Boyce Baptist Church
Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Tattoo Taboo and Where We Stand...

Where once tattoos were "verboten" within the province of Christian culture, especially among women, many have asked me about the current tattoo fad that is sweeping through our culture, and what the Biblical position is on the subject.
The premise of this article is based upon two primary central theses:  
First, as Christians, if there is even the slightest possibility that some action, indulgence, behavior, or attitude might be displeasing to God, if we claim to genuinely love God, we should abstain from that thing. 
Secondly, the Pauline doctrine of the "Weaker brother", in that some behavior on our part would cause a weaker brother (or sister) to stumble spiritually, should be enough to persuade the mature Christian to deny themselves that behavior.
A good example would be the consumption of alcohol.  Historically and statistically a very destructive substance, some have argued that there is no specific prohibition against alcohol consumption in the Bible.  This biblical error is dealt with on another page on this website.  Suffice it to state in this context that devoted followers of Christ should not have to have a "thou shalt not" for every behavior.  It should be enough that there is even a question about its practice that should cause the Christian to abandon it from their lives.  Such is the case regarding tattoos.
After extensive research and consultation with a number of Bible scholars, theologians and seminary professors, it is the position of this pastor that tattoos are unequivocally a sinful and harmful practice for any professing Christian to indulge in.  Having said that, it is understood that many well-meaning and God-fearing Christians have, as a result of not having been taught prior to receiving a tattoo, have such on their body. I do not believe these children of God will be held to the same accountability as those who indulge in this worldly practice with full "knowledge of the light".  I do believe it is incumbent upon every Christian to enquire of God's Word, their pastor, or some other reliable spiritual resource to determine in advance of receiving a tattoo, what the Lord's will is on any issue involving the temple of the Holy Spirit, their bodies.  To refuse wise, mature Christian counsel in order to avoid hearing what one does not want to hear, could be considered a form of rebellion...and this is sin. 
Any and all so-called "arguments" to persuade anyone as to the appropriateness of tattoos ether fall under the categories of theological ignorance, apostasy, or outright heresy.  For instance, one argument the proponents of tattoos use is that "Jesus has a tattoo when He returns to the earth in Revelation!"  They are of course referring to Revelation 16:19 which reads, And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords."  They like to leave the "...on his vesture" part out. The reason is that the writing is not ON his thigh.  The writing is on a sash which is part of Jesus' royal attire which is draping down OVER HIS THIGH as he returns with the armies of heaven.  If the writing is "...on his vesture" how would John have been able to have seen Jesus' thigh?  The argument fails when one simply does the word study and realizes that the Apostle John, in keeping with the descriptive writing style of the time, was only seeking to describe the LOCATION of the sash as it draped over Christ's left thigh as he returns.  This is of course the kind a strategy Satan used when attempted to use Scripture to tempt Jesus in the wilderness.  He took verses out of context and perverted their original intent as well.
Some have been persuaded into the realm of tattoos by tattoos being reclassified in modern society as "body art". Such a stealthy redefining and "dressing up" of the practice has deluded many Christians to believe the practice is harmless and acceptable. Further, some have found license to indulge their desire to be "inked" in some misguided teaching that THEIR tattoos are simply a portrayal of their "link" with some distant tribal Native American ancestry or other self-imposed connection, and therefore don't fall within the realm of "really being a tattoo" in the normal definition of the word.
None of these "excuses" for indulgence in this practice serve to negate the biblical mandates. The Scriptures make no exceptions or exemptions for these false justifications any more than Satan's arguments to Eve justified her disobedience in eating of the forbidden fruit. These false premises serve only to salve the Christian's conscience that has, "...been seared with a hot iron" of the devil's deceptions.
I have also become increasingly convinced, and I do find myself quite original in the line of reasoning, that given the momentum with which world events seem to be rampaging toward end-time events, that it may not be beyond the realm of Satanic strategy to "boil the frog gradually" and acclimate societies toward acceptance of emblazoning their skin surfaces with markings so that the imposition of the mark of the beast ("six-hundred, threescore and six") the 666 of the tribulation period, will be more accepted.
A couple of websites of interest are provided as follows:
The following article is provided as a resource and hopefully a tool to assist those who might be under pressure to be persuaded to permanently damage not only their bodies, which by the way Scripture declares to be the temple of the Holy Spirit and is therefore not ours to damage, but their Christian testimony as well.
For further insight into this pagan practice, we recommend the book, "What's Behind The Ink?" by the same author as this article.
Rev. Dr. Ben Jenkins, M.A., Th.D. Pastor Boyce Baptist Church
This article is authored by William M. Sudduth Sr, is president of Righteous Acts Ministries ( He and his wife, Janet, host seminars on spiritual growth, deliverance training and restoring innocence as well as holding revival meetings. He is the author of What's Behind the Ink?, a book about the spiritual aspects of tattooing, piercing and other fads.
This article is used with permission.
I had never given the subject of tattoos much thought other than occasionally to regret getting mine - until my wife, Janet, and I were ministering in New Zealand in 2003. New Zealand was settled more than 1,000 years ago by a primitive Polynesian people called the Maori. They were headhunters and cannibals who worshiped demon gods. The Maori tattoo most of their bodies, including their faces, which they carve flesh from as a wood carver would etch wood to create a design. Then they apply ink.
On a day off we went sightseeing with a local pastor. He took us to a Maori village. Inside the entrance of the village was a meeting house, and above the entrance was a statue of a demon, the face of which was carved with the same pattern as the men's faces. I immediately came to the realization that these people had carved their faces to look like the deity they worshiped.
The Lord spoke very clearly to me to study every people group, not just the Maori, and then write a book. As a result, I spent nearly two years researching the origins and history of tattoos and piercing. I studied Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Europeans, Mid-Easterners, Asians and Africans in my research.
I discovered that all primitive pagan cultures throughout history and on every continent subscribed to some form of body modification or mutilation, usually involving tattoos and/or body piercing. In most cases the practice was part of demon worship. Many groups such as the Maori tattooed themselves to look like the demons to gain acceptance and power from them.
In 1991 hikers in Europe found a frozen, well-preserved body of an "Alpine Iceman." More than 5,000 years old, he is the oldest frozen mummy ever discovered. He was found with a grass cape, a copper axe, a quiver full of arrows, flint for making fire, and numerous tattoos on his body, including a cross on the inside of the left knee. (It was not a so-called "Christian tattoo.") He had six straight lines 15 centimeters long above the kidneys, and numerous parallel lines on the ankles.
Subsequent X-rays of his body revealed chronic degeneration of bone and cartilage in the spine and arthritic wear and tear of the knees and ankles. Presumably these tattoos were done by a shaman or medicine man who was invoking the gods on behalf of this man to rid his body of pain.
In 1891, archaeologists discovered the 4,000-year-old mummy of an Egyptian priestess of Hathor-the Egyptian goddess of love. She had parallel lines tattooed on her arms and thighs as well as an elliptical design below her navel. The tattoo below her navel is believed to have had sexual connotations linked to fertility.
Headhunters such as the Maori from the Philippines, Taiwan and other Pacific islands tattooed themselves to appease the gods before the headhunt ended to commemorate their success afterward. South American headhunters also used tattoos as part of their rituals. The Hawaiians have actual tattoo gods they consult before doing a tattoo. The Chinese and Japanese used tattoos to ward off evil spirits, to appease different gods and, like the Romans, to identify or "brand" criminals, Roman slaves were tattooed as a sign of ownership, often marked, "Tax Paid."
Native Americans tattooed themselves and their captives. The Inuit tattooed themselves upon arriving in the cold arctic regions to appease the gods so they would allow them to settle there and survive in the harsh climate.
In the Mideast, Babylonian and Canaanite and Hebrew shrine prostitutes tattooed themselves as part of their worship, Baal worshipers wore tattoos on their hands to gain power from Baal. In India, shrine prostitutes tattooed themselves to look like the various gods they worshiped. In primitive areas of India the wife of the village sorcerer is the tattoo artist.
Because of their dark skin, black Africans didn't use tattoos as much as they used scarification. This involves cutting the skin with a sharp instrument and then rubbing it with ashes or caustic plant juices that form permanent blisters. Dark pigments, such as charcoal or gunpowder, are then rubbed into the wound to provide emphasis. The wounds are periodically reopened to enhance the raised scar effect.
Other African traditions involve extreme forms of body piercing. Lips and ears are pierced and objects implanted inside, causing the lip or ear tissue to elongate and conform to the shape of the object. Ethiopian women wear a lip plate, which causes the mouth to protrude to resemble the beak of the spoonbill, a creature they worship.
The letting of blood and body modification have always been associated with pagan worship and witchcraft. Pagans and Christians alike know there is power in the blood. In spite of the current interest in tattoos even in the church, all research points to one conclusion: The root of tattooing never changes; it is, and always has been, a pagan spiritual activity.
Your Body is a Temple

During the last 11 years Janet and I have been heavily involved in the ministry of deliverance. We have ministered to multiplied thousands of people in individual and group settings. We have dealt with people from all walks of life, from many different nations and races. We have ministered to the depressed, the oppressed and even the possessed. We have seen countless people who have been negatively impacted by the spirit realm as a result of things they have done or things that have happened to them.
The goal of our deliverance teaching is always to impart a greater understanding of the spirit realm. Believers need to know how it affects them and to be aware that everything we do in the natural has a spiritual consequence, including the marking or piercing of our bodies.
It's not surprising that Satan and his demon spirits are doing what they have always done, trying to gain man's attention, affection and worship. In my research I found that in every culture tattoos were used as a means of invoking, appeasing or glorifying demon gods. Satan is still seeking to take man's focus off God and direct it to himself.
Today in our culture and society we see an explosion of fads such as tattoos and piercings. Though I don't fully understand it, Satan is attempting to mark as many peple as he can athrough these means. Perhaps on the day of judgment the accuser of the brethren, the devil, will stand before God and try to claim those so marked as his own.
Or perhaps Satan is encouraging people of all cultures to mar their bodies through some form of mutilation because he knows we are made in God's image, and he hates God and anything that resembles God.
When I minister, I often ask people if they have ever played Monopoly. If they have, I ask whether they ahve ever gotten into a family feud while playing and have had to get out the rule book. People laugh as they recall digging out the rules.
God has given us a rule book, a set of rules to play by that enables us to win this game of life. We call it the Bible. The Bible was given to us to help us and to protect us from harm. It clearly teaches us the wiles and schemes of the devil.
Leviticus 19:28 gives us the "rule" for tattoos. It says, "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord" (NKJV).
When God first gave this command to the Israelites, He was drawing a line of demarcation between His chosen people and the Egyptians, whose land they had just left, and the Canaanites, whose land they were about to enter. Both of these cultures were steeped in witchcraft and the occult. Both openly worshiped and served demon gods, and both used tattoos as part of their idolatry and pagan worship. God was trying to protect the Israelites from opening themselves up to demonic influence.
We too are God's people, and He wants us to "come out from among them" (II Corinthians 6:17). He wants us to separate ourselves from the world and the world's fads. When we do that, we will avoid doing things to our bodies that God never intended us to do--and that includes getting tattoos.
Let me make it clear that there is absolutely no such thing as a Christian tattoo. In fact, the mere term "Christian tattoo" is an oxymoron! A tattoo may be a religious symbol, but there is nothing Christian about it.
If we truly belong to Christ, we should know and understand that our bodies are not our own. Engaging in the practice of body modification indicates that we believe the opposite. Yet the Bible clearly tells us: "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body: (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
Rolling Stone magazine quoted famous tattoo artist Paul Booth as saying that while he is tattooing people, "he allows his clients' demons to help guide the needle." I pray this article will prevent you or someone you know from further defiling these earthen temples we call our bodies. I pray it has given you a greater understandenig of the unseen world, as well as insight into what's behind the ink.
If you already have a tattoo or piercing and are wondering what to do now that you know the truth, here are some steps you can take. First, repent to God for violating Scrtipture and for bloodletting, which is witchcraft. Also, repent for defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit. Then renounce the spirits behind the tattoo or piercing. Witchcraft and rebellion are a given, but many tattoos have images that need to be addressed. Sexual tattoos may invite a spirit of perversion, a skull and cross bones a spirit of death, a religious tattoo a spirit of religion and so on. If you have a piercing in other than an ear lobe, remove it and repent for defiling your temple. And whether it's a tattoo or a piercing, anoint it with oil and break any assignment of the enemy that came in through the modification of your body.
Father, I ask You to HELP US, to give us strength to hear Your voice, and to be willing to be led by You. In Jesus' Name.