Throughout history, women have used cosmetics to enhance their natural beauty. Painting the face with makeup is a common practice in many cultures, even among Christians today. However, some Christians believe that the Bible prohibits the use of cosmetics. What does the Bible really say about painting your face? In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine the scriptural evidence on cosmetics and help you decide what is right for you as a Christian woman.
The topic of makeup is controversial among Christians. Some believe wearing cosmetics shows vanity and is displeasing to God. Others see makeup as an acceptable way for women to look their best within the bounds of modesty. There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.
Ultimately, the Bible does not outright forbid or command the use of cosmetics. However, there are principles in Scripture that can guide us as we make decisions about painting our faces. Our motives and the way we apply biblical truth to cultural practices matter more than establishing rigid rules.
As we explore what God’s Word says about cosmetics, keep an open mind and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. The goal is not to judge or condemn women who hold different views but to understand and apply scriptural truths with grace, humility, and love.
- The Bible does not directly prohibit or command the use of makeup. Principles such as modesty, moderation, and purity need to guide our decision-making.
- Outward adornment should not be our priority. Developing inner beauty through godly character is far more important.
- Motives matter. We should examine why we want to wear cosmetics and whether it stems from vanity or insecurity.
- Makeup becomes sinful when used excessively or seductively. Moderation and modesty are key.
- Cultural norms differ widely on cosmetics. Biblical principles may apply differently within each culture and context.
- Christians should show grace and charity when disagreeing over debatable issues like makeup. Our unity in Christ is paramount.
Now let’s explore some of the main biblical passages that provide insight into this issue.
Old Testament Warnings Against Excessive Adornment
Some of the strongest biblical statements against the use of cosmetics come from the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah and Jeremiah specifically rebuked women for excessive use of eye paint and cosmetics in times of crisis when greater modesty was required:
“Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet, therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.” (Isaiah 3:16-17 NKJV)
“And though you array yourself with ornaments of gold, Though you decorate yourself with colorings of eye shadow, In vain you will make yourself fair; Your lovers will despise you; They will seek your life.” (Jeremiah 4:30 NKJV)
The prophets condemned the women for focusing vainly on their outward beauty through excessive cosmetics and sensual clothing. They warned that God would punish this haughtiness and disregard for modesty.
However, the problem was not make-up itself but the arrogance, immodesty, and misplaced priorities of these women. Used in moderation and with the right motives, cosmetics were not forbidden. For example, Queen Esther used beauty treatments in preparation to see the king (Esther 2:12-13).
New Testament Principles on Outward Appearance
The New Testament offers several principles regarding outward adornment that can help guide our views on cosmetics:
Focus on inner beauty:
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV)
Peter emphasizes developing inner beauty through godly character. Outward adornment is fine but should not be our priority or consume us unduly. This principle applies to cosmetics.
Practice modesty and self-control:
“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV)
Consider your motives:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful… All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV)
While the Bible does not forbid makeup outright, Paul reminds us to consider our motives. Why do we want to wear cosmetics – is it vanity, insecurity or valid reasons?
Limitations from 1st century culture:
The New Testament authors wrote within a particular cultural context about specific issues in their day. First-century Make-up was more associated with prostitution and immodesty than in modern Western culture. We should apply timeless principles from Scripture while understanding cultural differences.
Developing Biblical Wisdom on Cosmetics
Given the lack of direct biblical commands for or against using makeup, how should Christians approach this issue? Here are several guidelines for developing biblical wisdom:
Consider your conscience: Each Christian woman should follow her conscience before God on debatable matters like cosmetics. If you have doubts, refrain until you gain moral certainty one way or the other through prayer and study. But do not impose your views as commands on others.
Focus on inner beauty: Remember that developing godly character is far more important than outward appearance. Follow Paul and Peter’s admonition to emphasize inner beauty.
Practice modesty: Even if you decide to wear makeup, do so modestly and tastefully. Avoid excessive and sensual applications of cosmetics. Err on the side of caution and simplicity.
Examine your motives: Ask yourself honestly before God why you want to wear makeup. Vanity, insecurity, and wanting to attract sensual attention are wrong motives. But wanting to look your best to honor God and serve others can be appropriate.
Consider your context: The cultural norms on wearing cosmetics vary widely. Biblical principles can be applied differently in different contexts. Be sensitive to your cultural and community standards of modesty and propriety.
Act in faith: Since the Bible does not provide absolute clarity, make your decision before God and act in faith according to your conscience, granting others freedom to differ.
Addressing Common Objections to Wearing Makeup
Some Christians sincerely believe that wearing any cosmetics is against God’s will. Let’s look at some common objections and responses:
Objection 1: Makeup is deceptive, creating an appearance that is not real.
Response: Used moderately, makeup simply helps women look their best by enhancing natural beauty. Just as wearing flattering clothing is appropriate, so can cosmetics be. The intent makes the difference.
Objection 2: God made me this way, so wearing makeup is wrong.
Response: God gave us our bodies but also creativity to develop cultural practices not mentioned in Scripture. With the right motives, we can use cosmetics similarly to how we style our hair or wear jewelry.
Objection 3: The Bible always portrays painted faces negatively.
Response: The immodest, excessive use of cosmetics was wrong, but examples like Queen Esther show makeup itself was not forbidden when used appropriately. The Bible does not condemn its careful use.
Objection 4: Wearing makeup shows vanity and is sinful.
Response: It can, but it depends on the heart motive. Doing everything from eating to exercise to styling our hair can be vain. But if done in moderation with the right reasons, makeup can honor God like other cultural practices.
Principles for Godly Use of Cosmetics
If you personally decide that wearing modest makeup is biblically permissible, here are some principles to keep in mind:
- Practice self-control – use minimal makeup, avoid excess. Emphasize inner beauty.
- Maintain purity – do not use makeup to be sensual or immoral.
- Avoid dishonesty – be truthful about your appearance.
- Consider your influence – be sensitive to how your example affects others, especially younger women.
- Be thankful – see cosmetics as a gift from God to use properly, not promoting vanity.
- Glorify God – wear makeup in a way that honors God with your outward appearance.
Applying Biblical Principles with Grace
The bottom line is that the Bible does not outright prohibit the use of cosmetics. Prayerful Christians can come to differing conclusions on this issue. Our unity in Christ is more important than debates over debatable matters like wearing makeup.
As Christians, we should extend grace to women who hold different views on cosmetics. Matters of personal conscience should not be judged harshly or legalistically. Women who wear makeup moderately and women who refrain from it can both honor God.
Loving one another and building each other up in Christ should be our priority. The wise principles from God’s word can guide each woman on making decisions about cosmetics in her specific context. When applied humbly and charitably, biblical truths enrich our lives without dividing us over secondary issues.
May our inner beauty through godly character always be our greatest adornment!