Salon Body Image: Why Can't I Wear Jewelry?
One of the quandaries women have is how the church teaches women not to be so concerned with outward adornments but rather what’s inside. And yet, on Sunday morning, women are dressed to the nines. It is confusing to say the least. That thinking came from 1 Peter. It’s a wrong understanding, or at least a partial understanding, but, nonetheless, it’s where it comes from.
(1-4) The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.
(4-6) Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated. (The Message 1 Peter 3:1-6)
So here it goes.
The Apostle Peter is addressing an issue in a new church; remember, Christianity had just been birthed out of Judaism. So this was all new to those coming to faith, a new faith and a new way of thinking. It seems the majority of new believers were women. We see this trend in Scripture with Lydia where women are coming to faith before their husbands. So here are these new believing women, and their husbands were either non-believers or they were living in the old ways, which was in disobedience to their new faith.
So these women decided to try to lure their husbands into being faithful church attending men by dressing in provocative ways. Sexy. The way I see it happening today is a woman saying to her husband, “I’ll have sex with you if you go to church with me in the morning.” And Peter says don’t do that. Why? Well, cause you’re just appealing to the fleshly desires and it’s ruining your witness for Christ. You’re acting sinful to get someone to be holy. It doesn’t work that way.
Peter says if you want to win your husbands to Jesus you need to adorn yourself on the inside with the things of God (kindness, purity, love) and gently and quietly lift your husband up. It’s that kind of behavior that will win him over. Peter used Sarah as an example. I can’t go into the whole story, but it’s found in Genesis 12.
The point is Sarah deferred to her husband in hopes that her deference would challenge his lack of faith in God. We read Sarah “trusted God… (and)… did what was right without fear.” I think what we see here is a paradigm shift in Sarah’s life. Up until this point she’s trusted God through her husband’s relationship with God. But now she moves him out of the middle and has a one-on-one relationship with her God.
I hope this will help some women who have heard this passage taught about whether or not we can wear makeup or earrings or the likes. It’s not about the fashion—it’s about the attitude of using sex to lure someone to do something godly or holy. Ugh.
God did not give us a body only for sex.
It’s part of it but not all. We know this partly because in the new heavens and new earth we are gendered male and female yet not married, which has implications about our sexual activity. And no, we won’t be having sex with everyone as one pastor suggested. To figure out what the body means we have to ask further questions like, “How does the body image reflect the Triune God? Why did God give us bodies in the Garden narrative and then resurrected bodies in the end?
These questions and more will lead us to discover there’s more about the body then we’ve been told.