Is it sinful for women to wear makeup?


by Shawn Brasseaux

A preacher of a bygone day said, “It is a sin for some women not to wear makeup!” Dear friends, comedy aside, we open the Bible and let the Holy Spirit teach us.

The passage frequently appealed to in this regard is 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[9] In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [10] But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Does God’s Word forbid women from having braided hair, gold and pearl jewelry, and expensive clothing? Of course not! We must respect the context. The Holy Spirit leads Christian women to behave in a particular way, just as He does with Christian men (verse 8). More specifically, these instructions relate to individual conduct within the local church (but, of course, it extends to the home and beyond).

God instructs Christian women to “adorn themselves in modest apparel.” Simply put, they are to decorate or make themselves attractive with decent or proper clothing. Beauty is not a sin, but vanity and vulgarity are. While this author is not a woman, and does not think like a woman, he can at least read Bible verses and repeat what God says on the subject. It behooves him to be a little graphic here. Certain parts of the human body need to be kept secret; breasts and behinds should be adequately covered. Publically parading one’s body in underclothes is also inappropriate—whether men or women. Since the Fall, physical nudity is of Satan; the devil-possessed man, once naked, put on clothes after Jesus performed the exorcism (Luke 8:27,35). God took bare Adam and Eve and clothed them with animal skins (physically) and the shed animal blood (spiritually) (Genesis 3:7,21).

“That women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety….” Some people are not embarrassed to “show everything they have” on television, the internet, and in public spaces. This is the opposite of the “shamefacedness” God expects Christian women to have. “Sobriety” is the renewed mind, proper thinking, brought about by sound Bible doctrine. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). It is not wise to “advertise” (or flaunt) our bodies—otherwise we bear a striking resemblance to prostitutes!!

“But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Go back to the beginning of the passage to get the flow: “[9] In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [10] But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” If we profess to worship the God of the Bible, to know Him personally and serve Him individually, then it is only suitable or proper that our lives reflect His principles. Instead of striving to excessively decorate the outward man with showy materials—pretentiousness—the Christian lady should concentrate especially on good works. It is not a sin for a woman to make herself attractive (braided hair, jewelry, nice clothing), provided that she keeps her priorities straight. Good works are of far greater eternal value than these mortal bodies that will go to the grave if the Lord continues to tarry. Makeup, jewelry, and gorgeous wardrobes are not a substitute for good works. Flamboyant clothing, flashy attire, and eye-catching raiment make a woman the center of attention. This is completely unacceptable. She gains a reputation, not for being a testimony of good works, but rather a billboard for evil works!

Unfortunately, legalists (strict Law-keepers in denominationalism) have used 1 Timothy 2:9 as an excuse to be “goody-goody” in their attempt to be modest. In their system, a woman’s bare ankle is a spiritual crime; she must be covered from head to toe, arms and legs fully covered. Her hair is not cut but wrapped, she wears no makeup, she has no jewelry, and yet she participates in a religious system where God’s grace is so thoroughly disregarded. God will not accept this (works-religion) behavior any more than He will the nudist’s! Dear friends (especially dear sisters in Christ), notice well the good works Christian women should decorate their lives with above all else.

“Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:10).

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:11-15).

Also see:
» What is “shamefacedness?”
» Should women speak in church? May they ask questions?
» Should Christian women wear head coverings?