I recently spoke to your mothers and your fathers. Among other things, I talked with them about tattoos. What creation is more magnificent than the human body? What a wondrous thing it is as the crowning work of the Almighty. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, said: “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” Did you ever think that your body is holy? You are a child of God. Your body is His creation. Would you disfigure that creation with portrayals of people, animals, and words painted into your skin? I promise you that the time will come, if you have tattoos, that you will regret your actions. They cannot be washed off. They are permanent. Only by an expensive and painful process can they be removed. If you are tattooed, then probably for the remainder of your life you will carry it with you. I believe the time will come when it will be an embarrassment to you. Avoid it. We, as your Brethren who love you, plead with you not to become so disrespectful of the body which the Lord has given you. May I mention earrings and rings placed in other parts of the body. These are not manly. They are not attractive. You young men look better without them, and I believe you will feel better without them. As for the young women, you do not need to drape rings up and down your ears. One modest pair of earrings is sufficient. I mention these things because again they concern your bodies. How truly beautiful is a well-groomed young woman who is clean in body and mind. She is a daughter of God in whom her Eternal Father can take pride. How handsome is a young man who is well groomed. He is a son of God, deemed worthy of holding the holy priesthood of God. He does not need tattoos or earrings on or in his body. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are all united in counseling against these things.
The practice is growing among young people of tattooing and piercing their bodies. The time will come when they will regret it, but it will then be too late. The scriptures unequivocally declare: “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”. 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” 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.”