Tattoo Ideas: Religious Symbols

Updated on June 15, 2011

Written by: Jaclyn Popola

Although religious symbol tattoos are fairly commonplace in many parts of the world, there is debate among Christians as to whether or not they are an abomination of the body. Leviticus 19:28 states, "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you". Not to engage in a biblical debate or anything, but Leviticus also states that only royalty can wear the color purple, and that if a man touches a woman while she is menstruating, he must bathe in the river of Jordan. Anyway, some Christians take this to mean that scarring, cutting, piercing or tattooing oneself in any way is a desecration of the body--and the body is a temple of God. Others argue that that verse applies to other false, un-Christian religious practices, or that believers of the New Testament are not bound by Old Testament laws. Some proponents of Christianity mistakenly believe that tattoos are rooted in paganism or witchcraft. Regardless, tattoos of religious symbols are a popular choice of body art among Christians and many other denominations.

My 20-year old cousin recently brought this to my attention, opining that he didn't believe in getting tattoos for himself due to the Bible's advising against it. He opted instead for a process known as "scarification" (a body modification that uses scar tissue to create a permanent brand) explaining that a wound that would certainly heal was not the same as a cut or a mark.

An example of scarification made to form a koi fish
An example of scarification made to form a koi fish
A religious symbol is any image or archetype that expresses an idea, teaches a moral or brings the wearer closer to his or her God or gods. A tattoo does not have to be particular to Christianity to be considered a religious mark. Although some of the more common religious tattoos show up in the form of crosses or crucifixes, Buddhist images (along with Hebrew writing, Celtic, Islamic, Hindu and Ancient Egyptian symbols, even the Chinese yin-yang) all fall under the category of religion.

CROSSES/CRUCIFIX

LETTERING

"Only God can judge me"
"Only God can judge me"
Hebrew for 'son of God'
Hebrew for 'son of God'
Irish prayer
Irish prayer
Psalm 90:2
Psalm 90:2

HINDU/ISLAMIC

Hand of Fatima
Hand of Fatima
Hindu deity
Hindu deity
Buddha
Buddha

PRAYING HANDS

ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS

Egyptian winged solar disk
Egyptian winged solar disk
Aztec symbol
Aztec symbol
Phoenix rising
Phoenix rising

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Nuthinmuch 

        8 years ago

        Wow that phoneix rising is beautiful =]

      • profile image

        thierry! 

        9 years ago

        Wtf ? My tattoo on the internet?! .. ( only god can judge me ) .. where do they get this picture from ?

      • profile image

        Dean Thorpe 

        9 years ago

        I have many tattoos, not religious ones (well there is a yin-yang as part of one) as I am not a religious person, but I do think I can still make an objective comment on the issue. First I would like to say that some of those tattoos are amazing. I do totally agree with the point the person who wrote the article seemed to try to make and think that the world would be pretty strange if we followed a 2000 year old book to the letter! Back then slavery was acceptable etc. and the world was a very different place. If I wrote a the greatest ever book on how to get the most out of a computer, it would be really useful, but what about in 5 or 10 years, maybe it would still have its uses, but what about 50 or 100 years, maybe it could make a good door stop! I am not saying religion is like computing, but the point is the same, things change, people who are not royal wear purple, people have tattoos, but if they are good people, then surely that should be ok?

        PS for the person looking for buddha pics, just go to google and search for

        buddha tattoo flash

        you should find plenty, tattoo flash is the tattoo worlds equivelent of clipart. No offence, but make sure you spell it right, I understood you, but Google might not.

      • profile image

        west 

        9 years ago

        i want a design of a chinese tatto, the big budha

        but only in B\W abstract or full black..

        but it must not be real pictures... thnx

      • BDazzler profile image

        BDazzler 

        9 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

        It was kind of amusing when our pastor got a tattoo, and showed it to the church.

        I am not all that legalistic, but I do try to look at the core reason behind the various lawa adn try to apply the principles. Based on the scripture you stated above, I am ... concerned ... about what I've heard called "memorial tattoos" ....

        As far as tattoos in general, Paul said he would be all things to all people so that he could relate the gospel. All things, for the Christian are lawful, but not all things are beneficial ... which makes a lot of it personal choice.

        As for me peronally, the idea of gazillions of needles piercing my skin and injecting ink just doesnt' seem like a good plan for me, even if the bible had nothing to say about it.

        That having been said, many are beautiful in their own right.

      • profile image

        stephanie 

        9 years ago

        I am a Christian and I have wanted to get a tattoo but then I read the verse right after the one that you mentioned and it's about not making your daughter a prostitute, and that same chapter talks about not sleeping with family members and animals. Since when do we get to decide what parts of the Bible to believe in and what not to believe in? You either believe in it in entirely ot not at all, because being a lukewarm believer is an abomination to God.

      • profile image

        Ray Frye 

        10 years ago

        The tattoo above that is supposed to mean Son Of God in Hebrew is:

        ??? ?? ??????

        and Arabic is:

        ??? ????

      • starrkissed profile image

        starrkissed 

        10 years ago from Arizona

        i'm not religious, but these are amazing tattoos.

      • profile image

        ANON 

        11 years ago

        The last photo that you call "Irish Prayer" is actually a prayer from a movie.......you may have heard of it. Boondock Saints

      • profile image

        Christian Tattoos 

        11 years ago

        Nice collection of Religious Tattoos here. Thanks for the cool ideas. LOTLMCgod

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