Many people nowadays are interested in changing their appearance through body modification. This can be as simple as getting a new haircut, piercing, or something more extreme like tattoos, branding, or even surgery. But what does the Bible say about altering your body?
A few passages could be applied to body modification, but the most direct is Leviticus 19:28, which says, “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19 is a chapter about holiness and setting oneself apart for God. This verse is often interpreted to mean that God forbids tattoos. However, it’s essential to look at the context in which this verse was written. In that context, the prohibition against tattoos makes sense.
The verse referred to the Israelites. The Israelites were to be holy people, set apart from the nations around them. Getting tattoos would have been a way of imitating the pagan practices of those other nations. So, while this verse does not explicitly mention piercings or other forms of body modification, it does indicate that God is concerned with our motive for altering our appearance.
If we try to look like everyone else or fit in with a particular group, that’s not the right reason to modify our bodies. But if we’re doing it to express our individuality or creativity, that’s something God can certainly use for His glory.
What Does the Bible Say About Our Bodies?
The Bible clarifies that our bodies are temples that belong to God. As 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” This means that God gave us our bodies, and we should take care of them by not doing anything that would permanently alter our bodies. This is because God created it wonderfully based on His image, making us uniquely beautiful inside and out (Psalm 139:14). For this reason, the Bible does not condone altering your body for the sake of fashion or to fit in with the world. Instead, we are called to care for our bodies and glorify God with them.
How Do We Take Care of Our Bodies?
The Bible is clear that our bodies are to be treated with respect and care. So, we must avoid anything that would cause harm or pain to our bodies, such as getting unnecessary surgeries or piercings. Below are some things we can do to make sure our bodies are given the care they need:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Avoiding harmful substances like drugs and alcohol
- Treating our bodies with respect and care
What Does the Bible Say About Surgery?
Two surgeries mentioned in the Bible are circumcision and castration. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham to circumcise himself and his sons as a sign of the covenant between them (Genesis 17:11). Therefore, these surgeries are not deemed forbidden by God.
Similarly, there is no prohibition in the Bible regarding plastic or cosmetic surgery. However, it’s essential to know that changing our bodies is unnatural, and it shows that we aren’t content with what we have, leading to our desire for worldly possessions instead of appreciating God’s creation. Aside from that, doing so always comes with the possibility of experiencing physical and mental adverse effects. So, consider making the best decision for your body and your health.
Does Altering Your Body Make You a Sinner?
The Bible clearly states that God wants us to love our bodies just as they are. This means that we must learn to love ourselves no matter how different we may seem to other people because of the way we were born. So, if we’re altering our bodies in some way, whether it’s through piercings, tattoos, or cosmetic surgery, does that mean we’re sinning?
The answer depends on our motives for altering our bodies, though the Bible doesn’t explicitly mention that it’s a sinful act. If your purpose for doing so is to create harm toward others, such as insulting or discriminating against others, it will make you a sinner. Also, if you excessively praise it over God, you’re definitely sinning. In short, altering your body is acceptable if you do not jeopardize your relationship with God.
What Does the Bible Say About Putting Unknown Substances in Your Body?
Unknown substances encompass drugs, alcohol, steroids, and even glutathione. What does the Bible have to say about these things?
In today’s world, people have become so obsessed with looking good on the outside that they are willing to put their health at risk by putting different substances into their bodies. For example, those who want to have a fairer complexion would inject glutathione into their bodies. And those who wish to look bulkier use steroids regularly.
While these things might not immediately harm the body, long-term damage is always possible. The Bible does not explicitly mention any of these substances by name. However, there are some principles we can glean from Scripture that can help us make wise decisions about what we put in our bodies. One of which is Philippians 4:8, which says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
That verse implies the value of embodying a pure and noble body, as it means you love yourself for what you are. After all, physical appearance isn’t the basis of living a moral life; rather, it’s the purity in heart and soul that pleases God.
In addition, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” This verse means that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. So, we should care for them by nourishing our spiritual values and strengthening our faith in God. Moreover, excessively using drugs and drinking alcohol are both prohibited in the Bible. In Genesis, God tells Noah that he can drink wine, but later in the Bible, we see that drunkenness is discouraged. In Proverbs 23:31-32, it says, “Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end, it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”
Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we should take care of them holily. Altering our bodies in a way that is not natural or necessary can be seen as disrespectful to God. However, the Bible is ambiguous on the morality of physical enhancement for vanity’s sake. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to make up their own mind. But remember that treating our physical selves with reverence is an expression of gratitude to God for the gift of life.