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Monday, May 5, 2014

Are Tattoos Taboo?

Photo by: stockimages 

Introduction: I have friends and relatives who are tattooed. I have no tattoos. (I’m a grandmother, over fifty, and tattoos were decidedly not cool back in the day when I considered myself young.) I have nothing against anyone who is tattooed, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a sin. So, now you know.

This quote is from social media:

When people ask me why I don’t have any tattoos,
I ask them, “Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?”

It’s a matter of taste, isn’t it? Some people actually would put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari, and some wouldn’t.

Mike Manor, an evangelist with a great sense of humor, wrote a song titled, “Where Is My Tattoo?” It’s a comical take on tattoos going south with age. You’d have to hear it, but I assure you, it’s great fun!

I actually witnessed that phenomenon a few years back. We were with our daughter and son-in-law in the popular tourist destination, Mackinac Island. A group of over-the-hill bikers, probably all with a minimum age of sixty—I’m being generous—was walking by a doorway where I was standing. It was summertime, and many of them—male and female—were wearing what motorcycle riders would normally wear in the summertime: open vests with no shirts and strappy black tank tops. They sported Harley Davidson emblems, hearts, and lots of other designs on skin that had sagged considerably with the sun and years. Tattooed hearts and flowers on wrinkles. You can imagine! It left an impression on me.

I had to wonder if all those twenty-somethings who have adorned themselves with indelible ink have thought about what their adornments will look like when they’re eighty.

Did you know there’s a Bible verse about tattoos? There is: Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:28). This was a clear prohibition on tattoos for the Jewish people in the Old Testament Law. I leave it up to you to decide if it’s for today and for you, personally.

I’ve seen quite a few “witnessing tattoos.” For example, I was in the grocery store. The sharp young man at the checkout had all six verses of Psalm 23 inked on his forearm. I read it, because it caught my attention. Can you imagine all the opportunities for Christian witness he has because of it?

There are countless crosses, some John 3:16s, and some short messages like “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus Loves You.”

There are plenty of negative messages as well, and tattoos in places I can’t imagine anyone’s really wanting attention. I remember a butterfly on a shoulder, also a small, single rose.

Are tattoos taboo?

I believe, besides the Old Testament prohibition, there are a few other Bible principles that you might want to consider before trotting off to your local inking parlor: 
  1. Will this tattoo actually bring glory to God? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  2. Will it offend other Christians? Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32).
  3. Is tattooing your body a wise use of the money God has entrusted to you? And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship (Luke 16:2).
  4. Do you really want to call attention to this part of your body? Women are to be modest, not showy, and dress like godly women. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

And then, the practical considerations:
  • What will this look like when I’m eighty?
  • Will I ever get tired of having this (bulldog, emblem, name, flower, verse . . . whatever!) on my skin?
  • Is this tattoo actually beautiful?
  • Have I prayed about this and asked God to show me if it’s okay? Have I waited for God’s answer and searched His Word about my decision?

If you already have a tattoo, it doesn't bother me. As I said at the beginning of this post, I have friends that do and friends that don’t. It’s your decision.

If you don’t have a tattoo (or if you’re considering adding to your collection), give some thought before you get permanent marks inked into your skin. Think and pray first.

This is some free advice from a Christian grandma.


  1. Great post! I heard someone say from the pulpit once, "Why do you want to go and get a hula dancer tattooed on your body? Don't you know when you turn sixty it will look like Don Knots in a grass skirt?"

    1. That's funny! Being close to sixty myself, I think he should've upped the age. :o) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, along with all the Biblical reasons, a person must think if he will need to one day get rid of his tattooes. I worked with a lady who was in the process of getting them removed by laser.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Luba. God bless you!

  3. Very good commentary on tattoos. They seem to be sooo in vogue right now -- it's become quite a phenomenon to my way of thinking. I've had a hard time knowing what to think about them myself, although like you, I don't let it affect my feelings about a person. I agree with you, if the person seeks God's guidance on it, that should be the answer. Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Sandra. Yes, so in style now. Thank you for your comment. I don't think a skin decoration should ever make a difference in our relationships. Well put! God bless.


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