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A Patriarchal Blogger, Nakedness, and the Goddess Hera

A Patriarchal Blogger, Nakedness, and the Goddess Hera August 11, 2020

Does the Bible warn women against earring makeup? As patriarchal blogger Lori Alexander explains in a recent post, she doesn’t think so! It’ starts out very oddly, to say the least:

A woman on my YouTube video asked why I wore lipstick and jewelry. She told me this was a vain thing to do and women who wore these things did it to draw attention to themselves. Are Christian women not to wear these things?

Let’s look as some verses on this topic. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands….Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:1-4). Then we are told that the “in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands…” (1 Peter 3:5).

Are these verses telling women that they should not adorn themselves with makeup and jewelry? No. If this were the case, then these verses are telling women to not put on apparel (not wear clothes). This could not be the case since God wants women to dress modestly and wear clothing.

Wha…?

Oh my lands. This is like the absolute extreme of what happens if someone takes the KJV literally and doesn’t care what the Greek says, what cultural norms were at the time, or literally anything else. Lori read “let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on apparel” and concluded that, if the passage is meant to bar things like makeup, it means women should be naked.

The first thing to note is that the KJV, which Lori quotes, is a very odd translation.

The NIV translates the passage somewhat differently from Lori’s KJV:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.

Even the New King James Version makes this change:

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel.

What’s going on in the text? The word for garments is there (ἱματίων), yes, but there’s another word that all of the things (the hair, the gold, the garments) are dependent on: κόσμος. We may recognize the word “cosmos” today, but at the time it was also used to mean a beautiful arrangement. Here’s an explanation from a university website:

The universe, the totality of things, they named cosmos because this word meant an orderly arrangement that is beautiful (hence our word “cosmetic”).

Oh and look, an entry in a dictionary of Ancient Greek:

II. ornament, decoration, esp. of women, Il.14.187, Hes.Op. 76, Hdt.5.92.

Oh hey and guess what, I’ve studied Ancient Greek, and I know how to use the internet. So take a look, here’s a description of the use of the word κόσμος in the Iliad 14.187:

Without this notion of ownership, the ἄγαλμα of the ivory cheekpiece would be simply a κόσμος, an ‘ornament’, ‘adornment’, as it is for the horse. κόσμος, then, is something that enhances physical attractiveness, as does Hera’s κόσμος in her seduction of Zeus. The scene of Hera’s toilette is perhaps the most emphatic representation of any character’s beauty in Homer. This is conveyed not just by the repetition of καλός four times in short succession—her skin, hair, veil and sandals are all ‘beautiful’—and the fact that ‘great beauty [χάρις] shone from’ her earrings, but also by the appearance of some familiar physical properties: her hair, veil and feet are radiant; her dress is decorated with ‘many cunning embellishments’ (δαίδαλα πολλά); the pins fastening her dress are golden. The sum total of these beautiful adornments is πάντα… κόσμον, ‘all her finery’—fit for seducing and deceiving Zeus, just as Aphrodite’s ‘beautiful, golden’ and radiant κόσμος seduces Anchises in her Homeric Hymn.

The examples of Hera and the horse suggest that κόσμος is more than conceptually contiguous with other terms and expressions for beauty: it denotes material adornment that has a beautifying effect.

Ahhahahahahah … wow.

Note that in that case, like in I Peter 3:3, κόσμος describes the whole range of things discussed in the passage, marking them all as beautiful finery designed to entice and seduce. She’s getting sexy.

I Peter 3:3 does not say don’t put clothes on. It says don’t put sexy clothes on. It’s funny, because that seems like the kind of thing that’s right up Lori’s alley. In her eagerness to argue that the passage meant all clothes so that she could insist that she’s allowed to wear makeup, she undermined a passage that ought to have been one of her favorites.

Lori’s claim that that passage isn’t a condemnation of elaborate hairstyles, etc., because if it were it would be a condemnation of wearing clothes, is a complete misunderstanding of what the passage says based on her insistence on treating the passage as though it was written and inspired in King James’s English.

Okay, but she cited a second passage, right? Let’s go back to what Lori wrote:

Let’s look as some verses on this topic. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands….Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:1-4). Then we are told that the “in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands…” (1 Peter 3:5).

It’s slightly unclear because Lori does not say it outright, but it’s odd that she quotes the second passage at all. The way she quotes it draws attention to the statement that holy women of old “adorned themselves” when in fact, that’s a reference to exactly what the first bit said: that women shouldn’t adorn themselves physically, but instead spiritually.

Maybe her claim is that because Sarah and Rebecca weren’t naked, the passage can’t mean what Lori thinks it says because she only reads the KJV but doesn’t know enough old English to understand what it says? (I bring up the idea that Lori does not understand what the older English of the KJV says because she was able to read “that outward adorning of” before “putting on apparel” and yet not realize that it meant anything besides wearing clothes, when the word “adorning” meant decking oneself out in extras as late as 1828).

This is also odd because there are other Bible passages that say the exact same thing as I Peter 3:3, except more clearly. In fact, even Lori is aware of this, and she does address it:

“In like many also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But which becometh women professing godliness with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9,10)

God absolutely does not want us spending a lot of money on adoring ourselves. He doesn’t want us to dress in a way that draws attention to our wealth or our bodies. We are to be modest in the money we spend on adorning ourselves (unlike most women these days) and modest in covering our bodies. We should not look nor act like the world. Others should be able to tell by the way that we dress and act that we are believers in Jesus Christ and He is the One we live to glorify, not ourselves.

Ask your husband how much money you can spend on clothes. Most of us have WAY more clothing than we need. The same goes for makeup, jewelry, and shoes. These should not consume our money or time. Find feminine clothing that your husband likes and be content with what you have. Wear a little bit of makeup if your husband likes it, and do what you can to look your best but the way that you treat others and the good works that you do for them is a far higher priority to God than anything that you could wear.

I mean? Why did she have all the earlier argument over I Peter 3:3 when this passage very clearly states the exact same thing, and without the bit about getting naked? What even was the point of that?

Look, here’s I Timothy 2:9 in the NIV:

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.

Sure, you could say that the spirit of the passage is not to wear things that are flashy or stand out, but I’m just going to note that it directly says not to wear elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls, and people like Lori have never been all that fond of saying “well, what did that mean to the culture at the time?” People like Lori take things like this literally all the time. Lori reads that passage—that directly says not to wear pearls—and concludes that what it actually means is don’t spend too much money on jewelry? 

And get this—she doesn’t even really center that! She doesn’t tell women not to spend too much money on clothes! She tells them to ask their husbands how much money they can spend on clothes!

Lori does not actually care what the Bible says. Period and full stop.

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