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Jim Harris wrote:

Dear Sirs,

I know this isn't a life or death issue and is sort of a menial question in the whole scheme of things but it has been on my mind for quite some time.

  • I was wondering what the Church says about tattooing?

I have been thinking about getting one but I wanted to make sure of everything and all the consequences before I dive into something that is going to be etched into my skin for all the days of my life on this earth.

Thanks for your time.

Jim Harris

  { What does the Church say about getting a tattoo and tattooing in general? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Jim —

Thanks for the question.

To my knowledge, the Church has not made any direct statement one way or the other.

Indirectly, I do think tattooing is against the nature of being a Christian.

  • Why would I say that?

Because God created us the way we are. He created us Good. (Genesis) I don't understand where tattooing [or what I would call "mutilation of the body"] gets us.

  • If we are the temple of the Lord Himself, why would we want to mutilate what God has given us?

Beside, I would argue we all have a God-given tattoo: our face! Although my younger brother thinks I have an ugly tattoo, I think He did a pretty good job. : )

I don't mean to pass any judgments but most of the time, when people want to get a tattoo,
I believe it is for one of the following reasons:

  • to impress others due to a lack of security with themselves
  • to get back at a family member or friend
  • to show others that they can "fit in"
  • because everyone is doing it

All these reasons above have one or more vices attached to an unhealthy attitude for the Christian. There is only one way these vices and attitudes can turn into virtues and
self-confidence as a holy child of God: by daily prayer.

I may be going out on a limb here, because I don't really know if any of my friends have tattoo's, but this is my opinion and I don't mean to hurt anyone by it.

A previous visitor asked us a similar question:

Is it OK for me to go ahead and get a tattoo?

I said:

Well, the main question is why?

Most of the answers center around being cool and fitting in.  The Church also reminds us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, tabernacles of Jesus, the Eucharist living out his life in and through us. Self mutilation of the body for secular reasons would not be a good reason for tattoos and in general, I believe, should not be encouraged.

A possible reply you may have:

OK Mike, does this mean that you would discourage a tattoo of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary?

My answer:

It depends on why you want to have it. Only you and the Lord know why. If it is for the Kingdom and to spread the Gospel, I wouldn't hesitate .... and would say, "Sure go ahead!"

Important End note: This issue is not a matter of faith or morals.

Hope this helps,

Mike Humphrey

Bob replied:

Dear Jim,

There is no official declaration on tattooing; it is a very personal matter. However, good taste and respect are in order. Obviously, messages and images that would not glorify God could be scandalous and therefore sinful, or those that are done in a way to provoke sin (use your imagination). Other than that, it is your call.


Bob K.

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