X. THE OUTSIDE: ADDING TO THE BODY, JEWELRY
“To be holy is to be pure, and to be pure is to be natural” (Bill Burkett, Because of the Angels pg 28-29). When God created Adam and then Eve, they were flawless. They were perfect. There was no need to add to or delete from their bodies anything to make them more “beautiful.” Perfection cannot be improved upon. God had created them “in His own image.”
The theology or philosophy that I am introducing here is far from what we experience today in our society. I mentioned in an opening section the dissatisfaction that is so rampant today with the natural look that God gave us. People are looking to change the natural state that God designed in the beginning. Do you think God’s work was incomplete in creating man and needs to be finished? What was He thinking when He made Adam and Eve? Wasn’t He finished when He created the human body or did He leave it open for our completion?
To look at some people, you would think that God was interrupted by some other event in the cosmos more important than the creation of man. When He returned to His work of creating man, God must have forgotten where He stopped at and therefore left off many things that people feel like they desperately needed. Did God forget what He was doing and leave out those holes in people’s ears, noses, eyebrows, and other places not to be mentioned? Did he forget to line their eyes with eye shadow or paint their lips with lipstick? Should we pick up where God left off? Was God’s work in creation incomplete? I don’t think so.
If God’s work was complete and there is no actual need for additions to the body to enhance “beauty,” are we at liberty if we desire to add to, or delete from, the body that God has given us? Is there reasoning for or against such practices? Does God’s Word say anything directly or indirectly about adding to or deleting from the body in order to make it more “beautiful”? Keep in mind, “beautiful” according to man and “beautiful” according to God may be defined quiet differently. God’s Word states: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).
Of course, we have plenty of preachers who preach that God isn’t very interested in the outside. They say it is all in the heart. I am saving that issue until later. The reasoning continues that when Paul wrote to Timothy in I Timothy 2:9, he was only concerned with modesty in apparel. “Paul's idea isn't prohibition, but modesty and moderation; legalistic bans on make-up and jewelry aren't supported by this verse” (David Guzik). And then there are these famous words of J. Vernon McGee: "If the barn needs painting - paint it!"
Some months ago, when starting out on the endeavor to write this booklet, I decided to go into a “Christian” chat-room on-line just to get another perspective. So, I proposed a few statements about very conservative church standards that were opposed to women wearing jewelry and makeup. I found one response interesting and I will share it as best I remember. I presume it was a female who answered something like, “I believe one ought to look the best they possibly can for our Lord.” I interpreted this as saying humans need to deck out in jewelry and cosmetics in order to look good to God. Do we need to be concerned with how “attractive” in secular human terms we are when we approach God? Does a female have to spend an hour putting on eye shadow, lipstick, etc. before she comes to the throne of grace?
There are others that agree with this line of thinking that we must deck out for God and apply it as well to human-to-human contact. “We have many very helpful cosmetic products today, and I see nothing wrong in using anything that will make you look better. All of us want to look the best we possibly can” (McGee’s Thru the Bible). Continuing with more of the same from this well-known speaker: “I do believe, though, that a Christian woman should dress in style. At the Bible institute where I used to teach, someone had given the girls the notion that they should never use any makeup [I wonder where they got that idea?] and need not give any care to the way they dressed. I used to tell those girls that we all ought to look the best we can with what we've got to work with, although some of us don't have much to work with! I said, "Some of you would look a little bit better if you would put on just a little make-up, because you look like you came out of the morgue. That is simply not attractive, and it does not commend you to God" (McGee’s Thru the Bible).
It seems to me that his impression of God’s natural creation was not good enough and needed improvement. Was this advice spiritual or carnal? Was it divine or humanistic? Was it logical or illogical? What would God have thought if when He presented Eve to Adam, if Adam had said, “Eve dear, you look like you came out of the morgue”? Perhaps God may have replied as Paul wrote in Romans 9:20-21 “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?”
I seriously question this train of thought that teaches the addition of worldly elements to God’s creation of the human body. As I asked in the introduction of this section, did God fall short when he created humans? Did he fail to finish the job by not adding some jewels and a little paint to Adam and Eve? The Scriptures tell us in Psalms 149:4 “For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.”
It is my belief that the addition to the image of God, which we are, is a subtraction from the glory of God. And on what do I base that belief? I want to think that I base that belief on the Word of God. I do have Scriptures to support my position. I have already used many of them in other portions of discussion, but I in no way have exhausted the entirety of any of them. I hope to use logic and experience as well to examine the practices of wearing jewelry, piercing and tattooing, and painting up with cosmetics.
I will begin to present my position with the familiar verses of I Timothy 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" and I Peter 3:3 "Whose adorning, let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel.” Other Scriptures will follow as I expand my discussion.
There are many things that can be said about these Scriptures, but to whom do we listen? I’ve already given some examples of the liberal perspective. Essentially, they attest that the Scriptures just listed are applying only to being moderate in the sense of monetary value. That is, don’t be extravagant. Don’t be flashy. Being flashy may indicate that you lack more than just paint on the old barn. You may have problems on the inside as well. According to Adam Clarke “When either women or men spend much time, cost, and attention on decorating their persons, it affords a painful proof that within there is little excellence, and that they are endeavoring to supply the want of mind and moral good by the feeble and silly aids of dress and ornament. Were religion out of the question, common sense would say in all these things: Be decent; but be moderate and modest” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary).
I’ve already discussed the topic of modesty extensively in a previous section and it was my conclusion that the writers did exhort us not to be extravagant. It is my understanding that they also wanted us to cover our bodies appropriately as to not appear to be naked or seductive. But, is that the end of the message? Is there more here to be said? I believe there is much yet to be said.
According to Life Application Bible Notes “Apparently some Christian women were trying to gain respect by looking beautiful rather than by becoming Christ like in character. Some may have thought that they could win unbelieving husbands to Christ through their appearance. It is not unscriptural for a woman to want to be attractive. Beauty, however, begins inside a person. A gentle, modest, loving character gives a light to the face that cannot be duplicated by the best cosmetics and jewelry in the world. A carefully groomed and well-decorated exterior is artificial and cold unless inner beauty is present.” So, is appearing to be beautiful or attractive the end of the discussion? Again, I don’t think so.
I believe the admonition incorporated within the thoughts already discussed includes the unnecessary addition to the body, strictly interpreted in the form of gold or pearls, but basically implying jewelry. Yes, God does have something to say about adding to the body that He created. And, we are not at liberty to do as we please though many may preach and practice decking out, even doing it in the name of the Lord.
Again, some accept the admonition as implying not to be extravagant when wearing jewelry, but to exercise moderation. “Peter is not forbidding the wearing of clothes and ornaments by women, but the display of finery by contrast” (Robertson’s Word Pictures). But, who then determines what is extravagant and what is not? There will always be those who will extend that allowed liberty into extravagance. It is here that those who are not willing to offend in this point of Scripture will choose to forbear wearing jewelry altogether. You cannot go wrong by being conservative at this point and remaining natural as God created humans without the addition of implanted or attached jewels.
Individuals who insist on adding to the body by wearing jewelry will refer to the examples of the Israelites wearing gold in the Old Testament. But was it favorable for them to do so in all cases? What kinds of issues do we find surrounding some of these examples? Let’s examine a few of the examples and the experiences surrounding them.
One such example stands out to me in Genesis 35:4 “And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.” This chapter begins with Jacob’s call from God to “go up to Bethel and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God.” Then Jacob commands his household to “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments.” The household of Jacob responded by giving him the strange gods as he requested, but it is interesting to note that they also gave him “all their earrings which were in their ears.” He only asked for the strange gods, yet they handed over the earrings too. Why? There must have been a clear connection between the practice of idolatry, which involved the strange gods and the earrings in their ears.
In looking for information surrounding earrings I found an interesting fact. In Easton’s Bible Dictionary, it is stated that “earrings were rings properly for the ear Genesis 35:4; Numbers 31:50; Ezekiel 16:12. In Genesis 24:47 the word means a nose-jewel, and is so rendered in the Revised Version. In Isaiah 3:20 the Authorized Version has “ear-rings,” and the Revised Version “amulets,” which more correctly represents the original word (lehashim), which means incantations; charms, thus remedies against enchantment [Underlining added for emphasis.], worn either suspended from the neck or in the ears of females.” Did you notice the reference to “incantations” and “charms”? It appears from this that the earrings were in this case associated with their idolatry and possibly some sort of superstition or sorcery.
As well, I found this reference to earrings in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: “Such jewels were worn in ancient times for protective as well as for decorative purposes. The Revised Version (British and American) renders “amulets” for the King James Version “earrings” in Isaiah 3:20, the Hebrew word (lechashim) being elsewhere associated with serpent-charming; but the earrings of
Genesis 35:4, also, were more than mere ornaments [Underlining added for emphasis.], so the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) may both be right in their renderings here (Kennedy). The influence of Egypt, where amulets of various kinds were worn by men and gods, by the living and the dead, is shown by recent excavations at Gezer, Taanach and Megiddo.”
Did you take notice of the phrase that I underlined? “Apparently, the earrings also had a pagan connection; though some "reason" could have been offered for keeping them, they got rid of them nonetheless” (David Guzik). Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown state that the earrings were “earrings of various forms, sizes, and materials, which are universally worn in the East, and, then as now, connected with incantation and idolatry.”
Here at this point I will again introduce some quotations from the Book of Enoch. Again, I cannot attest to the validity of this source, but still I find it interesting and so appropriate that I cannot refrain from using it. In chapter seven, Enoch is continuing his narration concerning fallen angels when he states: “1 And all the others together with them [fallen angels] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms 2 and enchantments [Underlining added for emphasis.], and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants.”
Enoch continues to give us insight on the matter in chapter eight, which I quote in its entirety: “1 And Azazel [One of the many fallen angels that Enoch refers to by name in this chapter.] taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all 2 colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they 3 were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, 'Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon. And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven . . .[Underlining added for emphasis.]”
I am beginning to understand why Jacob’s household turned over the earrings with the strange gods. What I don’t understand is why those who call themselves Christian want to return to the oak tree in Shechem and dig up what Jacob buried hundreds of years ago and call that liberty which Jacob and his household realized to be idolatry.
Another similar example, which relates jewelry to idolatry, is Exodus 32:2-3 “And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which [are] in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring [them] unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which
[were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron.” This was in response to the people’s request to “make us gods.” We all know what happened next. Aaron fashioned a molten calf and proclaimed “these be thy gods.” Everything continues downhill from that point. Why did the people use the plural term of “gods”? Why did Aaron use plurality when saying “these be thy gods”? Was there one golden calf or many? I understand that there was only one calf, but was this one calf a combination of the “gods” represented by their earrings? If so, Aaron could refer to the one calf as “these be thy gods.” Nonetheless, the people strayed and their earrings were used as instruments of their rebellion.
Gideon experiences like fate when he takes the earrings of the Ishmaelites and fashioned an ephod in Judges 8:24-27. These Scriptures tell us how “all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.”
I cannot say that earrings and gold have always been associated with idolatry, but I have just listed three Old Testament examples in which they were directly or indirectly linked to idolatry and the backsliding of God’s people. However, there exist many more arguments that support the position to be conservative and abstain from wearing jewelry such as the need to pierce the body in order to attach many such pieces. I would like to address this issue in the next section.