repeated nor does it condone religious marks on our bodies.


The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian “tatu” which means “to mark something.”

Body painting was to express social status and religious values, it was often used to indicate one’s social role at a given time.

“Tattooing was practiced by the Egyptians as early as 2000 BC. Color tattooing became highly developed among the Maoris of New Zealand and was once popular as a form of adornment in China, India, and Japan. Sailors introduced the practice into Europe during the Age of Exploration (16th century and 17th century Tattooing, (Encarta Encyclopedia)

Captain Cook made the discovery to the then unknown Islands of the South Seas. On April 11, 1769, Tahiti was sighted and he and his crew went ashore a few days later. Joseph Banks first recorded the name and customs of the people that had the marks, and it put his observations in journals.

“The Maoris of New Zealand tattooed elaborate designs on their faces to disguise expressions of fear. Early Japanese wore tattoos to designate their rank in society. Tattoos were used in the 19th century to brand criminals and in the 20th century to label inmates of Nazi concentration camps” (Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe).

Today, here in Hawaii Tattoos are very popular and people can have a stylish ring design around their ankle or wrist to having a good portion of their body painted.

The world has different tattoo designs that come from a various cultures in the world (China, Japan, Maori, India, etc.). The majority of the drawings have religious significance, many tattoos have the name of the god the people serve like they did in ancient days. Like protective amulets, tattoos were thought to have magical powers to repel evil spirits and protect the wearer from disease. Many are artistic in their expression of Tattoos. Figures of death, dragons and mythological creatures, to even crucifixes are popular. Snakes and Occult like symbols are very popular designs. Angelic creatures to hideous beings are beautifully drawn on various parts of the body, even with characters of the Bible. But is this all indicative of something deeper?

David Kuplian, vice-president of, says that “… throughout history certain societal behaviors contribute to its spiral downward and make a people ripe for rebellion against God.” Describing today’s “celebratory” piercing and tattooing of the body as one of the cultural indicators bearing “a striking resemblance to the ageless spirit of defiant paganism,” Kuplian laments, “ … it’s as though the rebellious spirit of reprobate, pagan civilizations of the past was tapped into by today’s pop culture” (“The Marketing of Evil,” Whistleblower, December 2003).

Although Kuplians’s report is based on the current condition of our culture, Christians should also take notice … especially since we see evidence of similar popular youth expressions growing in the Church”

–reported in Be Alert Newsletter).

Tattoos can be found in ancient civilizations, the Egyptians had performed the art of tattooing. The Israelites were freed from this nation that held them captive for 430 years. After they were released the Israelites were not to follow or adopt the customs or ways of the pagans. Because they did not obey these warnings given for their own protection they were continually ensnared by their enemies, and “… went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the Lord had commanded them not to do like them.” (2 Kings 17:15 NAS)…

During their wilderness trek the Israelites were told “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:28). Hebrew- kethobeth- an impression, an inscription, a mark; in the flesh.”

There are those in the church who encourage tattoos and interpret that this prohibition was to heathen, pagan images only. They look to history to validate their practice in by finding some men that had Christian symbols on them; it’s then used as justification for Judeo-Christian body art today. But notice it states any cuttings, tattoos or marks not just certain ones. Since a tattoo is a cutting it would be part of this prohibition.

Consider what the Bible warns of in the last days, and though it may not be fully here yet, it is coming…

“Also he [False Prophet] compels all [alike] both small and great, both the rich and the poor, both free and slave, to be marked with an inscription (stamped) on their right hands or on their foreheads. So that no one will have the power to buy or sell unless he bears the stamp (mark, inscription) [that is] the name of the beast or the number of his name.” [Revelation 13:16-17, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary].

Consider this report -RFID ink product could track humans by Antony Savvas Thursday 11 January 2007

“A US company has launched a chip-less RFID (radio frequency identification) ink that can be used to track both animals and people.

Visible or invisible ink “tatoos” can be applied to the skin and tracked by RFID readers positioned a few feet away. The company, Somark..

…, said it had successfully tested its Biocompatible Chipless RFID Ink product on cattle and laboratory rats and proved the “efficacy of injecting and reading a ‘tattoo’ within the skin of animals”.

Ramos Mays, Somark chief scientist, said, “This proves the ability to create a synthetic biometric or fake fingerprint with Biocompatible Chipless RFID Ink and read it through hair.”

Also- “A method is presented for facilitating sales transactions by electronic media. A bar code or design is tattooed on an individual. Before the sales transaction can be consummated, the tattoo is scanned with a scanner. Characteristics about the scanned tattoo are compared to characteristics about other tattoos stored on a computer database in order to verify the identity of the buyer. Once verified, the seller may be authorized to debit the buyer’s electronic bank account in order to consummate the transaction. The seller’s electronic bank account may be similarly updated.”

Any Christian who knows their Scripture will immediately sit up and take notice at this patent, for it refers to one of the most important Biblical prophecies. The Bible states that this mark is going to be placed “on” (the Greek word is epi) the skin but will be visible or usable on the outside. It will tie into the world’s global commerce. Now I’m not saying that these tattoos are the mark. What I’m saying is this- there is an intentional desensitizing going on today that is preparing a generation to think nothing of it when it is introduced. If you have drawings all over you, one more will not make a difference. In fact it may be welcomed because of its abilities. This mark will become a signature for who you serve and believe in (the Beast, it will have His name and number). If the tattoo is stylish people will be willing to show that they are global citizens of the new era, it will be considered patriotic. So I believe there is more to all this than what meets the eye.

The Bible warns by an angel in Rev. 14:9-10 with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the

As God’s people we are to learn from the lessons of Israel. (Leviticus 19:28). God repeatedly warned His people Deut. 18:9-14: “ you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.”

Deut 20:18: “lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.”

Their cuttings and tattoos were usually linked to the gods they worshipped. Today religious drawings are popular.

While the New Testament does directly address some prohibitions that were originally under the law (such as food and drink Rom.14) it does not address every pagan practice directly. In the New Covenant one can have the freedom to even eat meat sacrificed to an idol if necessary for their food, but we are to be sensitive to the brethren and not flaunt our freedom to stumble them. The real question on this matter is motive. Why does one want to be body pierced or get a tattoo? Is it for them to be accepted by others, even if it is to be a witness- what exactly is ones motivation and purpose? One must take this to the Lord by going to His word and be totally convinced in their own conscience what they are about to do. Because one often cannot reverse this once it is done.

Some things to consider:

Jesus said- “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?’

(Matt 6:25). If we are not to be overly concerned about our body does it not make sense that tattooing would be included?

1 Cor 3:16-17: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

Defile often means to ruin by being immoral or by other influences. The question one needs to ask is would Jesus get a tattoo, would the apostles? Tattoos are not a new concept; they were there in Jesus’ day.

Here is why it is not promoted- man was made in the image of God. Now that we are believers we are dedicated to the Lord “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, 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 God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Your body is not yours but is to be Holy (set apart) unto the Lord’s service. God did not allow men to put any object in the tabernacle or temple nor paint images like graffiti in the Temple.

The Scriptural principle on issues that the Bible does not directly address is whether it pleases God or man. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). If our bodies are not ours but God’s, then He is the one we should get “permission” from, not our friends. It ends up, as people get older many wish they did not get a tattoo. It is no longer significant to them. Again for those who already have a tattoo prior to becoming a believer or even after this is not meant to put a guilt trip on them. God looks at the heart, not what you wear live in, not your hair style and not your tattoos. He is more concerned about our motivation for doing this.

“And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

(Rom 8:10) one of the principles in the New Testament is to die to self, especially the body where sin dwells.

Rom 6:13: “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” One has to decide if tattoos come under this topic.

“Will this affect our eternal life?’ As I previously made note, we cannot ignore its leading to an openness to accept of the mark of the Beast (whatever form that may be). It is like anything else that desensitizes someone from God’s word to follow the ways of the world. Again, there is no explicit or implicit command against tattooing in the New Testament but there still is the principle Then whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Let each of us be fully convinced in what we do.

Jesus said they will know us by our love for one another; our testimony is not by a cross around our neck, a Christian T-shirt, a bumper sticker on the car, and not by a tattoo.

Burning Lamp

Okay – I have a friend, a young woman who has come to Christ but before that she was into tattoos and has some that are very visible. One is very ugly and sinister. What is she to do? Tattoos are permanent aren’t they? How should a believer handle this “scar” from life past? One can’t wear a sign saying “I regret doing this!” These are in places where one would have to be covered from head to toe to conceal.

Elmarie A

Burning Lamp

I eco Debs words here. If it really is sinister and very visible she should have it removed by laser treatment. I do realize that it could expensive to do.

On the other hand I personally think that if a true believer has a tattoo from the past life, it should not bother them at all and only the Lord knows our hearts.

this little piece from my above post from let us reason site

Again for those who already have a tattoo prior to becoming a believer or even after this is not meant to put a guilt trip on them. God looks at the heart, not what you wear live in, not your hair style and not your tattoos. He is more concerned about our motivation for doing this.

“And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

(Rom 8:10) one of the principles in the New Testament is to die to self, especially the body where sin dwells.

Rom 6:13: “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” One has to decide if tattoos come under this topic.

“Will this affect our eternal life?’ As I previously made note, we cannot ignore its leading to an openness to accept of the mark of the Beast (whatever form that may be). It is like anything else that desensitizes someone from God’s word to follow the ways of the world. Again, there is no explicit or implicit command against tattooing in the New Testament but there still is the principle Then whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Let each of us be fully convinced in what we do.

Jesus said they will know us by our love for one another; our testimony is not by a cross around our neck, a Christian T-shirt, a bumper sticker on the car, and not by a tattoo.

Grant C

Burning Lamp

I believe that her conscience (by the Holy Spirit, of course) will make it very clear to her, as to her decision of what to about the tattoos. If she was bold enough to have them done, she could be equally as bold to have them removed, and finance that procedure (which apparently is quite expensive). But in reality she has been forgiven for past sins, the tattoo in itself is not the sin, but the thoughts and possibly rebellious intent behind the tattoos, at the time. Fellow Christians should not be judging her, least of all by her body or outward appearances.

If one, in a past sinful life had, by way of adultery, taken another’s wife and married her, would it now be correct to divorce her to appease the questioning glances of other Christians? Would it be correct to remember the sinful union every time one saw his new wife, or vice versa? Or, if in a past sinful life, one had an illegitimate child, would it now fix the matter by denouncing or disinheriting the child to make amends for the sinful deed. What if one had, by forceful means, stolen an entire country and it’s culture? Could one restore that to it’s original state? No! But these are highly visible examples as well.

I personally have no tattoos, but if I had, they wouldn’t bother me too much as a saved Christian. Rather they could act as encouragement to first seek the Truth in all matters before making future decisions and also as a reminder of the perfect love and forgiveness offered by Jesus. I have also heard the argument that they can be a way of connecting with unbelievers, who tend to see Christians as the extreme end of conservatism. But not by having tattoos done to achieve this end, obviously, and not by way of deliberately showing them off!!

Your friend has been forgiven if she is in Christ and she should easily therefore forgive herself, as should other Christians. She should not fear the opinion of people, because that is all it is. They’re usually wrong anyway:)

Burning Lamp

Thx Deb, ElMarie and Grant,

This is a young woman who has limited income right now so removing them is not an option. Her Christian friends love her for the lovely young lady she is, her heart for the Lord and her desire to please Him. She is concerned about the appearance and the testimony to those who are not saved, that it might look like an endorsement of the depictions. Thank God she is free from what caused her to do this and perhaps God will open the door for her to give testimony of her life and she can address what a mistake this it is.

It is indeed sad to see so-called Christians endorsing tattoos.

Burning Lamp

Thx 4 the good words Deborah. Some older women have taken her under their wings and accepting her and teaching her the Word. We all make mistakes both in B.C. and A.C., but as you say some consequences are more evident than otners. We will continue to pray for her, that the Lord will give her opportunity to give testimony of her faith and that this is a regrettable “leftover” from the past. She has come so far and is growing in the Lord.

Grant C

Burning Lamp / Deborah

This article elaborates very eloquently on that which I tried to say. I had read this a year or so ago, but couldn’t remember where it was. If you would, please read the three life stories toward the latter half of the article, especially the one about Angela, which relates very strongly to your friend.

I find this article simply brilliant on the issue. Please give me feedback on your thoughts.

I would like to point out (although this might not be the appropriate time to include the following details as a part of your current work with your friend) the Leviticus 19:27,28 issue when taking 1 Corinthians 11:13-16 into account. The problem Christians seem to have in applying Lev 19:27 along with Lev 19:28, is mentioned in the article I have attached. 1 Corinthians 11:13-16 gives us a New Testament perspective on similar matters. I feel that a better understanding of both the Leviticus and the Corinthians address is gained when the particular communities at the time, to whom the Scriptures are directed, is taken into account.

As I mentioned previously, I have no tattoo, therefore I am not guilty of contravening the law in Leviticus 19:28. I am, however, in continuous and gross contravention of Leviticus 19:27. For many years I was in contravention of 1 Corinthians 11:14, aswell, but am not currently.
And so on. These facts, however, are of no relevance to the essential doctrine of my salvific position, and I believe of limited relevance at best, to the non-essential.

Deborah, I would also sincerely appreciate your thoughts on this.

Heavenly Tattoos?
Should a Christian Get a Tattoo?

by Londa Stefanovsky

Please Note: Each coloured link within the article will lead you to a related topic on a different page of this site. However, while the text is part of the original article, the links are not. The author of this article may or may not agree with the views expressed on those pages, or anything else on this site..

Many people arrive at this page by doing a search on Christian Tattoos, presumably looking for tattoo designs with a Christian bent. While you may not be concerned with whether or not a Christian should get a tattoo (the subject of this page)… This is a very large Christian site, designed to challenge and inform. There may be more for you here than drawings on your arm.. Site Directory. Also See Todd Bentley’s Circus Side Show from Hell.

Also See Section Legalism Vs. Grace

To some, it’s a form of intricate artwork. Others may look at them as wild acts of rebellion. Many may consider them to be a tool in witnessing for Christ. In any case, these pictures or images are indefinitely worth thousands of words.

Some would attest that a tattoo is the ultimate expression of an individual’s personality. Every image carved into the blank canvas of a person’s skin stands for or symbolizes something. Each story told by someone’s tattoo is unique to the next. From dragons to butterflies…from crosses to chains…from snakes to spiritual things…tattoos of all shapes and sizes are seen on people everywhere we look. Have you noticed it lately?

Getting a tattoo has not become “the thing to do” or “the latest trend” overnight. At first, this was seemingly thought to be the case. The influence and prominence of tattoos has gradually climbed over a period of the past 30 years, according to two area owners/managers of tattoo studios in the northeast part of Ohio. Is it possible that we have noticed more tattoos on people from every different stage of life imaginable because we have somehow become more observant over the years? Maybe. In speaking about this, the notion of tattooing our bodies is not something that only Non-Christians are doing. Christians have also jumped on this bandwagon of tattooing various symbols of faith on their bodies as well.

Whether your beliefs are liberal or conservative, or regardless of if you would see a tattoo as wild or stylish; degrading or intriguing; rebellious or cool; one cannot deny the influence that it exhibits among many people of our world today.

However, in thinking about Christians tattooing their bodies, in some ways this almost sounds like an oxymoron. Think about it. Being a Christian and having a tattoo don’t usually go hand in hand with each other. Yet, as we look around, we see the tattoos of “religious” on many individuals today. These symbols could include doves, crosses, angels fighting demons in battle scenes, Biblical references, portraits of Jesus, crucifixion scenes, panoramic views of many stories of the Bible, among many other images.

Connection Magazine spoke with two area tattoo studios to compare statistics on a small scale. At the first studio on the East side of Cleveland, the owner had told Connection Magazine that approximately 26% of the tattoos that are done each month are of the “religious” type of nature. The owner had commented, “At least one time a day we are doing a religious or a Christian tattoo for our customers.”

At the second studio on the South western side of Cleveland, the owner had commented that approximately 10% of their tattoos are of the religious type.

Customers are not usually asked questions as to why a religious tattoo or a Christian tattoo is desired. Sometimes, having a tattoo of that nature is used as a witness. Most times, according to the 2 owners interviewed, “it is a personal thing with each customer.”

“If getting a tattoo is that big of a thing for you and your faith, I don’t question it”, one owner commented. Connection Magazine also was made aware that there is a Christian Tattoo Association in operation out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Statement of Purpose for the Christian Tattoo Association is as follows:

“To spread the gospel to tattoo artists and enthusiasts through the printed page, personal witness, workshops, and small group meetings at local events and national conventions” and “To promote health and safety issues in the field of tattooing and encourage moral and professional standards in the tattoo industry.”

The Statement of Faith for the Christian Tattoo Association is centered on two Scriptures…John 3:16-“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The other Scripture in the Statement of Faith is Romans 10:9-10-“That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The purpose of this article is not to place judgment on any individuals who have such markings on their body. After all, who am I to judge you? However, it is hoped that each person who takes the time to read this would think about the issue individually within their hearts and be able to back up what they believe about tattoos and why.

With this issue comes the proverbial question of the hour…is it right for a Christian to have a tattoo? That answer remains unseen at this point. Some would say “Absolutely!” while others would say “Not in the least!” Let’s go the Word of God, the Bible.

There are many Scriptures that come to mind especially in regards to tattoos. They are as follows. The first is Leviticus 19:28. It states, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” It’s kind of difficult to argue with a Scripture like that when it states it in black and white terms like that.

However, some would argue that because this Scripture is in the Old Testament, it would be considered “under the Law of the Old Covenant.” Pastor Richard A. McCloud, of Heart Afire Fellowship in Shaker Heights, urges us to “be careful and not to look at the Old Testament too strictly. Sometimes, we might miss what God is trying to say. The Old Testament is written a bit differently than the New Testament. There is a lot of symbolism that we cannot overlook.”

Look to the New Testament…In Matthew 5:17, we see that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, “but to fulfill them.” The power of Jesus living within us allows us not to be bound in a rut of legalism and self-righteousness by the rituals of the law, but to have the grace and the freedom to live above the law. Look at Galatians 2:15-16, 21. Verses 15-16 state,

“We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

Now, jump down to verse 21:

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

There are those that state that having a tattoo of Christ carved on their body would be somehow seemingly justified by Galatians 6:17 which states, “Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” With this we need to be careful of how we approach that. We must remember that no tattoo, regardless of what image it is, could ever attempt to compare and resemble with the marks that Jesus bore for us on the cross of Calvary.

With any Scripture that we look at together, we must be careful of “correctly handling the word of truth” as 2 Timothy 2:15 admonishes us to do so. Otherwise, we are guilty of taking things out of their original, intended context, which could sometimes give those Scriptures a meaning to justify our own closed-minded beliefs. In Titus 3:9, we are also warned about this, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because they are unprofitable and useless.” Reverend Larry Albanese of First Assembly of God Church in Warren also added, “This should not become an issue that divides members of the body of Christ. It’s not a doctrinal issue-it’s an individual heart issue.”

Here is another Scripture to think about in regards to getting a tattoo…I Corinthians 10:23. It states as follows: “Everything is permissible-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible-but not everything is constructive.” This verse can possibly serve as an encompassing umbrella in which many things, habits, or practices, including tattoos, can fall under when referencing them with regards to our walk with the Lord. Those things that are permissible to some may not be to others. These permissible matters are sometimes more gray than black and white. And, with these matters, there is always some sort of risk involved.

For example, with tattoos, one must be made aware that there are certain medical conditions associated with them. Recently, the European commission has been attempting to make people aware of the risks of tattooing. Health standards in regards to methods of sterilization, disinfecting, cleanliness, and waste removal must be abided by. The European commission stated in the online issue of Guardian Unlimited, “When health standards are disregarded-and it said they often were-people anxious to decorate and personalize their body with dye or metal [referring to body piercings] had paid dearly for bad practices.” The European commission had also added, “These practices can bring about viral infections such as hepatitis, HIV, bacterial and fungal infections, allergic reactions such as skin irritation, and malignant lesions such as melanoma, leprosy, and other devastating diseases.” In addition, other problems associated with body art include toxic shock syndrome, tetanus, venereal ulcers, tuberculosis, and a host of other skin diseases.

“Everything is permissible-but not everything is beneficial.”

In regards to the whole nature of this issue, we also cannot overlook what I Corinthians 6:19-20 states,

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received form God? You are not your own; and you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

There are those that would attest that getting a tattoo on one’s body is a “worldly act.” In 2 Corinthians 6:17, we are warned, “Therefore come out from them and be separate.” We have also heard the phrase “in the world, but not of it” reiterated many times before. In this context, this could be taken by some as meaning that either a) we are not to have anything with the world or b) while we are living in this world, our lives are supposed to be radically different than those who don’t know Christ around us. Which is right? (Did you pick “b” as your answer? Hope so!) [Also See The Christian and Worldliness]

As one pastor commented, “We are to be separate. We are to be different. We don’t live according to the worlds’ standards and cultures. As Christians, we are not to embrace the things that the world embraces (such as tattoos!). The message that we proclaim must not be compromised.”

Getting back to the Scriptures, one cannot deny that we, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, have freedom in Christ. We are not bound or justified by self-righteousness in our efforts of keeping the law. Let’s look at Romans 8:1-2:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Pastor Rick George of Riverside Christian Assembly in Akron commented, “God has given us His grace. What is that grace? It’s the true power of God instilled within us so that we may have the power to walk free in Christ. That power gives us the ability to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” “However,” he added, “we must remember to keep in mind that the freedom that we have in Christ does not give us the liberty to freely sin more simply because grace abounds.” [See Section Legalism Vs. Grace]

We also see in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Be sure to check out Galatians 5:1 as well. It states, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” However, with the freedom that Christ has given us, we must be careful not to use our freedom in such a way that others would stumble in their walk with Christ as a result of it. We are warned of this principle in I Corinthians 8:9 which reads,

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

For three individuals that have used that freedom for the greater glory of God, the testimonies that are expressed and told by the tattoos on their bodies speak of Christ’s love operating in them, thus being a means of pushing them and others to a deeper relationship with God. Here are their stories.

Having grown up in a Christian home, Angela Hurt (formerly of Fairlawn, Ohio) had been taught about God’s grace. However the denomination that she and her family were a part of was very “law driven.” People were more apt to judge others for their actions rather than to love and forgive them as Christ did for his church. Those that weren’t “perfect” were automatically classified as sinners that she would not associate with.

“I truly believed that anyone who smoked or drank or was promiscuous or had tattoos…anything that was not a ‘symbol’ of righteousness, I assumed that they were sinners. And, instead of thinking, ‘they need God or they need me to show them God’s love, I immediately would judge them and want NO part of a relationship with them,” she commented.

Angela was called by God to move to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment (motion picture) industry. It was in L.A. that God had showed her the areas of her life that needed improvement. She obtained a job in a restaurant were she was the only righteous person who had any church background at all. It was at that time she had to make a choice.

“I could judge all of them for their sins and not reach them, or I could show them God’s love and teach them His ways,” she stated, “God gave me the opportunity to talk to them about Him and to show them a side of Christianity that they had never seen… It’s the side that says ‘Come as you are to God and let Him do the rest.'”

During this time in her life, God was revealing to Angela things about her own spiritual growth…in making it very clear that she could no longer be the person that she had been before. Through the friendship with a young woman named Tamora, who had many tattoos, God had showed Angela a deeper truth.

“Had I come into the friendship closed minded and judgmental of all of Tamora’s tattoos, I would have never gotten to know her and discover that she had a great heart for the things of God,” she explained.

After a couple of months, in developing her friendship with Tamora, and seeing what God had longed to show her, Angela soon found herself sitting in a chair at a tattoo parlor getting a little flower carved into her middle toe. The tattoo was at a place that would not be hidden…it was a place where it would be seen by everyone simply because more often than not, Angela is one that would be wearing sandals most of the time.

“I got a tattoo, and here is what is amazing,” she commented, “When I left that parlor, something had changed-Not only was I marked on the outside, but now in my heart, I knew that I could never again judge someone for the way they looked on the outside. It is what’s in their heart that matters. I had a tattoo, and I still loved the Lord with my whole heart and loved His people” she exclaimed.

Lastly, Angela also stated that, “people might dress inappropriately, and some might behave in ways that are not righteous…but what if that is their cry for help?”

The tattooed flower on her toe reminds her that “God’s people aren’t only those who wear suits and ties, or those who have buns in their hair or wear pantyhose, or those that are always modest and behave ‘perfectly’…Sometimes, God’s people live outside that box that the Church has created, and sometimes God’s people live in the world.” Angela also stated that, “it’s our job to find them, reach out, and bring them home.”

The testimony behind the tattoos of Steve Richardson, of Cleveland, is a bit different, but the story told is still just as equally powerful.

For about 12 years, Steve ran with the crowds of various outlaw motorcycle clubs. It was during this time in his life (in his late teens and twenties), that Steve had gotten the vast majority of his 37 tattoos located on his arms, shoulders, and chest. The tattoos obtained during that time were those that truly reflected evil, darkness, violence, and death. The graphic images included dragons fighting with snakes on skull heads, demonic images or animals blowing fire, and many others. “You could just imagine the lifestyle that I am referring to when I talk about being with that kind of crowd!” he stated.

Steve explained that when a person is living outside in the world, those images are desired because those people don’t know of the joy that comes with knowing Christ. However, after one accepts Christ into their heart, those images are not desired or needed anymore because of the change that Christ’s love brings.

After Steve accepted Christ, the images tattooed on his body then were those that express the true joy that he’s experienced in his walk and relationship with Jesus. Now his new tattoos are of flowers, birds, and his children’s names. “A person’s tattoo is a story. It tells about a man’s whole life. It reflects an individual’s personality at certain points in their life. My tattoos serve as a reminder of what my life was like then versus what my life is like now,” he commented.

Steve has seen how God has used both his testimony of his tattoos and Scripture to win others for Christ. “Romans 8:28 definitely applies to my life-“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” What was once bad, God has turned around for good.

“Because of where I’ve been, and with the life that I lived before I knew Christ, I am able to relate to bikers’ lifestyles. This allows me an advantage in witnessing. I can walk up to them unafraid and unashamed to share Christ with them. I can go up to them and express how I’ve been in the streets just like they have. I know where they are coming from, where they are, and where they are going,” he added.

Over the years, Steve has dealt with judgment for his tattoos from both Christians and non-Christians in the business world and even at his own church. It has not always been easy.

“When you look at the expression of a person’s face when they see my tattoos, it tells a thousand words. You can tell that they are very intimidated, and now, most times I just ignore it. They don’t get to know me for who I really am!” he expressed.

Steve has not gotten a tattoo in the past 6 or 7 years. The reason why he has stopped was due to the conviction that the Holy Spirit had brought upon him.

“I felt the Lord leading me to stop getting tattoos because I felt that I was not being a steward of the body that the Lord gave me. After that, I knew that it was enough and that I didn’t need to get anymore tattoos from that point on,” he stated.

When asked if Steve had any regrets about getting the tattoos, he expressed that he did not have any regrets, although with one of his tattoos (of a heart, peace sign, and a marijuana leaf), he has made attempts to cover that one up simply because he would not want his children to see it on his body, question it, and embrace it in their own life.

There were two bits of advice that Steve had wanted to share in regards to the issue of tattoos: 1) “Know that a tattoo will be with you for the rest of your life. Know what you are getting tattooed on your body. 2) You better make sure that your life is living up to the testimony of the tattoo that is carved on your body.”

Having been delivered from drug use about 20 years ago, by Jesus Christ, Tony Sambenedetto of Parma Heights was influenced by his unspeakable zeal and passion for the Lord, to get his one and only tattoo. It is that of a cross with two swords on his forearm. The banners on his tattoo say “Jesus Lives.”

“I wanted to make a bold stand to say that Jesus is my Savior,” he commented.

God has used Tony with has tattoo to make a stand for Christ. It has given Tony the chance to witness to other people. However, while his tattoo does get the attention of some, it is ultimately through his own life that Tony would like to make that stand.

“My life is a witness,” he stated. “They should see Christ’s love through me. It’s not about religion. It’s about my relationship with Christ.”

Tony explained that God may use anything to get his people-including those with tattoos.

“It’s kind of neat…people see me and sometimes they think, ‘That is someone who is real. If God can save him, maybe He can save me too.'”

Some people have judged Tony for his tattoo. During his younger days, sometimes it did hurt his feelings. Now, it doesn’t seem to bother him too much anymore.

“God had really worked on my heart to show me I do not need to be intimidated by men. As I have become older, I have definitely become wiser in that regard too. After all, Jesus is my judge…and now whether or not I’ll be judged by him for having a tattoo-I don’t know at this point.”

Despite the windows of opportunity for witnessing, Tony had expressed some regret with having his tattoo on his body. After getting saved, he began to read in the Bible in Leviticus 19 (28) and seeing how the Bible advises us not to do have tattoos. Note: However Leviticus 19:27 also says not to “not clip your hair at the temples, nor trim the edges of your beard”. . One simply cannot follow the instructions in one verse and completely ignore the preceding one.

“I don’t nor will I ever regret the message that it says. But do I regret getting it in the first place? Yes. I would not find myself ever getting another one,” he stated, “In fact, when I wrestled with getting another tattoo, I felt God was saying no, but my flesh was saying yes. The day I was going to go and get it done, my car broke down-I guess that was God’s way of telling me that He didn’t want me to do it-And, you know what? I am totally ok with that.”

To anyone thinking of getting a tattoo, Tony urges one to really pray and search his or her own heart before God. He went on to explain how most people always want to hear what God has for them and what God wants to speak to them, however, the moment that God says no to something they want or the moment God asks people to do something that would ruffle their feathers, many don’t want to hear it. We are all guilty of this.

“You need to ask God-‘Is this really what you want me to do?’ And, if you are in a struggle with your flesh wanting it, but the Spirit of God telling you no, can you stop yourself from going through with the act of disobedience to God?

“Don’t ever get a tattoo because of peer pressure. Peer pressure is what made me a drug addict. Don’t get a tattoo as a fake “tough-guy” front or mask either. Make sure, really seek God… a tattoo is with you forever.”

One thing that was reiterated to Connection Magazine time and time again regarding the issue of tattoos, and whether or not it is right for a Christian to have them, was that the issue is a matter of the individual’s heart.

What is the Holy Spirit telling you in your heart? What is God speaking to you on this subject? Of course with the Scriptures touched on throughout this article, there are some things expressed in the Word of God that we are not to compromise or take lightly. We need to be careful of not taking the Word out of its rightful context. We must be careful of not judging those around us. Your life in Christ is the biggest testimony and the greatest witness that can ever be told and shown to those around you. Does the love of God shine through you and through the way you life your life? Or, are you quick to be talking the talk about living for God, but not measuring up with the walk of your life? The seriousness of God’s calling on our lives is something that we need to recognize and take to heart. One song says it best, “The heart of the matter-is the matter of the heart.” God is more concerned with your heart, and the depth of your personal relationship with Him. With that in mind, today may you be challenged and encouraged by one more verse which is as follows: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

Grant C


I’m the one now with a sleeping tab fourty five minutes old and working. But rather than this keep me till tomorrow night, I rather quickly respond. Just a quick one, partially legible being better than none at all.

The point you make about Angela is fully correct, she certainly did not need the tattoo for conviction and hopefully has grown to realise that it was a further mistake. We don’t know this. But I do think that the whole article points to the correct attitude one should adopt toward these stragglers in society. By blasting the tattoos in their lives, when issues of salvation are what they need urging toward, is an upside down approach. Because a tattoo is a visible picture, and for a variety of reasons in the world has erroneously become quite an event, it is so easy to use as a handle on someone, when it is external only. We should be focussing most clearly and with great urgency on the unseen in all Angelas. In Angela’s case there is the added matter of that which should have been inside not working correctly, or not being present at the time:)?:) Maybe out for lunch, you see.

I think the article points more to the true believers attitudes toward people with tattoos, rather than the practitioners own attitudes toward themselves.

God is more concerned with your heart, and the depth of your personal relationship with Him. With that in mind, today may you be challenged and encouraged by one more verse which is as follows: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

Yes we are supposed to, and you and I do, grow to be more like Jesus. That certainly would not encourage us to want a tattoo more, no. But when we have grown to a great degree, how should that growth in wisdom and experience change our attitude toward tattoos and their fans. It becomes our responsibility more and more to attend to Essential issues of the Gospel and our primary commission. The meat dept, not the milk dept, if you know what I mean.

That said, I certainly need your input on the issues for Christian men with regards to Lev 19:27 and 28. V28 deals with the Biblical disapproval of tattoos and piercings. V27 tells men not to shave the sides of their head, or trim their beards. Now if we are to accept that v28 is not only applicable to the ancients to whom it was directed and under the law, but also to Christians, then v27 must be equally applied. Christian men should not shave the sides of their heads or cut their beards, or they will be transgressing the exact same law.

If neither of these are applicable to us Gentile believers under the New Covenant, then tattoos should be a matter of conscientious choice and non-essential like the eating of pork, for example. If, however, these laws are still applicable to Christians, then the highly visible masculine faces without beards and with short hair, should be equally shunned and admonished daily. Barber shops should be equally lumped with tattoo parlours. But because Corinthians tells the man to not have long hair, it seems to follow that it over rules Lev 19:27, thereby placing v28 under the same covenant.

Believe me it might seem that I like tattoos, or want one. You know me, I think you’d agree that that is far from something I would waste anything on. But because this issue never seems to have a final correct outcome, let us give it one from Scripture which is the correct position. Apart from the infamous tattoo, there are many other very similar issues which could benefit from some Biblical clarity.


Just found this, sorry I’m late to the party. I have no tattoo’s and have been against them but after continued search, falling away and coming back, I have realized that there are TOO MANY LEGALISTIC CHRISTIANS..I Samual 16:7 is a great set up for what was to be the hear of the NT and to say that because a pagan religon does something so Christian just shouldn’t, when it is a no harm no foul choice is ignorant and legalistic. There are foods and activities that many pagan religions use or don’t use that Christians also use or don’t use. Where do you draw the line you Pharisies? Read ur NT and be free from the law, not that the law was not good but that he came to make it complete and perfect searching the heart of a man and knowing his spirit…Dont tattoo pagan or occult crap other than that I think you can go for it if your heart is right with the Lord.


Sure, there are places in the Old Testament that restrict tattoos and piercings, but they also restrict wearing clothing made with different fabrics. It also suggests we stone people for a number of infractions. Do you advocate stoning? If you’d like to live by the law, go ahead and try, but you must follow the whole thing. No picking and choosing.

As written in Galations 5:2-3, “Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law.”

You want one piece of the law you’ll be held accountable for the whole thing.

Also, concerning those citing the “your body is a temple” text, was the Temple not adorned with gold, the finest woods, and fancy fabrics? What would be wrong with a tasteful tattoo? How would that differ from placing fancy stained glass in a church window?

Did Paul not also write, “For though I am feww with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free of God’s law but under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Cor. 9:19-23

Jesus broke the law all the time in order to share the gospel. It was the Pharisees who argued the law with Jesus. So I ask you, is your faith in the gospel of Jesus or in the Law?

Burning Lamp

Oh please Dave, what about tattooing is honoring to the Lord? Defacing the body in any way is not honoring to the Lord. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Law. We are to weigh every action that we take and consider whether it glorifies our Lord. “Christian” tattooing has become a fad and a blight on the Church in adopting customs of the world. The Bible is very clear on this.

1 Corinthians 10:31


Jesus broke the law all the time in order to share the gospel.

Absolutely untrue…what a lot of hogwash.
Where on earth do you read and interpret this in the bible.
Amazing how Satan takes the truth of scripture and twists it into a blatant lie.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law …not abolish it.
In Matthew’s record of what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, these words of Jesus are recorded: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).

It is frequently argued that if Jesus did not “abolish” the law, then it must still be binding. Accordingly, such components as the Sabbath-day requirement must be operative still, along with perhaps numerous other elements of the Mosaic Law. This assumption is grounded in a misunderstanding of the words and intent of this passage. Christ did not suggest here that the binding nature of the law of Moses would remain forever in effect. Such a view would contradict everything we learn from the balance of the New Testament (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).

Of special significance in this study is the word rendered “abolish.” It translates the Greek term kataluo, literally meaning “to loosen down.” The word is found seventeen times in the New Testament. It is used, for example, of the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans (Matthew 26:61; 27:40; Acts 6:14), and of the dissolving of the human body at death (2 Corinthians 5:1). The term can carry the extended meaning of “to overthrow,” i.e., “to render vain, deprive of success.” In classical Greek, it was used in connection with institutions, laws, etc., to convey the idea of “to invalidate.”

It is especially important to note how the word is used in Matthew 5:17. In this context, “abolish” is set in opposition to “fulfill.” Christ came “…not to abolish, but to fulfill.” Jesus did not come to this earth for the purpose of acting as an opponent of the law. His goal was not to prevent its fulfillment. Rather, He revered it, loved it, obeyed it, and brought it to fruition. He fulfilled the law’s prophetic utterances regarding Himself (Luke 24:44). Christ fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law, which called for perfect obedience under threat of a “curse” (see Galatians 3:10, 13). In this sense, the law’s divine design will ever have an abiding effect. It will always accomplish the purpose for which it was given.

If, however, the law of Moses bears the same relationship to men today, in terms of its binding status, then it was not fulfilled, and Jesus failed at what He came to do. On the other hand, if the Lord did accomplish His goal, then the law was fulfilled, and it is not a binding legal institution today. Further, if the law of Moses was not fulfilled by Christ—and thus remains as a binding legal system for today—then it is not just partially binding. Rather, it is a totally compelling system. Jesus plainly said that not one “jot or tittle” (representative of the smallest markings of the Hebrew script) would pass away until all was fulfilled. Consequently, nothing of the law was to fail until it had completely accomplished its purpose. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus fulfilled all of the law. We cannot say that Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system, but did not fulfill the other aspects of the law. Jesus either fulfilled all of the law, or none of it. What Jesus’ death means for the sacrificial system, it also means for the other aspects of the law.


You know what “DaveAbides”…on second thoughts I find this very offensive to suggest that my beautiful,sinless,holy and perfect Saviour would entertain such disregard for His Fathers Holy Law.My Saviour who hung shamefully…battered and broken…with spittle from uncouth Godless men…who hid not His face from shame and spitting…who was there because of my sins…my ugliness my imperfections and yours and everybodys’.
To even suggest that such holiness and perfect sacrifical love could have some disregard for God’s law shows me that you obviously do not understand what happened at Calvary because if you did you would not take the law ingredient so lightly.


Ok, I’ll let the “Jesus broke the law” argument go. But you can’t argue that he didn’t majorly re-interpret them.

Michael- I’m not exactly sure what your conclusion is. You write
>>We cannot say that Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system, but did not fulfill the other aspects of the law. Jesus either fulfilled all of the law, or none of it. What Jesus’ death means for the sacrificial system, it also means for the other aspects of the law.

If the sacrificial system and law law both die with JC’s death, doesn’t that mean that they are no longer strictly binding?

Also, no one addressed my initial argument. Do you follow all of the laws in Leviticus? It’s not fair to pick and choose.

You quote Lev. 19:28 which directly addresses tattoos and piercings. But what about Lev. 19:27, “You shall not round off the hair of your temples or mar the edges of your beard”? Do you insist that men must wear there hair in payots and have long shaggy beards?
And Lev 19:19, as I mentioned earlier. “You shall not sow your field with two kinds of see; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.” Are you seriously going to tell me that you never wear any blended fabrics?

I see nothing listed before or after any of these laws that would suggest that they are any less important that the one about tattoos and piercings. How do you honestly differentiate between the laws like that?

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