Is there a Biblical basis for “looking different” and not “adorning ourselves” with makeup, jewelry, etc.
Philippians 2:3-9 – Jesus came to us as a simple, humble, unselfish, man. He was a poor carpenter without a lot of “trappings.” Keep that in mind as we continue on.
Peter and Paul on Internal and External Adornment
1 Peter 3:1-6 – Peter is discouraging external adornment. He has a few specific examples in mind.
1 Timothy 2:8-11 – Peter and Paul use a similar word here for adornment. It is the same word that is translated as “world” in other places. It is the word that we get “cosmetic” from.
What Paul is saying here in 1 Timothy is that he cares about modest apparel and especially good works. There is a list of things that he (and Peter) have concerns about. They are both interested firstly on the inside, but also on the external.
So, why don’t most Christians follow these verses?
- Your beauty comes from inward adornment, so if you have inward adornment, it’s actually ok to have outward adornment. Peter and Paul both talk about outward adornment, and they both express concern about it. The early church fathers had concerns in this area as well.
- Some argue that Paul is talking about women only needing to be unadorned during worship services. Some of these things only apply during worship, but most of them apply inside and outside of worship.
- Ezekial 16:11-13 – God speaks positively about adornment in some passages. Hopefully, we’ll all be wearing some sort of head decoration in heaven! The question is, is this appropriate for God’s pilgrims as we travel through this world, and we all struggle with lust and with pride.
Why would Peter & Paul care about outward adornment at all?
1 Corinthians 8 – Modesty tends to decline when outward adornment is something that we focus on.
Our behavior can underscore or undermine what is in our hearts.
Our “outward adornment” is part of our testimony. We remember that the context that 1 Peter is talking about, the church, its impact on the world, winning over a disobedient husband, etc. Our conduct is our primary method of impacting the world.
Why is this teaching hard for us sometimes?
We know that this is possible. There are serious Christians that are serious about following Jesus. They also don’t share the same opinion that we do on outward adornment. Some are going too far if Peter and Paul are saying what we believe they are.
We know that it is possible to be very adorned on the outside and to be quite empty on the inside.
Matthew 23:23 – Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees to be concerned with matters of the heart instead of propping up people’s opinions of them by outward actions and appearance.
Does any of this apply to men?
The principles here definitely do apply to men. Modest apparel, acting appropriately, having an inward “handsomeness.” We definitely can have issues as men with pride and trying to dress stylishly.
Even if this didn’t apply to men, it would be terrible leadership for men to dress stylishly and immodestly and then try to require that of women.
Applying Outward Adornment Principles
If we’re not going to brush off these things that Paul and Peter are asking of us, then it makes sense that we’ll have to say no to some things from time to time.
Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves.
- Is it on the list?
- Does it fit the list?
- Does the motivation fit?
We do need to be making the “I’m not going to wear, or I’m not going to buy this” decision from time to time. It isn’t just something that we’ve inherited from our Amish forefathers.
The good news is that inward beauty is that it is incorruptible, and can grow with time. It is very precious in God’s sight.
True beauty is on the inside. If you want to give something precious to Jesus, as Mary did… be beautiful on the inside.
Isaiah 3, Luke 7:25 – We don’t get to pick whether we are beautiful, or handsome. Jesus certainly could have had some input into how He appeared on earth. John the Baptist was a pretty plain dresser, Jesus and His disciples weren’t wearing fancy clothes either.
Those who responded to Jesus realized that on the inside He was full of grace and truth.