What about tattoos?

What does the Church say about tattoos?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has no official position that I am aware of regarding tattoos. 

Some will point to the bible for an answer — Leviticus Leviticus 19:28: “Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves.”  However those same people it would seem have no problem violating verse 27 which states: “Do not clip your hair at the temples, nor spoil the edges of your beard.” How many men shave their face or trim their beards and cut their hair?  Leviticus mentions many things not considered binding in today’s world, such as hairstyles, diet, and many other behaviors.

When doing an internet search, one can find many pros and con’s regarding the use of tattoos.  Body art and mutilations are an ancient practice.  I personally see no value to piercing, cutting, staining my skin or other to the creature God created.  In my opinion I am a creature of God who loves me just as I am, he made me “just right”.  I do not need to make myself “prettier”.  Having said that, I do buy “nice clothes,” get my hair cut; trim my beard, etc. for the purpose of making myself “culturally appropriate.”  If we were not seeking to make ourselves “different” the entire fashion industry, grooming industry and many others would go down the tubes.  Some bishops will not ordain a man with a beard or mustache, which involves scraping off with a blade the God given beard thereby making themselves look more like military soldiers.  In our U.S. culture most women do the same with their legs.

I recognize true beauty is internal, yet each culture in history has had its various concepts of external beauty, for both males and females.  My concern for the tattoo, as with any body modification, is its permanence and the potential for “undesirable” consequences down the road.  Again, unless one takes it to the extreme of damaging one’s body there is no official position that I am aware of regarding tattoos. 

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

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