As an openly Christian woman, one of the most common questions I'm asked is about my tattoo. Some will ask, "But doesn't the Bible say you shouldn't tattoo your body?" Others will say, "If you're a Bible-believing Christian, why did you decide to get a tattoo?" Well, these are all valid questions; so, I thought I should address them.
Yes, the Bible does say people shouldn't get tattoos on their bodies. Yes, I still believe this is true, even though I myself have a tattoo. It says in scripture:
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord." - Leviticus 19:28 (NLT)
So, can Christians get tattoos? Yes, yes they can.
Why do you ask? Well, if you read Leviticus 19 and are familiar with the historical context of the time it was written, then you might be aware that there are a few important key factors that must play a role in assessing this passage. First, you must note that Leviticus is extremely specific on why the Lord told the Pagans not to tattoo themselves. To put it simply, it is a contextual issue, not a covenantal issue.
To understand this passage you should start by asking yourself, "Why were the Pagans tattooing their bodies?" During this time, the Pagans were tattooing their bodies as a sort of idol worship, meaning that they were worshiping images that were not God. To participate in this type of worship, they would either cut, brand, or tattoo their bodies for the memory of the dead as a sort of idol worship. Now, the last part of this verse is very important. It says, "I am the Lord." When putting this into context, the Lord is telling the Israelites that they should not follow in these false practices of other idols like the Pagans, but that HE is the one and only Lord.
I personally have a tattoo on my arm that says, "Do not fear."
The Bible uses the phrase "do not fear" 365 times, one for each day of the year. God did not make us to live a life of fear. Living a fearful life is the opposite of living a faithful life. Prior to college, I spent most of my life fearing the world because of the evil people in our world. I feared man and I feared/hated God for so long; I felt completely helpless and alone. Now I know the truth.
Proclaiming that Jesus died on the cross to free me from fear saved me, and I never want to go back to living a fearful life. God promises he will protect me. God promises that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety (read Psalms 91), and I believe Him and all his promises. For he is my God and I am His child and nothing could ever change that.
I have been saved knowing that there is a God and he will always be there for me, even when I can't see him. After learning that, what is there to be afraid of in this life? I wanted to get this tattoo because it reminds me of who I was before and who I am now as I live my life for Christ.
Getting a tattoo is, in a sense, branding the things you care about on your body for public display. I am putting on display my love of Christ. I am displaying my faith.
In life, be careful what you put on display. But, if you are a Christian and you do have a tattoo, it's OKAY, especially if you're displaying your love of our Lord and Savior, too.