Can We Go To Heaven With Tattoos? The Truth Behind Tattoos & Christianity

Christians often refer to tattooing as sinful. Despite the New Testament’s seeming silence on this issue, many Christians believe that all tattoos are an act of rebellion against God. The reality is that there are many Christians who have tattoos and they’ve never felt judged by their faith. There are more than one billion Catholics in the world, and not all of them think ink is a sin. So why do so many Christians condemn body art? Maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye.

What does the Bible say about tattoos?

This is a question that is often asked. So what does the Bible say about tattoos?

The Bible verses that are commonly cited as supporting this idea include Genesis 9:20-21, Leviticus 19:28, and Deuteronomy 14:1. The first of these verses says that “you may not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks on yourselves”, while the other two say “you must not make any baldness upon your head” and “you must not tattoo any marks on yourselves.”

While evangelical and fundamental Christians, for the most part, oppose tat- toos, because of the prohibition against tattooing in Leviticus 19:28, some young evangelicals today do wear Christian tattoos as a sign of their deep faith.

Inked: Tattoos and Body Art around the World [2 volumes] by Margo DeMello (2014)

By examining these texts we can see that they’re used to prohibit activities with a spiritual connection to mourning. In other words, when people were grieving for their loved ones, they were prohibited from cutting themselves or tattooing themselves as a way of making their pain known.

Study these passages:

Then the God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness

(Genesis 1:26)

Or did you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit … and you are not your own? For you were taken at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Don’t cut your bodies for the dead or have tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

(Leviticus 19:28)

History of tattoos

Tattoos are a form of body modification that has been used by cultures around the world for thousands of years. Tattoos were first recorded in the Americas, at least 14,000 years ago. During this time, tattoos were thought to be spiritual symbols that protected them from evil spirits.

As far back as ancient Egypt, tattoos were believed to have magical properties and could ward off demons and evil spirits. In the Bible, King David is mentioned with a tattoo on his thigh (2 Samuel 11:26). Though some scholars may argue that this was a type of brand rather than a tattoo.

In many religious texts and scriptures, tattoos are often associated with sin. Tattoos were often associated with slaves who would tattoo themselves to show their status as property or members of an enslaved race (for example, African-American slaves). This meant that people who wore tattoos could not enter Heaven after death because they had committed sin.

A few early Christians tattooed symbols of the cross onto their bodies, but tattooing was forbidden once Christianity was declared the official religion of Rome. 

Encyclopedia of Anthropology by H. James Birx, Sage Publications, et. al. (2006)

Tattooing in different cultures and religions

Tattoos are one of the most popular forms of body decoration in our society. They can be found on people from all walks of life, genders, and ethnicities. And according to a study by Northwestern University and the U.S. Census Bureau, about 36 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo and 50 percent of Americans will get tattoos in their lifetime.

But does this mean that tattoos are considered a good thing? Not necessarily. Though it’s easy to see why tattoos have become so widespread—they can cover scars, add color to your appearance, and make you look more interesting—the Bible also makes it clear that tattoos are not something that should be done lightly or without purpose.

According to John 3:1-8 , “tattooed on his arm was a man with leprosy; and he longed to be cleansed of it.” The Bible goes on to say that when Jesus saw him, He said “go show yourself to the priest.” This is because lepers were not allowed in the Jewish temple during the time Jesus Christ lived on Earth (around 30 AD). Because this man had a visible physical mark that identified him as an unclean person within Judaism, he wasn’t allowed inside.

Not only is tattooing spiritual but the body can act as a reservoir for a person’s deepest memories
from Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community by Margo DeMello, Gayle S. Rubin (2000)

Myths about tattoos among Christians

A common misconception about tattoos among Christians is that tattooing is a sin. But, in reality, it’s not the act of tattooing itself that’s sinful. It’s the reasons behind it.

For example, if you get your tattoo because you want to rebel or because you want to send a message to others, then yes, tattooing would be sinful. However, if you get one because it represents a significant moment in your life like getting married or celebrating a newborn, then it would actually fall under the category of honoring God and following His plan for your life.

Another myth is that people with tattoos can’t go to Heaven. In actuality, they are still allowed into Heaven provided they repent of their sins and have faith in Jesus Christ as their savior before death.

So what do you think? Is tattooing a sin? And are there any other myths about tattoos out there?

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