Tattoos and a conflict with spirituality?

I had a discussion with someone the other day about tattoos. I see alot of men and women with tattoos and even some Catholic school children with tattoos and I told this friend that I feel this practice is wrong and he happens to have a tattoo also, but he got it years ago.

I did a search in the Holy Scripture and actually found proof that it is wrong. The Bible states:

"You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you, I am the Lord.-- Lev 19:28

Very interesting.

Take note of the phrase"for the dead", and read it in its context of the culture the command was given in.

As with most things tattoos are morally neutral. The intent is the key.

…why anyone would want to put graffitti on a work that God created is a mystery to me… i guess if you don’t see your body as a work of God, then it really doesn’t matter…


I participated in a thread on this very subject not long ago. Here is the link:

In response to the Scripture you found, please read verse 27, just before the verse about tattoos:

“Do not clip your hair at the temples, nor trim the edges of your beard.” *Lev. 19:27 *

And Verse 26 commands the people not to eat mean with any blood remaining in it. Verse 19 forbids breeding domestic animals with other species and wearing a garment woven with two different kinds of thread! We have to keep in mind that Levitical law was very strict on many points for reasons we cannot relate to culturally, and not incidentally, for health reasons. Can you imagine how dirty the tattooing instruments must have been back then? Other acts were forbidden because they were pagan practices. Unlike the Ten Commandments, we have to know the context of each of these laws before applying them to life in 2005.

As for Church teaching, I have yet to find (and I have searched) any official law forbidding tattoos. I have to conclude, therefore, unless I discover otherwise, that tattoos are licit provided they do not depict anything inherently sinful.

I understand my body as “the temple of the spirit”, so I won’t put marks on it.


My little brother has one tattoo. A big cross on his left sholder. I believe it symbolizes him picking up his cross and following Christ.

I was kind of bothered at first about tattoos also. I seemed to remember hearing it was forbidden in the bible, but I must agree with the posters above. The OT context is necessary for our understanding of this text.

In the New Covenant we depend on Holy Mother Church to give us clear teaching and I have not found anything forbidding tattoos.

I was thinking about getting the same tattoo as my brother because of the same symbolic reason and also to share in the experience with my brother.

Anyone have a good reason why not too from Church teaching?

I got a tatoo of a dolphin on my lower back when I was 18.

I am now 30 and wish I didn’t do it. But I now think of it as a reminder that I am not the same person I was and I thank God for that.

If anyone is thinking of it, please reconsider.

Also, if you are female and get a dolphin tatoo-be careful, it looks more like a whale when you are far and pregnant!!! :whistle:


Also, if you are female and get a dolphin tatoo-be careful, it looks more like a whale when you are far and pregnant!!! :whistle:


oh, i bet it do!

[quote=LynnieLew]Also, if you are female and get a dolphin tatoo-be careful, it looks more like a whale when you are far and pregnant!!! :whistle:


**LOL! I know what you are talking about! The flying horse on my hip seems to have gotten a little LONGER then it was when I first got it some years ago! :wink: **

Personally, being in the medical profession, my greatest concern is the possibility of contracting hepatitis from tattoos…Why put yourself at unnecessary risk. As far as children getting them…why not just try the temporary ones that wash off in a week. That is it!

[quote=stbruno]Personally, being in the medical profession, my greatest concern is the possibility of contracting hepatitis from tattoos…Why put yourself at unnecessary risk.

You raise a good point. Aside from the moral debate, there is a real risk there, and nobody wants hepatitis! BLEH! :eek:

I have Tattoo’s; many!!! I do not see anything wrong with it as long as they are tasteful. In my mothers eyes, there is no such thing as a tasteful tattoo. Maybe she is right!!!

I always liked to tell this to people who told me that tattooing my body is wrong:

If your body is considered a temple of Christ and a church is considered a temple of Christ, most churches have beautiful stained glass windows in them… What is the difference???

Again, that goes back to the whole “Tasteful Tattoo” subject.

I do not find any of my Tattoo’s offensive. I mentioned in a previous post somewhere on this board, to have a crucifix placed somewhere on my body. Either my back, leg or arm…

I honestly think people are worried about the WRONG THING! God is not as concerned with the outward apperance as He is with the inward. I seriousally do not think that God would look at someone that has tattoos and say, “Oh no, you are not my child! You have a tattoo”. Yes, people often look down on others with tattoos. All I can say is, “Judge not lest you be judged… the way you judge another, you will also be judged”. So the next time one of you that looks down on people with tattoos and judge it to be in conflict with God, you need to stop looking at others and worry about your own salvation. I’m sure you have a few things about yourself that offends God even if you think not.

I intuitively find the body modification concept wrong. Perhaps it has some self-identification or self-acceptance issues. I don’t mind tasteful and not-in-your-face ones, but I have a problem with obstinate and unreasonable social defiance. Guess then it depends on the reasons one’s getting a tattoo or the general attitude. It’s not my place to judge people, but I’d rather they didn’t do it in some cases they do.

The council of Jerusalem decided infallibly that certain aspects of “the law” are not binding upon Christians.

I myself have a number of tattoos. All express my love for God and his Church. To permanently mark ones body with gimmicky expressions of ones “personality” (as many do) is, in my opinion, a grave sin against God. But to openly and graphically express ones faith is an entirely different matter.

I have many tattoos including a Sacred Heart. That is my favourite one, which I got after coming back to the Church after being away for 5 years. If I get any more, they will be religious symbols.

Tatoos are so permanent. I am a work in progress.
Don’t want to label myself as stuck at any stage.

I am a woman with tattoos. Alot of tattoos. My left arm is half sleeved. I do not have ‘self acceptance or self identification issues’ as far as I am aware either. I am merely decorating my body in much the same way as people apply make up or wear jewelry. I personally find it attractive and feminine.
I would like to thank the person who pointed out that God is more concerned with the inward than the outward. Few of us are exactly as God made us…carry an extra pound or two? Colour your hair?
I actually feel this is almost too simplistic to debate. After all surely we don’t judge on appearances? I am exactly the same person internally with tattoos as I was when I had none. Anyway, I also respect the fact that tattoos are not for everyone but then neither are skinny jeans or purple hair. It’s all just a matter of personal choice. Thankfully the New Covenant has allowed us to make those choices. Thankyou Jesus.:slight_smile:

I don’t have any tattoos, nor do I want any permanent ones, but I don’t see a problem with getting a tattoo that isn’t offensive, and ones that are an expression or reminder of one’s faith could be good! I think the difficulty with tattoos is that they are permanent. If you’re going to get one, it has to be something you’re willing to have for the rest of your life; who knows how you might change when you get older? Some can be removed, I know, but I don’t know how well that process works, or how expensive it is… and there is the added health risks of permanent tattoos (Hep, AIDS, etc) I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a henna tattoo: sticks around longer than the ones that come on a bit of paper, but isn’t permanent. Another poster somewhere on the forum asked about getting a rosary tattoo; I think that would be neat! ^^

the verse doesn’t imply that the prohibition on tatoo is for tatooing the dead.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit