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Jehovah’s Witnesses

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible mentions tattoos just once, at Leviticus 19:28, which says: “You must not put tattoo marking upon yourselves.” God gave this command to the nation of Israel, thus setting them apart from the neighboring peoples who marked their skin with the names or symbols of their gods. (Deuteronomy 14:2) While the Law given to Israel is not binding on Christians, the principle underpinning this law is worth serious consideration.

Should a Christian get a tattoo or body art?

The following Bible verses can help you to reason on the matter:

  • “Women should adorn themselves with . . . modesty.” (1 Timothy 2:9, New American Bible) That principle applies to both women and men. We should respect the feelings of others and not draw undue attention to ourselves.

  • Some want to establish their identity or independence, while others get a tattoo in order to assert ownership of their body. However, the Bible encourages Christians: “Present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.” (Romans 12:1) Use your “power of reason” to analyze why you want a tattoo. If it is because you want to follow a fad or to show membership in a certain group, remember that your feelings may prove to be less permanent than the tattoo. Examining your motives can help you to make a wise decision.—Proverbs 4:7.

  • “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want.” (Proverbs 21:5) The decision to get a tattoo is often made in haste, yet it can have a long-term impact on relationships and employment. And tattoos can be costly and painful to remove. Research—as well as the booming business of tattoo removal—shows that a large number of those who get tattoos eventually wish that they hadn’t.

 

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