Are Tattoos Sinful? If So, Should I Have Mine Removed?

Question from a reader:

Are tattoos bad? If so, would it be better if I had them removed?

Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:

That isn’t an issue that Randy Alcorn has written about. But he does say this related to the topic of grace and truth:

Jesus acknowledged that some truths are more important than others. Loving God is first, loving your neighbor second (Matthew 22:37-39).

Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices…but you have neglected the more important matter of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23). Jesus didn’t tell them they should throw God’s smaller truths out the window. He just told them to focus on the larger truths.

It’s not about earrings, tattoos, clothing styles, drinking wine, smoking cigars, or playing cards. It’s about justice, righteousness, love, and mercy. It’s about grace and truth. The big themes, not the little ones.

While it’s good to keep in perspective what’s most important when it comes to following Jesus, I commend you for being thoughtful about this, because we are called to be good stewards of the bodies God has entrusted to us. And Scripture makes clear God does care about how our outward appearance reflects inward realities, and the condition of our hearts (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Here are some resources I would recommend for further thought:

What does the Bible say about tattoos?

Is it a sin to get a tattoo?

Is it a sin for a Christian to get a tattoo?

Tattoos in Biblical Perspective

You’ll probably note that those resources are more geared for someone to consider before they get a tattoo, not after. My understanding is that tattoo removal can be both very expensive and difficult. It seems like the content/meaning of your tattoos, as well as their location and visibility, would be part of your decision. It’s also possible that the tattoos may provide a talking point with others who ask about them, and perhaps even an opportunity to share about your past life and your present faith in Jesus.

Since your past decisions related to your tattoos are between you and the Lord, I can’t speak to whether they were right or wrong. In a sense, as with any past decision, what’s done is done, and we can only ask the Lord for forgiveness for any past sins and mistakes, rest in His grace, and then move forward with His help in the future. (See What If You Struggle to Forgive Yourself for a Past Sin?)

Do you have a home church? I would highly suggest getting together with your pastor and talking through this. I think it would be really helpful for you to walk through this process with someone who loves and cares about you, knows God and His Word, and can provide guidance specific to your situation.

If you’re in the U.S. and you would like some assistance in finding a church, you can email us at with where you live and our EPM staff will do their best to provide some recommendations.

Grace and peace to you.

Photo by Garon Piceli

Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.