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“The Case Against Wearing Makeup”
There are some some disfiguring circumstances (such as the loss of an eye) that might lead a person to consider making use of appearance altering apparatus to avoid the reactions some may have to the unusual. However, even in these rare circumstances, a person risks coming to think that these devices are necessary for acceptance.
For most people the use of cosmetics begins during adolescence for two overlapping reasons. The first is to experiment with presenting oneself to the opposite sex to solicit arousal of interest. The second motivation is to present oneself to members of the same sex for approval and acceptance.
Personal grooming should have at the core hygiene and neatness. When additional layers are added to achieve social objectives, one begins to transition into an actor whose costume and makeup are selected to present to an “audience” an image or persona that is inconsistent with reality (one might say deceptive).
Since it is often young people who begin to experiment with manipulating their appearance, they are often unaware of how this can cause problems. Jesus gave his disciples a theatrical warning by telling them to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees which was hypocrisy. The word hypocrisy in the Greek meant to speak from under a mask as actors would in the Greek theater.
We often consider the admonition to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees as to not engage in intentional deception because today we often think of the word hypocrite as describing as sort of con artist. However, the use of the word “leaven” (yeast) indicates more of the slow inflation of CO2 gas to puff up bread. This seems to emphasize more of the gradual process of self-deception we see with the Pharisees.
1. Fraud. The Pharisees presented themselves to the world as righteous because of their strict observance of the law. Jesus often confronted them that this was not true. The use of makeup runs somewhat parallel in that creating and presenting something that is not true risks losing the ability to see what is true.
2. Isolation. Constructing a persona or presenting oneself in a role risks never knowing if those who find the persona attractive would find the real person attractive. As the years pass, a person can grow to be ashamed of how they are without constructing a mask.
3. Uncertainty. If someone attracts romantic interest through the use of an artifical construct, there is always some doubt about how sustainable that interest will be when reality intrudes.
4. Elevating the flesh. In Corinthians love is defined pretty much as selflessness. The more time one spends constructing a persona, the more focused one becomes on self.
5. Superficial. An increasing investment of attention and time to surface appearance and the insubstantial tends to cripple a person from seeing things of deeper and richer value. Many women have said that looking back they had wished they were less impressed with good looks and had placed more value on selecting someone with a good sense of humor.
6. Worldly conformance. Often appearance is manipulated to conform to the expectations of others. This can subtly bring a person into alignment with practices and even values that are worldly. This risks making an enemy of God (James 4:4)
7. Magnetism. Often constructing something attractive that is superficial attracts the superficial. One can find that successful use of superficial attraction draws those who are superficial themselves. In addition to the problem of drawing the wrong kind of attention, one often finds that there is a failure to draw the right kind of attention.
Many young people find it difficult to wait on the Lord. Abraham also found it difficult to wait and took matters into his own hands. That did not turn out so well. Boys and girls are better off spending their time in surrender to the Lord for his help to develop godly character and make them worthy of godly mates rather than attempting to solicit the attention of whoever happens to be passing by.
This contrast between the superficial and the substantial can be seen in the verse that says unless the Lord build the house, the laborers labor in vain. A focus on the external is usually accompanied by a proportional disinterest in the internal. This contrast can also be seen in the verses that say one cannot serve two masters and the spirit wars against the flesh.
There is a reason the location for the application of makeup is called a “vanity”. While the word simply means empty or useless, it is a little misleading because great damage can accrue as ones attention is directed towards towards self and attempting to manipulate others through the presentation of a constructed appearance.
Even if the act was not damaging in itself, the distraction from and neglect of pursing Christ-likeness is harmful for a Christian. Some might say that the subject of makeup is insignificant and that there are many other things that can focus on self and divert us from our Savior. While there are many potential pitfalls, their sheer number does not make them any less significant.
The wearing of makeup serves as an advertisement to the superficial that one seeks their attention and as a warning to those more mature and perceptive. Wearing makeup does not make one “bad” just as not wearing makeup does not make one “good”. What needs to be recognized is that the paths we choose in life shape us in ways that we sometimes to not fully appreciate.
We need to ask ourselves what is most important to us. Do we wish to live for the Lord and follow a path that will lead to Christian maturity. If we find a strong attraction to a path in life that elevates self we may wish to see that as a powerful influence of the flesh and turn to the Lord in prayer that his Spirit might fill us and we would find the strength to not feed our fleshly inclinations so that they would begin to diminish.
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