Face Painting

 An Introduction

You are likely about to read in this tract such opinions concerning face painting as are currently apt to be offensive to many, indeed most, readers. Those persons who engage in this practice, having their painting herein associated with the most notorious vices, will be tempted to suppose that they are being charged with those vices themselves, because they are charged with possessing a similar appearance and a similar motive. By saying, for instance, that face painting is a practice of harlots, it is not meant to deduce that all who use face paint are therefore harlots. It is meant rather to appeal to their modesty that they forsake such a practice as unfitting their true character, if it exists, and is followed by providing such reasons as would compel repentance in such as possess the pious character usually claimed.

On the other hand, the motives for face painting are truly of a immoral character, and it's nature must not be covered over for conveniency sake, but the charge pressed, and made good. It is confessed, however that the power of reigning custom is very great, and has, no doubt, lead us all, in some way or other, to sin through our prejudices; and though we should not, on that account, excuse them, yet being made of the same frail humanity, and hence, having, in some way or other, committed the same sins, entertained the same motives, and thus hope to eschew the despising of others, as though never tainted with the very sins of which we speak, just because we have been brought to the light by unobligated mercy and grace, and therefore condemn them. It is not the office of an enemy to plead for your repentance, but of a friend. It is earnestly entreated of all readers, then, not to allow our common enemy to sow the thought in your hearts that you are here accosted by an enemy. You are exhorted by a friend. Repentance, holiness, truth, sorrow, light manifesting darkness; these are not against the Christian. Put on now, then, at the start, a desire only to know God's truth, to prosper in holiness, a purpose to reject popular custom as your infallible guide, and to eagerly conform yourself to the blessed will of your Redeemer, and in this disposition weigh the following words.

Face painting is, really, just one of many modern practices concerning feminine modesty which crave attention in our day. There is the whole subject of modern dress. One of the things that we reckon a great wonder of God's grace is the healing of the demoniac. Of the wonderful fruits that we hear of his conversion is that after his deliverance, he sat "clothed, and in his right mind" (Mark 5:15). It might be questioned whether that description could be accurately claimed for the modern church. Nothing could so abundantly manifest this assertion than the fact that to assail the practice of women publicly exposing themselves is now reckoned a hair splitting and divisive novelty, only because they have some few stitches here and there on their nakedness with which they suppose to be clothed. I refer of course to what is called a swimming suit. If a woman were publicly clad in such apparel thirty years ago, she would have been arrested for public indecency. Were women in our most "modest" swimming suits, or in your typical dress for that matter, to venture out into the public in the Plymouth colony they would have been put in the stocks. But today all this is acceptable Christian behavior, only because it may be done without shame, and so proves men's professed principles of modesty and discretion as but the habit of sinning with the tide of popularity.

John Witherspoon, reflecting upon those who attended the theater in his day, (like as those who watch the television in our own), exclaimed, "How hard is it to make men sensible of the evil of such sins as custom authorizes, and fashion justifies? There is no making them ashamed of them because they are common and reputable, and there is no making them afraid of what they see done without suspicion by numbers on every hand. But is there any reason to believe, that the example of others will prove a just and valid excuse for any practice at the judgment seat of Christ? Will the greatness or the number of offenders screen them from his power? Or can that man expect a gracious acceptance with him, who has suffered his commands to be qualified by prevailing opinion, and would not follow him farther than the bulk of mankind would bear him company?" Thus the modern method of biblical interpretation taught in likely every Bible school and seminary, and hence reigning in every church in the land: SOLA CULTURA! "Sola Cultura" has vindicated, not only face painting, but public nakedness, working mothers, women in britches, as well as other concerns of feminine modesty. Though such persons as are spiritually impoverished enough to laud such a standard make up the multitude of professing Christians, there are surely those who have been merely leavened by being in the lump, who will upon sober reflection come to repentance. These were in view in the publication of this tract.

The question suggests itself, "Why a tract on the subject of face painting?" The answer asserts itself: Because of nature, and the way men and women in a fallen condition are affected by it. For instance Jesus Christ did not say, "Whosoever looketh upon a man to lust after him in her heart hath committed adultery with him already in her heart", etc. not because it would be no sin in a woman to do so, nor because women would have no inclination to that sin whatever, but because they are not so ruled by the lust of the eye in this particular generally as are men. Hence it is manifested in the expressions of human depravity that women are the more commonly given over to lewd and enticing dress, in a most purposeful manner, and with a most obvious intent. This is why women, and not men, are warned especially of this excess in the scriptures, (1 Tim. 2:9-10, 1 Pet. 3:34); not that men are free from it, but that it is not so much their snare as it is with women.

Men are indeed prone to sin in their dress, and this sin among the rest, but by comparison it is minute. Men may be given to fads extravagance, ostentatious or foolish dress, etc., but as for the intentional science of enticement in dress, it is seldom seen. This is why we read in the scriptures of "the attire of an harlot" but we never read of "the attire of an whoremonger". It is not that the sin is any less, but that it's evidences normally exclude matters of dress. The art of face painting is one major expression of this degeneration of man's original nature.

Despite the continual abuse of feminine modesty throughout the ages, obliging the faithful protest of believers in their own respective ages, any gross extremity of this sin has been kept in check by that witness. That is until the middle of this century. Later on in the tract we will hear William Prynne, a Puritan, criticized harshly many of the abuses of dress stalking about in his own day. But consider what such men and so many like them, would have to say about what people would today consider to be a typical dress or overly modest swim-suit. They would have called both it and it's wearer whorish. What, then, would they call the typical female attire and swim-wear of the day? They would have used up their vocabulary by that time, and had nothing left but tears. Prynne carries on about things like women cutting or dying their hair, extravagance of dress, and, of course, face painting. Perhaps some of the dresses were coming up off the ankles, and dropping below the collar line! That was time to sound an alarm! What utter despair and exasperation would such men face today to see the whorish manners of women, and above all, women professing the Christian religion in our own day!

What has caused this state of affairs? Doubtless many things. There is the desensitization of the popular conscience by the television, and of the popular mind by the government schools. But that only proves effectual because the church has been silenced; indeed partakes of these wickednesses as much as any worldling. Christians used to faithfully speak out against these sins, and thereby, though hated, the world was kept ashamed to go forth into such folly. But now the light of the world is become the servile serf of custom, slavishly imitating every idol of fashion and custom the world raises to it's view, and thus the world is left, not only to go it's own way, but to lead the church thither also.

To advocate so antiquated a system of morals as that of past ages, will at once invite the most severe reflection from both the world and church together. It would almost certainly surpass anything such as the former saints had to endure in their faithful testimony. Such as the Puritans are reproached to this day for such matters. But it is not the church's calling to cringe in fear at the world's every displeasure. It is her job to throw the truth right back into the world's lap and call it to repentance. That is how the world has been preserved in the past, and it won't be in the future by any other means. The church must itself repent; until then it's salt is "good for nothing".

Many in our day are sore grieved at the absolute want of salt and light in the world. Bewildered, and not knowing what to do, they march off to picket an abortion clinic, write their senator, join the red republican party, boycott the companies most promotive of wickedness, etc. Now some few of these things may, under certain circumstances, be good to do in a way of civil duty, but no amount of picket signs can make an impenitent church to be salt and light to the world. Abraham did not say to the Lord, "If there be fifty politically active in Sodom, will you spare it?" That is not what God is looking for; it is neither salt nor light. Until God's people repent and show forth, at least in their outward conduct, a standard of moral character regulated by the fear of God, there simply will be no change of any kind. Everything will get worse and worse. Until Christians repent of their own sin, this only is on the horizon.

Now, all that is not to say that if our women will but wash away the face paint, and wear modest apparel, that revival will come at once. No, this would only be a small start. Much more is needed, even from a bare moral standpoint. Christians must take their children out of the anti-Christian "public schools"; they must get the televisions out of their houses; their women must come home from their jobs and raise their families as they are commanded in the scriptures, (1 Tim.5:14, Tit. 2:3-5). These things have destroyed the church of God, though one may pick through the splinters and find a beam or stone unmarred. They must be eradicated at once. As for piety, men must return to prayer as their delight, i.e. to God as their delight; their hope must be revived, and the peace of conscience by the blood of Christ sought, found, and treasured above all other things; they must turn from covetousness and sacrifice their all for Zion's sake. They must love God and be happy with Him alone, though they may suffer the want of all other things.

But if we could at least come this far; to put our clothes on; to put the paint off; we would be in a better posture to value, seek, and find the rest. Prayer in sin is not heard (Ps. 66:18). Supposedly loving God without submission to His rule is sacrilege and idolatry. Let us not think to "get the heart right, and all these things will come in order". The heart does not mend while it's sin is patronized and defended. The heart is not right while it is blinded by the world, and wanton. Let us not suppose that God is not grieved when our women are attired immodestly or painted like infamous women. Let us not suppose they may forsake their callings as mothers, sacrificing their children in the fires of Molech. No, let us only repent and then let us seek the Lord, knowing that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, but will "wound the hairy scalp of him that goeth on still in his iniquities" and will not hear the prayer of him that "regardeth iniquity in his heart". Let no man, then, think it a trivial or "minor" matter whether or not God's people repent of sin. Repentance of sin is at the heart of evangelical religion. It always has been, and always will be.

Next: The Biblical Witness