What does the Church teach about Tattoos?


June 12, 2013 by mattfradd


I was recently asked:

Could you please explain to me rationally without using [complex] words, and yet using theology, and convince me why I shouldn’t get a tattoo? There’s too much mumbo jumbo on the internet and I would truly appreciate finding something concrete and understandable.

I’m afraid that I cannot explain—either with simple, or complex words—why you shouldn’t get a tattoo.

The reason being that, in principle, the Church does not oppose tattoos.

Ceremonial Law vs. Moral Law

Sometimes people point to the passage in Leviticus which says, “Do not . . . put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord” (19:28).

But this verse is not binding upon Christians for the same reason that the verse, “nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff” (Lev. 19:19), is not binding upon Christians. Namely, it is a part of the ceremonial law which was binding upon the Jewish people, but which is not binding upon Christians (except for when it coincides with the moral law).

The author of Hebrews writes:

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well (11-12).

Similarly, St. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote, “The laws of bondage, however, were one by one promulgated to the people by Moses, suited for their instruction or for their punishment, as Moses himself declared: “And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments.” (Deut. 4:14) These things, therefore, which were given for bondage, and for a sign to them, He cancelled by the new covenant of liberty (Against Heresies IV.16.5).

To Tattoo, or not to Tattoo

So, is the prohibition against tattoos in Leviticus a part of the moral law?

My colleague, Jimmy Akin writes says no:

There is no reason why one cannot color one’s skin, which is what tattooing amounts to.

One can apply color to one’s skin by make-up (as is common among women), magic markers (as is common among children), press-on tattoos (as are common in Crackerjack boxes), or with real tattoos.

The mere fact that the ink goes into the skin in the latter case does not create a fundamental moral difference.

But if you do decide to get a tattoo, consider the following:

1. The images should not be immoral, such as sexually explicit, satanic, or in anyway opposed to the truths and teachings of Christianity.

2. Be prudent. While “mom” is probably a safe bet; tattooing your current girlfriend’s name on your arm probably isn’t.

3. Consider the arguments against tattooing (there’s bound to be a good website out there devoted to that). Just because the Church doesn’t say you mustn’t get one, doesn’t mean that you must! Consider the following question: Would you put a bumper sticker on a ferrai?

The advice I gave to my sister when she was considering a tattoo was to give it several months. If you still feel strongly about the tattoo you had in mind after that time, then maybe get it. If, during that time, you changed your mind about the type of tattoo you wanted, or where to get it, perhaps wait another several months before getting it.

211 thoughts on “What does the Church teach about Tattoos?

  1. Matthew. says:

    I actually asked my pastor if I could, as a Catholic, get a tattoo, or if it was a sin in and of itself? He said it can be a sin, depending on what type of tattoo you get and where it is placed. I in some ways regret my tattoos, one reason is, with my children aware that I have them, how can I possibly convince them not to get one? And then virtually every time you go to a doctor, hospital, or even sometimes just in public, you seem to need to explain the tattoo and what it symbolizes. Another priest I know told me not to get any more tattoo’s, and, as I already have four, I think he is correct. As for donating blood, there is a waiting period from when a person gets a tattoo to when they can donate blood, I thought that I heard that it was for two years. My advice to someone getting a tattoo is to just not bother, people change over time and so do current fashions. The same applies to tattoo’s

    • Zack says:

      Actually, there isn’t a waiting period in order to give blood. You must however sign off that it was performed by a licensed professional using new, sterile needles that you personally watched them open before you. At least, that’s what I was told when I went to give blood shortly after getting a piercing.

      • Ray Cherry says:

        You are partly correct there. If the tattoo was “self-applied” or not performed by a licensed artist, there is a one-year deferral period from the time of the tattoo being applied that you must wait. But if, the tattoo artist is certified and you are positive the equipment was properly sterilized, then the deferral may be waived.

  2. SJH says:

    Here’s my two cents: our body is a tabernacle in which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ each week. When you have an important guest come to your home, what do you do? You clean it up and make it presentable. You don’t spray paint graffiti all over it, right? It’s the same with our bodies. We are receiving Jesus into our bodies each week. It would be like someone spray painting pictures all over the tabernacle on the alter. Anyway, that’s just how I look at it.
    For me personally, I wouldn’t do the tat thing. But like I said, just my two cents worth. Peace and love to all.

    • Linda Padgett says:

      I’ve heard that point before as well. The ironic thing was that the people discussing that were puffing away on cigars as they discussed the morality of tattooing your body. Interesting, I thought. There is nothing more proven to be detrimental to the “temple of the Holy Spirit” than smoking. Why limit the cleaning up to just the outside of the body? Get rid of sugar, caffeine, alcohol…. Tattoos can be beautifying to the body in the same way that jewelry and makeup are. Just my two cents worth.

      • Mommy2013 says:

        Yes smoking a cigar may not be the healthiest but is not permanent. A tattoo is like graffiti no matter how beautiful you think it is you are not God.

    • benjie miguel says:

      How then do you equate tattoos of Mama Mary or the Rosary or in my case, tattoo of the Black Nazarene which is very popular in my country? Can they still be considered grafitti?

    • Mary says:

      Love this reply. Tattoos do look like a desecration of God’s creation, our bodies! As I understand it, they’re also painful and there are health risks involved.

    • Adam Rain says:

      Some explained tattoos to me in a way that really made me think about it.

      Tattoos now a days hold a similar meaning to people as stain glass windows did to our ancestors. Both are used to immortalize an event or emotion through the symbolization of an image. Furthermore, just like the Church is a holy place of worship towards God, our body is also a temple to God, and stain glass windows are prevalent in many Churches. Obviously it depends on what the tattoo is of, but a tattoo in general is not “graffiti” on God’s temple, but is, instead, a “stain glass window.”

      • Cat says:

        I love the stained glass window analogy!

      • Russell Weber III says:

        Stain glass windows are works of art, tattoos are just nasty and white trash, going up I never knew anyone who had one except for druggies. They are an offense in the eyes of God, where did the Virgin Mary ever appear with a tattoo or body piercings.

      • Just As The Murderer From The Patriot’s Football Team Who Has Tattoos From Head To Toe, Most Of These Tattooed Freak’s Are Basically AntiSocial Personalities, Psychologoically Speaking! Raymond A. Z

      • Mommy2013 says:

        Yea the stained glass window theory here is another of mans rationalization to excuse your wanting a tattoo to be ok. Again you are not the creator. GOD created the temple! It is also symbolized however that is not supposed to mean it applies to tattooing! The Bible is clear on what it is encouraging! A true Christian will not be looking for loopholes in the Bible. If you are questioning the morality of the tattoo then perhaps it is in question for a reason and for that reason alone should not be done.

    • enness says:

      Or maybe they put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, or put artwork up. I don’t think it’s a great argument.

      If I was going to suggest a reason why it might be wrong, I would say that perhaps with the needles there might be a self-mutilation aspect. But on the other hand, the object is not to do any kind of lasting harm to the body…

      • David says:

        I know a guy who’s a very strong Catholic, yet he has a ton of tattoos, and is pretty much a chain smoker. On bringing this point up to him, he replied “You’re right, our bodies are temples. Mine just has stain glass windows, and lots of incense.”.

    • Ray Cherry says:

      My philosophy was that the military was sticking me with enough needles on a monthly basis that I didn’t need to pay someone to stick me with a needle for reasons of vanity.

  3. Bdavius says:

    I once heard (so the source is rumor, totally unsubstantiated) that early Christians tattooed a cross or the icthus on the web of their hands. Anybody know anything about this?

    • Isa says:

      I actually know a Nun who has one, she lived in Egypt, but I gotta be honest; I don’t remember the explanation of why they did it, I just thought it was really cool to have such a reminder of being a christian and of the love of God in the Cross on your own body. I do remember it had something to do with a sing anyone would had to search if you died, guessing that it has to do with being buried as a chrisitian, but I really can’t remember exactly so don`t believe me.

      • Nelson Campos says:

        I knew one that was in Egypt too. The reason was that if they were in a situation where they could get kill for their believes, it’s pretty easy to be scare and show weakness, so their tattoo means “even in my weakness i want to die for you”. More or less…jej

  4. I think, for the most part, there are two reasons why people might get a tattoo; firstly, to show the world something that we want them to associate integrally with who we are, or secondly, to remind ourselves of something that we might see as integral to who we are or what we stand for. I think often what we are trying to achieve is an inward change, but it’s much easier, for instance, to have the word ‘courage’ tattooed on us than actually acting with courage. Conversely, perhaps if one sees the word ‘courage’ on one’s skin each day, one might be compelled to beocme more courageous. Pretty much, we really need to look at our motivations before getting a tattoo.

    • Tokopah says:

      My reason for a tattoo is to make something ugly (a reddish circular scar from a bug bite when I was a child) into something beautiful (the scar becomes the eye of a dragonfly) and meaningful (a dragonfly was used in a child’s book to explain life after death which my mother enjoyed me reading to her the last few years of her life).

  5. Amy says:

    Okay, now everyone still torn between the idea of self-mutilation and the body as a temple of God go out and read, or re-read, “Parker’s Back.” Flannery O’Connor may not be up there with canon law and the Bible, but she’s pretty darn sharp! (no pun intended.)

  6. I have three tattoos and intend to get more. I feel that the tattoos symbolize forever feelings: one is a cross with a shadow behind my ear, another a phrase in french representing my faith and moral beliefs, and the third representing my children and influences in my life to include my faith. Those values and feelings won’t change and I don’t feel they are graffiti but more like decorative touches. The walls in my house are not bland and neither is my body. I hope I can continue to praise the Lord through my actions.

  7. Love_1s says:

    All Catholics go to work, all pagans go to work. Here’s the thing: God glorifies himself through the ordinary things. He changed many of us from the people we once were, to what we are now. He enters in and glorifies the ordinary. Perhaps something that can happen is that the “pagan” image that tattoos have could be made into something greater? Something that glorifies God rather than something to just avoid and immediately mark “pagan”. The Church hasn’t declared that it is sinful, therefore, if used in the right way, surely it can give glory to God?
    Perhaps a person got their tattoos before coming to know Christ. Instead of immediately marking “pagan”, it could become more of a sign of what God has changed the person into. How God has glorified him from what the person was, to what he is.
    There are many things that we authoritatively known to be sinful that has to do with the body. Gluttony and sloth to name two. We know that these are sinful. Why are we arguing about this when our opinion on tattoos won’t change the fact that the Church hasn’t stated it’s sinful?
    When it’s a tattoo of a sinful thing, then yes, it would be a sin (correct me if I’m wrong), but not because of the tattoo in itself. Rather, it would be a sin because of what the tattoo depicts.

  8. C.Gregory says:

    My personal view on tattoos is much the same as our friend, Jimmy Aiken. I think it’s certainly acceptable so long as you do it with respect to your body, to those round you and that you won’t regret later what you inject now. Good opportunity to exercise your reasoning skills and think about it before you apply it – this, of course should be common exercise before jumping into anything.

  9. Eunice Hayes says:

    It might look pretty good when you’re young with lovely firm skin, but in 20 years will that tattoo of Our Lady still be as pretty? I like the way my little brother put it,” A permanent reminder of a temporary idea is never a good thing.” I know this isn’t Biblical or from any Church document, but it makes good sense. Lastly, let’s just follow the fourth commandment. If Momma says you can’t get one, then don’t.

    • Bryan Holt says:

      I’m with you Eunice. Think about how some of these tattoos are going to look in *50 years*! Also, if you are going to get them, get them in a place where they can be covered.

      • Penni Barrett says:

        I always ask “why would you do that?” A cute little rose bud on your chest is gonna wind up looking like a tulip when that skin is about 60 years old….I’m just saying….

    • kelseaann says:

      You know what else looks terrible when you get older? EVERYTHING. Every part of your body will age, wrinkle, and sag, and you won’t look like you will when you’re 20. Not getting tattoos won’t change that. You know what else will weaken and age? Your mind, and the power and potency of your memories. But what will never disappear is a tattoo. I hope that when I near death, my tattoo will still remind me of my beloved grandfather and give me hope that I’ll see him again someday. (Sorry if this posted twice, I had an issue with WordPress.)

      • Cat says:

        what a beautiful sentiment. I hope the same for myself and my father, who I miss dearly. It actually makes me happy to know that i will see him again.

  10. mercy chapel says:

    Tattoo is evil because it is against God’s divine ordinance. It is also wrong because you do not belong to yourself. It is also a sin because it is a deliberate act of disrespect to God’s own property. God became human for man’s disodient in order that through obedient man could find his way back to God by not living like the gentiles who are known for their callousness. lastly, in Baptism you are separated from the world even though you are in the world; but you are not of the world.

    • theresa says:

      we are to share the word of god and bring people to Christ. how are we to do that if we tell them that their tattoos are evil? we couldn’t drice them away fast ebough! we have to love people where they’re at in order to draw them closer!
      this not to mention that there are at the minimum thousands of practicing, faithful tattoed catholics. I don’t think that wed do something that’s inherently evil

      • Terry says:

        May the Love of God that shines through your eyes be your make up.
        May the peace from the Prince of Peace be the adornment around you.
        To add color and luster to your life, put on the cross of Christ.
        May charity stretch forth from your pierced soul.
        May your statement be the proclamation of the Creed that you may walk by faith.
        May your devotion be expresseed through prayer.
        May your mourning be expressed through compassion.
        And May our need to proclaim yourself be covered in the humility of Christ.

        1 Peter 3:-4
        Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        I agree with you Theresa, and I think this is a point that many Catholics posting comments here aren’t taking seriously enough. I’m honestly kind of surprised at the level of response this topic is receiving. It’s one thing if this is the advice that people want to give to other Catholics in their sphere of influence. There are good reasons for a Catholic not to get a tattoo. The principle reasons I believe would be so that you do not hurt your testimony to the world, and so that you do not offend your brothers and sisters in the faith and make it more difficult for them to focus on Christ.
        BUT at best those are statements to make within the faith to who are already Christ followers. I hope everyone here watches their tongue around non-believers and new Christians.
        If they are an unbeliever they will hear your judgement, which by the way doesn’t apply to them (1 Corinthians 10-12). If they are a new Christian, especially one like me who was in deep pain over the life of sin they lived prior to coming to Christ, how much harder will you be making it for them to walk in the joy of their new life in the Spirit (Romans 8)?

      • Chris Byrum says:

        That’s 1 Corinthians 5:10-12 by the way.

      • m_gagnon says:

        I would like to add that, as Matt pointed out, the Church has nothing against having tattoos, so why should it become another unnecessary stumbling block between already devided Christians? Instead of focusing on criticizing our brothers and sisters for a choice such as having tattoos which is not morally a problem (unless it holds an immoral message), we should focus on helping each other heal from the serious sins committed in our lives and the everyday sinful habits we practice. Especially for those who already have tattoos, they cannot change the past and it is extremely expensive to have them removed. So again, it is worthless to criticize anyone for having a tattoo.

    • baubles says:

      The Church has declared that there is nothing inherently, objectively, morally wrong about a tattoo.

      Did you read the article at all? The author shows that there is a difference between ceremonial and moral law, a difference that the Church both acknowledges and makes the distinction between. If you or the Church did not make that distinction, half your clothes would probably be sinful, and every cheeseburger you’ve eaten be a condemnation.

      God’s divine ordinance against tattoos is a part of ceremonial law, a law that we are no longer strictly bound by.

      Let me also clear this up: we are NOT God’s property. He does not own us like we own machines, land, cattle, houses, furniture, clothes. We are not things to be owned, to be used and ready whenever the need arises, and have no worth outside of being a belonging, a piece of property.

      We’re people, not boxes. God has given us inherent dignity and free will, outside of whether we chose Him or not. Property does not have the luxury of free will.

      We belong to God because we love Him, just as God belongs to us because He loves us. Of course this belonging is doubled when the love is reciprocated, which is why this sense of belonging to each other starts from God’s end first, because He loved us first.

      But this is why Paul says that we are not our own, not because we are God’s property, but because we love God and are God’s beloved, and that lends a natural sense of willingly ownership of and to the other. When we disrespect ourselves or others, we do not disrespect God’s property, but His beloved, it His children – big, BIG difference of relationship there, and I really needed to point that out.

      Look, the point of the Church’s teaching that tattoos are not inherently sinful is not to say, ‘Everybody go get tattoos, God’s going to be so aokay with it all the time, for any mundane, fashionable reason.’ No.

      It’s simply saying that a tattoo, in and of itself, is not sinful, just like makeup, straighteners, curlers and perms are not inherently sinful. The motivations behind getting a specific tattoo, or the place and image of a tattoo, on the other hand, may be sinful. The motivation of some who straighten/curl hair daily and put on heavy makeup comes from a kind of self hate and a want to conform to every fad out of lack of identity. On the other hand, some just want to enhance the beauty they see God has already given them, to look professional and well kept.

      Of course, because a tattoo is permanent, the motivations have to be more defensible. Is the motivation for a tattoo a fashion/political statement, for shock value or sinister beliefs? Or is it a glorification of what is permanent, God Himself and your belief in Him? Does it have undying meaning? When resurrected, will you be able to stand in front of God knowing that what is on your body has only helped you and has not been a hindrance spiritually? Do you really feel called to have a tattoo, or can you live without and not feel a pull?

      But these are motivations and reasonings that are specific. The motivations can cause something neutral to cause sin, just as no food is sinful, but excess food causes sin.

      Personally, if I were to get a tattoo, it would be either Phil 4:13 or Psalm 34:18 across my back, as motivation and reminder of what these verses have done for me. I doubt writing God’s Word on His tabernacle graffitis it, but I currently don’t feel enough of a spiritual pull, so I live without. =)

  11. Therese says:

    Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit — to tattoo the body is like vandalizing this holy temple….

  12. Jimmy Joe says:

    I don’t believe that a small tattoo is such a problem morally, but when they become grotesque, it is akin to mutilation, which is prohibited by the church.

  13. Jim says:

    When I see a tattooed arm, or leg, or other visible body part just in passing, say in the grocery store, I think “Poor girl (or guy). That’s a bad bruise, or maybe a bad skin disorder.” All I see is a purple blur at any distance. As I come closer, my attention is drawn to whatever it its rather than to the face and eyes of the person. The tattooed person might be saying, “I don’t care what you think. You are not part of my world.” And, yes, I get that.

  14. ANNE says:

    ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition’ (which all Catholics are required to adhere to in entirety) –
    CCC: ” 1004 In expectation of that day, the believer’s body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering:
    The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . You are not your own; . . . So glorify God in your body. ”

    1 Cor 6:19-20

    • Tokopah says:

      So if my tattoos glorify God by their religious meaning I am glorifying God.

    • Ben says:

      Getting a tattoo is not compatible with an authentic Christian sense of the body. Your body no longer belongs to you; it belongs to God as His Temple. It is wrong to write your ideas and themes and draw your favorite pictures (in a permanent way) on someone else’s property.

      • enness says:

        For the sake of argument: Is it wrong also to throw trash inside? One might argue that many people consume things which can more accurately be called trash than food — do you ever? And yet, scripture tells us we are not defiled by what goes in our mouths. Could the same be true of what goes on our skin?

      • m_gagnon says:

        What if you are glorifying God with your tattoos? I do not have a tattoo, but I know people who have tattoos such as crosses or biblical quotes to permantly show the world their faith in God. I don’t think God is going to send someone to hell for having a tattoo that glorifies Him.

  15. Gerardo Gamez says:

    I like some tattoos, I despise others–like the grim reaper. I wouldn’t get one because there is not something THAT significant in my life for me to actually engrave it on top of my blood vessels. (I could’ve tattooed my daughter’s feet when she was born on my heart or something…) Isn’t it like a permanent post on a social website? “Look everybody, at: this girl, this bird, this weird tribal thing, my last name on my tummy/back/chest, the names of my family members, some form of deity, a frog? etc.” It is there for a reason. I wouldn’t know because I don’t have one, but I know that some people consciously or unconsciously try to tell the world something. It is so personal and yet so public. If I were ever to get a tat it would be my middle name in small font on the palm of my hand. It would remind me that the same name is tattooed on His hand. Is, 49:16

  16. Colleen says:

    I have NEVER seen a tattoo that I considered beautiful or in the least way appealing. When I see a beautiful young woman (as in the picture above) with tattoos, I’m horrified that she would mar her body in such a way. I’m taken aback and nervous around men who have extensive tattoos, especially evil-looking ones. Recently had a workman in my house with fully tattooed arms, and I couldn’t wait for him to leave. But even those with religious tattoos make me wrinkle my nose in disgust: it’s just not something a gentleman would do, much less a real lady.

    God made us the way he meant for us to be: how prideful of us to think that we could improve upon his work! If you want to make a statement, make it through clothing or jewelry (provided the jewelry isn’t horrifying to others such as pierced lips, tongues, noses, eyebrows, etc.).

    And yes to all those who mentioned how perfectly awful these tattoos will look when you’re elderly!

    By the way: WHAT is with those cherries coming out of her head?

    • Nervous around men with tattoos? Couldn’t stand to be in the same house with a tattooed workman? Religious tattoos make you wrinkle your nose in disgust? And let’s not forget, a “real lady” wouldn’t get tattoos. I am a real lady. I have religious tattoos. They are, in fact, lovely, although you’ll have to take my word for it. Since they are mine, not yours, you won’t have to worry about what they look like when I’m elderly, but I bet they’ll age better than your outlook will.

      Do you think such prissy and saccharine attitudes straight out of 50s suburbia is actually God’s will?

    • enness says:

      I’d love to see you have a prostitute or…uh…IRS agent over for dinner! 😉

      • Chris Byrum says:

        I would have a prostitute or anyone else over for dinner if I thought I would have to option to show them love and share the Gospel. I’ve been as big a sinner as anyone else in my life, and I’d like to think that any Christ follower commenting here would have had me into their home to share a meal and the life of Christ when I was at my lowest and most sinful. I hope that is true.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        Yeah, I’m kinda slow. I just realized the purpose of your comment. Sometimes my fingers are faster than my brain.

    • Russell Weber III says:

      They are so white trash and nasty, I think of some trailer park meth whore everytime I see a white woman with one, completly class-less.

      • Claire says:

        Russell, could you kindly point me to the part of that sentence that looks even vaguely like something Christ might have said?

      • Russell Weber says:

        No kidding Claire, I have a cast-iron stomach but seeing tattoos on good looking white women turn it sour. It is just so class-less and tacky to ruin your body like that, I would never hire someone with visible tattoos, but the Catholic Church is under attack on several fronts, and tattoos is one of them.

  17. Babs says:

    As with many decisions we make regarding its sinful nature or not, we as Christians should be in a habit to pray about everything. If you are familiar with Spiritual Warfare and how the Spirit relm is ALWAYS working around us you must consider this: Many testimonies of Priests, Lay Ministers belonging to Healing ministries and the people themselves who have experienced the issues have testified that tattoos have “allowed” demonic attachments to enter into them through their tattoos. Whether they are good or not. As a temple of the Holy Spirit , you are to treat your body as such. One testimony was a women put a Serpent on her calf…long and short of it, had major leg problems and nightmares thereafter. Upon liberation prayers, word of knowledge and discernment, they discovered the root of the problem, as there wasn’t any medical explantion, to be the tattoo. She had it removed and all went away! Food for thought!

  18. JD says:

    There is a moral connection. In the past tattoos were, I believe prohibited by the 1917 Code of Canon Law, especially for priests because they were considered body mutilation which is sinful. The question also remains as to motivaton. The Church is not opposed to Cremation unless it’s done for purposes contrary to Church teachings – denial of bodily resurrection. The questions to be asked then are: Why does one desire to get a tattoo? Is that reason sound, morally? Is a tattoo body mutilation or not? (it is considered permanent after all). If it is, then it should be avoided, I would contend, and at least a venial sin.

  19. Yes, the body is a tabernacle. And, quite often, tabernacles are adorned with artwork. As long as art is respectful, it is perfectly fine.

  20. justpassiton says:

    It is all matter of beauty. We recognize beauty. We do not make it. An earring adds to the beauty. It is not a statement but can be a statement. Tatoo conveys a message, and the question is what message and what purpose. Do we do it for the others so they can see us beautiful, or we do it because it is ‘hot’ trend. Do we do it so to ‘spice up’ our body, and arouse question of what is ‘below the cover’. Do we make it so our body ‘sells’?
    And at the end – if this addition to our cloths or is it permanent change of our body. Tatoo is permanent and cannot be changed with cloths. It changes body – the one we got from God. Do we need to change this body? Should God put tatoos on our bodies?
    I think all of that is always a matter of understanding the meaning of our actions. I may be not cheating on my wife not because I love her (then my action is all about her) but because it is commandment (and then my action is all about me.)

  21. “An edict issued by the Council of Calcuth (Northumberland) seems to indicate a distinction between a profane tattoo, and a Christian tattoo. They wrote, ‘When an individual undergoes the ordeal of tattooing for the sake of God, he is to be greatly praised. But one who submits himself to be tattooed for superstitious reasons in the manner of the heathens will derive no benefit therefrom.” Steve Gilbert, Tattoo History

  22. m_gagnon says:

    Fornthose of you who believe it is wrong to have tattoos, what about people who are married and work jobs in which it is dangerous to wear a wedding ring? What if they want to have a wedding ring tattoo to remind them of their vows while they work? That vow is very imoortant to God and is a sign of a Sacrament very important to our Catholic Faith and keeps them from the chance of harming themselves at work.

  23. Meagan says:

    My mother often says that when you get a tattoo, you graffiti the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We have been purchased by Christ.

  24. RitaDiamonds says:

    In my church in London one of the youth pastors has tattoo…I personally think its a
    okay if it is no promoting negativity and making people feel threatened!

  25. Many People Who Get Tatooed End Up Regretting It Later On, SO Why Bother! Be Safe And Be Sure To Keep Yourself Holy! AMEN

  26. enness says:

    I can’t stand needles. If I were to get one, it would be “Respect Life” or some such. Better than having to carry papers on you.

  27. jasonbladd says:

    A great discussion

  28. Mike says:

    My reasons for not getting a tattoo:
    1. People change their hair style and their “look” over time. What makes you think you won’t eventually get tired of that tattoo you think is cool today?
    2. I think the human body looks best as God created it. No embellishments required.
    3. Tattooing is a fad. Thirty years from now, the young folks will say, “So you got suckered into that fad grandma?

  29. Russell Weber III says:

    Tatoos are so white trash and nasty.

  30. As other person commented, there is a simple question to ask ourselves before getting a tattoo:


    I think we should ask the same question for every important matter in our lives. And the decision of getting a tattoo or not is important because it is permanent.

    Personally, I would never get one. Why I made that decision? I just listened to my heart, and I couldn’t find peace thinking about it. I can’t speak for other brothers and sisters that chose to get tattoos, but I’m struggling to find a reason for doing so that is not “because it’s cool”.

    The fact that the Church didn’t make an statement opposing tattoos doesn’t mean they please our God. Let’s think about it.

  31. Anyone Who Might Be Interested In The Apperation’s Of The Virgin Mary At Medjugoria May Have Heard That One Of The Seer’s Painted Her Toenail’s With Toenail Polish, And Our Lady Scholded Her For Doing It! So What Do You Think Our Lady Would Say If One Of The Seer’s Had Showed Up With A Tattoo! I Think There Would Be Condemnation For Doing So! Think About That Incident Before Getting A Tattoo, It May Change Your Mind, And You May Realize That Tattoo’s Displease God Very Much! Raymond A. Z

    • Russell Weber III says:

      Tattoos are an abomination in the eyes of Christ, on EWTN the program. ask the two Priests they explain pretty simply why no Christian should ever get a tattoo. I never knew anyone growing up who had one or wanted one, I personally think that satan is behind the body pierceings and skin desecrations.

      • theresa says:

        guess you wouldn’t want to attend mass with a tattoed priest, considering their bringing Christ into the world through the Eucharist would also be considered an abomination from satan

      • Russell Weber III says:

        Why would any Priest have a tattoo? Would he have grown up in a trailer park?

  32. […] blog was originally posted on Matt’s blog,, and was reposted with his […]

  33. BB says:

    Are people who grow up in trailer parks evil or bad?

    • Russell Weber III says:

      Not all them cook meth, but have you ever spent anytime in one? I used to work as a bonded courier and made medical and drug deliveries in them, I don’t see them as white people, and where do they get the money for tattoos, coffin nails, soda, drugs, booze, etc..

      • Bskee says:

        Russell, if you were to ever present the gospel to me, I would run the other direction. Out of all the Christians I’ve met in my lifetime, you are the most hateful, bigoted, and un-Christlike of them.

        My sin may be my tattoos (but then again, the Bible doesn’t condemn them in any fashion). But your sin is your blatant disregard for God’s command to love sinners. Christ died for sinners, not the righteous; He calls us to love sinners, not look down our noses at them from pillars of self righteousness and false piety.

      • Russell Weber III says:

        Bskee, I don’t know or care what ammoral hippie dope farm you were raised on, but the Bible does condemn and forbid those nasty tattoos and piercings. I went to an all boys Catholic, military prep school and was issued a Catholic Bible when I was 14, I still have it, it is marked up pretty good, wtih references connecting the Old and New Testament, I didn’t write the Bible. If you watch the EWTN channel, there is an episode titled ask the two priests, they go into detail where and how the Bible, and Catholic doctrine forbids and condemns tattoos and piercings. Good Catholics call in crying about relatives who have defiled their bodies with those hideous skin descrations, and what can they do, because the relative is brain-washed secular, and self-absorbed. And the Bible does tell you and I can show where it says to hate sin, and you can despise the unrepentant sinner, wake up mr. magoo.

  34. Tattoos says:

    I don’t think it is bad to tattoo your body as it is a way of expressing yourself. We all commit sin so he who without sin cast the first stone. I also think tattoos should be allowed in the work place.

  35. Sarah Z says:

    Matt, could you do a post going more in depth about ceremonial law and moral law (and other types if there are any) and how to use this in an argument against non-Catholics? For example, using the passages from Leviticus you mentioned earlier, as opposed to the Ten Commandments, how are we to know that one is moral law and the other is not? And possibly also a post about interpreting Bible figuratively versus literally. As in, a more convincing way to say, “No, the earth probably wasn’t created in 6 days, but yes, Jesus really IS present in the Eucharist; it’s not just symbolic.”

    And thank you for these posts! As someone who grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school my whole life, it is easy for me to discuss my faith with those who already believe. However, I have trouble speaking to non-Catholics when I find myself arguing in favor of concepts that I have always just believed and never had to rationalize for myself. Your website is helping me fix that problem!

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