In addition to the question of whether Christians are justified in getting tattoos and piercing, I’d like also to keep in mind other types of permanent procedures that some would go as far to suggest is mutilation.
Appearances have evolved even in many Christian churches as they have in secular society. It’s not for me to suggest what is right or wrong when the apparel remains modest and gender specific as the Bible states. But what about fashion that is relatively permanent like tattoos and piercing along with more severe disfigurements? Some argue that our flesh will perish anyway and it’s what is inside that God sees and matters. If this were true then I don’t believe the Bible would take the opportunity to discuss modest appearance and dress in various scriptures. The truth is our outward appearance is so often a manifestation of what’s inside of us.
Opponents of Christians tattooing and piercing often remind us of the fact our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and are ours only on loan and belong to God. I have no doubt Satan has an influence on people who grossly distort the bodies God has made for them.
So what is it the Bible has to say regarding tattoos and piercing?
Tattoos and piercing during the Old Testament days were done in pagan tradition and to mark slaves. Under the law in the Old Testament people were instructed in Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” (See Deuteronomy 14:1 as well). Though we no longer live under the law of the Old Testament, many question if this now justifies various piercing in the flesh if not done out of pagan tradition.
In Exodus 21:6 the Bible tells us if a servant wanted to remain servant to his master he would have his ear pierced as recognition that he will be so forever. In Genesis chapter 35 Jacob was told to “put away the foreign gods” among the people and to cleanse themselves. In verse 4 this included taking out their earrings from their ears.
The choice to permanently pierce or mark your body is your own. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I’ve known Christians who’ve gotten tattoos representing their Christian faith. I don’t have a solid opinion on this matter—not that I’m any authority anyway. I too have tattoos and my ears pierced which were done during a time when my walk with the Lord was miniscule.
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Scripture reference are quoted from the NKJV.