Q&A: Questions and Answers


Responses are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Is there anything wrong with getting a tattoo?

New Era

  • Your body is a gift from God; it is the temple for your spirit. Tattoos are like graffiti on the temple.

  • Getting a tattoo has spiritual and financial costs.

  • Not getting a tattoo shows you follow the prophet’s counsel.

  • People who get tattoos regret it sooner or later and often go through the expensive and painful process of trying to have them removed.

Thousands of years ago, the Lord told His people, “Ye shall not … print any marks upon you” (Lev. 19:28). Today, President Gordon B. Hinckley has given the same message: “You are a child of God. Your body is His creation. Would you disfigure that creation with portrayals of people, animals, and words painted into your skin?

“I promise you that the time will come, if you have tattoos, that you will regret your actions. They cannot be washed off. They are permanent. Only by an expensive and painful process can they be removed. If you are tattooed, then probably for the remainder of your life you will carry it with you. I believe the time will come when it will be an embarrassment to you. Avoid it” (“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” New Era, Jan. 2001, 11).

Embarrassment. Regret. Permanent. Painful. Getting a tattoo doesn’t sound like much fun. Besides being expensive and painful, a tattoo can affect getting a job or even your eligibility to serve a mission (see “Tattoos and Your Mission” on p. 44 of this issue).

Some teens who responded to this question have parents or grandparents who have lived with tattoos for many years and wish they hadn’t gotten them. Even if a tattoo seems cool or seems like something that would help you fit in with certain people, sooner or later you will regret having it.

To learn what’s wrong with tattoos, read Alma 3. It doesn’t say “tattoos,” but it talks about the Amlicites, who “marked themselves” to show that they had left the faithful Nephites and joined the Lamanites. That mark was a sign of their “rebellion against God.” That’s the problem with getting a tattoo. Those who get tattoos disobey the prophet and, instead, follow the fads of the world.

Your body is a sacred creation (see 1 Cor. 3:16–17). Keeping it clean invites the Spirit to be with you and shows reverence for Heavenly Father and the gift He has given you. Those are some of the reasons the prophet has asked us not to get a tattoo.

If you are still considering getting one, pray for guidance and talk to your parents about it. One thing is for sure: you will never regret following the prophet’s counsel.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“I cannot understand why any young man—or young woman, for that matter—would wish to undergo the painful process of disfiguring the skin with various multicolored representations of people, animals, and various symbols. With tattoos, the process is permanent, unless there is another painful and costly undertaking to remove it. … A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 52.

Readers

I would say getting a tattoo is a bad thing. You may think that it’s just a little ink on your skin, but that ink won’t go away like a marker does in a few days. If you get a tattoo, you might not be able to go on a mission. My grandfather never stops telling my brother and me that if he could go back in time, he would have never gotten his tattoos. Gerald M., 14, Arizona

When people get tattoos, they are not showing respect to God because they are not showing gratitude for the wonderful bodies He has given them. My mother has a tattoo on one of her feet. It is a little butterfly. But now as she attends the temple, it doesn’t look as cute as she thought it did many years ago. She has tried to cover it with makeup, but that doesn’t really work. Living the commandments is a choice, and I choose to show my love to Heavenly Father by never getting a tattoo. Rachel H., 17, California

Our bodies are created in God’s image. God’s body has no impurities in it, nor does the temple. Why would you want to damage something that is so beautiful? Keeping our bodies free of impurities shows respect to ourselves and the Lord. Cassandra K., 16, Alberta, Canada

I believe that getting a tattoo is wrong. A tattoo shows disrespect to yourself, your body, and Heavenly Father. Getting a tattoo shows that your body isn’t good enough without a picture or words on it. Your body is a sacred temple, and you should take care of it as such. A tattoo can also be very dangerous to your health; you can get diseases from a tattoo if the needle they use is dirty. If you have a tattoo, you wear a constant reminder of a mistake you have made. Myles M., 16, New Mexico

Our bodies are temples. Getting a tattoo would be like painting on a temple. We want our bodies to be like a temple so that we can always have the Holy Ghost to be with us. Right now you may want a tattoo, but what if you start feeling embarrassed about it later? It takes so much money to try to get a tattoo removed, so what’s the use in getting one? Becky C., 20, California

Our body is a temple. We wouldn’t want our temples to be defaced with graffiti. It should be the same with our bodies. We need to keep them as spotless as the temples of our Lord. Tracey G., 16, South Australia, Australia

People who get tattoos go through a lot of pain because the tattoo artist is jabbing needles into their skin. They risk getting diseases, and they can be allergic to the dyes. Having a tattoo can interfere with relationships and getting a job. Some people will avoid you if you have a tattoo, associating you with drug use or gangs. The prophet says not to get tattoos. He says not to harm your body. Our bodies are temples, and they are beautiful as they are. Sasha S., 16, Washington

The Lord has given me a temple to live with on earth. Temples are the work of the Master Craftsman: beautiful, pure, and undefiled. There’s something wrong in getting a tattoo. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:17). Emmanuel S., 21, Ghana

We believe our bodies are temples given to us by God. We should respect our bodies in every way. I think getting a tattoo would be very disrespectful to your body. A tattoo might send the message that you do not appreciate your body. This may attract a wrong crowd of people to you who do not respect themselves. So, to keep your body clean like a temple, you should keep away from getting tattoos. Cassie S., 14, Indiana

[photo] Photograph by Welden C. Andersen, posed by models