Can we go to heaven with tattoos?
The Christian church has made a lot of mistakes. It has been said that women are inferior to men, for example. And it certainly made some significant missteps in the Middle Ages. One major error was allowing people with tattoos into heaven – yes, you read that correctly.
The Roman Catholic Church had rules about this until fairly recently. They determined that having tattoos was acceptable as long as they weren’t visible, but if you were caught with visible ones, you should be excommunicated from the church…forever! Oh dear…that seems rather harsh to me. But I guess they thought God would take care of them in heaven away from all those other sinners? Let’s go on and see what happened next in the story…Anno Domini 1397 is what comes next in the story.
This was when Pope Boniface VII, who was up to no good, ruled that all people with visible tattoos were condemned to Hell for eternity! They also said that families would have to disown their children if they had visible tattoos, or they’d go there too.
The church leaders thought this sounded familiar…oh yes, it was Moses who had set rules up similar to this for ancient Israelites so that they wouldn’t mix with a sinner. So obviously, it must be okay because God would forgive them anyway since He was so loving, right? Wrong!
Giovanni Boccaccio wrote about tattooing extensively in his Decameron. He described several practices of body modification, including cutting, burning, and branding. In the frame story of the sixth day, a man named Filostrato is cuckolded by his wife.
He then spies on her meeting with her lover Tancredi and cuts off his nose in a jealous rage. When he has calmed down, he sends for a surgeon who tattoos him so that it appears that his nose was cut off while fighting in Turkey. Boccaccio does not describe what happens to Filostrato after this event.
So some people were tattooed to cover up some form of disfigurement! That makes sense…and if you met someone with missing noses from being caught cheating, they wouldn’t think you were beautiful…but would you want to be with them? I wonder what happened to these people who were disfigured and then tattooed. Did they go to heaven or Hell?
What does the Bible say about tattoos?
Let’s go to the book of Leviticus, Chapter 19, verse 28. There we have it. The Bible forbids tattoos. Tattoos are sinful and wrong, according to the good book. But wait a minute! Didn’t Jesus say nothing in this world is unclean? Doesn’t that mean that tattoos, then, aren’t unclean or evil?
That is true indeed because Jesus said: “Are you still so dull?” (Mathew 11:25) He was referring to his disciples understanding of God’s word back then and how they should not be sidetracked by such things as food and drink as well as practices such as circumcision, which were contrary to God’s will because those observances marked them as followers of the law of Moses and not as followers of Jesus Christ.
What, then, does the bible word say about tattoos? Let us turn to Chapter 15, verses 4-7: “Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime; for he will die childless.'”
We must remember that at the time this was written – around 600 years before Christ – it was not common for men or women to tattoo themselves. The art of tattooing had not been invented yet. So there was no such thing as people getting tattoos back then because they did not know what a tattoo was!
They knew how to cut themselves, though, so they could give blood to make an offering to God. The author of the book of Numbers refers to this practice in Chapter 19, verses 2-3: “This is a requirement for the burnt offering, which is made at the time that one presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD: bring a bull without defect from the herd and present it with its grain offering of two quarts of fine flour mixed with oil,” etc.
We can now see how tattoos are not required under God’s law because they would be superfluous, unnecessary additions done purely for aesthetic purposes, against God’s will.
The bible verse about tattoos goes on to say about those who disobey this commandment: “They must be cut off from their people…for they have given themselves over to prostitution by tattooing a likeness of a pagan idol on themselves.”
So, to answer the question “What does the bible say about tattoos?” we must remember that permanent tattoo was not invented yet during that time. Anything done in this world is unclean only if it will distract you from God’s work. However, if it doesn’t, a tattoo can be just as acceptable as any other part of your body. After all, nothing is unclean before God, and Jesus himself said that nothing should distract us from his will for our lives! To sin or not to sin…that is the question!
Can Muslims get a tattoo?
The short answer is NO… But let’s give you some background information on the permissibility of tattoos.
First, let us look at what is mentioned in the Quran about tattooing; in this specific Islamic verse, Allah says: “And verily, We have beautified the world’s heaven [the heaven nearest to earth] with lamps [stars], and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them, We have prepared the doom of flame.” (Al-Mulk: 6) This means that these stars are placed as missiles against satan, who is known as a devil. The verse does NOT mention tattooing, but it can be compared because both are done by inserting tattoo ink under the skin, making lines that form an image. Thus it is safe to say that tattooing is forbidden (haram) in Islam to believers of this faith.
It is well worth thinking hard about your next steps. Body art is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and it’s not something your tattoo artist can help you with! Laser tattoo removal can be a timely and expensive process. Can we go to heaven with tattoos? I hope that we have answered your question.
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