Questions From Readers
The texts in question read: “Likewise I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb, but in the way which befits women professing to reverence God, namely, through good works.” “And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”
Bible commentators, such as Adam Clarke, tell of the elaborate coiffures, or braiding of the hair and interspersing it with gold ornaments, that were the vogue among pagan women in the days of the apostles. Such a glamorous and showy display was most unbecoming to Christians and therefore was spoken against by both Paul and Peter.
Those sects of Christendom, however, who go to the extreme of forbidding all feminine adornment on the basis of these apostolic injunctions are obviously mistaken. We may not conclude that all braiding of the hair or all wearing of ornaments is wrong, for Peter includes “the wearing of outer garments,” and certainly women must wear such. The point of this Scriptural admonition is not what Christian women may or may not wear but on what they are to place the emphasis: not on the outward but on the inward adornment, on the mind and heart, on the right kind of disposition, if they would be attractive and appealing. Alas, it is far easier to wear the outer than to develop the inner adornment!
The Christian woman will do well to dress moderately, modestly and with tastefulness, avoiding gaudiness and sensuousness. Just as she should not attract undue attention by wearing gaudy or flashy jewelry, so she should be careful that her use of cosmetics is not unduly obvious. That adornment in moderation is not objectionable can be seen from the general use of jewelry by the ancient servants of Jehovah.—Gen. 24:53; Ex. 3:22; 2 Sam. 1:24; Jer. 2:32; Luke 15:22.