“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—“
The second category of female beauty is jewelry. Women generally love jewelry.
“Wearing” means putting around. This woman wears ornaments. She wraps gold ornaments around her writs, around her neck, ankles, and ears. This is no condemnation of wearing jewelry. Neither is the Bible saying that women should not braid their hair. The point is a matter of emphasis. Do not place the focus on outer beauty but inner beauty. Jewelry is nothing compared to inner beauty.
This is not an absolute condemnation of jewelry. Note the next category.
or putting on fine apparel—
The third category of female pulchritude is clothing. Even since Adam and Eve went into the clothing business, the wardrobe has always been a significant piece of female beauty. I wonder if her fig leaves were nicer than Adam’s!
Obviously, there is no absolute prohibition against wearing jewelry. If we say that it is wrong to braid hair or wear jewelry, then we have to say that it is wrong to wear clothes!! This is not the point. Otherwise, we would all have to join nudist colonies! This verse does not say that a woman cannot fix her hair or wear jewelry; otherwise, it would also say that she should not wear clothes!
Some Christian women develop a hang-up on wearing make-up or jewelry. This is just a manifestation of distortion elsewhere. To have religious hang-ups about these issues sidetracks the central issue of this passage, which is inner beauty. They become hung up on outward prohibitions of this verse but are ugly on the inside.
The point of this verse is a woman can have lovely coiffure, beautiful jewelry, and stunning clothes, yet her heart is full of bitterness, criticism, and selfishness; then, she is ugly on the inside. She is ugly, no matter how beautiful she is on the outside.
Women who do not have inner beauty are chaotic to their husbands.
In this passage, Peter’s point is to forbid the wife to depend on outward beauty to win her husband. The opposite of cosmos is chaos! Outer beauty will not win the husband. It will help! But this is not the central focus of how to appeal to the husband.
A sloppy woman repels. A woman who does not give attention to her beauty is of no biblical value. On the other hand, beauty helps but is not at the core of attraction to a husband who has any sense. A woman may be beautifully dressed, neatly groomed, and yet destroy everything by a bad attitude.
Mutual exclusive attention to outer beauty falls short of a truly beautiful woman. It is possible to be the most beautiful woman in the world and never attract your husband. Women completely occupied with outer beauty miss the point.
Some women want everyone occupied with their outer beauty when they go to a party. She wants people to be enamored with her. She wonders, “Why isn’t everyone enamored with me?” Have you ever noticed that some girls who are less than Miss America get the most wonderful guys? Many men are sharp enough to know that physical beauty is not everything.
Beauty is something but not everything. A man wants beauty on the inside. Physical beauty will only last for a certain period. Eventually, it will wear off. Her skin will start to wrinkle. Her body will gradually grow old. Even though we grow old physically, we can continually grow beautiful throughout our lifetime. Inner beauty never has to worry about growing old.