John Piper on Tattoos and Body-Piercing

I get asked from time to time about the Bible’s teaching on tattoos and body-piercing. Typically, the questions center on the interpretation of Leviticus 19:28: “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.”

I am in basic agreement with John Piper on this question. I suspect that the prohibition of Leviticus 19:28 is rooted in a concern about pagan religious practices. Thus the tattoos and cutting of the body in Leviticus 19:28 were evil relative to their association with paganism.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any reasons to think twice about getting a tattoo or a body piercing. I’ll let you listen to Pastor John for the rest. You can hear him discuss it here:

“What do you think of tattoos and body-piercing?” – by John Piper (Desiring God).

14 Responses to John Piper on Tattoos and Body-Piercing

  1. Barry August 30, 2007 at 10:31 am #

    Do your readers know about your tattoos?

    By the way, “Na na na na . . . na na na na yeah . . . you are the music in me.”


  2. Rose August 30, 2007 at 12:22 pm #

    Do Henna tatoos count? 🙂

  3. Daniel September 1, 2007 at 11:39 am #

    I want a tattoo of 1 Cor. 6:19. Heheheh

  4. Bryan L September 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm #

    I always say I never want tattoos BUT if I did want tattoos I think I would get a tatoo of one of the ancient gospel papyri or maybe the shema or some cool verse. Also maybe my last name in Old English across my stomach but that’s just my Mexican side peaking out 🙂

  5. dennyrburk September 2, 2007 at 10:04 pm #


  6. Bryan L September 2, 2007 at 10:42 pm #

    Did you mean to post this here??

    Either way I noticed you wrote “The exegetical result is that it is grammatically possible to regard “form of God” and “equality with God”‘ not as synonymous phrases, but as phrases with distinct meanings.”

    Are you saying your interpretation is just possible and not necessary? At first I thought you were arguing that it was necessary, but you seem to only be saying here that it’s valid.

    Has anyone before you taken your view?
    Has anyone since adopted your views?


    Bryan L

  7. dennyrburk September 2, 2007 at 10:47 pm #

    Oops, Bryan! I was messing around with something and didn’t mean to leave that posted there.

    To answer your question, I don’t know how many people agree with my view. Jim Hamilton just gave a favorable review of my book where I made that case. You can read it here:


  8. Bryan L September 2, 2007 at 11:21 pm #

    It seemed kind of a weird comment about tattoos : )


  9. Barry September 3, 2007 at 8:46 am #

    I think what Denny is trying to say is that he has a tattoo of an articular infinitive.


  10. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 8:56 am #

    Very funny.

  11. Daniel September 3, 2007 at 9:04 am #


    I’m just curious after reading Jim Hamilton’s review. This is kinda off topic.

    Is the main advantage of this translation that it supports the complementarian position?

    I’m just learning Greek so I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I tend to accept the opinion of the majority of translators.

    Just wondering.

  12. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 9:48 am #


    The complementarian position in no way depends on this interpretation of Philippians 2:6. If I’m right, however, it is one more piece of the complementarian puzzle.


  13. Steve September 3, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    Thanks for the link!

  14. omar February 17, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    well i dont know about this but im a every sunday at church christian and i got 4 tattoos 1 is 1 kings 3,luke 15,matthew 23,and ecclesiastes 5.bottom line is that those chapters mean alot to me and god knows and i think he doesnt care cause in deuteronomy 11 says that to write them in ur doorpost and gates,if you keep his commandment the days of u and ur children shall be numerous.and i dont remember where it states that the body is the temple for the holy spirit.if this is so then im good cause i have written them as it has been written anyways at that time it was againgst god to do it because you would not write the word of god on yourself i dont know why but i would have done them in that time to honor my god and all his splendor oh yeah i also have the tetragrammatron written in hebrew as a trademark or as a copyright

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