What Does the Bible Say About Getting Tattoos?

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(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)A tattoo artist from Virginia works on a man’s leg with a Captain America design.

Among the contested issues within churches today is what the Bible says and means as it pertains to tattoos, a topic that proves challenging given that they have become normalized in culture.

The most explicit scriptural condemnation of tattoos appears in Leviticus 19:28 which reads: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”

Some read that passage as God expressed a desire for His people to be set apart for Himself, as tattoos were tied to occult practices like sorcery and other pagan religious practices.

The surrounding verses reveal that forbidding tattoos is but one of many things associated with pagan peoples that the God of Israel prohibits such as making daughters into prostitutes, and turning to mediums and necromancers.

“Anyone getting a tattoo really needs to ask themselves, why am I getting this and what is the meaning of this tattoo? Is the tattoo an expression of witchcraft, idolatry or pagan symbolism?” asked Jay Haizlip, pastor of The Sanctuary Church in Orange County, California, in a 2013 Huffington Post essay.

“I lean toward the belief that it is not forbidding all expressions of tattoos. Culturally and specifically here in the US, tattoos, over the last 20 years, have become more socially acceptable,” he said, referencing Pew research claiming approximately 40 percent of millennials have tattoos.

Writing at Crosswalk.com, Liberty University Professor of Apologetics Will Honeycutt explained that injecting ink underneath…

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