As tattoos gain popularity, many people seek to display their spiritual beliefs through various religious-inspired tattoos, such as crosses, angels, Bible verses and praying hands. Although these expressions of appreciation may be done with good intentions, for most religions, tattoos are considered forms of blasphemy rather than respect.
The Christian Bible reads in Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.”
The Bible also emphasizes the importance of keeping one’s body pure. In Corinthians 6:19, it reads: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
It is clear in writing that in the Christian religion, tattoos are not favored or considered forms of admiration for Christ. So where does that leave those with religious tattoos?
“I feel individuals who get things like Bible verses or crosses aren’t even really religious,” said Nicole Moore, a junior biology student from Dallas. “People get them because they think they look good.”
Moore has no ink and believes religious tattoos are a contradiction and are borderline disrespectful.
“If you think about it, most deeply religious individuals don’t even have tattoos,” Moore said. “What is the point of getting tattoos to ‘pay respect’ when it clearly states in the Bible that the Lord does not want his children to mark up their bodies?”
Despite disapproval, religious-inspired tattoos are most popular, according to Mike Windle, a local tattoo artist.
“I have done so many Bible verses and crosses,” Windle said. “One recent tattoo I did was for a girl whose mother just survived breast cancer. She got the pink breast cancer ribbon wrapped around a cross, basically symbolizing that her mom’s remission was because of God.”
Jeremy Hinds, a freshman pre-law student from Mobile, Ala., decided to get a small tattoo of the Christian fish on his left wrist as a noticeable symbol of his morals and ethics.
“I want people to know my values with one glance,” Hinds said. “Once they see the Christian fish, they will automatically know I’m a Christian and hopefully associate me with common Christian values. I understand that won’t always be the response, but that’s what I was going for.”
Although Hinds considers himself a deeply devoted United Methodist, he believes in interrupting commands in the Bible in the proper context of modern day.
“If we are going to be technical, the Bible also tells us not to eat shrimp, shave our beards or eat non-kosher meats,” Hinds said. “If someone were to get a cross tattoo because they wanted to showcase their gratitude for Christ dying on the cross, so be it.
I don’t think it should be considered blasphemy if it was done out of genuine intentions.”
Ray Bady, a youth reverend at Immanuel Baptist Church, believes individuals considering religious tattoos should evaluate their motivation for wanting it.
“I think these young people say to themselves, ‘Hey, this tattoo is going to bring me closer to God and really build my faith,'” Bady said. “I’m afraid getting tattoos will leave you with nothing more than a permanent mark.”
Bady said tattoos virtually mean nothing to the Lord.
“Things like praying often, studying the bible and working on being a better Christian will bring you closer to God, not a tattoo,” he said. “I’m not saying getting a cross will assure you a ticket to hell, but it won’t guarantee you to heaven either.”
Though opinions vary, it is commonly agreed that any tattoo, religious or not, should be given intensive thought and consideration. And despite religious beliefs, a tattoo is merely a physical mark and does not represent a person’s beliefs or convictions.