Latter-day Counsel

Tattooing is a desecration of the human body and should not be permitted, unless all that is involved is the placing of a blood type or an identification number in an obscure place. Latter-day saint servicemen in particular are counseled to avoid the pitfalls of tattooing. Persons who are tattooed are not, however, denied the ordinances and blessings of the temple. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine

But I regret to say that so many of our young people fall between the cracks. They try one foolish thing after another, never evidently satisfied, until they are pulled down into a pit from which they cannot extricate themselves. In some cases it may be too late...It is sad and regrettable that some young men and women have their bodies tattooed. What do they hope to gain by this painful process? Is there "anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy" (A of F 1:13) in having unseemly so-called art impregnated into the skin to be carried throughout life, all the way down to old age and death? They must be counseled to shun it. They must be warned to avoid it. The time will come that they will regret it but will have no escape from the constant reminder of their foolishness except through another costly and painful procedure. I submit that it is an uncomely thing, and yet a common thing, to see young men with ears pierced for earrings, not for one pair only, but for several. They have no respect for their appearance. Do they think it clever or attractive to so adorn themselves? I submit it is not adornment. It is making ugly that which was attractive. Not only are ears pierced, but other parts of the body as well, even the tongue. It is absurd. We--the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve--have taken the position, and I quote, that "the Church discourages tattoos. It also discourages the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes, although it takes no position on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings." President Gordon B. Hickley

Yes, there is something wrong with getting a tattoo. Right now, tattoos are a fad. But the thing that makes tattoos a bigger consideration than most fads is that they are permanent. The consequences of trying to be fashionable with a tattoo is a lifetime of trying to hide or get rid of it. You shouldn’t choose to permanently scar or mark your body just because your peers think it looks “cool.” Also the process of tattooing can be dangerous. Getting a tattoo may place you at risk for diseases transmitted by a needle. And the possibility of infection is very real. Although methods have been developed to remove tattoos, they are expensive, painful, and can leave scars.
New Era, June 1996

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” Lev 9:28

The impact of tattoos and body piercing on future employment represents an important consideration. A telephone survey of 242 employers disclosed that 40 percent would be influenced negatively by a visible tattoo on a prospective employee. Similarly, when individuals follow the body-defiling practices of multiple piercing and tattooing, they dull their spiritual sensitivity. Tattooing the body seems analogous to spraying graffiti on one of our beautiful temples.
Ensign, February 1999