Now I’m sure you are asking yourself “Why in the world would he start of with this one? I mean there are so many more pressing things that matter way more than if tattoos are a sin or not”. Well I couldn’t agree more but I feel I need to get this one out of the way first because it is the number one verse that gets quoted to me. You see…. I have tattoos.
Leviticus 19:28 NKJV
“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.”
First let me start by clarifying that when the book of Leviticus was written, overtime between 1440 BC and 532 BC, there were no tattoo shops on every corner. There were no bad bikers roaming the desert. “Tattoos”, as we call them today, are not the same thing that this verse is speaking of. The word “tattoo” in this verse is a modern word put in there by the translators. Let us take a look at the literal translation from the Hebrew text.
Leviticus 19:28 YLT
“And a cutting for the soul ye do not put in your flesh; and a writing, a cross-mark, ye do not put on you; I am Jehovah.”
So as you see…the word “tattoo” was never mentioned in the original text. As a matter of fact it says the exact markings that they were forbidden from putting on their bodies. As mentioned before, the people of that time didn’t get tattoos to express themselves or even rebel. They only put markings on their body to honor the dead. They were organ markings.
And then, if they concede the point on verse misinterpretation they always come back with these verses
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV
“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.”
They will never quote the verse before it because it explains that the verse is about sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV
“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
The traditional teaching that tattoos are a sin keeps a lot of good people away from church because they are made to feel unworthy. It is a false teaching that hurts the growth of God’s Church and must stop.