Tattoos: Can We Brand Ourselves For God?

Le Basic
To start this off we might as well ask the big question. Why do people (usually older) say getting a tattoo is so bad? A couple reasons actually, some biblical and some cultural.
  •          i.            If you go back a few years you’ll find out only a few people got tattoos. You had criminals, sailors, gang members, and foreigners that practiced FALSE religion. Therefore having a tattoo associated you with crime.
  •        ii.            Even today if you’re covered in tattoos statistics show that you are less likely to get hired for a job even if you are more qualified.
  •       iii.            Finally if you open your bible to Leviticus 19:28 it says “… Nor print any marks upon you: I am Lord” (KJV) “… or put tattoos on yourselves: I am the LORD.” (NIV) These are laws Moses gave to the people that God told him would keep them from sin.

Why was it so bad to get markings on you sin? The prequel to the tattoo part is, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead...” The whole verse refers to rituals (pagan) people would have to go through to get a tattoo. They were satanic in nature and obviously not glorifying to the living GOD. You must make sure the tattoo is glorifying to God before you (John 3:30)
I’ll Take My Steak Rare
Okay so far it makes sense why inking yourself seems unrighteous. Read all of Leviticus 19. Did you read it? Seriously read it. Okay now here are several laws from this chapter alone probably broken almost every week:
         i.            Do not wear two types of fabric at the same time (19:19)
       ii.            Do not eat meat that’s raw at all (19:26)
      iii.            Do not cut your hair (19:27)
     iv.            Do not Shave (19:27)
       v.            Have a day of rest with no work at all (19:30)
That’s just five out of many more. (Want some more laws? Read ch. 18) The Laws were established knowing that man could never follow them all but show him that he has sin. The sacrifice was to show obedience to Gods calling. Just as we are to act obedient to his will now and try and live as Christ.
  • v  Another fact is that the exodus had finally ended and everyone was settling down. It was time to have organization and rules to avoid further displeasing God. Leviticus is a book meant to be used by rabbi/priests for sacrifice and why to do it.

 This leads me back to the last section. Because culture made it bad, people kept it as taboo. These laws were not pointless in an earthly relation though. God had a purpose for these laws, always about protecting his people. Verse 6 says don’t eat burnt sacrificed meat 3 days after it’s burnt and verse 26 says don’t eat meat that has any blood. Sanitation did not exist in their time and these practices kept people alive and clean. No need to take the risk of eating some maggot meat when God warns us ahead of time. Why don’t we follow all of these anymore though?
My Ink Will Be His Blood
·         Read Leviticus 19:5-8
The chapter begins by putting emphasis on sacrifice for sins. It’s brought back up in verse 21-22. By knowing God (yhwh) sent his son to be the last necessary sacrifice. It takes many laws and fulfills them through His blood.
·         Read Hebrews 9 (to understand sacrifice)
Sacrifice could never continue to make anyone perfect (heb. 10:1). There was no perfect sacrifice or perfect sacrificer. However once Christ offered himself and was killed/sacrificed our sins were forever forgiven (heb. 10:10). Now, Christ was pure when He died and now he sits with God (on his right hand)(heb. 10:12). Christ was not made after the law, but after Gods power. In doing so He can conquer earthly rules (heb. 7:16).
·         Read Matthew 5:17
I’ve said already that Christ fulfilled the law. He said that he came to fulfill the prophecies and to fulfill the law. What that means is that Christ took the place of the sacrifice and therefore took the place for the laws.
·         Read Acts 21
Paul is preaching on how the Law of Moses does not hold up to the words of Christ. In other words, if you are honoring Christ, whether it is in the Old Testament laws or not it’s pleasing to God. No longer do you need to be circumcised (but you can be), no longer do you have to follow purification rituals (but you can). It’s about your heart and relationship with God. If your relationship with God is not right then you can twist sin to feel right. We ourselves are evil and with a nudge from satan we can act as if wrong is right.
Heart On My Sleeve Cross On My Back
Your Heart? No matter how you act or what you say both God and you know what your heart really means.
·         Read Luke 8:7&15, Matthew 3:8
Look closer at Luke 8:7, if your tattoo is a thorn that can take away from Gods glory your giving yourself a stumbling block. Truth is in your heart, whether you truly repent, or you bluffing. With this tattoo it has to be of the heart honoring God. Both God and you have to know it is for Him, a brand of his name, forever physically carrying your cross.
·         Read Luke 14:27
This is one example where Christ calls us to carry our cross. Metaphorically we are to follow his lead, to give him our sins, to be different from everyone else. If you brand your body with this cross what will separate you from the rest of the guys who have a cross on their body while they brag about parties, sex, or listen to horrible music or even mock the living God? It has to be the fruit of your heart. Carry your cross boldly and be separate from your sins.

All Things for Gods Glory
There are several reasons why having a tattoo can honor and glorify God. They can benefit your walk and your relationship. However, and this is big, this can also be harmful if you disobey God.
         i.            Accountability
a.       If anyone sees your brand you now have to live up to that standard. If you see your brand you are forever reminded of who you serve. Someone can see your brand when you act against God and a chance to witness can be lost. You’re not expected to be perfect no one but Christ has ever achieved that. People will be watching you for a mistake though. Know you are held above everyone else.
                                                               i.      “I’m not better than a non believer, I’ve just been forgiven.”
       ii.            Metaphoric
a.       You now actually carry a cross with you. You were scarred for Christ’s Glory because he was manifest in human form and was sacrificed for your life in heaven.
      iii.            Honoring
a.       With the right heart you show respect and honor the living God and not yourself.
     iv.            Witness Tool
a.       People will ask about your tattoo, use it for God not you. Turn it into a witness and explain to them your faith and why your marks for God are different than everyone else’s.
  • v  Remember this tattoo is for God not for you!

·         Read 1 Corinthians 10:31
“… Do all to the glory of God.” With a tattoo its purpose is to bring GOD glory and not attention to yourself.
v  “Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.” – Francis Chan
Get Right or Get Left
A proper tattoo may range from practically anything in almost any place. It’s not a good idea to mark the head or face for several reasons though. We are made in the image of God and symbolically Christ is the head of the church. Honor and respect Christ by not marking or covering the head. It is out of respect to the God that sacrificed His Son for our lowly life (1 Cor.11:7). The tattoo has to honor God and be respectful. As long as your heart is producing worthy fruit for God it is honoring. DO NOT be flashy for that is self attention. DO NOT diminish the significance of God or his sacrifice. DO NOT use profanity or even get anything that does not show Christ’s love. It should be about God and that is all. Remember to be modest, do not show it off. If God can be so humble as to come in human form, do miracles and tell people not to tell; then you can avoid bragging about this tattoo.
  • v  Final Fact:

o   The Most important and famous person to have a marking on their skin. Christ had it on his thigh in revelations, “Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.” (Rev. 19:16)
Marked Reading
·         Leviticus 19
·         Hebrews 9
·         Matthew 5:17
·         Acts 21
·         Luke 8:15
·         Matthew 3:8
·         Luke 14:27
·         1 Corinthians 10:31
·         Revelation 19:16
Get your knowledge on


  1. Well said, but you forgot one particular group of people. Those with tattoos before they found Christ. He welcomes them and their tatoos (regardless of design) just as he does all of us and any baggage or sin we bring to the relationship. Both me and my tattoo are imperfect, but he loves us both.

  2. It's important to note that the Israelites were to be set apart (holy).
    Pagans were tattooing themselves so in order to not be confused with the pagan societies, the Israelites were to abstain from markings.
    Some of the levitical laws were cultural, and some moral.
    Those you listed out of chapter 19 were cultural.

    All this being said, I've heard some people say that since it started in pagan culture, why do it?
    thoughts on that?


About Me

My photo
BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.