A biography of Amy Carmichael relates, “One night when she was young, she had asked Jesus for blues eyes. Mother had said that Jesus hears our prayers and answers them. But no, in her mirror the next morning her eyes remained brown as dirt.”1)Sam Wellman, Amy Carmichael: A Life Abandoned to God, Barbour Publishing (Uhrichsville, OH) 1998, p. 7 Those dirt brown eyes allowed her to rescue children that were dedicated to pagan gods forced into a life of prostitution in the Hindu temples. Amy Carmichael would dye her skin brown with coffee, put on Indian clothing to sneak into Hindu temples in order to rescue these young girls. God had a purpose for giving her brown eyes. In our ignorance of God’s plan for us, should we desire to modify our appearance or learn to be content?

Peter wrote to the women “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Pet. 3:3-4) Phillip Schaff expressed the historical relevance behind this passage in light of the culture and practices of the first century heathen women.

They denote two distinct kinds of female adornment, namely, what the person itself presents, and what is put upon it. Hence we have first the plaiting of the natural ornament of the hair, and then other two modes which are given as branches (so the ‘or’ indicates) of one species of artificial ornamentation. The arts themselves had gone to unheard of excess, as we learn from literature, coins, and sculpture, among the heathen ladies of the Empire Pliny the elder speaks of having seen Nero’s mother dressed in a robe of gold tissue, and Lollia Paulina in apparel covered with pearls and emeralds costing fifty millions of sesterces, which would be something like £432,000 (Hist. Nat. xxxiii. 19, ix. 35, 36). From other writers, such as Ovid (de Art. Am. iii. 136), Juvenal (Satir. vi. 502), and Suetonius (Claud. 40), we learn what extravagance of time, pains, and expense was lavished upon the dressing of the hair, how great ladies had slaves carefully instructed for that one service and specially assigned to it, how by rows of false curls, curious braidings, and strings of jewels, the hair was built up high above the head. (See Smith’s Diet, of Antiq. under Coma, and Farrar’s Early Years of Christianity, 5.) How much reason Peter had to dread the infection of Christian women with the same disease of luxury, we may gather from what appears later in the writings of such leaders of the Church as Cyprian, Jerome, and Clement of Alexandria. The last named, in his Padagogue or Instructor, devotes much space to the detailed discussion of what is permissible and the censure of what is wrong in regard to dress, ear-rings, finger-rings, the binding of the hair, etc.2)Phillip Schaff, Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament, (1 Peter 3:3); http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/view.cgi?bk=59&ch=3

Contemporary commentators attempt to soften these statements by explaining, “All this adornment is merely outward. Peter does not forbid a woman fixing her hair, or wearing jewelry, any more than he forbids her wearing apparel…”3)David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, (1 Peter 3:3-4) http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/view.cgi?bk=2&ch=19 Peter is saying that beauty for a Christian woman is not to be expressed by her outward adornments, thus what need is there for any? He is not condemning wearing clothes but rather wearing clothes that are intended for outward attraction. Therefore, Peter is actually condemning all intentions of causing oneself to be attractive outwardly by means of clothing, jewelry, hair styles and not mentioned is inferred cosmetics. Actually cosmetics are more than just inferred as the word “adorning” in 2 Peter 3:3 in Greek is kosmos which is where the English word “cosmetics” is derived from.

All attempts should be viewed as vain for Paul tells us “for fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). There is a major difference between making oneself presentable and making oneself attractive. Commodianus wrote in 240 A.D., “…to a wife approved of her husband, let it suffice that she is so, not by her dress, but by her good disposition. To put on clothes which the cold and the heat or too much sun demands, only that thou mayest be approved modest, and show forth the gifts of thy capacity among the people of God.”4)Commodianus, The Instructions of Commodianus in Favor of Christian Discipline, Against the Gods of the Heathens, chap. LIX; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 4, p. 214 His comment to put on clothes as “the heat or too much sun demands” is quite the opposite of what people do today. This does not mean take off clothes when your hot but rather to cover up because of the sun. The admonition to women in the Constitution of the Holy Apostles states “If thou desirest to be one of the faithful, and to please the Lord, O wife, do not superadd ornaments to thy beauty, in order to please other men; neither affect to wear fine broidering, garments, or shoes, to entice those who are allured by such things…. You, therefore, who are Christian women, do not imitate such as these. But thou who designest to be faithful to thine own husband, take care to please him alone. And when thou art in the streets, cover thy head; for by such a covering thou wilt avoid being viewed of idle persons. Do not paint thy face, which is God’s workmanship; for there is no part of thee which wants ornament, inasmuch as all things which God has made are very good. But the lascivious additional adorning of what is already good is an affront to the bounty of the Creator.”5)Constitution of the Holy Apostles, bk. i, sec. III.-commandments to women; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 7, p. 395

It was the wicked queen Jezebel who following common pagan practices,  “painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window” (2 Kings 9:30). Jeremiah wrote a scathing rebuke: “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; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life” (Jeremiah 4:30). The phrase “rentest thy face with painting” indicates they have ruined their face as the same word was used by Jeremiah when Jehoiakim destroyed the scroll of Jeremiah with a knife (Jeremiah 36:23). The Hebrew word תִקְרְעִ֤י means to “tear”6)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p. 902 as the common expression to tear one’s clothes to identify their extreme emotion of anger or sorrow (1 Kings 11:30).

It should be obvious that Paul’s comment to Timothy, “women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (1 Timothy 2:9) where shamefacedness is opposed to prideful-facedness, which is the effect on women attempting to become more attractive by applying makeup to their face. The Greek word for “shamefacedness” is αιδους which Kenneth Wuest explains as “It is a feeling based upon the sense of deficiency, inferiority, or unworthiness. The word is a blend of modesty and humility.”7)Kenneth Wuest, The Pastoral Epistles, Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1952, p. 46 It is only used one other time translated as “reverence” in Hebrews 12:28 identifying the acceptable way to serve God coupled with “Godly fear.” Here in 1 Timothy 2:9 it is coupled with “sobriety” with the emphasis of being self-controlled, that is to have reins over passions and desires which the women were wishing to attract men by beautification of themselves. Commodianus writes, “Thou affectest vanity with all the pomp of the devil. Thou art adorned at the looking-glass [i.e. a mirror] with thy curled hair turned back from thy brow. And moreover, with evil purposes, thou puttest on false medicaments, on thy pure eyes the stibium, with painted beauty, or thou dyest thy hair that it may be always black.”8)Commodianus, The Instructions of Commodianus in Favor of Christian Discipline, Against the Gods of the Heathens, chap. LIX; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 4, p. 214 Clement of Alexandria said, “Those who glory in their looks, not in heart, dress to please others…. Is it not monstrous, that while horses, birds, and the rest of the animals, spring and bound from the grass and meadows, rejoicing in ornament that is their own, in mane, and natural colour, and varied plumage; women, as if inferior to the brute creation, should think herself so unlovely as to need foreign, and bought, and painted beauty?”9)Clament of Alexandria, The Instructor, bk. III, chap. II; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 2, p. 273

The early church fathers abhorred the idea of makeup because to them it was absolutely demonic, originated by fallen angels as expressed in the apocryphal book of Enoch. This text accounted for the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 as fallen angels which fornicated with the human women. This was the interpretation of the Pharisees and Essenes within the Jewish sect (the Sadducees denied spirits and angels – Acts 23:28) as well as the early church fathers. The book of Enoch names a fallen angel “Azazyel” who “taught men to make swords, knives, shields, breastplates, the fabrication of mirrors, and the workman of bracelets and ornaments, the use of paint, the beautifying of the eyebrows, the use of stones of every valuable and select kind, and of all sorts of dyes, so that the world became altered. Impiety increased; fornication multiplied; and they transgressed and corrupted all their ways.”(10:1-2)10)The Book of Enoch the Prophet (trans. Richard Laurence), Adventures Unlimited Press (Kempton, Illinois) 2000, p. 7-8 Tertullian wrote, “For they, withal, who instituted them are assigned, under condemnation, to the penalty of death,-those angels, to wit, who rushed from heaven on the daughters of men; so that this ignominy also attaches to woman. …they conferred properly and as it were peculiarly upon women that instrumental mean of womanly ostentation, the radiances of jewels wherewith necklaces are variegated, and the circlets of gold wherewith the arms are compressed, and the medicaments of orchil with which wools are coloured, and that black powder itself wherewith the eyelids and eyelashes are made prominent.”11)Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women, bk. I, chap. II; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 4, p. 14-15

Many such quotes can be cited but it simply reveals the historical Christian view strongly opposed to women wearing makeup as essentially demonic. The only exception of Christian authors during the Anti-Nicene era that held a different view of the angels interpretation for Genesis 6 was the 3rd century Alexandrian theologian Julius Africanus who indicated, “When men multiplied on the earth, the angels of heaven came together with the daughters of men. In some copies I found ‘the sons of God.’ What is meant by the Spirit, in my opinion, is that the descendants of Seth are called the sons of God on account of the righteous men and patriarchs who have sprung from him, even down to the Savior Himself; but that the descendants of Cain are named the seed of men, as having nothing divine in them, on account of the wickedness of their race and the inequality of their nature, being a mixed people, and having stirred the indignation of God. But if it is thought that these refer to angels, we must take them to be those who deal with magic and jugglery, who taught the women the motions of the stars and the knowledge of things celestial, by whose power they conceived the giants as their children, by whom wickedness came to its height on the earth, until God decreed that the whole race of the living should perish in their impiety by the deluge.”12)The Extant Writings of Julius Africanus, Fragment II; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 6, p. 131

Obviously, Christians in the early years viewed cosmetics as originating from demons and was therefore just as abominable as occultism or any other form of demonism. This view would have extended all the way back to the Jews when they left Egypt during the exodus. Their acquaintance with Egyptian culture would have caused them to despise make up as idolatry. “From the earliest times Egyptian women employed creams and powders to brighten or color their faces. They were particularly concerned with mascara, which was used to recreated the sacred EYE OF Re symbol on their own eyes, at once both a religious and a fashion statement.”13)Margaret R. Bunson. Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (Revised Edition), Facts on File, Inc., (New York, NY:2002), p. 88 Biblical Archaeological Review reported, “The act of applying makeup was thought to invoke the protection of the goddess Hathor, who was often associated with sexuality and motherhood. Thus outlining the eye was not only an investment in one’s personal claims but it was also a fashioning of one’s personal protective amulet, one that couldn’t be easily lost or misplaced.”14)Life in the Ancient World: Crafts, Society and Daily Practice (ed. Noah Wiener) Biblical Archaeology Society (Washington, DC: 2013), p. 35 The goddess Hathor “was worshiped as the daughter of RE and the consort of Horus…. Hathor was also the patron of love and joy. She was a mistress of song and dance and a source of royal strength.”15)Margaret R. Bunson. Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (Revised Edition), Facts on File, Inc., (New York, NY:2002), p. 159-160

Scriptures frequently makes references to cosmetics in a negative way. As mentioned above, Jeremiah 4:30 considers painting the face as ruining it. Ezekiel 23:40 mentions “they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments…” This action of applying makeup and adornments was to become attractive for the purpose of “whoredom” (Ezekiel 23:3, 7, 8, 11, 14, 17, 18, 19, 29, 30, 35, 43), “lewdness” (Ezekiel 23:21, 27, 35, 44, 48, 49), as one “playeth the harlot” (Ezekiel 23:5, 19, 44). The wicked pagan queen Jezebel “painted her face, and tired her head” (2 Kings 9:30) (“tired her head” is Old English for “attired” that is to dress up her hair). Proverbs warns men of the strange women “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids” (Proverbs 6:25). Obviously her eyelids are accentuated with cosmetics as would be pictured a women batting her eyes seductively to allure a man.

God created man in His “image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7) which man has despised and rejected. God’s image pertains in some aspects to His holiness and purity which is why the priests in Israel were to be perfect and unblemished physically. “Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous.  Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them.” (Lev. 21:17-23) Herod the Great had the ears of the highpriest Hyranus II cut off by Antigonus to disqualify him from the service as high priest. The Jewish historian Josephus records in Antiquities of the Jews: “…but being afraid that Hyrcanus, who was under the guard of the Parthians, might have his kingdom restored to him by the multitude, he cut off his ears, and thereby took care that the high priesthood should never come to him any more, because he was maimed, while the law required that this dignity should belong to none such as had all their members entire.”16)Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, chap. 13, para. 10, The Comeplete Works of Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston, A.M. Attic Books, 2008, p. 351 However, Josephus offers an alternate account in War of the Jews. “Antigonus himself also bit off Hyrcanus’ ears with his own teeth, as he fell down upon his knees to him, that so he might never be able, upon any mutation of affairs, to take the high priesthood again, for the high priests that officiates were to be complete and without blemish.”17)Josephus, Wars of the Jews, book, 1, chap. 13, para 9; The Comeplete Works of Josephus the Jewish Historian (trans. William Whiston, A.M. Attic Books, 2008, p. 492 Saints are called priests and kings (Rev. 1:6) and should carry high standards to glorify God. God expects the Christian to reasonably “present your body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…” (Rom. 12:1) Just as the animal sacrifices were to be without blemish, so should a born again Christian. Consider how wicked it is in God’s view to rent your face with makeup (Jeremiah 4:30). Why would a Christian woman defile her face to receive praise from men instead of pleasing God? Oddly, a google search “cosmetics and Christians” results primarily on the topic of whether cosmetic surgery is permissible for Christians and the average Christian today has never thought to question cosmetics in general. Christianity has fallen far from its roots!


References   [ + ]