Would Jesus Have Worn a Tattoo?


Frankly, I never thought we would have to deal with the tattoo issue in our family. Apparently God had other plans. Recently, our daughter Lisa informed us she was going with our 18 year-old granddaughter to get a tattoo. Lisa is an adult so she wasn’t asking our permission. But she and Haley did welcome our input.

So we shared our thoughts on the matter, which were pretty much all negative. Things like, it’s painful and it’s permanent. Your body is God’s holy temple. All of which Jay and I thought were good reasons not to get a tattoo.

But then, I realized a very important factor in the equation. Haley is a strong Christian who projects her faith to all who know her. Could a small cross on the back of her shoulder perhaps enhance her witness, rather than defame it?

Opinions about tattoos vary due to cultural influence, life experiences, as well as generational issues. In last week’s post, The Great Divide: Dealing with Generational Differences, we considered the importance of basing our convictions on God’s truth, rather than our opinions.

As far as I know, there is only one verse in the Old Testament that addresses the subject of tattoos. “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

In the proper context, cutting and tattoos had to do with worshipping idols. God’s command was a warning to his people not to honor pagan idols with symbols and practices.

In the New Testament, Galatians 5:1-18 tells us we’re not under the law if we are led by the Spirit. How then are we to know what’s sin and what’s not sin in God’s eyes? Verse 16 tells us. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

According to Sue Bohlin from Probe Ministries, the New Testament doesn’t prohibit tattoos. She also says, “It’s not a moral issue like sexual sin or lying or stealing which are still wrong and forever will be . . . . Many people believe this is an area where we have Christian liberty, the freedom to do something that used to be prohibited.”

With all this in mind, Would Jesus Have Worn a Tattoo? Let’s take a look at the people he spent the most time with, his disciples. They were unrefined, hard working men. Some were fishermen; one was a tax collector. Other followers of Jesus could have been farmers, carpenters, even the construction workers of their day.


Hypothetically speaking, suppose some of the disciples had tattoos. Perhaps they would have worn the sign of the fish on their arms. Suppose the disciples would have tried to talk Jesus into getting a tattoo.  

What would Jesus do? We know what he wouldn’t have done. He wouldn’t have sought the advice of the hypocritical Pharisees. Nor would he have made his decision based on what his friends were doing. As an adult, He probably wouldn’t have run it by His mother either.

Perhaps Jesus would have considered getting a tattoo. After all, he had taken part in the Creation. That and his knowledge of heaven would have given him a vast reservoir of great ideas for tattoos.


What would Jesus do? For certain, He would have prayed. Many times, he made it very clear he would never do anything on his own accord, apart from his Father’s will. (John 6:38, Matthew 26:39, Hebrews 10:7)

We have no way of knowing for sure whether Jesus would have gotten a tattoo. We don’t need to know. All we need to know is how he would have arrived at his decision. The man Jesus would have consulted with and obeyed his Heavenly Father.

What can we learn from Jesus’ example that will help us make tough decisions according to God’s will? We can choose to:

    • desire His will more than our own.
    • lay aside our biased opinions.
    • seek God’s truth concerning the matter
    • pray for the wisdom to discern God’s will.
    • pray for the courage to obey God in the power of his Holy Spirit.


 When faced with a need to discern God’s will, how has God helped you make a decision based on truth and not opinions?

woman on computer

4 Responses to “Would Jesus Have Worn a Tattoo?”
  1. Mary Beth Welsh says:

    Wow, Mom, you tackled that so well and with such wisdom and truth. Freedom in worship and expression of our love for the Lord when it brings Him glory is a beautiful thing. I met someone who had her tattoos on all of her toes. I asked her about them because in my mind that had to be unbelievably painful on such a sensitive area. She said it was but now every time she sees them she is reminded of the pain which was only a fraction of the pain Jesus suffered for her. Jesus glorified perhaps in an unconventional way but glorified none the less.

  2. Kathy Biedenharn says:

    God for you Liz!!!
    My nephew is covered in ink from neck down. He LOVES The Lord! There is a story behind each item he chose to have tattooed on his body. A tattoo might give some an open door to criticize. I say this, it’s all about one’s heart and ONLY GOD knows the truth within that special place reserved just for Him, to reside.

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