In my journey of learning about modesty, the one thing that I have struggled with is makeup. Do I wear it? Or do I not? Is it acceptable? Or is it not? There is a big debate around the subject of whether or not Christians can wear makeup. There are advocates for both camps who make very compelling arguments for both cases. In this post, I am not going to support either. Rather, I am simply going to talk about the beauty of modesty.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY
There are two places in the bible which deal with modesty. The one we saw in last week’s post, 1 Timothy 2:9, 10. 1 Peter 3:3, 4 is the other passage that deals with modesty. Both passages deal with the way women should present themselves. On the surface, it seems as though both Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul are telling women that they should not braid their hair or make themselves look good. But when you look at the passage contextually, you realise that that is not what they are saying. The Apostles are giving admonitions to professing Christian women to learn the principles of their faith instead of thinking that their gender excuses them from learning. Just as men, women should exercise godliness.
In the time of the early church, women spent excessively long amounts of time styling their hair. They would adorn their hair with all sorts of lavish decorations purely for the sake of being seen. Their elaborate hair was a crown that conspicuously displayed their wealth and social rank. The charge of modesty here, is a call for women who profess to be Christian to not be ostentatious. But rather, to clothe themselves with what is good. As I mentioned in my previous article, modesty is part of our Christian service to others. And this is what the Apostles are calling us to.
Both Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul are exhorting women to not be vain and to not focus on their outward appearance. Instead, they should be concerned about beauty which springs up from an obedient heart which is fully devoted to loving God and others. They are calling women to recognise the beauty of modesty.
Apostle Paul tells women that they should not adorn themselves with lavish adornment, but that they should adorn themselves with good deeds. They should not put on anything that will cause them to be puffed up and filled with pride because of the attention that comes to them. Apostle Peter contrasts between outward beauty and inward beauty. Outward beauty is fleeting and draws the attention of man. Inward beauty is lasting and draws the attention of God. 1 Samuel 16 says that God does not look at the things people look at. People look at our outward appearance while God sees our heart. This shows the limitation of our perspective. While we can see only what is presented on the outside, God sees everything.
To flaunt one’s beauty for adoration is not humility. Regardless of what form it comes in. It could be extravagant clothes, lavish makeup, flamboyant jewellery or ostentatious behaviour. Whatever it is that brings attention to you for selfish adoration is not humility. Our modesty is a reflection of Christ. Therefor people should see Christ in us, our hope of glory. Instead of flashy garments which take attention away from Christ and onto ourselves.
ADMONITION NOT CONDEMNATION
What we see in the cited passages, is not condemnation for makeup as a sin, but rather an admonition for how we present ourselves. The emphasis should not be on doing or wearing anything that brings unnecessary attention to ourselves. And this includes makeup. There is nothing wrong with wearing makeup. But there is everything wrong with how and why we do it. If the purpose is to have people draw their attention to you, then your intentions are wrong. People might not be able to see your intentions, but God certainly can. Our aim should be to manifest a godly and righteous character and not to be seen by others. Wearing makeup, as with everything else, should be done in moderation. Using makeup with wisdom and caution is not a sin.
For example, our intention might not be to lead someone else to disobeying God in their heart. But we all have different struggles. And the way we wear our makeup could lead another into lust. So we should be conscious of everyone who is around us. Ours is service to others. And if forgoing makeup altogether will be of benefit to another, then so be it. We should not let our personal preferences and Christian liberty be an obstacle and hindrance to others.