To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo? How about YOU?

My daughter Julianna and I have had an ongoing conversation for a few years about her getting a Tattoo. She has waited, a tribute to her sweet heart for her Mamma.

I want to be clear about my reasons for hesitation. It is NOT because I think she will look like a rebellious radical. It is because I want her to wait and wait and wait until she is sure about what she permanently does to her body.

My honey got a Tattoo as a young 18 year old Marine just before heading off to Vietnam. It is on his forearm and he has been trying to cover it, especially in a professional environment, since we have been married. It no longer reflects who he is or the message he wants plastered on his arm for everyone to see.

I am meeting this week with my Bible Study babes as we continue our amazing discussions about decisions Christian women face on a daily basis that are not necessarily answered in black and white, or even red, in scripture.

Our discussion this week will be on Body Image. Things like cosmetic surgery, tattoos, exercise and weight fixations…..

So tell me, what do YOU think about Tattoos?

Do you have one? Do you like it? Were you young or older when you chose to get it? What motivated you? Are you sorry you did? Do you feel your Tattoo has had an effect one way or another on your Christian Influence?

Inquiring minds would like to know 🙂


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  1. I actually have 3. (gasp! shock!) One is under my wedding ring, which I never take off, and is my husband’s initial. The other 2 are small and on my wrists. One is a cross, and the other is Selah in Hebrew (which means Praise the Lord). But they’re inked in white, and unless you’re looking for them, you can’t see them. They’re just subtle reminders to praise praise praise. I love them, and wouldn’t change anything about them. I was 28 when I got my 1st, and I’ve gotten the last 2 within the last 5 years. So I was definitely out of the “I’m 18 and I’m gonna do what I want” stage.


  2. Thank you darling Robyn! I LOVE “Selah”. It is on a necklace I have.
    This is exactly the input I am looking for my friend.
    Love you back and would LOVE to see you anywhere, anytime!

  3. Tattoos are a funny thing. I’ve seen some that I really love and some that I thought were just terrible (for example, I saw a man in a grocery store recently with a tattoo on his calf of a jar of Jif peanut butter. Like a life size jar. Really?) Tattoos are like little pieces of art…full of self-expression and open to all kinds of personal interpretation. I got my first tattoo when I was in my early thirties. It is in a place that is not visible to the average passer-by and some days I’m grateful for that. Not because it is vulgar or inappropriate but because it’s personal and I’m okay with not having to explain it’s meaning to every single person I meet. However, I love it as much today as I did the day I got it. And I wouldn’t hesitate to get another one assuming I could find a design with lasting importance.

  4. Jenn,
    Thank you. Great points. I’ve kind-of wondered, why would you have one no one can see? By being “personal”, it is kindof just something you know is there, a reminder of some-one, something?

  5. This is a GREAT topic! I have personally had my own struggles with this topic, as I was raised a pastor’s kid in the church. My parents were always very strong about their opinion on being against tattoos & so I never let my self discover my own convictions about it, until I got older. It was 1 of those things that were just a “sin” because thats how I was raised (with no meaning or understanding behind it) I was very judgmental on those that got them being “a christian” even to my own husband lol.

    There came a point where I started at the beginning with all of my convictions with Christ & wanted to make them personal, instead of just “because that’s what I was told!”

    After an extensive, life changing trial that I went through a couple years ago I feel like I wanted a “victory” mark for myself.

    I prayed extensively about it & decided I wanted to get a tattoo, mine is on my side, so again, it’s not visible to all because of being a pastor’s wife, but it is the scripture of Ps 27:1 in Hebrew “The Lord is my Light & my Salvation WHOM SHALL I FEAR, The Lord is the Strength of my Life, of WHOM SHALL I BE AFRAID!

    Honestly, I see it everyday & it encourages me, & it reminds me when I am constantly fighting the battle of “life & ministry (keeping my heart right) (priorities)”

    Amazing as it sounds, even though I was older (27) I never wanted to dishonor my parents, but after talking with them again about it (10 years later then our previous tattoo talks) their perspective had changed on the situation & actually they marked their 30th wedding anniversary with getting tattoos!

    Again, 99% of the people in my life have no idea that I have 1, only the people that I am comfortable wearing a 2 piece around (another controversial subject 🙂 but I was on a cruise a couple months ago with my husband & was stopped by a “drunk” girl that asked me if I was a Christian because she was raised Jewish & could read my tattoo 🙂 (let’s just say we had a great conversation that afternoon)

    So personally, I feel it is a heart issue, that each person should really examine their motives & reasons behind everything they do (what is not wrong for 1 could be wrong for another with different intentions)


  6. Krystal,
    OMG!! This is a great story. It makes me wonder if Honey and I should have gotten tattoos for our 35th Wedding Anniversary last week–His 2nd and my first! Maybe 36??
    Love you sweetheart. Thank you SO much for you input!

  7. I got my first two tattoos when I was 18. One is a rose on my chest. The other is a green vine with red flowers around my ankle. I don’t regret either of them; however, the one on my chest is quite stretched out (and sagging) from having children and having that area grow with each pregnancy.

    When I was 23, I added to the tattoo on my chest. I added 3 small hearts around the rose AND then, my husband’s initial’s over all of it. At that time, we weren’t married, but he was my children’s father, and I knew I would be with him forever. When we got married in 2004, I was so relieved because, you know, I had his initials on my body, so I would never have to worry about it. I got divorced in 2009, and now I have a big TS on my chest that constantly reminds me of my failed marriage.

    A few years back, I got a small butterfly on my ankle, with 5 other cousins, in remembrance of my uncle/their dad. It’s been almost 20 years since I got my first tattoo on my body. I still love my ankle vine, BUT it has faded and needs to be re-colored.

    So, long story short, once you tattoo, most people want to continue tattooing. Think A LOT on the type of tattoo you want. Picture what it will look like in the years of gaining weight/ stretched skin/ etc. And no matter how much you love someone, don’t tattoo their name/initials on your body.

    My brother has a set of tattoos on his arms that I believe affect him spiritually. On one arm, it has the Chinese symbol for life. On the other arm, it’s the symbol for death. He lives his life constantly struggling between those two forces. I believe it does impact him spiritually.

    I have a friend who (Pre-Christ) tattooed a big dragon on her back which had some important meaning to her at the time. Once she accepted Jesus as her Savior, she had to live with this dragon on her back. On many occasions, she used the phrase, “I feel like I have a big dragon on my back,” when describing the “pits” she’d fall into, and her spiritual walk. Because her tattoo was covered, no one really saw it. Without realizing it, she had opened the door to the enemy with that tattoo, and curses had to be broken off of her. She is now stuck with an ugly dragon on her back, but instead of it being a curse, she now uses it as her testimony of the power that a tattoo or piercing can put upon us.

    Sorry for the length of my response:)

  8. At age 67 I so enjoy having my eyebrows tattooed since my face was totally washed out without eyebrows. Have enjoyed this for 12 years now. I guess most folks don’t even know that I have a tattoo. Some tattoos are like jewelry, very becoming…others..let’s just say it glorifies some pretty nasty things.

  9. I think tattoos can be beautiful but like so many others have shared I feel that the words and images we choose can impact us spiritually as well. We are made spirit, soul, and body, and what affects one part of us inevitably affects all of us. As I was reading some of what the other women had posted, I thought of my Papa. My grandfather was a kind and gentle man, although in his early years his Irish blood had a bit of a wild streak :). He had a tattoo from his years in the navy that said lemon & chicken. I always thought it was funny, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that my grandmother explained the he put each of their favorite foods on his forearm. After 50 years of marriage it was a sweet reminder of their love, silly but beautiful.

  10. Before making a decision concerning tatoos, people should research the Coptic (Egyptian) Christian who for generations have tatooed a small (coptic) cross on their wrist. They do this as a testimony to their faith. Christians have been under severe persecution in Egypt generations. The Muslim’s forbid tatooing. Christian parents had the wrists of their children tatooed so that if they were killed extremists wouldn’t take their children and raise them as muslim. We in America do not know what it is like to die for your faith. These people want Christ to be proclaimed even in their dead flesh. I don’t know about you but that is a tatoo that inspires me!!

  11. I, like Ann, have permanent eyeliner which is a tattoo. I don’t have any others, but my son does. How could I argue with him when he wanted Philippians 4:13 inscribed on his shoulder? I told him to be really sure of his decision, because he would be forever marked for Jesus on his body and it would be a testimony of his faith; however it could be a negative witness if he didn’t “walk the walk”.

  12. I once asked a friend who had W.W.J.D Tatoo’d on her leg, “What would Jesus Do?” We both laughed when I told her “He probably wouldn’t get a tattoo 🙂

    I have none, both of my beautiful daughters have them. Again its a personal preference. I don’t believe they are a sin, i just believe one should use caution when deciding and think about 2morrows wrinkles and stretches and 1st and foremost ask if what you’re doing glorifies God. If it doesn’t then I think that’s a no brainer.

    Great topic!

  13. Hi Pat! I don’t have any tattoos, but my husband has one around his ring finger cause wearing a ring is dangerous in his line of work. My young adult daughter’s are considering getting tattoos. I’m glad they are thinking about some of the above issues, like styles/tastes changing and bodies changing! I really don’t have much of a desire for a tattoo myself, but when I consider it… my biggest hesitation is always this verse:
    Lev 19:28 ‘You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.’
    I know, I know, we are now under grace and not under the law, etc. We eat can pork and don’t have to keep all those OT laws. But why do we strive to keep some and not others? Some seem really important to keep! Others seem like they don’t apply anymore, but I’m not sure how we decide. I guess that’s what makes this a grey area? Until I feel sure about these issues I couldn’t get one. But I know for instance my family and friends that have tattoos feel completely free to and they bring glory to God in them! For now I will wait.
    I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion Pat! 🙂

  14. I, too, have permanent makeup…eyeliner and eyebrows…which are tattoos. I suppose most would not consider them tattoos, but they are. I have no problem with tattoos, but like the others, I think one should be very sure about what they are putting on their bodies in permanent ink. I’ve never had the desire for a non-makeup tattoo, but I’m eagerly waiting to see that mark on me identifying me as belonging to Jesus!!

  15. Hi all, I have just returned to my computer after a long day-out and about. I have been following this from my phone but haven’t had time to respond.
    So much of what you have shared blesses me, teaches me, challenges me and lastly—
    I WILL be getting eye liner tattoos!! I had never heard of such a thing but I’m loving it and I’m telling you, I will!
    Thank you so much for joining in here.
    I can’t wait to hear the feedback from my precious ladies tomorrow.

  16. Tattoos are an inspiration to me. They tell stories and can mark life changing experiences in ones life and I love it! I especially love what Debra said about the Christians in Egypt. They are saying to the their enemies ” do what you want with our bodies, but we belong to Jesus! On their wrists not even hidden!!! Wow, challenges me. My husband got a tattoo yesterday of a lion on it’s hind legs with a crown symbolizing the lordship of Christ. It’s strange, but I can tell a difference just in his spiritual demeanor as he’s been struggling lately in that department. Amazing what little reminders can do! I’m all for it! I don’t have one but plan to this march for my birthday, to mark a crazy chapter in my life where god has shown so faithful!!!!

  17. Pat, I love these discussions! Very insightful. My husband has 5 tattoos and all were gotten while he was young. He was also in the military and what a lot of his friends were doing. He hates them. As a professional now, he covers them up as much as possible because he feels that they don’t reflect who he is now. I did see where Khloe Kardashian got a tattoo of her deceased father’s signature I love you on her wrist. I thought that was sweet. My friend just did that on her wrist of her deceased brother’s name in his handwriting. I don’t know that I would personally get one. I can’t think of something I want permanently on my body.

  18. Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, we do live very near one another and I’d enjoy meeting you in person.
    Tattoos – the only time I’ve considered getting one is after we lost our 12 yr. old son, Andrew, just 21 months ago. Of course, it would be something to honor our beautiful and strong son. Unlike the jewelry I wear with his name, it would be a permanent sign.

  19. I loved the discussion last night and it gave me a lot to think about. Here are my thoughts on this topic:

    Do I think having or getting a tattoo is inherently a sin? No, I do not.
    Would it be sinful for me to get one at this time? Yes, it would.
    Let me explain:

    I have never gotten a tattoo because for me, having a permanent mark on my body would not be good for my psyche. It would drive me nuts and I would think about it all the time. It might cause me to be anxious and nervous. Also, my husband expressed to me many years ago that he wished for me not to get one. If I were to get one anyway, it may cause strife in our marriage and break his trust. It would be an act of rebellion toward him and God, who asks me to love and respect and honor my husband. And the gift of my husband is way more important to me than a tattoo.

    I have no problem with others having tattoos (usually). I have several friends who have tattoos of God-honoring images, scriptures, even memorials that have helped them heal. Some friends’ tattoos have acted as an icebreaker for them to share a testimony or a cause close to their hearts. It can be a means to planting a seed that could lead to someone else’s salvation. Or it might just be a pretty picture of daisies like my sister-in-law has. I think that is awesome!!!
    1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” AMEN!!

    I also think that anything we are free to do, can POTENTIALLY lead to sin or heartache and regret if we are not careful.
    1 Corinthians 10:23 says “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.”

    I cringe when I see someone tattooed head to toe with scary, evil images, or are pierced in shocking ways. I don’t like that it scares my children. At times I have felt an angry or sad spirit from those that have those kinds of tattoos. As my sister-in-Christ asked last night, can we see past those tattoos and love and pray for and possibly be in relationship with THAT person? Are we condemning them? (Jesus didn’t come to the world to condemn (John 3:17), but to save the world through Him–so why do we condemn others?) Are we not inviting them to church or to our small group or sharing the gospel when the opportunity presents itself because we think they might not be accepted by other Christians? I need God as much as the tattooed guy with 10 piercings in his face.

    Are we so worried that a tattoo is a sin that we forget that judging others is a sin, too? Can’t a tattooed person who comes to Christ (or a Christian who gets a tattoo) do all things according to His purpose? Absolutely.

    If someone regrets their tattoos, God can cleanse their hearts even if He doesn’t cleanse their skin. It’s the heart that matters. I used to be confused about the scripture in Leviticus 19:28 that tells us not to put tattoo marks on ourselves and when I first became a Christian I looked down upon a mom I knew who had a new tattoo– because I felt she was hypocritical to have gotten one after her salvation. I know NOW, what scripture says about legalism and the law before Christ fulfilled the scriptures, but at the time, it didn’t leave a great first impression on me as a new Christian.

    John 7:24 says “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” The last part of 1 Samuel 16:7 says “…the LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” It’s all about the heart.

    When I graduated from college, in an act of rebellion, I got my belly button pierced (because having a tattoo would make me CRAZY!) and one day, I saw 2 of my 2nd grade students at the mall. My belly was exposed and my huge belly ring was there for all to see. This was in 1996, when it was less mainstream to have a piercing. I hid it with my hand as the girls said hello to me. Monday, they came to my desk and asked me if I had a belly ring because it bothered them that they thought they saw one. And… enter sin. I lied to them. I looked firmly into their sweet little eyes and I told them “no” and then told them that they “should be careful what they tell people because that is how rumors start.” I was ashamed of myself and also didn’t want to get caught. To this day I feel awful about that. I know God has forgiven me for that lie and being a poor example to those impressionable girls. I wish I could ask them to forgive me, too. Could the fact that their trusted teacher lied to them (and believe me, they knew I was lying) have had a ripple effect on them? The act of getting the belly ring wasn’t the sin. The motives for getting it which included rebellion and seeking attention on an intimate part of my body from men other than my husband and the lie I eventually would tell the girls… those things were the sins. There were consequences I hadn’t thought about that made me miserable.

    I think that if you are a Christian considering a tattoo and nothing about it would grieve God now or in the future, but would bring him honor and glory, we are free to do so and it can be a blessing!

    I believe if there is a reservation in your heart for ANY reason, then God wants to protect you from possible consequences and you should heed that warning. Could it be a job opportunity lost if the tattoo is visible? Could you get fixated or addicted to having more?Might you regret the image later and what it stands for? Might it send a questionable message? For me personally, God knows it would bug me to no end having it on my skin and it would be against my husband’s wishes… so for me, God says ‘no’. And I will choose to obey that knowing God has my best interest in mind. Maybe one day that will change. God may put it on my husband’s and my heart to ink up for His glory! But until then…

  20. Lyndsey,
    I agree with you. I love these discussions! So many insightful opinions and perspectives. Everyone who has taken the time to comment here has made a point that causes me to think and search God’s word, not to mention my own heart and judgement more closely.
    Thank you for every word and every moment of thought about this. Tomorrow I’ll share more from our group last night.

  21. A while back I did some research into Lev 19:28 ‘You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.’ (quoted above by Janahn). I learned that back in that time, tattoos were popular in the pagan nations. God commanded His people not to mark their bodies so that they would stand out from the rest of the world. I believe the same holds true today, which is why I do not plan on getting any tattoos. That being said, I also think that this is one of those gray areas in Scripture that will always be up for debate. There have been some very valid reasons listed above as to why they have tattoos, and I feel just as we all have different gifts and callings, we also have different convictions. We each need to be listening to how the Holy Spirit is leading us and act accordingly.

    Lisa (IMSF GR team)

  22. Let’s all just go there for a moment and think through what’s happening when we respond to someone covered in tattoos. We either feel scared, repulsed and shocked by images that aren’t lovely or we feel comforted when we see one in the shape of a cross or fish or some biblical symbol and think “well, at least it’s honoring God.” Either scenario, we respond in judgement to what someone is actually willing to show us and unfortunately, that response is rarely in love. I wonder how we would respond to someone if they were wearing their heart on their skin and not just a tattoo?

    John 7:24 says “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” The last part of 1 Samuel 16:7 says “…the LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    Because we struggle with things like tattoos and piercings (and other ways people to choose to express themselves that we personally aren’t comfortable with) I am convinced that God’s grace and mercy on us is evident in the scripture in 1 Samuel 16:17 where it says people judge the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. He knows we don’t have the strength to love someone if we were able to see what He sees.

    Tattoos have different meaning to different people and to different cultures (even cultures who love and serve the one True God). Does ink actually have the power to bring a curse on a soul? Is God so limited that his hands become tied when someone makes a decision they may regret down the road? Haven’t we all made decisions that we regret? And haven’t we experienced his forgiveness when we have confessed our sins and repented?

    I personally would not choose to get a tattoo, but that’s a personal conviction that I will not impose on someone else. I would like to think the best version of myself would be able to love someone who does not look, think or act like me.

    Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this ALL men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

  23. I hopped over from Kim’s blog because I looked at your last post (and think it’s ironic that your comment was about being able to see everyone’s last post! LOL!).

    When I saw the title, I had to hop over. As one who has grown up in church, I was brought up to think that any tattoo was sinful. Our body is a temple, etc, etc. I looked down on people who had tattoos, especially if they were Christians. How could they do that?

    Fast forward to today. Not only have I done a 180 on that thought process (and how judgmental I was! Gross!), I think tattoos can be a wonderful way of sharing one’s faith, particularly to the people who would be drawn to a tattoo instead of a suit and tie. My husband got a tattoo recently that says “Seek” and “Palm 34:4.” He has been able to share that the Lord has delivered him from so many fears…one being of getting a tattoo! : )

  24. Lisa, Mary and Heathahlee,
    Good Morning and Good Words! I have stalled on placing a new post because I love this conversation and am learning more from each one who writes.
    Heathahlee, Thank you for coming over from EE to visit me. I am honored and I appreciate your words. I honestly wish I had a dollar for everyone I have met who struggle with how they were taught verses where their own hearts land. Sometimes it can take a long time for God not to sound just like Mom and Dad :). I love the stories of tattoos that are used to share God’s Love.
    Lisa—I can’t wait for our Freedom Weekend!
    Mary—your just awesome!
    Have a good day bloggy friends!

  25. Victoria and I have had this talk so many times because I believe she is way to young (17 now) even at the age of 18 when it is legal to make such a “big” decision like that in life but of course it is as if I don’t want her to do something but that has never been my intention about it …… And I will go home tonight and have her read this because so many great points were brought up in these comments. I think it is so important to discuss with her again and again so that she will wait for a very long time (not teen years). Love you 🙂

  26. OK. Good topic. I’m late. But, I’m a pastor and have two tattoos.

    I’m not a hater of tatoos. I do think in some ways they are way out of control. I would proceed with caution. And by way of announcement, I will not get a tat on my face :0

    Love you and Kudos Pat Layton. The Stods remember your with love and respect.

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