A Different Look At Jewelry And Makeup
By Edward Simmons
When discussing the subject of jewelry or makeup, occasionally someone says, “Salvation is by grace, which is appropriated through faith,” and challenged us, “Show me in the Bible where it says, ‘Thou shalt not wear makeup.”
Yes, it is true that salvation is a gift from God and the just shall live by faith. But this wonderful truth does not mean that our outward appearance is not important. And while we must always base our holiness teaching on clear biblical principles, the challenge to produce verses of Scripture that specifically name and forbid every unholy practice is inappropriate for two reasons.
First, anyone who desires a relationship with Jesus Christ and tries to build his walk with God on “What I can’t do” rather than on “What can I do to please my Lord?” is going to have serious problems. This approach is legalistic and counter productive.
Second, this challenge supposes that anything not expressly forbidden in the Bible is acceptable. But many things are off limits to the child of God even though they are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, for they violate stated biblical principles. For example, who would argue that it is all right for a Christian to snort cocaine or inject heroin because the Scriptures do not specifically forbid it? Any Christian who desires to do these is obviously experiencing real problems in his walk with God. Could it be that the desire to paint one’s face or adorn oneself with jewelry similarly reveals a deeper problem? Even if these practices were deemed acceptable, why would a committed disciple of the Lord want to indulge in them?
Of course, some folks will not accept a holiness standard when it is spelled out plainly in the Word of God. Good examples are women wearing pants and cutting their hair. The only way around the scriptural prohibitions on these practices is to adopt a highly subjective interpretation. For instance, some people claim that in I
Corinthians 11 Paul did not teach the Word of God in reference to women’s hair but commented on a letter someone else had written and then concluded “we have no such custom” (Verse 16). Of course, all the major versions of the Bible agree in rejecting this fanciful interpretation. Even a paraphrase, The Living Bible says it as well: “But if anyone wants to argue about this, all I can say is that we never teach anything else than this-that a woman should wear a covering when prophesying or praying publicly in the church, and all the churches feel the same way about it.” All the churches still need to feel the same way about it. Verse 15 states that a woman’s hair is her covering, and according to verses 5 and 6 she is not to cut that covering, her hair.
Concerning jewelry and makeup, the purposes of both violate scriptural principles that speak against pride and ornamentation (I Timothy 2:9-10; I Peter 3:3), and they run counter to the lordship of Christ. Ornamental jewelry exalts self and promotes pride. It makes the statement, “Look at me.” The Christian’s desire should be, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Do we desire to draw attention to ourselves or to be hid in Christ? Are we striving to be conformed to the image of the Son of God? Can we imagine Jesus Christ wearing a gold chain around his neck or a bracelet on his arm? I cannot.
Makeup is used to change the appearance of the eyes, skin, and nails. The general underlying motivation or purpose of using makeup is to emphasize areas of the face and body in order to be more sensually attractive. Many women who wear makeup may not realize or admit this purpose, but the modern use of makeup in Western societies originated among those of ungodly and sexually immoral behavior. Moreover, the Bible speaks of Jezebel as symbolic of those who “teach and … to
seduce my servants to commit fornication” or as translated by the New King James version, “to commit sexual immorality (Revelation 2:20). It is interesting to note that Jezebel “painted her face,” thinking that her sensual appearance would impress Jehu (II Kings 9:30). (The NKJV translates “painted her face” as “put paint on her eyes.”)
Let us conclude with one final point. Most of these subjects-women’s wearing pants, cutting their hair, and wearing makeup-are issues only because of our present culture. These practices were not issues until this century because very few women (Christians or sinners) did them. But just because our society condones these practices does not mean that we have the authority to violate scriptural teachings and principles on these subjects.
Grace saved us and grace provides the power to keep us. Our relationship with Christ must be based on faith. It is impossible to please God without it. Let us believe that and preach it, and at the same time let us hold to other teachings that are right, expedient, and Christ-like.
May God help us to serve Him in holiness, modesty, and truth. At the same time, let us keep a good spirit and remember that “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Proverbs 18:19).
The above was published in Forward, April-June, 1991, p. 12
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