When I initially read this passage – nearly a year ago, shortly after I was baptized – I thought Peter wrote this passage to condemn the mentioned external decorations. Consequently, I was ready to chuck my makeup kit, gold jewelry and designer clothes out my bathroom window. I have since come to learn that Peter did not forbid Christian women from self-decorating or wearing pretty things; rather, he exhorts us to focus on our inner beauty, which is of far more importance to God. He implores us to develop the kind of God-centered beauty possessed by the Proverbs 31 woman and Ruth, two women who are clearly beautiful despite no mention of their physical beauty in the Bible.
Still, I, like many women, like to wear makeup, and I like to look pretty. I do not think we should feel guilty about those desires. However, in order for me to determine whether the makeup I wear is modest and appropriate, it’s crucial for me two ask myself two questions: 1) What is the intention behind wearing makeup (am I seeking to attract unnecessary attention to myself or create alluring physical features); and 2) what effect does it have on men who view me?
The first question is a personal one that will require honest introspection to answer. My answer: I used to wear a face FULL of makeup – sometimes to appear more attractive to guys, but primarily to shield myself and onlookers from the perceived unattractiveness of my natural state. Every layer was an attempt hide how ugly I felt. Now that I’m learning to derive my confidence from God and the knowledge of His salvation through our savior Jesus Christ – rather than my from my physical appearance – I no longer depend on makeup for self-assurance or use it as a method to attract men.
The second question requires insight from our brothers in Christ. So I tapped three men, whose opinions I respect greatly, to give me their thoughts on popular beauty trends.
Gardner: An “evangelist/Bible teacher” who works with several Hispanic congregations in the New York/New Jersey areas. He’s so cool he has his own website.
James: The resident tech-wiz of my home congregation. You can see some of his work and learn more about the church I attend here.
Tim: A young Bible teacher in New York who currently works with a bilingual congregation that meets in Harlem.
The Trends & The Verdicts
Unlike with several of the clothing trends featured in my last Modesty Test post, very few of the above beauty trends are tempting or immodest to the men I interviewed. In fact, the trend that I consider “sexiest” – bright lipstick – is unappealing, borderline repulsive to all three men. In short, makeup is primarily a personal thing that many guys don’t pay much attention to. We just have to be aware of how flamboyant our makeup is and how much effort it requires. Some advice from Tim: “For a lot of guys, makeup, hair, and accessories just looks like time and money, and that’s not very attractive. I would encourage finding solutions that are cheap and not time consuming.”
Regardless of your position on makeup or any of the above beauty trends, the important thing to remember is this: “For the Lord sees not as man sees: Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV). No dye job or amount of makeup can impress God or conceal an impure, vain heart. If we are sincerely seeking God and wanting to honor his Word, our inner beauty will shine through so brightly that our physical beauty will become a side note in comparison.