he Bible says tattoos are unclean, but how should Christians feel about them? Would someone with a tattoo be denied heaven? Below we'll discuss some of the beliefs concerning whether or not a Christian can go to heaven with a tattoo.
Does the Bible Mention Tattoos?
The Bible does specifically mentioned tattoos. It is very clear that there is a relationship between the Law of God, and our bodies. In Leviticus 19:28 we are told to "not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves". The idea of cutting the body was a pagan practice to conduct rituals or show loyalty to dead loved ones. Tattooing was also a pagan ritual that had spiritual meaning and was used to mark slaves and criminals.
In the Old Testament, we see God give instructions to be separate from the pagans who surrounded them. This included not following their customs of worshiping false gods or marking their bodies (Leviticus 19:1-2). These instructions were given so that Israel would be different and not be drawn into pagan practices (Deuteronomy 14:2).
Later in the New Testament, we are warned about becoming too closely connected with idolaters (1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:9-11). What has changed? Well, in essence nothing. It is still wrong for Christians to conform to cultural norms that are contrary to Scripture.
Is Getting a Tattoo a Sin?
Tattoos are a way for many people to express themselves and their beliefs. Yet some worry about the religious implications of getting a tattoo. Is it a sin? What does the Bible say about tattoos?
The Bible speaks against tattoos because, in those days, all tattoos were pagan. Tattoos were used as a form of branding by slave owners or as punishment in schools and prisons. The word translated "tattoo" in Leviticus 19:28 is actually "mark." Tattoos were permanent marks left on the skin.
It’s easy to understand why many people think getting a tattoo is a sin. The Old Testament law clearly prohibited tattoos: “You must not make cuts in your body for a dead person, and you must not make tattoo markings on yourselves” (Leviticus 19:28). So was God simply making an arbitrary rule, or was there some deeper reason for the command?
The context of this verse is important. Leviticus 19:26-30 tells us that cutting our bodies and getting tattoos were practices associated with pagan worship. Pagan priests would scar and mark their bodies as part of their religious ceremonies. Some pagans believed that these markings gave them magical powers; others simply believed that they were pleasing to their gods. Either way, the point was to please their gods by altering their bodies. Getting tattoos was an act of devotion—a religious ritual designed to bring them closer to their deities. And because Israel was God’s chosen people, He wanted them to be different from other nations. They were not allowed to participate in pagan rituals—especially ones that changed their bodies.
Hopefully this gives you a bigger picture into why God did not want His people to brand themselves with tattoos. It was not just a matter of it being a “sin”. It was what the tattoo symbolized and represented.
Can We Go to Heaven with Tattoos?
Tattoos are not inherently sinful. As we have seen, the Bible does not say that tattoos are wrong; it merely warns against marking the skin as an act of idolatry. In the New Testament, Paul reiterates these concepts in Colossians 3:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. He emphasizes that believers should avoid actions that could cause them to sin or lead others astray by giving a bad example. This includes getting tattoos for religious reasons or decorating yourself with markings of false gods (or any other god except the one true God).
Tattoos can't keep you out of heaven — unless they're idols. Christianity is widely diverse, and many Christians have different beliefs regarding the answer to this question. However, there's one thing that most Christians agree on: it's not the tattoo itself that will keep you out of heaven, but the motive behind it.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul writes, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
This means that our bodies are sacred places where God lives and works. The fact that our bodies are temples does not mean that God won't let us get tattoos—what it means is that we should be careful about what we do with our bodies, because they're sacred spaces where God dwells.
Ask the Holy Spirit for Help
The decision of whether or not to get a tattoo or body piercings is one that can only be made by an individual in consultation with God, and guided by the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we are called to love our bodies as God's temples, and this means being careful about what we allow into our bodies. For example, many Christians choose not to eat pork for this reason. However, it is important to remember that there is no Biblical prohibition on tattoos themselves—only on the practice of getting them through idolatry. As such, it is possible to get a tattoo as part of a genuine expression of faith: for example, some Christians have gotten tattoos of crosses or other symbols of their faith.
If you are deciding whether or not to get a tattoo, it is important to pray and ask God for guidance before making any sort of decision. And if you already have tattoos and are worried about going to heaven because of them, remember that God loves you unconditionally—you could not be excluded from heaven simply because you have tattoos!