Seventh-Day Adventists/SDA views on tattoos


Lisy wrote at 2007-12-12 21:51:47
Leviticus 19:28

" 'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."

Snap wrote at 2007-12-16 17:12:40
Leviticus 19:28 needs some study here. I don't read Hebrew, so I'm just left with the assortment of English translations to work through. My take on the verse is that it says one of two things.

-don't get a tattoo


-don't get a tattoo for someone who's died

As I can't sort out with certainty, I've personally decided to "err on the side of caution", and avoid tattoos.

Frank wrote at 2007-12-20 10:08:25
Dear Andrew,

The Bible says, "You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD."  (Leviticus 19:28 NASB)

Thus, most SDAs believe you should not get a tattoo.

Having said that, you will find some SDA members with tattoos.  Generally speaking, they probably got the tattoo when they were not a member (or at least no a practicing member) of the SDA church, and the now wish they had never gotten the tattoo.  (At least, that is the situation with my SDA friends with tattoos.)

Tattoos are relatively easy and cheap to get, and relatively hard and expensive to remove.

Your brother in Christ,


Thomas wrote at 2007-12-22 19:10:13
People please learn the difference between Old Covenant and New Covenant. You quote an Old Covenant law that we Christians are not obligated to follow. We follow Jesus and the New Covenant.--Thomas

Gray wrote at 2011-08-18 16:15:49
1 John 2:15

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  

Cory W. wrote at 2012-01-20 07:21:47
I think it is very important to connect the context of this verse in order to get an accurate interpretation. First, it should be understood the way it was intended to when the audience read it.  Secondly, it is important to look at a verse in connection to the entire book/chapter/theme/etc. The theme of the book is concerning the instructions of Moses written for the priests of Levi. YHVH (Yahweh) brought the children of Israel with the intention of making them a "holy nation" (Exodus 19:16;33:16).

The verse mentioning the "cutting of the flesh/tattoo marks" is in the context of "holiness" or delineation from the other nations. The context begins from Leviticus 18, where it says, "I am the LORD you God. You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Caanan..." This teaching of being distinct from the other nations is constantly emphasized in the Torah (Exodus 24:23-24,34:11-17; Leviticus 18:24-29; Deut 18:21).

The verse concerning cutting the flesh for the dead and tattooing is just part of a full unit of thought prohibiting pagan worship/cultic practices. It beings from verse 26-28, where it prohibits divination or soothsaying (sorcery). Cutting the sides of our hair and your beard in the eastern context is a sign of baring shame to appease the gods. Cuttings in the flesh clearly connected is connected to necromancy or ceremonial mourning (for the dead). Tattooing should then be understood within a religious/cultic context of its time.

Many Christians, out of good faith and trust in God's word see tattooing as a violation against God. The intention is a virtuous one as it shows their will to obey. However, there is inconsistency in application as cutting your hair or beard should be seen as an offense as well. Today, cutting you beard or hair isn't done with in intent of appeasing gods or cultic commitments. The same can be said about tattoos and cutting yourself is considered a sign of a greater psychological disorder. The verse makes the most sense when it is read within the immediate context of the children of Israel. To apply it today is a pretty big stretch with very little to no support.

Now, Seventh-day Adventist Christians possess a very peculiar view of personal holiness. The physical body is understood to be God's temple and the dwelling place of His Spirit. This is received at conversion (Ephesians 2:13-14). Such text as 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, where it cites the body as the temple of God are used in apology to SDA practices of holiness. Hence, they abstain from unhealthy practices such as alcohol consumption, smoking, wearing jewelry, promote an octo-vegetarian/vegan diet/Kosher meat diet, and reject tattooing on the grounds that they body belongs to God and it is be maintained and appreciated as such.

However, tattooing is absent from the Seventh-day Adventist baptismal vow:

"Do you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and will you honor God by caring for it, avoiding the use of that which is harmful, and abstaining from all unclean foods; from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages; from the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption; and from the misuse of or trafficking in narcotics or other drugs"  - Seventh-Day Adventist Church Manual, Baptism, pg.47

In the end, It is debatable among Seventh-day Adventist Christians whether or not tattooing is 'wrong' or an offense before God. As a fellow Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I did (and still do at times) desire to get a tattoo; something significant to faith. It's not the fear of offending God or defiling my body that stopped me. It was the fear of having to deal with criticism from SDA peers as being perceived as 'backsliding' or embracing modern-cultural norms, which is some questionable way translates as an offense. Personally,I've have researched getting a tattoo in the past and I saw nothing hazardous about it. Only that it can be a regretful experience as I have heard. Except for one of closer friends, who is a committed SDA and still loves his tattoo.

In the end the text in Leviticus doesn't apply to today's tattooing. But if an SDA tries to get one, he/she will risk being seen as 'compromising' their faith or 'undeveloped' in SDA orthodoxy by their more conservative church family.  

Textus Receptus wrote at 2013-03-14 21:39:34
The bible clearly states that we should not do as the Pagans do. Whether it is in the Old testemant or new, God is a jealous God and we should not offend Him. Logically, if God is against idols, He would not want us turning our bodies into an idol. I know that some will say that they can glorify God with a tattoo if it is religious however any "christian" symbol that we have including the Cross is of a pagan orgin.  

Seventh-Day Adventists

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I am privileged to be able to offer an alternative insight into the complicated world of Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) theology. I will rely heavily on the Bible, but will also consider history and use logic in exposing deficiencies in SDA teachings. I would ask anyone who is considering becoming a SDA or if you are already in the SDA church, but are searching for the truth, to please allow me to offer a different explanation for the claims of the SDA. Remember : "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I can answer your questions pertaining to the beliefs and history of the SDA. I am not able to answer questions concerning spirituality or church discipline.


I have extensively studied the theology of the Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA) for a number of years. I have many books and tape sets produced by experts in this field of study. I have debated current members of the SDA church. I have a great desire to help these people see the truth.

M.S. degree in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]