Skip to Content

Tattoos and Body Piercings – What Does The Bible Say?

I know this next topic will be a very sensitive one for many in this day and age. As you all know, many people like to get different types of tattoos and body piercing put on the different parts of their bodies.

You will see people getting tattoos on just about any part of the human anatomy, even on their most intimate, personal, and private parts. The same goes with the different types of body piercing. You have people getting piercing on their noses, navels, eyelids, nipples, tongues, and genitalia.

For those of you who are really wanting to know what the Lord may think about this issue, I would challenge each and everyone of you to go before Him in prayer and ask for His direct opinion on this matter. I know there is a bit of a rift in the Body on this issue right now.

On the one side are those who believe that God’s command back to the Jewish people in the Book of Leviticus no longer applies to any of us in this day and age since we are now operating under a New Covenant with Jesus and we are now no longer under the law, but under grace.

On the other side are those who believe that this command still applies to everyone in this day and age, and that God has not changed His mind on this issue.

For what is worth, we are going to give you our opinion on this subject. In addition to the verse from Leviticus, I believe there are several other verses that you have to match up with that one to get what God’s opinion may really be on this issue.

Again, we do not want to get dogmatic on this issue. This is just our own personal interpretation of what we feel God may be trying to tell us in these specific verses. You are each responsible for getting your own answers from the Lord on this issue.

For the record, we do not believe the Lord wants any of His people getting any kinds of tattoos or body piercing put on any parts of their body.

The Scripture Verses

I believe there are 5 key Scripture verses that need to be grouped together to get what God’s opinion may really be on this issue. I will go ahead and run them all together, and then comment on how I feel they may be shedding some light on this very controversial issue.

  • “You shall not make ANY CUTTINGS IN YOUR FLESH for the dead, nor TATTOO ANY MARKS on you: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28)
  • “Do NOT think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did NOT come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
  • “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)

I believe that when you put all 5 of these verses together, one right next to the other, and then study what the Lord is trying to tell you in these verses, I believe it is possible to pick up what God’s opinion may be on this very controversial issue.

Commentary

1.  The very first verse is from the Book of Leviticus back in the Old Testament. God was telling His chosen people what they could and could not do in their personal relationship and interaction with Him.

As we all know, God gave them quite a bit of rules, regulations, and commandments that He wanted them to abide by. This one particular command was one of them.

Notice this verse specifically isolates not only tattoos, but any “cuttings on the flesh,” which I believe relates to all of the different types of body piercing people are now getting these days.

Also note that God was referring to them making any kinds of tattoos or cuttings in their flesh “for the dead.” Back in those days, many people had the practice of marking up their bodies with tattoos and different types of cuttings as a way of mourning and paying respect for those who had just passed on.

God the Father was flat out telling His own people that they were not to engage in this type of activity. Notice that God uses the word “any” tattoos and “any” cuttings” in their flesh. He was not cutting them any slack on this issue – and He was wanting absolutely no cuttings or tattoos of any kind, shape, or form put anywhere on their bodies.

If God was telling them that He was not wanting any kinds of tattoos or body piercing put on their bodies as a way of mourning for the dead, then I also believe that you can extrapolate off this command and assume that God did not want them doing this for any other possible reason, whether it be for the dead or not.

The wording is just too strong in this verse to think that God was only referring to doing this as a way of mourning for the dead. I believe the tone and intensity of these words are showing us that God did not want His chosen people to be doing this for any reason whatsoever.

These people were being called to be God’s special chosen people. They were being called to become separate from the things and ways of this world – especially from some of the pagan practices of many of the people who were still inhabiting parts of their Promised Land.

If God the Father did not want His special chosen people back in the Old Testament to be putting on any kinds of tattoos and cuttings in their flesh, does He still have that same opinion today with all of His New Testament believers? I believe that He does, and this will now lead us into the second verse above.

2.  In this second verse above, Jesus Himself is telling us that He did not come to do away with the laws of His Father and the prophets. He says that these laws and commandments are still in effect until “all is fulfilled,” which I believe refers to when we get the New Heaven and New Earth after the 1000 Year Millennium Kingdom has passed.

Notice that Jesus says “till heaven and earth pass way.” These words perfectly describe what will happen when we get the New Heaven and the New Earth as described in the Book of Revelation.

It says that our earth and heaven as we know it now will pass away, and in its place we will be getting a new heaven and a new earth. Until this glorious, final event actually occurs, Jesus is telling us that all of the laws and commandments of His Father are still in full play.

This means that all 10 of the commandments are still in effect, along with all of the commands on engaging with any parts of the occult.

Unless the New Testament specifically does away with some of these specific laws and commands back from the Old Testament, I believe that we have to assume that God still wants all of us to abide by them. And this command that we are not to tattoo or cut into any part of our flesh still applies to everyone in this day and age.

The Bible says that God does not change, that He is the same today as He was yesterday. If God the Father is telling us that homosexuality and anything to do with the occult are abominations in His sight back in the Old Testament, then He is not going to be changing His mind just because we are in New Testament times.

Granted, we are no longer under the law, but under grace in our New Covenant with Jesus. But this does not mean we can start engaging in activities that were expressly forbidden by His Father back in the Old Testament

. As Jesus has stated in the above verse, all of the moral laws from His Father have not been done away with at this time, and they will not all be done away with until we get our New Heaven and New Earth. And until that even happens, I believe God wants all of us to do our best to abide by them.

So if God the Father was not wanting His chosen people back in the Old Testament to be putting on any types of tattoos or cutting into any parts of their flesh, does this same command still apply to all of us in this day and age? I believe that it does, and these next three verses will tell us why.

3.  The last three verses listed above are all telling us that our bodies have now become the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. Notice that God is specifically telling us that it is our human physical bodies that have now become the temple of His Holy Spirit.

Think of the ramifications of this statement – that since our human physical bodies are now literally carrying the Holy Spirit Himself on the inside of us once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, that God is now telling us that our physical bodies have now become the actual “temple” of His Holy Spirit.

Notice in the last verse that God is using the words “defiles the temple of God,” and that anyone who attempts to defile His holy temple will be destroyed.

God then ends this statement with talking about our physical bodies being the temple of His Holy Spirit. In other words, God does not want our temples, which are our physical bodies, to be defiled in any way, shape, and form. Is putting any kind of tattoo or body piercing on our physical bodies a form of defilement with the Lord? I believe that it may be.

Also consider this fact. The Jewish people did not have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of them back in the OT. Jesus had not yet come to die for all of our sins, so the Holy Spirit was not living on the inside of the Jewish people like He is now doing with all New Testament believers.

This means that the physical bodies of the Jewish people back in those days were not considered to be actual temples of the Lord since they did not have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of them.

So if God the Father is telling His chosen people that He did not want them tattooing or putting any kinds of cuttings into their flesh – and their bodies were not even considered to be the temple of His Holy Spirit back in those Old Testament times – then how much more seriously should this command be taken by all New Testament believers, since all of our bodies are now considered to be the actual temple of the Holy Spirit?

As the above verses are telling us, our bodies have now become the temple of the Lord Himself.

We are no longer our own. As a result, we should be doing everything we can to glorify our God – which includes glorifying Him in our bodies as the second last verse above is telling us to do.

Marking up our bodies with the different kinds of tattoos and body piercing may not be what the Lord had in mind when He is telling us to glorify Him in both our bodies and our spirits.

Again, you will each have to get your own interpretation as to what all of these verses are trying to tell us.

Conclusion

As I said at the top of this article, each Christian will be responsible for getting their own direct answer from the Lord on this very controversial issue. I believe that when you put all 5 of the above Scripture verses together side by side, the answer might be in the correct interpretation of these verses.

Without question, the last three verses listed above are telling us that our physical bodies are now considered to be the temple of our living God since we now carry His Holy Spirit on the inside of us.

I believe that our physical bodies are now more sacred, more precious, and more special in the Lord’s eyes than the four physical walls of any church may be since God is now calling our bodies His actual temple.

And just as we would never consider marking up or defacing any parts of an actual Christian Church building – in the same way I do not believe that our Lord wants us defacing or marking up any parts of our physical bodies.

This is why I believe God made sure to put this specific command in His Word.

When God is using the words “any” tattoos and “any” kinds of cuttings in the flesh, He is not making any exceptions with this kind of activity. I personally believe that God is letting all of us know, loud and clear, that He does not want any of us marking up our bodies with these kinds of defilement.

As a side note, I will leave you with a personal testimony from a good close friend who went to God after she had got her navel pierced. When she first called me up to tell me what she had done, I told her about the above verses. However, I told her not to take my word or opinion about this. I told her to go direct to God the Father to get His direct opinion on the matter.

She did, and shortly thereafter God came through loud and clear for her. He told her that He did not approve of it and that He wanted it removed. The revelation she received back from Him was that He was looking at this piercing like a smudge mark or dirt mark on her physical body.

When she called me back up and told me what she had received, I received an immediate vision in my mind’s eye of a young 5 year old boy coming back into his parent’s house. He had just fallen into a mud hole and he had mud caked all of over his face.

I then saw the mother have an immediate and instinctive reaction to want to go and get a wash cloth to wash all of the mud off his face. Can you imagine a mother just sitting there letting her child have all of that mud remain on his face for the rest of the day?

I believe that God may be having the same kind of reaction to many of His own when they start putting tattoos and different kinds of body piercing on various parts of their bodies.

Again, this testimony is a personal and private testimony. You will each have to get your own witness on it, as well as getting your own interpretation on the above verses from our Bible.

I will leave you with one last challenge on this issue:

For those of you who have a good ability to pick up an inner witness from the Holy Spirit on many different matters in your life, simply tap in and see what kind of inner witness you get from Him once you entertain the thought of wanting to put any kind of tattoo on your body, or make an attempt to want to put any kind of body piercing in your navel, tongue, eyelids, or to any parts of your genitalia – knowing full well that you carry His presence right there on the inside of your physical body.

What kind of witness do you get from the Holy Spirit when you tap in to see what His opinion may really be on this kind of a matter?

My own inner witness tells me that He does not want us getting any kinds of tattoos or cuttings done on our bodies – and that if we do, it is a form of defilement since our bodies are now His Holy Temple.

We have had quite a few people write in asking our opinion on this matter since this is still such a popular trend and fad in our society. For what it is worth, all of the above is our own personal opinion on this matter and the biblical reasons as to why we feel this way.

Similar Posts:

Amy E Wilson

Thursday 1st of July 2021

Thank you for your interesting article.

Questions:

1) Why is it okay for you to instill a sense of hopelessness in those who love the Lord, and yet have tattoos/piercings?

2) God uses everything for His purpose and Glory. Can He not use tattoos and piercings? For example: God wants us to reach out to ALL. I can't imagine God just tossing people aside because of their tattoos and piercings. As a matter of fact, it has been my experience that people with tattoos and piercings warm up to others with tattoos/piercings, feel safer with us, and are more willing to listen. God will use whatever it takes to connect with His lost children. Don't you think? It is just unfathomable to me that our Father will toss away these people. We are His children.

3) Basically, what I hear you saying is we are unforgivable. There is only one unforgivable sin: blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I'm interested in your response to that.

4) We are to follow the Ten Commandments. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see any mention of tattoos/piercings in the Ten Commandments. Do you?

May God bless and keep us all.

Collette Foley

Tuesday 30th of March 2021

I was saved at the time I chose to get tattooed. I would not go through with getting tattooed now, knowing what I now know because I am going deeper into my relationship with the Holy Spirit and I see how I have defiled the temple. I did not see myself with the Love that He has for me. I did not know how much He really loves me and how everything about me was purposefully designed. I am sorry for what I did to my body. I pray now that every tattoo has a testimony for the glory of the Lord and that every person that asks me about it will hear of how much they are loved by their Creator and come to know Him as the Savior of their soul! In Jesus most holy Name!

kevin

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

I am looking for the verse i know i read quite a while back mentions not associating with witches and heathens, going on the saying you can identify them by their tattoos and or piercings or brandings, i cannot remember which, but i have not been able to find it since i read it, who knows i may have read it in a dream, all i can remember is i did red it in the bible somewhere, yet through all my re reading i haven't been able to come across it

Alden

Tuesday 21st of January 2020

I have read a lot of replies to this article, and am quite surprised at some of the reasoning. Gods word is as straight and hard-nosed as it gets, but we need to be very careful on how we interpret it. Please, for everyone's sake read 1st Corinthians chapter 2, especially verse 14 (KJV). Make sure that the holy spirit is the one who is giving you the understanding you need on everything Gods word says. I have tattoos that I got years ago before I gave my life to the Lord, and before I ever had read the scripture. I wish I had never gotten them, if only I had known. But I firmly believe that God has forgiven me for my sins and past delusions of ignorance. I do know that there is a difference between an action done deliberately, and an action that can't be helped, and God knows too. But for every action that I do, that God is not pleased with, i will have to stand before him and answer for one day, regardless of what everyone else says or thinks. I want to go to heaven and i would like to take everyone with me that i can. In order to do that i have to live by Gods word. Am I perfect? No not by any means, but I have to keep on trying.

Food for thought

Thursday 16th of January 2020

Of course someone who needs surgery for health reasons causes there to be a totally different reason for the cutting, not for pleasure or fad. When I hear people say everyone has their own walk with God, it worries me that their interpretation of such is that they can do whatever they want but individual walk or not, we should seek the desire of God in all we do and not simply what pleases our flesh. As his children, we must seek to please him over our own selves. The scripture also clearly says we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice,.... and to be not conformed to this world but transformed by a renewed mind. This means we should not think or view things as the world does. When we have a problem with things, it is usually because we want to please our flesh and want no resistance.