The Painted Face
By Nels Pederson
For some time now, I have listened to the comments made by individuals, the discussion groups, and also some radio speakers concerning the issue “Should Christian women wear paint?” In too many instances, I believe this question has not been properly discussed and dealt with, and as a result has left many without a proper answer. It is because of this I feel constrained to put the following comments in writing. There will be those, I know, who will immediately begin to shout “Legalism.” But I trust there will also be those who will read these lines with an open heart, truly seeking God’s will in this matter and thus be blessed by it.
Painting In The Bible Linked With Ungodliness And Immorality
The question is many times asked, “Does the Bible speak about it?” To my knowledge there are three references in the Bible that speak of face painting. Shall we look briefly at these passages?
In II Kings 9:30 we read about the wicked woman Jezebel. When she saw Jehu coming toward the city, she painted her face and attired her hair, to attract him. Jehu called her a cursed woman, and commanded her to be cast out upon the street where the dogs ate her flesh, that there would be no remembrance of her, a king’s daughter.
In Jer. 4:30 we read, “And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair.” God here compares backslidden Israel with a fallen woman who tries to enhance her outward appearance with paint and ornaments, and God said it was in vain.
A most shocking passage is found in Ezek. 23:40-44, which reads: “And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent; and lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments, And satest upon a stately bed,” and so on, until verse 44 “Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot; so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.”
In each of the passages, face painting was linked with wicked women who used it to overawe or attract others, and at times used to lure into the sins of immorality. According to the “Westminster
Dictionary of the Bible,” the wicked women of the East stained their eyelids with black powder made of pulverized antimony mixed with oil and applied with a brush. The Hebrews regarded the practice as unworthy of a woman of high character.
Modern Painting, Heathendom And Harlotry
In this connection, I should like to share an incident. About 10 years ago, a returned missionary from China spoke at our church and related the following. He had been in China for seven years and upon return to this country for furlough he immediately noticed something different about the American women. In the seven years that he had been gone many of the women had adopted the popular fad of painting their faces. In China the prostitutes were the only women who painted their faces, wore ear rings, and had long painted fingernails. This was their means of identifying themselves to their men-partners in sin. The shocking thing to the missionary was that the American women had taken on the custom of the heathen harlot.
This is still the accepted practice in many foreign countries today. The following article appeared in a newspaper. “Use of lipstick appears only now to be catching on slowly in West Germany. The number of buxom lassies and older women especially who wear no makeup is remarkable. Those who use lipstick do so sparingly. Tn proportion, more women seemed to be lipstick users in Berlin than in other cities, and more lipstick is worn in hotels and restaurants (particularly by evening diners) than in the streets. In some foreign countries where we send exchange students they are advised not to use lipstick while in these countries because they will be taken for prostitutes. A young man from Holland told me the painted women in his country were considered prostitutes.
Painting, A Mark Of The World
Painting of the face in America started in Hollywood, a place of ungodly and adulterous women, and the popular belief seems to be that Hollywood sets the styles for a nation of women, so all are to paint their faces regardless of how right or wrong it may be. The painted face has never in all history stood for godliness and purity, but has always been a mark of the world. As we look around us, what do we see in bars and cafes? lt is the painted girl, and the cigarette. The liquor ads, theater bill boards, the cigarette ads all display the painted woman. Every sex and love story magazine has on its cover and in its pages pictures of painted women. The young girl who begins early to paint many times also begins early to smoke. In view of all the facts stated thus far in this tract, what business does any woman or girl who professes to be a Christian have to identify herself with such women by her outward appearance? I should think it would be repulsive to say the least.
The admonition in Rom. 12:1, 2 is that we should present our bodies a living sacrifice to Christ, and be not fashioned according to the world. To paint one’s face is to become fashioned to the world, because it is a mark of the world. We are called unto separation. The Bible says also in 1 Tim. 2:19 that women are to adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness of sobriety: not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. The Bible seems to be very clear about this that there should also be an outward difference between the Christian and the women of the world.
But what do we find today? In too many instances, the women in church offices, women singing in church choirs, and even some preacher’s wives are so painted that there is no difference in their outward appearance and the fallen immoral women of the street.
Painting Hinders Our Witness
“Ye are my witnesses” we are told in Acts 1:8. Also in II Cor. 3:2, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” A consistent Christian life is the most powerful sermon in the
world. A young lady was converted at a Gospel service. Afterward some conversation followed about the right and wrong of numerous things. The make-up problem was briefly discussed, and she was told to go home and make it a matter of earnest, unbiased prayer. The next morning when she would paint her face, she was convicted, so she went to work without it. When she appeared this way in the office where she worked with several other young ladies, they immediately noticed the difference and began to make remarks, one stating. “Didn’t you get up in time to put on your face?” The new convert replied, “I left it at home.” So another girl came to the rescue. saying. “You can use mine.” At this point the new Christian was not slow to tell them of her conversion the night before, and of her praying about the paint. She said, “I believe God would rather have me this way.” Had she come to work with her paint as usual she would probably never have openly confessed Christ at her place of work.
Two other ladies told me personally that being convicted of their painting and refusing to yield it up was the means of their backsliding.
A young lady attending Bible School shared with me the following incident. She had been in the habit of wearing paint while at work, or when going out but did not wear it at church or Bible School. She was at a Bible Camp, and did not wear her paint there either. One day a girl several years younger came up to her and asked if she could tell her how to find peace with Jesus. The Bible student invited her to the chapel to talk. After some counseling they knelt in prayer, and the younger girl was gloriously saved. Afterward. the Bible student inquired, “Why did you come to me for help?” The girl replied, “You were the only one that did not use paint. I thought surely if anyone is a Christian and could help, it would be you.” The Bible student
testified that ended painting for her.
My dear reader, how many young girls have you influenced for Christ; how many have said of you, “I believe that you are a Christian because you do not appear as other women do. Remember, we are epistles, known and read of all men.
Only a few years ago, a painted girl was the exception, not the rule, in our Bible schools. Painting was frowned upon and even preached against. But today in many of the same schools increasing numbers of the young women paint, and even some of our preachers and teachers are upholding it. Instead of these young women testifying in public places with a clean, wholesome, different look, they have, by their painting, identified themselves with prostitutes and all other worldly women.
Painting Leads To Compromise
Just recently a young girl told me that while attending a leadership school a parish worker had lectured to the girls attending and had advised them on how to paint, so nearly all of them adopted the practice of painting. I should like to know where that parish worker got the authority to instruct a class of young girls to paint their faces.
An article appeared in a church paper some time ago, stating the difficulty of having to use scouring powder to remove lipstick stains from the communion cups. lt was suggested that perhaps the pastor could dip the wafer in the wine and give it that way. Would it not be more fitting to preach Christian consecration and separation in such a way that the paint would be removed from the faces than to change the order of communion distribution?
There are a variety of arguments raised to justify painting. One says, “I am too pale.” Another says, “Since I had an operation, I lost the color in my lips.” Still another says, “I have such a washed-out appearance,” etc., etc. Some think their eyebrows are in the wrong place so pluck them out and pencil on others in a different place. Others are not satisfied with their eyelashes, so install artificial ones. The hair also comes in for a change, so has to be dyed, tinted or bleached to all sorts of unnatural and hideous colors. Fingernails are colored to match anything and everything.
I believe God’s wisdom was superior to ours in choosing the colors for our bodies. He looked at all that he had created and said, “Lo, it was very good.” Gen. 1:31. But the woman of today says `God’s creations does not satisfy me, I must improve myself with paint.’
A common argument is that the paint on a woman’s face is no worse than the color in a man’s tie. This is without any scriptural foundation. How could the color of a tie hinder the testimony of a Christian man, whether the tie was colored or just plain black? A man’s tie is a part of his clothing, and cannot be compared with face-painting which has its very origin in immorality.
I have said nothing of the woman’s clothing. Surely, they should dress according to styles of our day, but this can be done without adopting the lewd and indecent customs of immoral women.
If you who read these lines are not a Christian, I wish to tell you that to refrain from painting will never save you or justify you in the presence of God. You must first come to Jesus, confess your sins, and ask Jesus to save you, surrendering your heart and life to Him. Jesus says, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”
Many women have asked my opinion on this matter, and I have advised them concerning its origin and influence, and so have instructed them to make this a matter of earnest, unbiased prayer, asking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Many have come back stating they had definitely been led to discontinue the practice of painting, and that God had blessed and used their lives. There are those that will go to prayer as did Baalam of old with their minds already made up, so will receive no convictions, and God will have to permit them to go in their chosen way.
What does Jesus mean to you? Do you love Jesus for what He did for you? Then your very best is what He should have in return.
Will you make this a matter of serious consideration and prayer? I know that you will receive a blessing from God.
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