Pastor Mark of Mars Hill Church in Seattle on smoking, piercings, and tattoos

Mark Driscoll explains what he calls the big one. Here are quotes from a sermon, the video has been deleted:

‘They have tattoos, they have tattoos, they have tatoos, they shouldn’t have tattoos. Why should they not have tattoos? Oh the Bible says don’t have tattoos… The Bible says in the Old Testament if you’re a priest from the line of Aaron, part of the sacred order whose made it on to the team, you should’nt get a tattoo that identifies you as a member of another religion that worships a false god. So if that’s you fine, everybody else, [here he makes a rasbury], whatever, whatever. [The audience laughs].

In The Radical Reformission (2004) Mark Driscoll writes: “Restrictive Christians go too far and name everything a universal sin, forbidding some cultural activities that the Bible does not, such as listening to certain music styles, getting tattoos, watching movies, smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol, and body piercing.” (page 103)

New covenant tattoos

Mark Driscoll sermon, part 19: The Weaker Christian from 1 Corinthians 8:1-13: 28 May 2006. Abstract from sermon:

“You are free in Christ to be weird… How about this one, tattoos? How many of you grew up in that fundamentalist church where they told you about the one verse on tattoos?  Where is it? What book? Leviticus! Are these dudes in the front are twitching! Dudes with tattoos! Leviticus, Leviticus! Because a youth pastor said don’t get a tattoo; its right here, don’t get a tattoo. It’s right here in Leviticus, don’t get a tattoo. OK. But the thing is if you read the whole context it actually doesn’t apply—its old covenant, not new covenant, so Jesus has fulfilled the law. Additionally it’s talking about priest marking their body thereby indentifying themselves with paganism, so I don’t think it really applies. You can disagree with me that’s fine… Let me just say our position is this—tattoos are not a sin, right. Jesus Christ is going to have a tattoo—Revelation says on his second coming. It says that down his right leg will be written King of Kings and Lord of Lords, which will be really freakish for all for the fundamentalists to see Jesus all tattooed up. I can’t wait for that day… Make sure you go to a good tattoo parlour, two of the best in Seattle are actually members of Mars Hill… go in there for a biblical new covenant tattoo, is what we would recommend.”

The Downtown Campus of Mars Hill Church also has a passion for tattoos. Here is an extract from the Mars Hill Downtown blog, dated 23 July 2009, under the heading:

Jesus loves tattoos

A Heart for Tattoo Artists

“Recently, Pastor Tim sat down to talk with world renowned tattoo artist and Mars Hill Downtown member Damon Conklin.  Damon is the owner of Super Genius Tattoo on Capitol Hill and noted as one of the top 20 most influential tattoo artists in the world by Skin magazine.  Additionally, Damon is the co-founder of the Seattle Tattoo Expo, one of the largest tattoo conventions in the world, which the Seattle Center will be hosting on the weekend of August 8th, 9th, and 10th.”

The essential argument of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church is that tattoos are simply a cultural issue. Driscoll’s gospel of freedom gives believers the freedom to be tattooed if that’s what they would like to do.

What is the true Christian position on tattoos? In the New Testament, we are told to glorify God in our bodies.  This would include not marring our bodies with tattoos, as the principles in the Bible clearly tell us it is wrong to defile our bodies.

To tattoo or not to tattoo by Terry Watkins of Dial-the-truth Ministries

The article, To tattoo or not to tattoo by Terry Watkins of Dial-the-truth Ministries, examines the tattoo in the light of God’s Word. This article provides a history of the tattoo and presents a great deal of research evidence. It can be downloaded from this link:

Extracts from To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo:

The article starts by declaring that even among many Christians the once-forbidden tattoo is welcomed with open arms (and legs, and necks, and backs, et al). Not surprising the major perpetrator of the Christian tattoo is the Christian rock music community. And fast following their Christian rock idols, thousands of Christian young people are getting ‘marked for Jesus’ with the tattoo. Among the fastest growing trend in the tattoo industry is the Christian tattoo shops.

The cup of devils

Throughout history the tattoo bears the mark of paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and just about every other pagan belief known. The tattoo has NEVER been associated with Bible Believing Christians. And whenever and wherever, in history Christianity appears – tattoos disappear. The only exception—20th century, lukewarm, carnal, disobedient, Laodicean Christians.

The birth of the tattoo has always born the fruits of pagan religion and mysticism. Without exception, research after research, study after study, book after book, the roots of the tattoo never wavers… No matter how much the carnal, rebellious, Christian desires to justify their perverse reasoning for “marking” themselves with the forbidden demonic tattoo, the facts are loud and clear, backed by tons of research and documentation by the leading pro-tattoo authorities on the planet – the foundation, origin, meaning and purposes of the tattoo is pagan demonism, shamanism, Baal worship, and occult mysticism.

The tattooist, shaman or the occult priest many times uses the tattoo as a point of contact, or inlets into the spiritual world. The tattoo is much more than just a body decoration. It’s more than just a layer of ink cut into the skin. In fact, the tattoo in every culture, in every country, up until the 20th century, was a vehicle for pagan spiritual and religious invocations. Even today, in many countries (including the United States), the tattoo is believed to be a bridge into the supernatural world.

In the pages of history, whenever and wherever ‘tattooing’ pagan tribes were converted to Christianity, without exception, one of their first pagan practices to ‘pass away’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) – was the tattoo. Why? Because, unlike today’s disobedient carnal ‘tattooed’ Christians (or so-called), the converted pagan KNEW the tattoo was against the Word of God. The Holy Spirit quickly ‘told’ the converted pagan – no tattoo. ‘Just as occurred in other cultures with tattoo traditions, when these pagan tribes were ‘converted’ to the Christian religion, their spiritual and cultural rites (which included tattooing, piercing and scarification) were outlawed…’

(Jean-Chris Miller, The Body Art Boo : A Complete, Illustrated Guide to Tattoos, Piercings, and Other Body Modifications, p.9)

Tattoo and rebellion

And if there’s one message the tattoo cries out – loud and clear – it is rebellion. Throughout history tattoos have symbolized rebellion. There’s nothing normal about a tattoo. A tattoo screams of unabashed rebellion and deviancy… Every tattoo book, and every article, I researched, both old and new, openly affirmed the deliberate rebellion symbolized by the tattoo. Book after book, article after article, sung the same song – tattoos are open rebellion.

Leviticus 19:28 is the Christian (or so-called Christian) tattooist and tattoo-bearer’s worst nightmare. The Lord plainly, clearly, strongly, and without a doubt – condemns the tattoo. ‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD’ (Leviticus 19:28). The clear statement from the word of God does not settle anything for this generation of disobedient, carnal, worldly, tolerant, non-judgmental, Christians. Rather than obey God, they run miles and miles and miles to ‘justify’ their open disobedience to the Word of God.

How do they get around Leviticus 19:28? Clearly, there it is. ‘Ye shall not… print any marks upon you…’  A lot of Christians when confronted with Leviticus 19:28, scream, ‘Hey dude, that’s not for today. Man, that’s the Old Testament. I’m under the New Testament.’

Can anyone with any spiritual discernment (and a brain) really believe the Lord Jesus Christ has a tattoo? Isn’t it amazing how spiritually blind someone becomes when they begin to justify their disobedience to the Word of God? But what really is frightening about this gross, perverted, wicked interpretation of a ‘tattooed’ Jesus Christ in Revelation 19:16 – it makes the Lord Jesus Christ a sinner! It means the Lord Jesus clearly disobeyed Leviticus 19:28. It means the Lord Jesus Christ was not holy. He was not the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. He clearly was disobedient and broke the Law of Leviticus 19:28.

The body is the temple of God

In 1 Corinthians 3, the Lord clearly and sternly warns against defiling your body – the temple of God. If any man defiles the temple of God – him shall God destroy. ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

My Christian friend, you’d better watch what you do with your body. It is the temple of a Holy God. You’d better not defile it with pagan, devil-worshipping tattoos. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy. What God said – He meant.

Do you really believe the Lord Jesus Christ is pleased with a Christian wearing a pagan tattoo? Do you honestly believe God’s perfect will is for a Christian, any Christian, to be ‘marked’ with a demonic tattoo? With the unbiased documentation and Bible we’ve given (and we could supply much, much more) there is no question to the pagan and devil-worshipping source of the tattoo. Every tattoo historian I’ve read, traces the root of the tattoo to religious paganism. Every one.

The health risk of tattoos

Underneath that harmless tattoo is a very serious risk of acquiring a deadly blood-borne disease such as AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, tetanus, syphilis, tuberculosis and other blood-born diseases.

Here ends the extracts from To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo by Terry Watkins.


There is no doubt that the tattoo is a mark of pagan religion, occult practices and rebellion against God’s law. Our Lord said: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits… a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit… by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7.15-20). One of the fruits of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is to condone, and even to promote, a new covenant tattoo in the name of the Christian faith. Here we see the fruit of a corrupt tree. Driscoll is a false prophet given over to the lusts of the flesh.

You can learn more about Mark Driscoll’s ministry in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing.