As a background, please read our article on "What does the Bible say about tattoos and body piercings?". Beyond the general theme of that article, there is the question of Christian tattoos. Do the same principles apply to tattoos that are of a Christian nature, such as a cross, a Christian slogan, or even a Bible verse? Some Christians have found that having tattoos gives them more credibility, and thereby more possibilities of evangelism, with some groups of people. So what about Christian tattoos?
Obviously, a tattoo of a cross is “better” than a tattoo of a flaming skull, naked woman, or demon. Having a tattoo saying “Jesus saves” could indeed be a conversation starter with some people who would never approach a preacher wearing a suit and tie. Some refer to Revelation 19:16 as an example of Jesus possibly having a tattoo on His thigh, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The question is not necessarily “is getting a tattoo a sin?” The question is more “is getting a tattoo a good and necessary thing to do?” First Corinthians 10:23 declares, “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.” Christian tattoos may be “permissible,” but are they beneficial and constructive?
In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul exclaims, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel.” Becoming all things to save some is perhaps the only good possible reason for getting a Christian tattoo. If having a tattoo genuinely opens doors for evangelism that would otherwise be closed, getting Christian tattoos would likely “qualify” under Paul’s “becoming all things” qualification. At the same time, it is frankly difficult to envision a scenario in which having a tattoo would enable a greater possibility of evangelism. If a person will not listen to you due to a lack of a tattoo, it is highly unlikely that such a person would genuinely listen due to the presence of a tattoo.
With that said, the biblically based conclusion would seem to be that Christian tattoos are permissible, but it is highly questionable whether they can be considered beneficial and constructive. A Christian considering getting a tattoo should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and ask the Lord to provide pure motives and discernment.