Whether you are here because you plan on getting a tattoo or perhaps already have one and are guilty about it or just curious, you are in the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about tattoos.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not mention anything about getting a tattoo. It does not indicate if the Church allows it or prohibits it. It only discusses mutilation which the Church condemns.
CCC 2297 Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.
Mutilation is when a particular procedure affects the function and structure of the body. In tattooing, an argument exists that it is a form of bodily decoration such as wearing make-up or jewelry.
What about the bible passage that is against getting a tattoo?
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”
This is a famous biblical verse about getting a tattoo. And it is not a positive one.
This is perceived as God prohibiting tattoos.
But this verse is from ceremonial law and is not a moral law.
Just like braiding, cutting, or dyeing hair and eating shrimp or pork, these ceremonial laws are already ineffective because of Jesus’ death on the cross, fulfilling them all. On the other hand, moral law is still in effect to date. Thus, getting a tattoo is already under moral law.
Getting a Tattoo can be a Sin
As mentioned, getting a tattoo is now under moral law. Meaning it could still be a sin depending on the situation.
Here are some of the instances that could be sinful.
- Disobedience to parents– When under the authority of your parents, their approval is an important consideration. According to the 4th Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.” If you disobey them, you are breaking this and thus becoming sinful.
- Health risk– If you are getting a tattoo despite knowing that it could affect your health negatively, it is also a sin. It is considered mutilation which the Church is against.
- Image– The image to get also can dictate if it is sinful or not. If it is profane, vulgar, satanic, or sexually explicit, it is apparently wrong.
If you already got a tattoo and are guilty of the above, it is important to go to confession and ask for forgiveness.
In this Sacrament, God will absolve you from your sins, even getting a tattoo in a sinful manner.
If you are planning to get a tattoo, it is important to discern well. Do not be impulsive. Catholics can get a tattoo (both clergy and laity) but of course with the right intention. Consider the above instances and from there, with a good conscience, decide.
There are many instances that we, Catholics, can be confused and overwhelmed because of unclear teachings. As much as possible we want concise answers to our questions.
Just like getting a tattoo, since the Catechism does not mention it, we tend to fear if we are getting it wrong, and that’s alright!
It is good that we search because it shows we care what God thinks of it.
But in certain circumstances such as this, we have to be open, and discerning if we are on the right path.
It is also beneficial to ask other individuals of faith such as the Spiritual Director, Parish Priest, and Religious Friends for their advice.
Take your time to decide.
May you discern well.