You are probably here because you have a tattoo and are feeling guilty about it or perhaps you are planning to get one or you are just curious. Whatever your reason, you are in the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss if Catholics can go to heaven with tattoos. We will thoroughly determine if it is a sin, deep diving into what the Church has to say about it.
The Sinfulness of getting a Tattoo
We live in a society where individuals with tattoos are stereotyped as evil or immoral. But really, are they? Is it a sin to get a tattoo? Is it wrong? Can Catholics get tattoos?
The Catholic Church has no specific teaching on getting a tattoo. However, it falls under the Moral Law. Meaning, it could be a sin depending on the situation.
If you are planning to have one with the intention to blaspheme God or hurt other people, then it is wrong and is considered a sin.
The same is true if you disobey your parents just to have a tattoo. You are breaking the 4th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.” You must tell them. Explaining your plan on getting one.
Another one is getting a tattoo despite knowing that it could have a negative effect on your health and put you to risk. This might be considered mutilation, affecting the structure and functionality of your body, which the Church is against.
Note that the above applies to both clergy and laity.
As mentioned, getting a tattoo is not wrong in itself. But it could be depending on the situation.
Therefore, since it could be a sin, in what category does it fall?
Let’s have a quick review.
Catholic Church categorizes sin depending on its gravity.
It could be mortal or venial.
For a sin to be mortal, the following must exist.
- It must involve grave matter
- Committed with full knowledge that it is a grave sin
- Committed with deliberate consent
Let’s use getting a tattoo, as an example.
If one had a tattoo depicting blasphemy despite awareness that it is a sin, then there is a mortal sin.
First, blasphemy is against the second commandment.
“Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
Therefore, a grave matter.
Next, that person committed it with full knowledge. It means there was a consciousness that it is a sin.
Lastly, committed it with full consent. Despite knowing that it was sinful, one still did it.
Note that all these prerequisites must exist. If it lacks even just one, it will fall as venial.
Confessing mortal sin is a must. While confessing venial sin is advisable.
If you getting a tattoo falls as a mortal sin, you should confess it.
To confess, you just have to tell the priest that you are in a state of mortal sin because of your tattoos. You can also continue, revealing to him the sinful reasons behind getting your tattoos.
He will then give you counsel, ask you for penance and finally absolve you from this sin.
If it is your first time confessing, you might want to check this Comprehensive Guide to Confession for beginners.
Now, let’s answer the question.
Can we go to heaven with tattoos?
Yes. God is merciful. He can forgive you no matter how big your sin is. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession, there is a fountain of love and mercy. You just have to reveal your sins. He will absolve you. In this way, you can go to heaven, worshipping God together with His angels and Saints.
Getting a tattoo is not intrinsically wrong. But as mentioned, it could be. Therefore, if you are getting one, the best thing you could do is to discern well. It will be imprinted on your body for a lifetime so it’s best if you think it over multiple times. Do not be impulsive. Take your time.
To those who have a tattoo that is against God but repenting now, know that God is merciful and forgiving, You must be sorry for your sin and ask for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession. There, unlimited grace is poured out for contrite souls like yours.
May you discern well.