Richard C. Nickels (who founded Giving and Sharing) has set forth
the case AGAINST the use of MAKE-UP by Christian women, in what
is the best paper on this position I have seen to date. He has
not though convinced me that his is the correct stance to take,
and because of this I present to those who desire to find the
truth my research and reply. I give what could be termed "the
other side of the coin" to this topic.
While I disagree with Mr.Nickels' position on the use of MAKE-
UP, I do agree with him on many other points he has set forth,
and his study is of value for this reason alone.
It is hoped that between what Richard Nickels has written and
what I have written, the reader will find the truth.
To avoid repetition Mr. Nickels will be referred to also by the
titles: Mr.N - R.C.N. as well as Richard Nickels.
As my reply is POINTED ( 1.2.3.etc. ) the reader should study
BOTH papers at the same time, point by point.
It could be possible (but not sure if it is still published)
Mr.Nickels paper may still be obtained from
I. This is Israel -- typified by an "exceeding beautiful"
developed young lady. God mentions enough things that are
associated with feminine beauty for us to get the point. Is it
needful to mention ALL things that make a woman "beautiful"? God
did not feel He had to mention the plucking of the eyebrow, or
shaving the legs or under the arms, or shaping the fingernails.
Because these are not mentioned does not imply or teach that they
are not a part of feminine beauty -- so, likewise, the use of
make-up not here specifically stated does not teach that its use
is SIN or against God's wishes.
I do not know, but perhaps Mr.Nickels believes it is SIN for a
woman to shave her legs or under her arms or pluck her eyebrows,
as this would be changing her "natural beauty" and in another way
"covering up" what God gave her, whereby leading her to vain
deception over men.
2. As Richard Nickels states here and elsewhere JEWELRY is
approved of by God.
3. If MAKE-UP is associated with the WHORE as R.C.N. would
have us believe and so is shown to be SIN, should we not also
discard these other things used in harlotry and idolatry?
4. a) As to the accuracy of Mr.Nichels' statement I ask the
reader to study CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY on Matthew 5:18.
b) Vowel points were not added to the Hebrew until the 6th
century A.D. (see Halley's Bible Handbook - New Revised Edition
"A peculiarity of the Hebrew alphabet is that the letters are all
consonants ... So long as Hebrew was a spoken language no other
symbols than these 22 letters were used. It was not until the 7th
century A.D. at the earlies that the well known elaborate system
of signs to represent the vowels and other sounds was invented."
(I.S.B.E. Vol.3 p.1834). There was no "inspired vowel points
for the official Temple scroll" before or at the time of Christ.
These UNinspired vowel points were added to the official received
text to which Jesus gave His approval, about 6 or 7 centuries
c) Now read Isaiah 3:16 from ADAM CLARKE'S COMMENTARY: Clarke
says it was the MASORETES that pointed it (6,7 century A.D.) as
if it were from SAKAR, but he takes it to be from SHAKAR. Note
d) The authoritative COMPLETE HEBREW/ENGLISH DICTIONARY by
Alcolay defines SAGAR as first "to ogle, wink, glance" and only
last as "paint the eyes."
Now notice these HEBREW/ENGLISH Dictionaries:
THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK of the OT. Vol.2 p.883 "(SAGAR) OGLE. This
verb occurs only once in the Piel (Isa.3:16)."
STRONG'S CONCORDANCE (#8265) "SAW-KAR; a prim. root; to OGLE,
i.e. blink coquettishly: -- WANTON."
Some other translations render Isaiah 3:16: "and ROVING wanton
eyes" FENTON "and with undisciplined (flirtations and alluring)
eyes" AMPLIFIED BIBLE "... and OGLING eyes" MODERN LANGUAGE
"...are always FLIRTING" GOOD NEWS BIBLE "with wanton eyes that
rove among the crowds to catch the glances of men" LIVING BIBLE
"GLANCING wantonly with their eyes" RSV.
The CONTEXT agrees with the above:
The daughters of Zion are HAUGHTY (attitude of mind) and so they
docertain physical things with their bodies. They hold their neck
and head in a sexy way -- they OGLE and FLIRT with their eyes --
they WALK in a sexually arousing way to men.
Even if WANTON does mean "painted eyes" is it wrong in itself for
a woman to put on make-up because these haughty whore-ish women
of Israel did? Is it wrong for a Christian woman to "trip nicely"
(mrg. KJV for mincing) as she walks, or is she to walk like a
flat-footed pregnant duck? Is it wrong for a woman of God to put
on chains, bracelets, earrings, changeable apparel, fine linen,
because the haughty ones do? Is it wrong and sin for Christian
women to smell sweet, have well set hair and look beautiful
because other ungodly women do?
I think not!
The haughty women in this passage of Isaiah were using these
things in a deliberate attitude of not only sexuality but proud
self-assertiveness in the things they possessed -- an attitude of
"look at all I've got, who needs God or His laws." Just as the
men had forgotten God, had put their trust in their strength and
armies, and would fall in war (v.25) so the self-trusting, vain
women would come to shame also (v.26).
5. There is nothing in Proverbs 6:23-26 about make-up on the eyes
or any other part of the face, yet Mr.R.C.N. says "Something
is on her eyelids to draw attention to them. What? Eyepaint."
This, I maintain, is Mr.Nickels' wishful interpretation to
further evince his posture that make-up is SIN.
Does a whoreish woman always use eye paint to catch her men?
Not at all. I've gone through High School -- been a single man
into my twenties. I've seen the loose teenage girl and young
woman -- they often had no eyepaint but knew how to use their
eyes to allure the male very proficiently. At the same time there
were the girls who did at times use eye paint without any "come
on" or sexuality about them at all. I have observed over the
years that from a sexual point, some women's eyes can be more
attractive WITHOUT any eye make-up at all, while some who do use
it become less attractive.
6. History also shows that JEWELRY goes back to at least 3,500
B.C. HARLOTS and perverted emperors and queens have used this
decoration as well as perfumes and good smelling oils to promote
lust, vanity, deception, fornication, and adultery.
The use of something by the immoral does not automatically make
that something of itself evil.
7. R.C.N. is referring here to EZEK.23:36-49; JER.4:23-31; 2
KINGS 9:30-34. He would also include ISA.3:16. In all these
passages except 2 KINGS 9 (covered in point #8) we also see the
WHOREISH woman using JEWELRY. So if MAKE-UP is wrong because of
its connection with WHORES then the same deduction must be used
with JEWELRY. If the wearing of Jewelry is allowed by God for the
Christian woman (which it is) then these passages cannot be
teaching that Jewelry, in itself, is SIN, but that its WRONG USE
can be. To be honest with these passages we would have to use the
same logic with MAKE-UP as with Jewelry.
8. Mr.Nickels here tries to connect the sinful JEZEBEL with
eye paint, and so to his reasoning MAKE-UP is idolatry and
harlotry. In quoting 2 KINGS 9:30 he underlines the words
"painted her face" but does not emphasize that she also TIED her
HEAD. Jezebel did TWO things -- put her eyes in painting AND
tiEd her head. If one is idolatry and harlotry SURELY THE
OTHER MUST BE ALSO! The Hebrew word for TIED is number 3190 in
Strong's Concordance and means: "MAKE WELL, lit. sound, beautiful
or fig. happy, successful, right." Jezebel took her hair and made
it look well, or beautiful. Surely R.C.N. would not have us
believe that for a woman to make her hair attractive is SIN? I
certainly do not, so if a woman should MAKE WELL her hair, should
she not also make well her eyes and other parts of her body? (I
speak this, of course, with proper moderation and what becomes
Let us be willing to take the context of the whole verse and
principles of the whole Bible, before we start to emphasize parts
that seem to prove our case. Often the context proves not what
we desire it to prove at all, but just the opposite.
9. It would seem Mr.N. does say "tied" or "plaited hair" is
wrong because it was the mark (together with make-up) of the
infamous whore Jezebel. He quotes 1 TIM.2:9 to support, I
guess, that God does not think such things are "light things."
Let us look at 1 TIM 2:9, 10 and also I PETER 3:3,4. Both
Passages are used by some to say PLAITING the hair, JEWELRY and
COSTLY clothes are SIN.
I guess the NUDISTS could use I PET.3:3 to claim it is sin to
put on apparel.
Do these verses CONTRADICT the rest of the Bible on this subject?
Indeed they do not!
What many fail to see is that these verses are using a common
IDIOM of the time. An "idiom" is a manner of speaking distinctive
of a certain people or language. In this case, the idiom was a
manner of speaking which would minimize a first clause in order
to emphasize a second clause.
I quote from the book "WOMEN'S ADORNMENT" by Ralph Woodrow pp.
18-20. "Today, in order to express the thought contained in this
type of idiom, we would place the word 'only' in the first
clause, and 'also' (or perhaps 'rather') in the second clause, as
follows: 'Let not a woman's adorning be (only) that of outward
things -- such as fixing her hair, wearing gold, or pearls, or
apparel -- but (also, rather) let it be the inward adorning of a
meek and quiet spirit.' With this idiom, the emphasis is on the
second clause, BUT IT DOES NOT DO AWAY WITH THE FIRST CLAUSE.
It is in addition to it ... John 6:27 ... If we do not recognize
the Hebrew idiom here, this verse would sound like a command not
to work for our food! But other verses say men should work for
their food ... Genesis 32:28 ... The meaning is that his name
would no more be called Jacob (only), but he would have another
name (also), the name Israel. The proof that this is the correct
meaning is seen by the fact that he was called Jacob many times
AFTER this, even by God himself ... Genesis 46:2 ... Jesus' words
in Mark 9:37: 'Whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but
him that sent me! In our way of speaking it would be:
'Whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me (only), but him
that sent me (also, rather).' .. Peter used the idiom when he
spoke to Ananias: 'Thou has not lied unto men, but unto God'
(Acts 5:4). Ananias did lie to men, but the emphasis is on the
fact he lied to God. Thus we could say: 'You have not lied unto
men (only) -- your sin goes further than this -- you have lied to
Contrary to what some want I TIM. 2:9 and I PETER 3:3,4 to say,
these verses actually show that women of God in the early true
Church were "plaiting" their hair, wearing gold, putting on
apparel, using costly array (at times), but Paul and Peter wanted
to emphasize to them that the most important thing was not
outward looks, but what shone forth from the heart and spirit.
10. In quoting Ezekiel 23:40-44 Mr.N. underlines "paintedst thy
eyes", "old in adulteries" and "played the harlot". I suppose he
does this to try to prove make-up is connected with adulteries
and so is sin. Notice he does not underline the words "deckedst
thyself with ornaments." Now surely in this context if painting
the eyes is sin, then jewelry is also. If one of these things is
NOT sin then the others are not sin either. This section of
Scripture is not showing that beds, tables, jewelry, make-up, are
sin in themselves, but that the wrong use of them could be sin.
11. Mr.Nickels in quoting Jer.4:30 says: "Notice! Israel
hadn't painted the eyes previously to her departure from God, as
shown by the word 'though'."
Look at that verse again and notice also, "though thou deckest
thee with ornaments of gold". If R.C.N. is correct in his
understanding of the word "though" as applied to painting the
face in this verse, then the same reasoning must be applied to
wearing jewelry -- Israel hadn't decked herself with gold
previous to her departure from God!
But Mr.N. has already shown that was not the case in turning us
to Ezekiel 16 earlier in his paper, which section shows Israel
was covered by God with jewelry at their nativity.
Again this section in Jeremiah shows the WRONG USE of such things
as jewelry, clothes, and make-up, not that these things are sin
12/13. What some human man or church organization deems as sin
or not sin, makes no difference to the truth, and Jesus said
"Thy word is truth" -- that is, God's inspired infallible word,
the Holy Bible is truth -- not the ideas of fallible men or
denominations however sincere they may be. It is possible to be
sincere, yet be sincerely WRONG!
You, the reader, must take what R.C.Nickels has written -- what
I have written -- what others may give FOR or AGAINST the use of
make-up and jewelry AND WITH THE BIBLE as your foundation SEARCH
FOR THE TRUTH. It can be found -- Jesus said so!
14. Certainly the least commandments (whichever you think they
are) and the greatest commandments are important to God. The
least sin or the greater sin is still sin in God's eyes.
But men had better be very careful when teaching others WHAT SIN
There are MANY things that God allows or disallows a child of His
to do as they choose, which is not sin if they do, nor sin if
they do not. An example would be to choose to be a VEGETARIAN
or not (Rom.14). God accepts you as much if you are a meat
eater or just a vegetable eater. There is no Biblical verse that
says MAKE-UP, PAINTING THE FACE, POWDERING the face is SIN! You
do not have to use make-up -- God accepts you just as much as
someone who does use make-up. Those who use it and those who do
not, need to be very careful not to condemn each other in the
vanity of being more Godly.
15. If the use of make-up is sin and "in direct disobedience to
God's command" then indeed it would be conforming to the world.
If the use of COSMETICS, JEWELRY, BODY OILS AND POWDERS, and
PLAITED HAIR were clearly stated by God as SIN and of the world,
then, of course, we should not follow the world, but nowhere in
the Bible are these things of themselves stated to be sin.
Is it sin to "looknice"? Is it sin to change the appearance of a
run-down, weed-filled GARDEN and make it "look nice" with
colored flower beds and well cut grass? To use this "natural"
argument for the person should apply to things also. If it's
sin to "look nice" for human kind, would it not also be sin to
make HOMES, GARDENS, DOGS, HORSES, CITY PARKS, etc. "look nice"?
Should we then leave all homes unpainted and undecorated -- leave
it natural with whatever building materials we use? Should we
leave all parks and gardens in a natural state so we cannot be
accused of deception, lying, or vanity? Should we not cut, oil,
and shape our hair, but let it be "natural" so we do not deceive?
Should women not remove any unwanted or unsightly hair from their
eyebrows, chin, upper lip, legs, under their arms, because that
would be "different than it naturally is" and vanity? Should we
not use "sexy" body oils, perfumes, powders, and aftershave
lotions, because that would be a part of this world and conceal
our true natural smell?
Some claim that to "be not conformed to this world" (Rom.12:2)
means NO jewelry Others say NO bright clothes and so dress in
BLACK. Still others say NO TV, or Movie house going. To others
it's NO card playing or dancing. On and on it goes. Many believe
these things are, in themselves, SIN.
But the truth is that when given the acid test of the revealed
word of God -- the Bible -- none of the above together with
make-up can be proved to be sin of and by themselves.
There is indeed a way that SEEMS RIGHT unto men (Prov.14:12).
Men seem to love to make SIN out of things that God never said
was sin of itself, and then, in their VANITY, put down those who
do not agree with their views as belonging to "the world."
16. In this section the strong denounciation by R.C.N. of
make-up with sentences like, "Since the very purpose of painting
the face is evil, even a little evil in 'moderation' is still
evil!" (emphasis his) would indicate that there could be NO RIGHT
use of cosmetics in his eyes.
I will now put forth these cases for the reader to determine if,
indeed, make-up is always evil.
A young lady has a birthmark on her cheek -- it is very
noticeable and cannot help but draw attention. She can POWDER
it over somewhat, and make it appear less obvious and by wearing
ROUGE on the other cheek, so no one would know she had a bad
birthmark on one side of her face.
Would this be sin for her to do? I do not believe so.
A woman has a bad birthmark on her chin and half of her lower
lip. It causes her a great deal of embarrassment and
self-consciousness. She can solve the problem with liquid powder
on the chin and LIPSTICK on her lips. Would this "dressing up"
her face be SIN for her? I think not -- what do you think?
For these women MAKE-UP is a kind and merciful answer to a
problem that could have severe mental and emotional trauma if
make-up was not used. Some individuals like the Pharisees of old,
would BURDEN such unfortunate women with NO MERCY in their
selfrighteous position of "make-up is sin -- period." And would
not lift such man-made laws -- no not with one of their little
Some may say, "These women would not be wearing make-up to
deceive or for vanity, so we'd allow them to use it for their
situation of a facial impediment." But that does not alter the
fact that POWDER and PAINT is on their faces. They both may
belong to the same Church -- others coming in to visit or new
members do not know the real reason behind their use of make-up,
and if that Church basically says make-up is sin, all they see is
a contradiction. Or does the pastor have to announce from the
pulpit each week why these ladies have make-up on, so the
visitors will not get upset?
Can we not see that a dogmatic, self-righteous attitude of
"make-up is sin -- period" could be very UNMERCIFUL and cause a
loss of self-respect and confidence in some cases (as given
above) not to mention mental pain, emotional stress and just
I thank God that in His wisdom, love and mercy He never once gave
us a verse in His word that said "make-up is sin."
Mr.N. also puts NAILPOLISH as vanity or conformity to the world
and so is sin. Maybe he thinks painted fingernails are "sexy."
There are some parts of the female anatomy that if exposed too
much are indeed sexually arousing to men, but painted fingernails
I have never found to be one of them, and I believe my sexual
hormones are in pretty good shape (I wrote this back in the
1980s, during my early 40s).
Is it okay for a woman to wear a bright coloured FLOWER in her
hair -- bright jewelry -- a coloured pair of shoes -- maybe a
dress with a brightly decorated design or pattern on it, but SIN
if she paints her fingernails? I find it nor reasonable or
logical to so think.
Would it be SIN for the ALBINO woman to wear false eyelashes or
false eyebrows so she can appear and conform to the majority of
the women of the world? Or is she to stay uniquely different to
draw attention to herself? That in itself could be VANITY.
17. For some to seize upon a NAME of one of Job's daughters to
uphold the use of make-up is grasping at straws. I must agree
with R.C.N. in paragraphs 4,5,6, and 7 of page 19 in his paper.
18. I must agree with RALPH WOODROW and disagree with Mr.
Nickels as to the common denominator of 2 Kings 9:30; Isa. 3:16;
Jer.4:30; Ezek.23:40. I do agree with Mr.N. that a woman who
chooses not to wear make-up, but keeps her hair neatly, dresses
properly, uses a little jewelry and perfume should never be
labelled "dull and drab."
I have seen and known many very attractive ladies who did not use
powder or make-up at all.
19. Ointments and perfumes are also used by WHORES.
20. They (ointments and perfumes) can also be sexually
stimulating -- notice how "sexy" the T.V. ads are in promoting
perfumes and aftershave lotions. But are oils and perfumes sin in
themselves? Mr.N. shows they are not.
Now is it sin to use COLOUR on the face because WHORES do and
because it could be "sexy" while it is righteous to use "sexy"
perfumes? Is it sin because VISION is used for COLOUR while the
sense of SMELL for perfumes is holy? If make-up is sin because it
falsifies the natural, then so is perfume -- it falsifies the
natural body smell.
If make-up is sin because it is VANITY, is it less vain to use
aftershave oils or perfumes?
21. Song of Solomon 4:1-3 " ... thy lips are like a thread of
SCARLET." Were the lips of Solomon's Bride "naturally red" as
R.C.N. would have us believe? To be sure some of the beauty
described by Solomon in this section may have been natural, but
he is describing what he SAW without any comment on natural or
make-up. He saw her lips at this time as SCARLET. The Hebrew
word is very revealing -- if you take the time to look it up say
in THE THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK of the OLD TESTAMENT.
The Hebrew for SCARLET is as the KJV translators knew -- a vivid
or bright RED. Can any normal person be said to have BLOOD
coloured lips? With the use of this Hebrew word are we not
justified in understanding Solomon's bride to have painted lips
-- scarlet coloured? I believe we are.
Verse 7: " ... there is no SPOT in thee." The Hebrew word for
"spot" here is MOOM. Solomon is here saying that his bride and
wife has no physical blemish or defect -- she is altogether
physically perfect. She was as physically perfect as a man
was to be who would be God's priest (Lev.21:17).
This has nothing to do with artificiality or added paint one way
or the other, as Mr.N. would want us to believe by his comment.
Concerning artificiality. Would it be wrong or artificial for a
white woman to expose herself to the sun and become TANNED? As
this tanning would not be her "natural" color are we to say it
would be sin for her to deliberately "sun tan" herself? Is she to
do all she possibly can to hide from the sun, so as not to change
her natural white skin God gave her at birth? Is being sun tanned
for a while (it doesn't last unless exposed to the sun
continually) a deceptive change (some women can look much
prettier with a tan)?
Solomon's bride was SUN TANNED (ch.I) without any condemnation!
Now the sun will bring out "freckles" on some ladies. Is that a
deceptive change? Or does it show God has built in changes within
the skin in some people? Does it not show that God is a being of
VARIETY, and variety and change within some people according to
the seasons of the year? Change then is not always wrong or
deceptive. The sun can bring some women not just freckles but
large unsightly brown spots and blemishes to her face. Now is it
sin for her to cover these over with POWDER or MAKE-UP? Is it not
more MERCIFUL to allow her to use make-up in order to expell any
embarrassment and a poor self-image because of certain natural
appearances we may have at different times in our life or seasons
of the year, when a little use of make-up, hair removal, etc.
would solve the problem? Is God more concerned with the physical
than the mental and emotional well being of the person? Is He
more concerned with sacrifice than mercy? Is it not written: "I
will have MERCY and not sacrifice. Go and learn what this means."
Some even today it would seem are still having
Before we leave the Song of Solomon I want to draw these verses
to your attention: Chap.4:3 and 6:7-- "As a piece of a
pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks." We see from chap.
1:6 that Solomon's bride was well sun tanned, but he says later
that her temples are like a piece of pomegranate. Was he
commenting about the COLOUR of her temples? Was he saying her
temples were RED as the pomegranate? If so, then was she wearing
ROUGE? This may have indeed been the case.
22. I agree here with Mr.Nickels that most cosmetics and
make-up contain many dangerous and harmful materials. There are
some companies that do market NATURAL cosmetics. Certainly the
Christian would want to seek out these manufacturers and use
23. 1 Peter 3:3-5 and 1 Tim.2:9-10 do NOT show that costly
jewelry, ornaments or apparel are to be avoided, as I have
Gold and_ Pearls are God-given. They show purity and fine
quality. Jesus wears a girdle of GOLD (Rev.l:l3). Surely it is
not wrong for a woman to wear EXPENSIVE jewelry if she desires.
Quality is often better -- it lasts longer and does not peel or
tarnish. The same can be said for CLOTHING -- quality usually
looks better, and it certainly lasts long. Brand names such as
Calvin Klein, Dior and other famous names, are not just well
known for their designing but are also synonymous with quality.
There is nothing evil about QUALITY!
The heavenly city of Jerusalem that God and Jesus dwell in is
nothing but pure quality (Rev.21,22).
24. I agree that the daughters of God should be modest in
wearing clothes. Tight-fitting slacks, tight sweaters, low
necklines MAY or MAY NOT be sexually arousing to men, depending
on the figure of the wearer -- wisdom should be used by the
Christian lady. The mini-skirt was designed by its designer to be
"sexy" -- that speaks for itself I think. I see nothing sexually
arousing in "button in front blouses" per se. Some "pant suits"
are very feminine and attractive. I see nothing wrong with
wearing such to worship services or a formal dinner.
The unisex styles of clothing are not necessarily wrong per se.
In Jesus' time both men and women wore ROBE/DRESS type of
clothing, as Mr.N. points out in paragraph 3 (p.25).
25. R.C.Nickels says, "Men should not wear wigs or toupees."
(p.27). I am not sure why he says this, unless in his view to
do so would be VANITY or "falsifying the appearance." If this be
the case, then should we not also apply the natural balding of
men with the natural losing of teeth (through heredity, bad diet,
or circumstances beyond our control) and forego artificial ones?
If, for men to wear toupees and false teeth is vanity or
falsifying the appearance, as opposite to the "natural look" then
what about the men who SHAVE? It is natural for men to grow
facial hair. Is it sin, vanity, or falsifying NOT TO GROW A
For the most part I agree with R.C.N. in this section (except
where he applies I Jn.2:15-17 to make-up) and parts of paragraph
26. I see quite a difference between permanent TATOOS and the
proper and moderate use of make-up.
Certainly if a lady chooses not to use make-up but to develop her
natural beauty she is at liberty within God's law to do so and
should not be despised by anyone. On the other hand those who do
use a moderate amount of cosmetics should not be despised by
those who do not. This is the principle of Rom.14.
27. There it is! Both sides of the coin. Now you must decide
what is the TRUTH. The right doctrine about MAKE-UP is a small
part (like Vegetarians or Meat-eating -- drinking Alcohol or not
-- Rom.14) of the "faith which was once delivered unto the
saints" - although some would paint it up and enlarge it into a
major doctrine. Men have always been good to make up what they
consider "a test of obedience" for others to follow, which if not
complied with make it easy for them to dismiss others as not
I echo the words of Mr.Nickels when he wrote, "Let us not follow
deceptive arguments, 2 Pet.2:1-2. We should check up and prove
the teachings. How many readers of this article will take the
time to check Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary under Isaiah 3:16?
Well Mr.N. ... I have done so, and have given my research and
answers to your paper so others can find the truth.
You have been swift and hard to judge others in this paper on
MAKE-UP and other articles you've written. It is time, my
friend, to remember the words of Paul, "But why do you judge
your brother? or why do you set at nought your brother? for we
shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ ... So then
every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom.
Those who will teach others either by SERMONS or the PEN need to
tremble before what James wrote under inspiration of the Holy
Spirit. "My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we
shall receive the greater judgment." (James 3:1). It is indeed an
awesome responsibility to teach others the doctrines of God.
To finish my case I can do no better than to give you the last
chapter of Mr.Ralph Woodrow's book entitled "WOMEN'S ADORNMENT
-- What Does the Bible Really Say?" (Obtainable probably through
WOMEN'S MODEST APPAREL
Though it may sound strange to say, the Bible does not give
an inflexible or uniform clothing code. It does not specify any
certain color - people in the Bible wore clothing of different
colors. As to style, various robe-type garments were worn, but no
certain style of clothing is commanded. As to material,
originally God made "coats of skins" to cloth Adam and Eve, but
this did not mean all people from then on must wear only leather!
Garments made from different materials are mentioned in the
We are told, however, that women should "adorn themselves in
modest apparel" (1 Timothy 2:9). What, then, is modest apparel?
Does this mean, as some have taught, that a woman cannot wear
short sleeves? How long must a woman's skirt be? Where does
modesty begin or end? One inch below the knee or an inch above?
Some churches make rules about the length of a woman's skirt. One
church set a certain number of inches above the floor as a
maximum. It didn't seem to matter that some women were shorter,
some taller than others! All skirts had to come with in the given
number of inches from the floor! In all cases, the skirt was long
enough to completely cover the knees - this being their major
As to sleeves, some believe a woman must always wear long
sleeves so that her elbows are covered. But are exposed elbows
really so erotically stimulating that men might be tempted to
lust? I have lived in areas where the summers are hot. I have
seen women with their long sleeves, suffering from the heat. They
must keep those elbows covered! There they are, having their pie
and cake sales on the shopping center sidewalk to raise money for
their church Even the priests were not required to wear garments
which would make them sweat: "They shall not gird themselves with
anything that causeth sweat" - Ezekiel 44:18. I have wondered why
those who insist that knees and elbows must be covered at all
times do not require a face covering also. After all, would not a
pretty face be more attractive than a pair of knees or elbows?
Do not misunderstand. I believe in standards of decency. But
when big issues are made about non-essential points, people are
driven to a legalism that hinders an effective Christian
testimony. I am opposed to the extremism.
Ideas about "modesty" have varied greatly in different
In old China, exposure of the upper-class women's tiny feet
was regarded as most indecent. They were considered the most
sexually stimulating parts of the body. Virgin goddesses were
sometimes portrayed with shoes, even when otherwise stark naked.
In early Japan, a woman's eyebrows were considered as among her
greatest charms. Some husbands would shave their brides' eyebrows
off in an attempt to make them unattractive to other men. Among
some people, a woman's hair was considered a sexual stimulant -
that the mere sight of her hair aroused a man's passions. Thus it
had to be covered.
In Mohammedan countries where women must cover their faces
with veils, a woman's first reaction might be to cover her face,
rather than her body, if suddenly surprised while unclothed.
Among tribes which wear no clothing, embarrassment is
experienced when one is made to put on clothing before others!
Australian aboriginal women who normally go about naked, will put
on feather skirts for certain indecent dances.
There are missionary magazines which have carried group
pictures of native Women in Africa, some with bare breasts - a
custom completely unquestioned in many areas of the world - yet
the same magazines would not think of printing such pictures had
they been taken of women in this country. A foreign missionary
might preach in short pants - in common with his audience in
areas of extreme heat and humidity - yet in other places this
would seem quite out of place.
What might be proper or practical clothing in Hawaii, would
be impractical and out of place in Alaska. What one might wear to
work in the yard would not generally be what he would wear to
church. What one might wear to swim in would not be practical for
shopping, etc. The legalist fails to admit that circumstances
A skirt extending a few inches below the knees - which even
the very strict would now approve - might have been considered
improper during the last century when dresses extended almost to
the ground. When those dresses were shortened a few inches, it is
said that some men became embarrassed at the sight of a woman's
ankle. Later, when dresses were shortened even more - though the
hem was still below the knees - some became alarmed. As one
writer says: "The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah went up from every
pulpit in the country" (Muffs and Morals, p.30).
I spoke once for a group that felt all their women should
dress the way women did in about 1900, fix their hair by styles
of that time, etc. This, to them, was the old-time religion. But
by doing this, they were actually drawing more attention to the
"outward man" than if they wore clothing similar to other women
of the time. By dressing in clothes radically different than
others, they defeated the very thing they supposed they were
accomplishing. Even plain or out of date clothes can be worn with
vanity - the very drabness or difference draws attention to the
outward person, not the inner man.
How strict must we be? Must we lock ourselves away in total
silence - lest we speak a wrong word? There have been monks who
have gone for years without uttering a word. Did this make them
more holy? There have been men who have lived in monasteries or
deserted places so they would not see the face of a woman. But
did this make them immune to lust? What about their minds? Many
were like St.Jerome (fourth century) who confessed: "When I was
living in the desert ... how often did I fancy myself among the
pleasures of Rome! ... I often found myself amid bevies of girls.
My face was pale and my frame chilled with fasting; yet my mind
was burning with desire, and the fires of lust kept bubbling up."
Some in an attempt to be holy even castrated themselves, one
notable example being Origen. St.Bessarion for forty years,
St.Pachomius for fifty years, never laid down while sleeping.
Macarius slept in a marsh for six months exposing his naked body
to poisonous flies. In Northern Syria, about 422 A.D., Simeon
built a column 60 feet high, on the top of which he lived for 30
years exposed to rain, sun, and cold.
In a convent of the fourth century, 130 nuns never bathed or
washed their feet. Such was also the practice of St.Anthony and
St.Clemet. Some people carried heavy weights. St.Marcian
restricted himself to one meal a day in order to be continually
plagued with hunger. The morbid extremism in these examples is
Even in our time, some become so strict they are driven to
foolish extremes. The Bible is against making an idol or image to
bow down to it (Exodus 20:4,5). But some, completely
mis-applying this verse, will not allow their children to have a
doll or stuffed toy. One group went so far as to say that a
person should take all the labels off canned goods - that it was
idolatry to have a can in the house with a picture of peaches (or
whatever) on the can! They were against wall paper with flowers
on it. They supposed these flowers were images! Some will not
have their picture taken. I know people who have destroyed all of
their photographs, including irreplaceable family photos. One
sect considers the mirror an invention of the devil. A person
looking into it makes an image!
Some people are so opposed to the evils of alcohol that they
will not use shaving lotion or flavorings that have an alcohol
content. Since the Bible says not to drink blood, some believe it
would be better to die than to take a blood transfusion. One
woman was against soda pop because the Bible says not to use
strong drink! There have been people who would not eat potatoes,
because the word "potatoes" does not appear in the Bible! And in
ways that are sometimes just as inconsistent, men have made a
series of "don'ts" for women. Don't wear lipstick. Don't wear
short sleeves. Don't cut you hair. Don't wear slacks. Don't wear
Some feel that if a doctrine is not harsh and strict, it is
not the "old-time religion." But a study of Acts 15 shows that
the apostles were against imposing rules on the people that
God has not placed on them. By this decision, they were not
"lowering their standards" nor did it indicate any spiritual
laxness on their part. Where, then, do we draw the line? On
what basis should standards be measured? I can only say
that as Christians we should turn our eyes upon Jesus. The
total attitude of Jesus - which was often in sharp contrast to
the unfruitful strictness of the Pharisees - should be our
example in forming Christian convictions.
The Pharisees, compared to the Sadducees, might have been
considered the "holiness" branch of the Jewish religion. They
were very strict about their tithing, fasting, rules, and
regulations. They were known for their carefully washed hands,
their long robes, and long prayers. Yet with all of this external
religion, they missed the true program of God and failed to
recognize Jesus as the Christ. They would bind "heavy burdens and
grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders" (Mt.23:4).
In their zeal, they would "compass sea and land to make
one proselyte" (verse 15).
Jesus spoke of them as "blind guides, which strain at a gnat
(or literally, strain out a gnat), and swallow a camel"
(Mt.23:24). So strict were they for the letter of the law, they
would strain their water or wine through linen gauze lest they
swallow a tiny insect. Yet, figuratively, they would swallow a
The inconsistency to which their strictness had led them is
well illustrated by the case of the woman they brought to Jesus
who had committed adultery. They claimed she had I been caught
"in the very act." They argued that Moses had said she should be
stoned. They had "Bible" for their argument.
Yet they failed to see their own attitude was wrong. In
committing adultery, it is evident a man was involved, but
nothing whatsoever was said about the man!
It was only the woman they frowned upon and would have
stoned! Besides, how did they catch her in the very act? Were
they snooping around trying to find someone to accuse? The answer
of Jesus was that anyone without sin should cast the first stone.
When there were no accusers, Jesus said: "Neither do I condemn
thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:3-11). "For God sent not his
Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world
through him might he sa ved" (John 3:17).
How shocked those Pharisee leaders must have been when Jesus
said: "The harlots go into the kingdom before you" (Mt.21:31),
but repentance comes easier to sinners than to self-righteous
people who feel they have no need of repentance. Such is seen in
the case of the woman with whom Jesus talked at the well of
Samaria. She had been married five times and was now living with
a man to whom she was not married. For Jesus to talk to this
woman was contrary to the religious dogmas of the day. How did it
look for a preacher to be talking to a woman of questionable
character? Rabbis were not to converse with women in public or
instruct them in the law. A rabbi was not to even converse with
his wife, sister, or daughter in public or in the street!
Besides, she was a Samaritan, and Jews because of another
uninspired dogma - had no dealings with Samaritans. No wonder the
disciples "marvelled that he talked with the woman" (John
4:7-27)! But Jesus was more concerned about the needs of the
individual than religious rules made by people who suppose law is
greater than love.
Considering the relative nature of modesty, seeing the
inconsistency to which a strict over-emphasis on nonessentials
points has led, and weighing all of this in the light of the
total spirit and example of Jesus, I think that certain
conclusions are apparent. The wisdom of a balanced view seems
clear. We should avoid the extremes, seeking rather the CENTER of
God's will. We need not wear rags to be holy, nor do we need to
have the most expensive clothes money can buy. It is possible for
a person through the use of makeup, jewelry, or some forms of
clothing to appear too flashy. But the other extreme, a dull and
drab appearance, is not a requirement for the victorious
Christian. Clothes can be worn too tight - and draw attention. By
the same token, the continual wearing of baggy clothes can also
be made a display. The balanced Christian view - of all of the
things that we have mentioned in this book - seems clearly to be
that we should dress according to the custom of our time and
country - with a sense of decency and wisdom.
Let us take a stand for the high standards of the gospel;
let us stand firm for honesty, fairness, kindness, integrity, and
love; let us practice holiness, but let it be "true holiness"
from the heart, not a false holiness as that of the Pharisees.
Let us never confuse the over-all objectives of Christianity with
petty points of men's traditions, remembering that "the kingdom
of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and
Joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).
In essentials, then, let there be unity; in non-essentials,
liberty; and in all things, charity.
Entered on this Website March 2008