Make-up – to Wear or Not to Wear?

Note from the editors: we see Eat Write Sleep as a channel for young Christians to share their ideas, life experiences and talents with everyone. Henceforth we shall be inviting a number of such Christians to post their work on our blog. Jemimah has the privilege (or misfortune, depending on which way you look at it!) of being our first ‘guest blogger’. So without further ado… take it away Jemimah!

When I first heard about Eat Write Sleep my reaction was, “What an amazing idea!” Taking the narrow window of the whole world as a topic area, Josh and Michael are two young people consolidating their personal viewpoints on culture, politics and life with the super glue of scripture. And I think it’s fantastic.

Who am I? Jemimah, a Christian girl in my mid-teens and fortunate friend of the writers of this blog, who have kindly invited me to add a seasoning of my own to the simmering compilation of ideas that constitute it.

As a teenage girl who experiences these issues myself, I’m really excited to use God’s word as a primary reference as I delve into some of the hot topics concerning young women in the modern world.

So, what’s my topic? I had so many ideas that this took rather a while to decide on.

However, as a decision had to be made, I eventually chose “Makeup”.

Many Christian girls today wear makeup, many others don’t, and speaking from my own experience, many girls have strong opinions on it.

But what does the Bible say about makeup?

Is it a good thing, or a bad?

In answering these questions, I’ve categorised makeup-wearers into three ‘types’. I realise that this is stereotypical, but seriously – it’s hardly possible to interview every single girl in the world!

So, here are my three ‘types’:

  • the Enhancers
  • the Coverers
  • the Unsures.

The Enhancers first of all. To my view, these are those who consider Scripture and only then decide whether or not they will wear makeup, and how much they’ll wear. Let’s take the 1 Peter 3:3 text to demonstrate what I mean: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be in the hidden person of the heart, with the incomparable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

So basically, we shouldn’t be just thinking about what we look like outwardly – our hairstyles, our jewellery and clothes (and makeup!) – but rather worried about what our heart’s like, wanting to have an incomparably beautiful, gentle and receptive heart which is really precious to God.

Does that mean that girls should not wear makeup, full stop?

Well, that is for each girl individually to decide. But with all things, we must keep in mind that we are “the temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s very spirit lives in us! Surely then, we’ll want to honour Him in how we look after our bodies.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not much of a makeup wearer. Yes, I do use BB cream and mascara on special occasions, for the soul purpose of novelty. I suppose it could be compared with putting on a nice dress for a wedding?

But I don’t think wearing or not wearing is necessarily the issue; what can be is when makeup draws away attention (either your own or others’) from our main goal. If makeup becomes a weight and draws away from the Lord Jesus Christ, then it’s definitely something to cut back on!

And there can be benefits of not wearing makeup regularly!  

  1. Firstly, foundations can be dermatologically harmful.

Personally, I’m not interested in covering my face with any product that will cause dermatological problems on the long run. I see that as plain counter-productivity, and definitely not the way to preserve the “temple of the Holy Spirit”!

  1. Going ‘clean’ is a time-saver.

I don’t think that I could ever imagine getting up earlier to put on makeup; I prefer to have more time to sleep. But remember, there are biblical reasons for not spending too much time on anything that’s not legitimate/furthering the cause of the Gospel. Ephesians 5:16 talks about “redeeming the time”; or in other words using the (relatively short) time we have on this Earth to the best ability that we can, to bring glory to our Heavenly Father and spread the good news of the Gospel.

Of course, it’s impossible to spend every free moment we have in spreading the Gospel – that’s not what I mean. Many of us have busy family lives, busy church lives and a job or are in full-time education – and helping at home and at church and working hard is a ministry in itself.

But perhaps spending less time in front of the mirror in the morning would give you more time to phone someone who would benefit from a call or do some washing up?

It may be only 30 minutes that you’ll save each day, but every little helps – and you’d be surprised how much a half-hour ‘free’ on your schedule can do.

  1. Making up on occasion is a novelty!

In July of this summer, I was a bridesmaid at my elder brother’s wedding and decided to wear some makeup. I admit, this was more for my brother’s and sister-in-law’s benefit than my own. I didn’t want to ruin their wedding photos by my eye-bags and spots.

However, it wasn’t actually that bad! I made the dangerous decision of entrusting my elder sister with ‘the deed’, and was expecting the worst. But it was a novelty; and made the day, and the photos afterwards, that little bit more special.

So let’s think about why we’re wearing makeup before we put it on.

Let’s not wear makeup to dramatically change our faces, but rather recognise that God has created us in our mothers’ womb for His own glory! I don’t know about you, but personally, I find that amazing. He “knit” each human being into the complex forms they are today (Psalm 139:13). WOWZA.

But what about Coverers?

Well, we girls have a tendency of overdoing things sometimes, and it’s the same with makeup. Those that struggle with overdoing makeup are the ones that I would class as Coverers.

I think that this ‘covering’ attitude arises from one main source:

What others look like.

If I didn’t struggle with this myself I might say that’s it’s irrational. Of course, it is, but how easy it can be to look around at others and then compare ourselves to them and put ourselves down.

I just want to encourage you to remember that ‘covering’ is not a biblical solution to this problem, even if it’s an easy route: God has made every human being to his praise, and so completely covering our faces because we think they’re ‘unworthy’ or worthless is actually wrong!

Try and keep in mind that Christ is our goal, not any dream wardrobe or ‘perfect face’.

Peer pressure may be hard at times too, but ultimately the way man sees is different to how God sees – and how He views us is what we should really be worried about. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Isn’t that amazing!

God is certainly not superficial in any way – rather, He wants us to have hearts that are holy and honouring to Him.

Don’t you think it’s contrary to God’s perfect attitude and superficial to think about what we look like for an unhealthy amount of time?

Let’s put it like this: For me, when I’m thinking about my outward appearance – in front of a mirror or choosing my outfit for the day are classic examples – it’s pretty much a definite that I’m directing my thoughts away from God.

This is both unbiblical and unhelpful! As Christian young women, we’ve got to remember to go about our daily lives in everything – be it in makeup or anything else – bringing Jesus with us.

What does this mean practically?

Well, something slightly different for each girl, I believe. Some people agree with makeup, some don’t, but as the Bible is not prescriptive about whether or not to wear makeup, I think it’s up to the individual to apply as they see fit, according to scripture.

This is not a licence to apply our own standards under the banner of ‘having our own reading of the bible’. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! As we apply God’s standards in our lives, it will definitely become more evident for all of us that this way is a way of self-denial.

Yuk. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

It does to me, but that’s because I still have a sinful nature which is always trying to tell me that “my way is the best way”. But it’s simply not true. God “knows His plans for you” (Jeremiah 29:11), and they’re far better than any human can think up.

He knows the future, gal.

Last but by no means less common are the Unsures. This third group is formed of people that either wear or do not wear makeup because they have no opinions on it.

And for the most part, I’ve seen that people in this group are prone to being rather ill-informed on the topic. They can also be purely confused as to the opinions they have formed due to what they have heard, read or watched. So, for those that find themselves in this category, let’s try and dig into a bit of Scripture to discover God’s way.

1 Peter 3:15 says that we should “always have a reason for the hope that is in us”. This is intended primarily towards the truths of the gospel and how we should be ready at all times to give a defence of the same to non-believers. But as the “hope” that is in us links to our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, surely this verse underpins every aspect of our Christian walk! We are members of the body of Christ, and as such, we have a duty to be well informed as to our reasons for opinions.

What if you are an Unsure and you don’t know how to go about forming your opinions?

Well, rather than automatically putting on makeup without thinking, perhaps take a break to ask yourself why you actually wear it. Is it a must?

Remember, if you choose to wear makeup, it should be for enhancing and not to change the vessel that Christ has crafted.

However, there is also the people that we meet to think about. These people can be affected by the message that we send by what we wear, how much we wear and how we wear it.

I recognise that this can be a tad sensitive as a topic area, as all of us have a habit of being selfish when it comes to putting others before themselves. But as I pose this point, I hope you’ll see how crucial it is.

Take eyeliner and -shadow, for example. Is it seriously necessary to wear a thick layer of either of these alongside mascara?

As a pair, eyeliner and eyeshadow can put forward different messages, according to how they are worn. Indeed, if the wearer chooses to wear them so, they can cause a gothic or emo mood to form, which can be less-than-helpful for a Christian!

We are “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and if we put forward an image of someone who is misogynistic or self-hating (which is essentially what emo and gothic styles do), surely that is creating a persona of someone who is “of the darkness”, just as Paul says Christians are not to be? No, this isn’t me trashing all eyeliner and eye-shadow as evil…rather, it’s a caution against makeup styles that form a negative image.

Taking it from another perspective, it can be equally possible, via makeup, to put forward a provocative message. Think of the effect deep eye-makeup coupled with crimson lips could bring – and will bring if we’re not careful. The chief purpose of unnaturally-coloured eye-shadow and lipstick is to draw attention to the eyes and lips, so do give it a thought whether the makeup you choose is so innocent; or not.

I know what you’re thinking now, not this ‘think about the guys’ thing again! But think of Proverbs 31, if it helps.

I fall short of this so often! I’m too quick to think of myself before others, and I’m sure many of you young Christian women out there often feel the same.

But remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and the work of grace in us making us want to live to serve Christ in the first place is all of Him and nothing of ourselves!

And in closing…Please don’t cover up the face that God has given you simply for the point of doing so! God has made your body, it’s glorious, so yet again I ask you to pray to Him for help in using it more to His glory as you live to honour and serve Him.

The Reformation: What were the consequences?

Happy Reformation Day everyone! What was the Reformation you ask?  Well it was when the Protestant church broke away from the Catholic Church, all starting with Martin Luther on the 31st October with his 95 theses which he nailed to a church door.  This along with the thoughts and ideas of other theologians were spread across the continents thanks to the recent invention in a printing press.  It was a movement that shocked the western world and made us who we are today.  In this brief post I want to state a few facts as to what the reformation achieved both good and bad!

  • Paved the way for ordinary people to read their bibles, which in turn allowed them to think about religion and faith themselves
  • Paved the way for the free trade and a rising middle class
  • It created a movement away from an established church and religion, but instead allowed for personal faith and freedom of religion
  • It ensured a more centralised government
  • It paved the way for science
  • It created the nation state. What we know as nations today are a result of the reformation! People settled where they found likeness in religion, whether that was Catholicism, or the varying forms of Protestantism. All the countries north of Germany became Protestant, whilst those below stayed Catholic, whilst the Holy Roman Empire was torn between the two.
  • It led to a surprising increase in Witch Trials. This was due to many reasons, one of which was difference in religion, the other being national identities. Most trials happened in across borders. Another reason for trials was that there was still a large amount of superstition in countries of witches and bad harvests
  • It led to the Thirty Years War, which was arguably the worst conflict Europe has ever seen. Every nation was involved across Europe, from Sweden with Gustav Adolphus to Spain, it was a war in which the rules of war were abandoned. This war could be argued as a war for freedom, a war for personal faith, but also a war about economic prosperity and land. Rulers saw what could be gained, such as Catholic France fighting with the Protestants due to their hatred of Spain. Whilst Gustav noted the trade that could be gained from entering the war.
  • It saw a rise in Propaganda, both Catholics and Protestants were writing things about each other, which hardly any of it was true. The main reason being is that they were scared of each other.
  • The Reformation showed the evilness of man. The Catholic Church wanted its control, whilst the Protestants were bickering amongst themselves. It also showed how great God is, raising men in difficult times to bring the word to ordinary people.
  • It showed that Protestants and Catholics cannot work together. Doctrinally, the churches are so different. This doesn’t mean we should start waging war again, far from it, love is always the answer, but we must distance ourselves from the Catholic leadership and doctrine.

The Reformation was and is a marvellous time for Protestants, God worked through it and brought the word to people like you and me. This doesn’t mean we should ignore the problems it did create because of mankind’s sin.  Total war saw hundreds of thousands perish, whole cities destroyed, because of a desire to control people.  So when we think on Reformation Day, be grateful to God for what he has done, for shinning the light, whilst remembering all those who died in a conflict that was born of sin.

It is a great period to study and 600 odd words won’t do it justice, but hopefully this has given you a brief insight!

October the Thirty-First: Ghoulish Grins or Revolutionary Rants?

The 31st of October is a day of historical significance for the Christian; although it is generally associated with Hallowe’en and all the gruesome fancy-dress parties and pumpkin-chiselling accompanying it. Then there’s the hideous figures frightening the life out of you with their screeches whilst you’re buying your sprouts from the supermarket.
That aside, today is also the 499th year since a random monk nailed a bit of paper to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Every year it is celebrated as ‘Reformation Day.’

On that bit of paper, the monk Martin Luther wrote a wordy rant against corruptions in the Catholic Church that has had lasting affects to this day, now referred to as ‘The Ninety-Five Theses’. It mostly consisted of attacks on the Church’s practice of taking money for indulgences. The saying of Tetzel characterises this practice that Luther contested: “The moment a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk disgruntled by the state of the Church around him, fuelling these notions was his discovery of the Bible for himself.

This event is significant, as it is widely regarded as signalling the start of the Reformation, a period of dramatic spiritual change; although seeds had been sown previously and a change was very much in the wind already. Everybody would be affected, kings, Popes, bishops, peasants, knights – the lot.

Europe in 1517 was very much still in the dark ages, superstition reigned supreme. The Church, led by the Pope, had fallen into a state of disarray, despite the valiant efforts and prayers of men like Girolamo Savonarola, John Wycliffe and John Huss. The clergy was in a lamentable state. Whilst the printing press had been invented the century before, the Bible had not been fully translated into common languages for the masses. Church services largely consisted of incomprehensible Latin chants.

In pre-Reformation Britain, the average Joe was illiterate, lived in relative poverty, threatened by disease and plague with an average life expectancy of 38 years; thirty per cent of children died before the age of ten.

The reaction to Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses was one of outrage. He was summoned to Rome and labelled a heretic. Theologians wrote whole treatises refuting Luther’s work. The situation started to get out of hand and violent, when university students burnt copies of Luther’s work. Opposition grew. Others joined Luther’s side.

Luther and the reformers stood up to this opposition with great fervour. Luther himself is forever famous for his bold words some time later, after refusing to recant his writings: “Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God.”

One of Luther’s primary contributions to this great revival of God was his translation of the Bible into German. Men such as William Tyndale followed suit, translating the immortal Word of God into their own native tongue. For me, this is the most important thing the Reformation has given us, and we bear the fruits to this day.

The end-result, with the two sides, refusing to back down and thereby irreconcilable, was a split from the Catholic Church, creating the Protestant Church. Over the next few years Europe battled it out, physically and spiritually.

First and foremost we have to acknowledge the hand of God working events. He used the divorce of King Henry VIII of England to split the English church from Rome. He used a portly middle-aged German monk to light a spark. The Lord moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform!

The Bible enlightened the minds of the man on the street, fulfilling William Tyndale’s vision of, “a ploughboy knowing more of the Scriptures than a priest.” With the precious Gospel of Christ and the Biblical values of devotion to God, obedience to the king and diligence in service, Protestant nations prospered.

 

Whilst the world views Hallowe’en as of more importance than Reformation Day; we can always remember the day when the Lord brought light into our dark continent. Let’s not look down on the idle parties and smugly think we’re so much better, let’s pray that the Lord will bring us another Gospel Reformation! Oh, how we need it!