One of the challenges Christianity faces is that of people trying to project their beliefs and (mis)interpretations on other people in the name of religious traditions. One of such beliefs has to do with the beautification of women and the view boils down to this: Any attempt to beautify your ‘physical’ self puts your inner beauty and thus your Christianity at risk. Simply put, the notion equates spirituality with a state of degraded physical attraction.
For years, many people have used Peter’s admonition in 1Pet 3:3-4 as an excuse to outlaw beautification of the body. It is my opinion that this approach reflects a poor understanding of English Language. The verse in context was saying that the focus of beauty should not rest on the externals alone (read post here); that beauty should go beyond what we can see to cultivating a godly character, which is the true beauty. It doesn’t say true beauty comes by not adorning the body.
It’s interesting that we think it’s okay to iron our clothes and polish our shoes but think it’s a crime to use makeup and other beautifying accessories. We pay that much attention to the outlook of non-living objects but castigate every attempt to care for the appearance of the living.
Which brings me to the word – Focus. Focus is what Peter was trying to pass across. To rephrase his statement in 1Pet 3:3-4 “Don’t let your focus be on external beauty (alone). Strive to cultivate the inner beauty that stems from a godly character.” [End of paraphrase].
Or put in another way, “Don’t be known only for your (external/physical) beauty. Be known for the true (inner) beauty, which never fades.”
The interesting thing is those who interpret the above verses to mean that the body should not be beautified, don’t touch on the concluding statement of verse 3 “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair… or of putting on of (fine) apparel.” (KJV). This will also mean that the apostle meant for women not to wear (good) clothes too. I’m sure Peter will cringe at that interpretation.
Just so you know, this post is not an advocacy for or against the use of beautification materials. There is nothing wrong with looking good, there is nothing wrong with makeup and there is nothing wrong with not making up. Do whatever gives you peace of mind and helps you in your Christian walk but don’t make others uncomfortable with your (personal) beliefs. If you can get this message straight, then our world might just be a better place for it.
Before you leave, you may want to check out how the Amplified Bible puts it: 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; 4 but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart… (AMP).
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I am a Brand Strategist and the Author of Musings of an Analytical Mind. A Medical Doctor by training, I love to challenge conventional thinking and am a firm believer in the coexistence of aesthetics and quality. Connect with me on Twitter – @ifeodedere