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WHY The Church Ruled on Make-up
Good News Magazine
July 1955
Volume: Vol V, No. 3
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WHY The Church Ruled on Make-up
Herbert W Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: July 31, 1892
Died: January 16, 1986
Member Since: 1928
Ordained: 1931
Office: Apostle

Herbert W. Armstrong founded the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1930s, as well as Ambassador College in 1946, and was an early pioneer of radio and tele-evangelism, originally taking to the airwaves in the 1930s from Eugene, Oregon.

   THIS question of lipstick and other forms of make-up had to be settled. Some in the church felt very definitely that "make-up is wrong; it's worldly." There was in some cases an attitude of prejudice and accusation against those who wore it.
   But others insisted, "I can't see any harm in wearing lip-stick. I think makeup is all right." But perhaps the largest number of women said, "Well, I'm going to wait and see what the ministers decide."

Must Understand Prerogatives

   There was still another attitude: "I'm not going to let the ministers tell me what to do. I'm going to study this out for myself, and make my own decision. My religion is not between me and the ministers it's between me and GOD."
   All these different attitudes lead to CONFUSION and ultimate division in God's Church. They serve the devil, not our God.
   First of all, then, we need to get STRAIGHT in our minds, once and for all time, this matter of PREROGATIVES!
   To illustrate what I mean: Healing the sick is GOD'S prerogative, not man's. God says "I am the God that healeth thee." And He says "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." To go to MAN, or a man developed "SCIENCE" (falsely so called) for healing, then, is to break the very first commandment. HEALING is the prerogative of GOD and God is a JEALOUS God jealous of His prerogatives.
   It is the prerogative of GOD, not of man, to set in motion the LAWS respecting marriage, and what constitutes adultery. When civil courts of MAN write out laws permitting divorce and remarriage, these legislatures and courts are actually in contempt of the HIGHER COURT OF HEAVEN. Those who follow their invalid laws and who divorce and remarry are living in adultery, and are GUILTY before God, regardless of man's laws.
   On the other hand, there are prerogatives that have fallen to MAN as an individual. God has set before every individual the way of blessings and eternal LIFE on the one hand, and the way of cursings and DEATH on the other; and God says to YOU, as an individual: CHOOSE!
   That decision is YOURS, and yours ALONE personally. God will not make it for you. He will not permit the CHURCH to make it for you. That's your prerogative.
   But God also has laid prerogatives on HIS CHURCH! God RULES His children, in many ways, thru His Church. There are some decisions to be made by the CHURCH, and what God's called ministers in His Church bind on earth is bound in heaven, and what they loose is LOOSED in heaven! Gods ministers are never free, however, to act AS THEY HUMANLY PLEASE, but only according to the WORD OF GOD, and as LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
   It's very important that we realize the JURISDICTION of the CHURCH.
   Problems arise in which individual members are NOT COMPETENT to JUDGE. There have, for example, been a number of divorce and remarriage problems presented before the ministers of God's Church. The parties directly concerned felt unable, or incompetent, to judge and lacked the AUTHORITY to render the decision that would be BOUND in heaven, and unquestioned. God's ministers have AUTHORITY in such cases.
   Occasionally DOCTRINAL questions arise. The various members cannot agree. Some "see" it one way, others "see" it the other way. Unless settled, such doctrinal issues can lead to controversy, and division in the Church. Especially where group activities are concerned. Even individual ministers may be divided. This could introduce confusion, and ruin God's Church.
   You find such a case history in the 15th chapter of Acts. Certain teachers came from Judea to Antioch, where there was a large Church.
   "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses," they taught, "ye cannot be saved."
   But the apostles Paul and Barnabus disagreed. Some of the brethren believed one way, some the other.
   Right here, LISTEN CAREFULLY, brethren! This is MIGHTY IMPORTANT!
   Had not Christ put GOVERNMENT in His Church and a way of SETTLING such doctrinal disputes as to WHAT is sin, and what is NOT as to WHAT is necessary to salvation, and what is not these brethren would have become hopelessly divided. Some would have followed these Judaizing teachers some would have followed Paul had they looked only to MEN had they said, "Well, my salvation is between me and God I'm going to study this thing out for myself " or, "I'm going to follow the preacher I like best."
   But what did they do? How did Christ, the HEAD of the Church, govern in this matter? What PROCEDURE had Christ set in HIS CHURCH to prevent such questions leading to division and destruction of the Church?
   They appealed to the HEADQUARTERS CHURCH AT JERUSALEM. God had a HEADQUARTERS CHURCH, where the largest number of His apostles and evangelists were assembled to consider and SETTLE the matter, as LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.
   They made the decision. Or rather, CHRIST made it thru them. The decision was bound in heaven. In this instance, the brethren at Antioch Church apparently accepted the decision unanimously, and division was prevented.
   But supposing there had been one or two dissenters? Supposing one or two had said: "I disagree. I'm not going to let the Headquarters Church tell me what to believe or what to do." Such dissenters would have inevitably caused division.
   THEN WHAT? The apostles, or evangelists, pastors or elders in charge at Antioch would have been then obliged to obey Rom. 16:17: "Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and AVOID THEM." In order to avoid them, the ministers would have been forced to disfellowship them and prevent their attending Church, and forbid any member to receive them into his home, or to listen to them in any manner, on pain of THEMSELVES being disfellowshipped.
   That may seem like a harsh, stern action but it's GOD'S GOVERNMENT which He holds His ministers responsible for enforcing. Our failure to have realized this, and to have enforced this in the mother Church at Eugene, Oregon years ago, did split that Church. It resulted, finally, in half the former members, embittered, soured, in a wrong spirit instead of that of God's Holy Spirit, being disfellowshipped no longer members of GOD'S CHURCH, no longer participants in HIS WORK, no longer having the JOY of His salvation, but only the dregs of bitterness, jealousy, and hate. May God forgive us for not having realized these facts about the GOVERNMENT which GOD set in His Church, and not having enforced it years ago when perhaps only one member should have had to be put out.
   God helping us, we shall not again repeat that mistake! It may have cost precious lives we love and served, their eternity! I would now rather offend one or two disgruntled dissenters than thru a false sense of "love" have them finally drag perhaps dozens or scores or hundreds into the lake of fire with them!

Counting Pentecost an Example

   SUCH A MATTER IS THE OBLIGATION TO "COUNT" THE 50 DAYS that determine the day of Pentecost. God gave His annual Holy Days, not to individual MAN, as a separate, personal individual but TO HIS CHURCH. When God instructs us to "count" to the day of Pentecost, that instruction is given to GOD'S CHURCH, not to separate individuals in it! God therefore puts responsibility and AUTHORITY for the counting, and setting the date, on His ministers and His Headquarters Church.
   It was because of inability and incompetency by individuals to know how to COUNT properly that division was caused in the Church at Eugene, Oregon. Pentecost is not a festival God appointed to be kept in private, but an ASSEMBLY day for the CHURCH. Read Acts 2:1. THEY WERE ALL ASSEMBLED WITH ONE ACCORD IN ONE PLACE and on the SAME DAY. Therefore it is not the prerogative of the individual to figure the day differently than GOD'S CHURCH, and try to pull off members after themselves on a different day, thus introducing DIVISION.
   Hereafter, any individuals who refuse to attend on the right and proper day, as set and determined by Gods Headquarters CHURCH, as they are in turn inspired and led by GOD'S SPIRIT, and as BOUND IN HEAVEN, and who stir up contention on that subject among brethren, leave us no alternative. They FORCE us, against our will, to MARK THEM, and AVOID THEM, by denying them entrance to God's services, and forbidding other members to fellowship with them, or discuss the matter in any way with them. Thus PEACE and HARMONY will be preserved among those in a right spirit, even tho the one or two self-willed, carnal-minded, disobedient trouble-makers are infuriated, and turned further into the gall of bitterness and resentment.

Ministers Settle Issue

   This matter of lip-stick and other make-up worn by women became just such an issue. Like the matter of whether circumcision was right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary so we found not only women, but also men divided on the issue.
   Just as there were no clear-cut Scriptures: "Thus saith the Eternal:" on the question of whether IN CHRIST circumcision was still necessary in the days when "the apostles and elders came together for to consider the matter" at Jerusalem, so we find it today.
   There is no definite "Thou shalt," or "Thou shalt not" in the Scriptures on the subject of lip-stick, just as there is none on the subject of TOBACCO.
   There was a current rumor that Evangelist Raymond Cole wanted his wife to wear make-up. I had, with some qualifications, expressed a few general principles on the subject, saying that I would make no final and definite statement until the ministers could counsel together and make it clear and binding. Some women said: "I don't want to do as Brother Armstrong said I want to follow Brother Cole" on this question. And so it went.
   WHAT A SHAME, brethren, that there should be ANY who want to follow favored MEN! Are you not yet carnal, when you talk like that? Have you never read I Cor. 3:1-7?
   So I called Raymond Cole by long distance, and asked him about the rumor. He informed me he had NOT said he wanted his wife to wear make-up but rather that he had been non-committal on the subject until the ministers at Headquarters could come together and make a definite and positive declaration.
   The ministers were thus forced to come together, "for to consider the matter," even as our predecessors had done (Acts 15:6). I acquainted Raymond Cole with the decision God had led us to, and he fully concurred.
   Then it became my duty to explain before the congregation assembled here at Headquarters the Church decision even as I shall, by a separate article in the next number, explain this decision to the WHOLE membership. So far as I know there is not a dissenting voice here at Pasadena Church.

The Really BIG Issue

   The really BIG issue is not whether "lip-stick is wrong" or whether it is right. As a matter of doctrine the principle involved is the SPIRIT behind its use. Make-up is not either sin nor righteousness: There is no direct "Thus saith the Eternal." When I was first converted, I faced the question of smoking. There as no specific "Thus saith the Eternal." I asked myself WHY I smoked. I asked it in the light of the SPIRIT of God's Law the underlying PRINCIPLE of the Law. I was honest with myself in my answer. Tobacco is not of itself sin but an honest searching of my own heart made plain that the use I had been putting it to was sin. Therefore I gave it up immediately. I didn't feel that it was dirty and filthy before I gave it up. But after being weaned from it, and receiving God's Spirit, I realized very plainly how dirty and filthy the habit is!
   In the same way, women who have grown up from little girls CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD and its ways in regard to make-up do not see or feel that lipstick or other make-up on the face is, chemically and scientifically as well as spiritually, colored dirt on the face! But women who have been weaned from it no longer conformed to this world, but TRANSFORMED in the spirit of their minds by the HOLY Spirit of God freed from addiction to vanity and wanting to be LIKE the world and a PART of the world and well thought of BY the world such women do, then, come to realize how dirty the habit is how utterly foolish, following the ways of the HARLOTS!
   But the truly BIG issue is not even the right or wrong USE of lipstick, or tobacco, or any one practice or doctrine.
   The BIG issue that transcends these is OBEDIENCE TO GOD!
   And GOD governs, in certain cases of which this is an instance, thru His CHURCH!
   At Antioch the brethren were divided. They lacked wisdom and ability to determine the right or the wrong of the DOCTRINE as to whether circumcision was right or wrong for a Christian. Difference of opinion as to what is right or wrong as to what those in the Church should DO or not do will lead to DIVISION OF THE CHURCH and loss of salvation to many, unless quickly SETTLED!
   In such cases, THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD is enforced thru His CHURCH! In such cases, the issue is SETTLED by God's apostles and ministers at His Headquarters CHURCH, as led by the Spirit of God. Either the Spirit of God does LEAD those whom GOD has placed in authority in such decisions, or else this is not the true Church of GOD!
   One may say: "Well, suppose you were a lay member of the Church, and you do not agree with the decision made on such a doctrine. Suppose you feel the Holy Spirit did NOT lead the ministers or the Headquarters Church in this matter?" The answer is: If I felt, as proved by the FRUITS, that this IS, truly, God's Church, then I should be forced to conclude, whether I "saw it" as they did or not, that GOD had led His ministers, and that I simply did not, as yet, see it and I should accept and abide by their decision WITHOUT ARGUMENT without voicing my contrary views to members, thus influencing them against the government of GOD'S CHURCH which is simply the government of GOD thru His Church!
   THIS is the really BIG issue! This, perhaps, is a test question as to whether God DOES rule thru His Church or whether you have really repented, been converted, and are willing to OBEY GOD!
   For even a minister out in the field, if he should not agree, or a minister's wife if she did not agree, to voice such disagreement or put forth arguments in private or public to church members contrary to the decision of the Headquarters Church, would be FLAGRANT DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD. Either this is true, or this is NOT God's true Church! If I were a lay member, or even a minister or minister's wife, and felt in my heart that God had not guided His ministers at the Headquarters Church in such a decision, and felt I could not accept it, then there would of necessity be two alternatives open to me. First, I should feel impelled to present to those in authority and to no one else my reasons for believing them to be in error and then if they rejected my reasons, and I felt they were not led of God, I would be forced to conclude this was NOT the true Church of God, but an impostor. And I should be obliged immediately to withdraw from it, and begin to seek the TRUE Church of God, in and thru which GOD is working, carrying His Gospel and last warning to the world, healing the sick, converting precious lives, feeding the flock on the true spiritual manna.

TEST of Obedience!

   It is reported that there have been a very few thank God, only a very few cases of dissension on the Spirit-led decision of God's Church on this matter of make-up, and even of private discussions and voicing of contrary opinions.
   This, then, becomes an issue which FAR transcends the question of make-up. DOES God rule thru His Church? DOES God inspire and lead His apostles and chosen ministers? If the government of God is to break down at this point, then THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD IS DESTROYED IN THIS CHURCH. The life of the Church is at stake. Therefore, steps are being taken promptly to deal with any such personal actions tending to cause division, contrary to the doctrines taught by God's Church.
   On most doctrines there is no need of a ruling by God's called and chosen ministers at His Headquarters Church. The Bible is itself plain on whether stealing, lying, murder, or idolatry are sin. But here was a matter on which neither the women nor the men were clear. They were divided. There was no definite "Thus saith the Eternal." There is a very definite SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE involved, vital to the salvation of women. Yet many women were unable to see it. God's ministers finally were forced to step in and DEFINE THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE INVOLVED. That is what we have done. There is not a doubt in our minds that we were led of God. The decision is GOD'S decision.
   The decision is BOUND in heaven.
   The decision is not yours, as an individual, to make. The derision has been made BY GOD, and thru HIS CHURCH.
   The one decision for you to make is whether you are yielded to the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. There is no plain, specific, direct "yes" or "no" in the Bible about make-up. Nevertheless God's attitude is revealed. No plain letter of the law. But, in these days of Grace, under the New Testament, we are to obey the law according to the SPIRIT the principle involved not the letter only. Individuals proved unable to define and apply the PRINCIPLES, according to the Spirit. This question, therefore, becomes the prerogative of the CHURCH to rule on, not of the individual.
   The Church has ruled. Now it does become a definite, specific "yes" or "no." The question, now, is whether you as an individual have really SURRENDERED your mind and heart to God whether you are OBEDIENT to Him where He speaks or whether you prefer to conclude this is NOT the true Church of God NOT bearing the fruits of God nor carrying on the WORK OF GOD for this hour!
   This is a vital TEST for some, as to whether they really have surrendered to God really have repented really have the Spirit of God, or are yet CARNAL and unconverted, wanting their own way, wanting to be CONFORMED To THIS WORLD, rather than TRANSFORMED by the Spirit of God.

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Good News MagazineJuly 1955Vol V, No. 3
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