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Tattoos have become more popular and accepted in recent years. With the practice of tattooing on the rise in the mainstream, you might be considering getting one for yourself (if you haven’t already).
But what does the Bible say about tattooing? According to Biblical teachings, you may have heard that tattoos are sinful or even forbidden. So can you go to heaven with tattoos?
However, there are mixed opinions within the Christian Catechism about whether tattoos are acceptable or whether they are a sin. Because tattoos are such a debated topic, you may be concerned about whether or not a person with tattoos can get into heaven.
This article will help clarify what the Bible says about tattoos and how this translates into modern-day Christian teachings.
There’s only really one part of the Bible that mentions tattoos, and the exact wording differs between the various versions of the Bible. When the topic of tattoos comes up, most Christians point towards Leviticus 19:28 to make their point.
However, some versions have translations that can leave the Biblical stance on tattoos less than cut-and-dry.
In the New American Standard Bible, Leviticus 19:28 reads:
“You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord”.
Meanwhile, the New International Version uses the wording
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves”.
These interpretations are fairly self-explanatory; according to God, tattoos are expressly forbidden.
However, other versions have different translations, and many don’t include the word ‘tattoo’ at all. The King James Version of the Bible uses the phrasing.
“…nor print any marks upon you…”.
The Common English Bible uses a similar translation:
“…or put marks on yourselves…”.
These versions of the Bible are less clear about how tattoos are viewed from a Biblical standpoint. While markings on the skin are forbidden, it’s unclear whether these refer directly to tattoos (as well as whether having tattoos will prevent you from going to heaven).
Because the various translations of the Bible over the millennia have led to many different interpretations of God’s stance towards tattoos, whether or not they keep you from going to heaven is widely contested.
Without a clear consensus on how tattoos affect a person’s chances of entering, a large part of these attitudes come from the different denominations of Christianity and the various beliefs found in each.
Not every denomination of Christianity holds the same view of tattoos. Just like there isn’t an agreed interpretation of Leviticus 19:28 between different versions of the Bible, some denominations have more strict or lax opinions on whether tattoos are acceptable.
Many Catholics believe that tattoos aren’t sinful, although some exceptions place tattoos in the ‘sin’ category.
While tattoos on their own aren’t forbidden, a tattoo with a vulgar image or message would be considered sinful.
Therefore, while there isn’t anything in Catholic Catechism that states tattoos are immoral, it is up to the individual to get a tattoo that remains respectful and tasteful in the eyes of God.
Some Evangelical denominations have a less relaxed stance on tattoos. Along with Leviticus 19:28, Evangelical Christians may point to parts of the Bible that condemn any alteration.
A large part of this stems from the teachings that the body is already perfect and should not be altered in any way.
One of these passages is Genesis 1:27
“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them”.
Similarly, one of few tattoo-related interpretations in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:19) reads:
“What? Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, which ye have of God”.
Some use these passages to show that the body is perfect as it is and that altering it in any way is sinful and goes against God’s will.
Other religions have their own views on tattoos, which again vary depending on the denomination.
For instance, many Muslims and Jews prohibit getting tattoos (the same rules in Leviticus apply in the Torah).
Buddhists and Hindus, meanwhile, typically permit tattoos. Some sects even include tattooing as part of religious practices!
While some denominations of Christianity believe that tattoos are sinful, the majority of Christians don’t believe that they are forbidden as long as they aren’t obscene or blasphemous.
Christians who believe that tattoos are sinful and/or prevent a person from entering heaven are often singular individuals with more extreme and fundamentalist beliefs.
The bottom line is tattoos on their own won’t stop a person from going to heaven.
The only mention of tattoos in the OId Testament is highly subject to interpretation, and it is unclear whether it even refers to tattoos as a whole - one common stance on Leviticus 19:28 is that it prohibits the tattoos made for rituals by Pagan tribes at the time and not for tattoos in general.
The New Testament has no mention of tattoos at all, whether in a positive or negative light. However, one of the main teachings of the New Testament is that to go to heaven, a person must have faith in God and repent for any sins.
There is nothing in Christian teachings that says a person with tattoos can’t go to heaven.
Having a tattoo doesn’t prevent someone from having faith in God, and even if it is considered a sin in some denominations, then a person’s faith and repentance of their sins will still mean they will go to heaven.
The bottom line is, having a tattoo won’t stop you from going to heaven.
There is a lot of contention about whether or not tattoos are considered sinful or immoral. But for the vast majority of Christians, even sins won’t prevent you from entering heaven as long as you have faith in God.
So if you’re considering getting a tattoo but are worried about the possible spiritual repercussions, or if you have a tattoo already and want to know if you’ll be prevented from entering heaven, then don’t worry.
As long as you have faith, then the Kingdom of God is welcome to all.
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