What does the BIble say about TATTOOS AND PIERCINGS

Common verses used against tattoos and piercings

  • Leviticus 19:28 – “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourself. I am the Lord”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Do you not know that our 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 with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”
  • Isaiah 3:18-21 – “In that day, the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle charms, the signet rings and nose rings,”
  • Exodus 21:6 – “then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.”

Interpretations of these passages

  • Leviticus 19:28 is in reference to those who cut themselves (some translations say pierce their ears) or get tattoos to memorialize the dead
    • This was a practice done in an attempt to have the pagan gods accept the deceased into their ‘heaven’
    • To have a piercing or tattoo of this manner was a form of idolatry and obviously sinful for the Israelites and for Christians
  • Isaiah 3:18-21 is in the context of a punishment for Israel, specifically, the women of Israel
    • God is taking away the vain and valuable jewelry from Israel’s women as a form of punishment
    • The items are not in and of themselves sinful – if so, then we should not wear headbands or bracelets
    • Note to that this passage specifically applies to Israel’s women – and very few people feel that women should not have piercings
  • Exodus 21:6 is a passage relating specifically to certain slaves
    • All slaves in Israel were to be released every 7 years
    • Many slaves had families that they didn’t want to leave and so they would permanently devote themselves to on master
    • Piercing a slaves ear was a mark that that slave permanently belonged to one master
  • None of these passages specifically condemn piercings or tattoos…
  • Exodus 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
    • There are many reasons why your parents may be against you getting a piercing or tattoo – health, appearance, preference, etc
    • No matter the reason, if your parents are against it, it is a sin. Period.
    • This doesn’t mean for you to beg and tell them there is nothing wrong with it – they don’t need any reason to be turned off by something. Their “no” is final
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies do not belong to ourselves as Christians
    • Our bodies are a temple of God and should reflect who God is
    • Ask yourself two questions – “Is this harmful to my body?” and “Does this bring honor to God?”
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 and 1 Timothy 2:9 remind us not to dress immodestly
    • Dress in such a way to draw attention away from your body and to your face
    • This includes having piercings or tattoos that would…
      • draw attention to a specific area of the body (belly button piercing, lower back tattoo, etc)
      • reflect negatively on your face
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