Is It a Sin to Get a Body Piercing?

Young woman with piercings

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The debate over tattoos and body piercings continues in the Christian community. Some people don’t believe body piercing is a sin at all, that God allowed it, so it’s okay. Others believe the Bible makes it quite clear that we need to treat our bodies as temples and not do anything to damage it. Yet we should look more closely at what the Bible says, what the piercings mean, and why we’re doing it before we decide if ​a piercing is a sin in the eyes of God.

Some Conflicting Messages

Each side of the body piercing argument quotes scripture and tells stories from the Bible. Most people on the side against body piercing use Leviticus as an argument that body piercing is a sin. Some interpret it to mean you should never mark your body, while others see it as not marking your body as a form of mourning, as many of the Canaanites did at the time the Israelites were entering the land. There are stories in the Old Testament of nose piercings (Rebecca in Genesis 24) and even piercing the ear of a slave (Exodus 21).  Yet there is no mention of piercing in the New Testament.

Leviticus 19:26-28: Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood. Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.  Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards. Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord. (NLT)

Exodus 21:5-6: But the slave may declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God.  Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life. (NLT)

Our Bodies as a Temple

What the New Testament does discuss is taking care of our bodies. Seeing our bodies as a temple means to some that we should not mark it up with body piercings or tattoos. To others, though, those body piercings are something that beautifies the body, so they don’t see it as a sin. They don’t see it as something destructive. Each side has a strong opinion on how body piercings impact the body. However, if you do decide you believe body piercing is a sin, you should make sure you heed Corinthians and have it done professionally in a place that sanitizes everything to avoid infections or diseases that can be passed on in unsterile environments.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17:  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 10:3: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)

Why Are You Getting Pierced?

The last argument about body piercing is the motivation behind it and how you feel about it. If you’re getting a piercing because of peer pressure, then it might be more sinful than you originally think. What goes on in our heads and hearts is just as important in this case as what we do to our bodies. Romans 14 reminds us that if we believe something is a sin and we do it anyway, we’re going against our beliefs.  It can cause a crisis of faith. So think hard about why you’re getting a body piercing before you jump into it.

Romans 14:23: But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs. And you know that is wrong because anything you do against your beliefs is a sin. (CEV)

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Mahoney, Kelli. "Is It a Sin to Get a Body Piercing?" Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Mahoney, Kelli. (2020, August 27). Is It a Sin to Get a Body Piercing? Retrieved from Mahoney, Kelli. "Is It a Sin to Get a Body Piercing?" Learn Religions. (accessed May 29, 2023).