Tattoos are a controversial subject among believers. So, I wasn’t surprised when a student asked whether Jehovah’s Witnesses can have tattoos. This was during a discussion about beliefs held by religious communities.
He was convinced that Witnesses who had tattoos were excommunicated. His question sparked an interesting debate, which split my class into two camps.
Some agreed with him, while others didn’t. I let this back and forth go on for a few minutes before offering an explanation based on my theological background and research.
I also addressed questions and misconceptions that popped up. That discussion inspired me to share more information on the topic.
So, can Jehovah’s Witness get a tattoo?
Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage their members from getting tattoos. They base this on Leviticus 19:28, where God forbids Israel from marking their bodies and getting tattoos. They advise members who have tattoos to cover them up in public.
Join me in exploring whether Jehovah’s Witnesses can get tattoos and whether having one is grounds for being disfellowshipped.
Let’s get started.
How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view tattoos?
Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage members from getting tattoos. They base this on Leviticus 19:28, where God commands Israel not to cut or tattoo themselves: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”
He did this so they could separate themselves from the neighboring pagan communities. Likewise, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their followers shouldn’t adopt worldly fads and standards.
Some teach that getting a tattoo is unwise because those who do regret their decision.
Additionally, some teach that those getting tattoos to assert their identity contradict Romans 12:1, which teaches that believers should present themselves as a sacrifice to God: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
They infer that this verse encourages believers to be mindful of how they take care of their bodies.
Finally, they warn that tattoos can distort how the public views their members. As such, they encourage those with tattoos to cover them up.
Can you convert to Jehovah’s Witness if you have a tattoo?
Yes. You can convert to Jehovah’s Witnesses if you have a tattoo. The religion carries out extensive outreach campaigns to convert others to their faith.
They accept people from different backgrounds and beliefs and don’t discriminate against those with tattoos.
However, they discourage converts from getting new tattoos after baptism. Furthermore, they’ll counsel you to remove or cover up your tattoos, especially if they’re offensive.
Do you get dis-fellowshipped if you have a tattoo as a Jehovah’s Witness?
No. A tattoo isn’t sufficient grounds for getting disfellowshipped. Disfellowshipping is a disciplinary measure against those who willfully sin and fail to repent.
It’s reserved for “major” sins. Disfellowshipped witnesses have to prove they’ve changed before being allowed to interact with others. The Jehovah’s Witnesses deal with tattoos differently.
You’ll probably get counseled by the elders or lose privileges. Alternatively, you might get publicly reproved.
Can a Jehovah’s Witness have piercings?
Yes. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t restrict women from getting piercings. Instead, they encourage prudence in making this decision.
For instance, married women should consult their husbands and children with their parents. Furthermore, Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage excessive piercings.
They discourage body piercings outside the ears and nose. They teach members to consider the impression multiple piercings make on the community around them.
Some believe having excessive piercings might be a stumbling block to new believers (2 Corinthians 6:3). As such, they discourage body piercings among women.
It’s worth noting that Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage piercings in men.
As a Christian, I have always been passionate about sharing God’s word with young people. This inspired me to pursue a Certificate in Christian Education, an Undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, and a Graduate degree in Theology. My knowledge in school and experience from dealing with the youth made me an expert at discussing Christian-related topics. I feel privileged working as the Coordinator of the Christian Youth Ministry at Christian Faith Guide. You can read more about me on the about us page.