The ramblings of a man touched by God

Can Christians Have Tattoos?


My Newest Tattoo

My Newest Tattoo

I love a good argument. Perhaps that is because I am Italian and we love to animate our talking with our hands.  Or perhaps it is just that I always think I am right.  This topic seems to drive Christians nuts.  Almost every Christian I have discussed this with (with the exception of those in the biker community) will quote certain scripture about God forbidding “marking of the body”.  I have a real problem with anyone quoting Leviticus to me regarding any subject.  That book has over 400 “DO NOTs” in it.  Living in those days, you sinned the minute you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  Everything was a sin and, unless you were a scribe or pharisee, you had no idea what they all were.  Remember, very few written copies of the law were around – and those were hand-written and extremely rare and expensive.

There were laws on how you tied up your oxen and what your wife did “during that time of the month”.  I actually think we should put some of those laws into affect.  Would make going fishing during that time just that much easier!

So what exactly does God say about tattoos?  Heck if I know.  But I do know this: God looks at your heart and ignores the outward appearance.  (Read 1 Samuel 16:7).   If you believe that only “unmarked” people go to heaven, you are reading a comic book and not a Bible.  Perhaps only the beautiful people go to heaven?  Would be a very lonely place up there then huh?

People get tattoos for various reasons.  Mine was simple : I wanted another one and had picked out that design years ago.  It tells me something that is important to me : I am forgiven.  You see, forgiveness is so often misunderstood.  Some believe that only God can forgive.  I don’t.  I believe forgiveness takes on many forms.  Yes, God forgives.  And what He has forgiven me for I can never repay Him.  I accept it as a gift of Grace.  

But I also had to forgive myself.  For the mistakes I have made, for the people I have hurt and for the things I should have done, but didn’t.  I have to forgive myself for divorcing the mother of my children and the grief and pain I caused her and my kids for that.  Not something easy to come to grips with.  

It is hard to forgive yourself.  Perhaps much more harder than forgiving others.  Like Paul I can say that I do the very things I do not want to do.  Sometimes I am selfish, sometimes just plain mean.  Sometimes I know everything, other times I know nothing.  

Sometimes I am smart, other times stupid as a rock.  

Back to the question.  I do not see anything wrong with Christians getting tattoos.  I see no Bible reference to it unless you want to quote Leviticus and then, you best throw your wife out the door when she is on her period.  A peaceful house for a week?  Could I live on cereal and pop tarts instead of Tina’s incredible cooking? Don’t think so.  

If you disagree with me on this, you are probably in the majority.  But I can back it up with scripture, can you?  

Getting ink is a personal choice.  if you want a tattoo, go for it.  (Of course, my children must wait until they are 50 before getting ink.) 

If I didn’t hate needles so much, I would probably have more.  But today, three is enough.  


Tina's Lower Back Ink (she designed!)

Tina's Lower Back Ink (she designed!)

Tina got this this design late one night – 2 hours in the chair in a very painful location!  Her fortitude and courage in having this done blew me away!  I was dying watching her in pain!  The doves signify the Holy Spirit.  The colors are strikingly vivid.  I do not think she will get another since this one was so painful.  I think I am being a bad influence on this former Catholic schoolgirl!  

RiderforJC – a follower of Jesus Christ forgiven by the Grace of God


32 Responses to “Can Christians Have Tattoos?”

  1. Honey, I want my tattoo on here too. Whaw…


  2. I was searching for something totally unrelated and came across this. Are there really still people out there who have a problem with this? Wow, people need to get over it. My husband and I are devout Christians. He has three tattoos and I have two. Nobody has ever said anything to me about it, but I HAVE been away from the bible belt for quite a while (I grew up in Oklahoma). Maybe when I go home for a visit and someone sees them, I might get some dirty looks. Ahhh… who cares. It’s between me and God, and He hasn’t informed me that He has any kind of problem with it. People are so silly.

  3. I have a tattoo on my leg and I am very proud of it. I got told when I was in high school that if God wanted me to be born with a tattoo, the He would have put one on me. I didnt have nothing to say except, God gave me a blank canvas. I chose to decorate my canvas. And in saying that I got told I was going to hell because I was defacing my body. Well if that’s defacing my body, so is putting on makeup, dying our hair, painting our nails, cutting our hair and everything else. The way i see it, God loves me for me, wheather I have tattoos or not. People should see it that way too. It’s not up to another person to judge us just because we do something different. In the end God is going to be the one who judges us.

  4. Hey man, Im looking for a new tattoo and came across yours, I loved it… Would you mind giving me the drawing so I can get one like yours?
    God Bless

  5. My husband has 12 tatoos…our pastor actually wrote a pamphlet about christians getting tatoos because it is such a misunderstood topic. The bible actually says not to mark yourself with reminders of the dead (names, dates of death); other than that, there is no scripture that specifies that getting tatood is against the will of God.

    • well actuallt the reminders of the dead was only in refrence to the cutting of the flesh, not the tattoo part. Notice in the scripture Leviticus 19:28, it says “ANY MARKS” ….

  6. I love your article and share your views we go to a very large church and the older lady that sits behind us every sunday she tells my husband I just love that tattoo lol. So not all Christians think this i would be inked from head to feet if I could afford it and let me tell you I love Jesus. Keep up the good work! God Bless

  7. Love the post, and the tattoo! You would fit in well with our congregation. As a pastor (of a church with many who have tattoo’s) I am constantly asked this question. Some looking for a way to point the finger and say, “Pastor says it’s wrong” and others looking to get my approval. Biblicaly speaking you hit the nail on the head. There is not one Biblical passage that forbids tattoos, the forbidding has come from man made laws. However I would say that it should be a matter of conscience. Better yet a matter of Holy Spirit conviction, as should be the case with any and all choices we make in life.

  8. That is an awesome tattoo! I was doin a google search for some Christian tattoo designs and ran across yours! If you don’t mind me asking, how big is it? Would you mind shootin me the design? This tattoo says it all! God Bless!

  9. Well i agree with the guy at the top, im going to very short cause i gotta work, if someone wants to say that it is bad for christians to have tattoo’s then would go crazy walking into almost any church in the bay area, california… my own college pastor has like 3 or 4, i have two for now with plans of getting atleast 2 more till i design more, or i find a better job who will allow me to have them below the sleeves, then i will have a lot more… but anyway i really think with not only christians but anybody you really need to think about what you get and make sure you like it a lot before you get it, cause there is no turning back… i just got a cross on my right arm with 1corinthians 1:18 in it and i have been getting great reviews from christians, non christians, its amazing the feedback im getting… i would say just make sure its something you want. and the bible says if you go against your conscience then your sinning, so if you believe you shouldn’t get any… then don’t, but if you think they are ok then feel free to color your canvas… but also on another point of view don’t cause your brother to stumble… goodbye everyone… God Bless

  10. I have a tattoo on my back of a cross made of drum sticks with some trible flames on top and bottom. This tatt is a reminder of wat he did for me on the croos and for the gift of drumming that he has given me.

  11. Love your Tattoo “Forgiven”. I just got my first Tattoo about a year ago – The Trinity Symbol and am now looking for another, would love to have a copy of the Drawing of Forgiven so I can get it also.


  12. Dear Rebel,

    Wow, I absolutely LOVE your “Forgiven” tattoo. It is EXACTLY what I have been looking for, for the past 2 years. We have so much in common….I truly believe in God forgiving, but also in forgiving myself. I wear a thumb ring that says “forgiven” to remind me each day that God, (and me!) has forgiven my past sins and mistakes. Thank you for your words, and the picture of my first tattoo!

  13. I love the tattoo….Where can I get a drawing?

  14. Hey i just wanted to share my opinion with you! im 25 and i dont have any tatoos but lately i have really wanted to get one. i think that people get tatoos because they mean something to them or maybe everyone has different reasons. the reason i want to get one is because i want to display to others what god has done in my life and to remember every time i see it!!!! God bless!!! LOVE DONT JUDGE!!

  15. Hey, man i’m on the same side of Ewerton! I’m 17 and thinkin bout a tattoo when im a bit older. It seems a kind of big deal to me, so i want something special, and ur tattoo seems a really fitting way of expression. I never really thought tattoos would be frowned upon but you’ve opened my eyes more, so thanks for that!

  16. Simply, No! Other than that is an abomination. Stop finding reasons to make it ok. Just like how most Christians say Jesus did drink alcohol, makes them drink alcohol without doubt. Did Jesus acted like a playboy to approach the Samaritan woman? Did Peter or Paul keep changing their fashion in evangelism? How about Daniel? Did they use any arts to present the gospel? It is syncrinism! That never been God’s way. It imitates the world instead of making the world follow us. Is preaching classic? No, it is permanent. We should preach! It is always the way. The prophets and the disciples, they preach!

  17. Yeah I love to post both sides of an argument. To David, here is what I say: Dont get a tattoo, dont drink any alcohol, dont smoke and continue to preach fire and hell upon those whom Jesus came to love and save. I am sure that you will draw many to God’s Love by your preaching.
    Why did Jesus dine and fellowship with known sinners? Because of His Great Love for them.
    Don’t judge my brother. My wife and I have numerous tattoos and the wine flows freely at our home. Neither is sin to us. If it offends you, then do not do it. Like the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ time, they did not understand His ways. Neither do you. Hell, I do not either but at least I acknowledge that God can work in ways that go beyond my understanding.
    For everyone else, if you want a tattoo – pray about it. If God gives you peace, then do it. If He does not, then don’t.
    Stop all the judging. Accept people like Jesus did and does.
    Rider for JC – A follower of Jesus Christ ONLY by the grace of God

    • Thank you. I agree 100 percent. I am a lady and sport a few tat’s. They are christian related and most of time I get a lot of looks (when i show them- i put them in places i could hide or show) with the exception of my right arm band. That is my proof and belief in Jesus Christ and I will NOT HIDE it from anyone. I would help anyone and do anything I can for the Lord. I am a great person but every now and again you will get a moron that bascially is saying “your going to hell”. I was at Mc D’s. and a little girl said “look mommy, wow…she is pretty and I love her tattoos” the mom said “dont look at her she is filth and dirt she belongs to the devil” I turned around and said “BOOOOO” to the lady and winked at the little girl and the little girl just laughed. Regardless what you do people are going to judge you although your not suppose to they will. Heck when I wear a swim-suit from Walmart EVERYONE flips out calls me all kinds of names. My husband says it is simply because they are jelous. His 13 year old is going through a Penelcostal (however you spell it) stage – she lives with her mother not us sorry but thank the Lord for that. She acts as though she is so much better then everyone. Last weekend her smart mouth “oh her body is temple” judging me because I am well say “blessed” in some ways because she saw a picture of me at the ocean in a Walmart swim-suite and my tat’s. I said well maybe you should quit eating all the time and laying around watching tv and texting on your phone….if you body is temple quit eating SUGAR and drinking CAFFINE. These people with all these double standards. Takes all kinds for the world to spin though. I dont hate his daughter but she has made our life HECK with lies, stealing and so much misc crap. Her mother and my ex and his wife all say “she stole nothing from you”. (funny they are all friends be carefull what you joke about ours came true) I just laugh because none of them are here nor saw my jewelry stashed in her bag. Anyhow, you want a tat…..get one just be sure you think about what and wear to place them because for most part it is forever.

  18. To All,
    I will try to post a better view of the Forgiven Tattoo when I can for you to use.

    God Bless,

  19. I want to start off first by saying I am not christian. I was looking for something else christian related, christians amd tattoos popped up and i was intrigued. Anyway a couple opinions from other web sites had me a little bit heated. Will not pass judgement one way or another as to what i think the bible’s stance is as this would not be fair. I just want to say its refreshing to hear someone that has an open mind and intelligent outlook on his/her religion. Really like the outlook on the book of leviticus. Anyone that claims this book as backup for any argument loses all credit. Throw Deuteronomy in there too. Then again it also says in mathew 5:17″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. 18I 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. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Would really like opinions and comments. Once again i am not christian. I am just wondering which part of the bible most people follow really. i mean in mathew (new test) it says keep his laws, but if thats the case someone is supposed to kill me now according to Deuteronomy 13:6-10 (old test)

  20. Steve,
    I posted your comment to solicit views other than my own. Imagine that!
    There is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law when it comes to being a Christian. Others may disagree with me on this but we need to be careful to be so legalistic, especially when judging others. If you want to be legalistic about yourself, thats ok. Just do not put your legalism on others – especially new Christians and non-Christians.
    The spirit of the law was driven from a sense of Love – NOT from having to do it. Jesus loved those that hated Him. That is so supernatural. I surely cannot do it. Only God can do that for us and we through Him.
    In regards to the “righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and Scribes”, It is impossible to do on our own. That is the Righteousness which every Christian receives from Jesus – who was and is the only one whose righteousness can achieve perfection.
    When you attempt to understand the Bible, remember that it is all about God’s great Love for you. That will shed light on it and on our motivations to return that Love.
    Following the law is good but NOT if it is not motivated by love.
    You can post anytime here. The only posts I do not approve are those who are posting to sell something.
    You are searching for truth. And you will find it. Years ago, I searched for truth too and found it. Or rather it found me!

  21. Shalom Rider, probably the way I said it is a bit harsh. I’m sorry, but my point is still the same. I love riders like you. Actually, my roommate was a rider back then. He has lots of tattoo. He grew up with that culture and his family, everyone has tattoo. He is from that Harley Davidson culture. He studied at the Bible School and became a minister among his kind. I never looked down on people that way. To make tattoo as a Christians practice is another thing. It is not the same. This brother in Christ, born in a situation where he has no other choice but to deal with the culture set before him. It is like anyone that born in a family. People have no choice of choosing their parents. They just born. Now, it is different when you have a choice and this choice is about to stay away from anything that is related to paganism culture. This is a great opportunity to follow what is holy and acceptable to the Lord. For my roommate, he just need to keep whatever already there and used it to approach those in his family. God understand his situation. God need him to witness to them. I have friends in Borneo that practices all kind of things including tattoos, drinking and witchcraft. After they heard and accepted the Gospel, they immediately leaved those practices. It is an immediate impact of God’s sovereignty.
    When we remind our brother about what the Bible say, it is not judging like most people think. Because the measure we use is not from or by our own philosophy, but what is written in the Bible. This will not make others to be confused. They themselves will then read the Bible and may pray and ask for more understanding from God. They will search and check on themselves. Otherwise there will be no more pastors, ministers, preachers and evangelists that will show what is wrong and what is right according to the Gospel.

    Mat 7:1 -2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

    This shows that both me and whoever read this will be judge by the Lord.

    I am a sinner but not purposely living in sin. Yes I stumble sometimes, but not because I wanted to. To continue my faith in Christ, by the help of His Holy Spirit, will rise again and do what is true and acceptable to Him.

    The ten commandment says something about this, Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:… This will give us impression of an imagery or anything, could be something… There are so many teaching in the New Testament that would give us knowledge, wisdom and understanding about ‘worship’ and being a true worshiper, as a result our life become spiritually fruitful and full with testimony, and needs no tattoo to present the Gospel.

    Some may say contemporary fashion… but the disciples also were in a modern world and use nothing but by preaching, sharing, and being who they are in Christ.

    All Christians say, it has to be ‘love’ and this is the only way…but Jesus preach about love and judgement side by side. Without saying what is right and wrong… people will not be able to understand what love is. Please read John 3:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. People always stopped at 16. Now, if we read John 3:36 it will be like this, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth (G544 wilfully and perversely; disobedient) not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. How about John 14:15, and 1 John 2:3-6? Again in 1 John 2:15-17, The question is, do we really ‘love Christ’?

    I have no problem looking at a person with tattoo, because that is his choice and I have no right to say anything. I love them but they will face consequences no matter what. It really disturbing when someone planning to have tattoo after conversion to Christianity, getting and having the same character and attitude just as those in the secular world. This is not bringing themselves closer and become like Christ. This is becoming like the world.

    This is creating strange lifestyle in Christianity. (Exodus 32) I remember when Aaron accepted the secular idea on how to worship God. He was using secular’s fashion and having God’s name upon it. History repeating history. We have to be careful on using God’s name on anything such as tattoo on our body. Having His name or Bible verses, or imagery on tattoo does not make it right, Mat 7:21-23. I believe that most Christians know that God wants to write His commandment in our hearts, not on anything. When we love God and His commandment, He will dwell in us, and as we obey His commandment, fruits of obedience will come out from us. That is how our faith become known by others. From that point, we can preach, share and encourage others because the Holy Spirit is happily working in us. My friend understand this principle and he is somewhere in America witnessing…

    In Christ Love

  22. David,
    Thank you for such a thought-out argument. But I believe that you are being legalistic. And that is fine for you.
    If you are going to use the OT in your argument, are you prepared to follow all 400+ laws or do you pick and choose the ones you want to follow? If you are married, does your wife yell ” Unclean” when she is on her period? That is surely an OT law like the interpretation against tattoos.
    My tattoos are not a witness to the world. They are personal to me.
    One could judge others about smoking, consuming wine and certainly the overweight people about gluttony.
    I stand on 1 Samuel 16:7 on all this. Man continues to look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.
    To all who are considering getting a tattoo, pray about it. If the Spirit within you tells you it is sin, then it is sin for you. If the same Spirit says it is not sin for you, then it is not. Each person is different in this.
    God has set us free from the law. That is not to have a reason to sin, but rather to serve Him.
    If you look at the ten commandants as a gauge, tattoos are not listed. Love is.

    To God be the Glory.

  23. Cool ink,

    I have the same cross that I copied from a shirt. I used that cross design as a youth group logo many years ago. I have been thinking about getting it as a testament of my faith and remembrance of a great time serving God as a youth leader. I want to replace “Forgiven” with the word “Disciple” Thanks for sharing.

  24. My wife and I are considering getting tattoo’s, we just went for a consultation yesterday. I want to ink “Forgiven” on my forearm in a Hebrew-type font. I posted some pictures of fonts I am considering on my Facebook today. My cousin replied with just “Leviticus 19:28”. I have got to admit it has bugged me. I lived a legalism Christianity for almost my entire life up until two years ago when I left my wife and kids and went to make a new life for myself. The fact is that I couldn’t live with myself any longer. I had a secret life, I was hardcore into pornography and eventually it led me to prostitutes and extramarital affairs. I couldn’t live with the guilt of who I wasn’t, but that I was pretending to be.
    That all said, God has miraculously redeemed me and my family. He used my darkest moment in my life to truly love and heal me. And I can tell you that I have never, never known his love as I do now.
    I now find myself getting enjoyment out of agitating the legalists. I Pierced my ears and my eyebrow and am now planning to get a tattoo. I understand guys like David, cause I was just like you dude. Tell me, how happy are you? Is there a joy deep down inside of you that flows out of you as love. Do you find yourself loving the unlovable as Jesus did? Or do you find yourself hanging onto the salvation that you have worked sooooo hard to obtain, and like you could lose it at the drop of a hat?
    Believe me, I am not saying everything is all peachy, my repentance and healing journey is going to be an lengthy one, and my wife is still in a lot of pain because of what I have done and the trust that was broken. But the foundation that we are rebuilding our lives on is one of love and knowing who He truly is. Knowing that He cares more about my heart and my love for Him than if I have some ink on my arm.
    My tattoo will be a constant reminder to myself that I am forgiven (even on those days I don’t feel like I am) and like you said Rider, that I have to forgive myself. As people ask me about my tattoo I will be able to tell them about my God and Savior Jesus Christ that has forgiven and redeemed me.

    • That is a wonderful story. I am sorry for you pain but look what you did gain…..I am truly happy for you and your family. You guys have been talking about “forgivness” our faimly has serious issues not with me and husband but a child. I want to love her as I love my kid but I do not at this point. I have forgiven her for all she has done but I think I still hold on to the guilt I have felt for my feelings torward her – (although justified to some point) if you only knew the whole story……I think I have not been able to forgive myself. All of you on here has just made me realize this and I cannot thank you all enough. I feel blessed to have found your site and I want to say “thank you” to everyone on here. You have helped open my eyes to realize I need to simply forgive myself. I do not know how to do that really but I will start praying for help on that. I hope you all have a great day and I know this post is older I found it by accident sure glad it is still up. :^)

  25. Brothers and sisters, please do not misunderstand me. I love you all in Christ. I am not going against your will or choice to have or not to have tattoos. I am only giving scriptures that may not in agreement with the way we want things to work in our lives. They are so many principles in the Bible that are seems neglected by us. The meaning of true testimony is modified by culture and personal understanding. Jesus never been effected by the surrounding effects. The disciple were not consumed by the modernized world in their time. Paul after his conversion did nothing to his body to show the people or even to remind himself that he is now the Christ follower. His teaching are clearly saying that it is not just changing our hearts attitude but also changing our lifestyle. This is how we testified the Gospel. For an example in Romans 12:1-2, clearly explain that it is by changing the way we think, the way we present our body as a holy sacrifice and not to be confirmed to this world. True repentance is to leave things that are related to most worldly activities and practices.
    When we watch movies, the secular world giving the definition that most of this bad guys are in such a fashion – the gangsters, the mobs etc. Movie makers know the differences and we are trying to go against that universal code. What most of us don’t realized is that what really bugging us is our own desire, our own pride, our own will…such as to remember something by having something like a mark. Because we want it, we are tempted to ignore the truth. By doing that based on some ideas or philosophies, we are happy to do it anyway. The Bible teaches us to have confidence of being changed by Christ with faith, laying down everything to God.
    In your case, and within the culture where you are situated, it probably helps you to give testimony plus if you talk to people about it all the time. But, generally, it is not for most part of this planet. But, it always come to a point that our lives are belong to Christ, and whatever we do, it is not fulfill our own feelings and desire, but find out what will please God.
    Following Christ’s teaching and commandment is what we as His followers supposed to do. If we love God, nothing is better than to do what He wants. Doing the right thing is not legalism to those who love Him. I never have that feeling of being legalism, because my desire is to please Him. There is a time for us to realize that life is short and everything we do is actually important for Him and for our next life. If we have that same hope, love towards one another will get stronger and stronger everyday. Love is to love God, then others.

  26. I’m also where u r on this. I believe it was written for idol worshipers. I ride and have tat’s and an a elder @ my church. I love Jesus and am greatful 4 all in my life. I serve him always& and can’t believe he would keep good people like your family and mine. Bless ya always bro

  27. As you can see, I have published those who disagree with my position as well as those who agree. Just got another tattoo that says “freedom” and the tag “isn’t free”. I will put up a pic when I find time. It is on my right inner forearm.
    What I want on the other forearm is something representing ” No Compromise”. Ideally, I would have the album cover from Keith Green’s No Compromise album. Gee I guess I am aging myself with an “album”. If you don’t know what that is – ask your parents :).
    My life has changed much since I first wrote this article though I still believe in freedom and not legalism.

  28. “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND Lord OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16 KJV)
    To me that written is tattooed . I think it’s a great way to witness and testify.

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