I love beauty. I love painting my nails. I love finding antique looking bracelets and, on occasion, I do buy them. I love to braid, twist, and pin my hair up. In fact, I love when the sun’s warm glow graces my head and brings out all those natural highlights you don’t normally see in my dark tresses, or when the wind swirls wisps of hair around my face. When I’m out in the cold, and Jack Frost is nipping at my nose, I love the rosy glow that dots my cheeks. I love making a quick turn and feeling my skirt swirl around my legs. To tell the truth, I am incredibly fond of my fingerless gloves and wear them whenever possible. And furthermore, I love when Daddy or one of the boys (my brothers are the boys, by the way) tells me how pretty I look.
Now, I am quite aware that this post is likely to come under fire simply because I am discussing physical beauty as opposed to something “important” like world hunger. While the issue of beauty certainly pales in comparison to an issue like world hunger, it is not an insignificant one. Moreover, it is an issue that hits much closer to home in our American culture.
This post will also come under fire, I am sure, because I’m not going to be talking about inner beauty much. We’ve all read dozens of articles about inner beauty, why it is important, and how we can cultivate it within ourselves. I agree with much of what I’ve read. Inner beauty is what truly makes someone attractive. No arguments here. However, because there are so many articles about inner beauty, I’m not going there today. Instead, I’m going to focus on the outer shell that houses inner beauty. Why am I doing that? Because I am concerned that we might be “hiding out light under a bushel” so to speak, and this is what I want to talk about in this post.
Modesty has become a topic on which the church has much to say. Understandably so. But do you ever feel like no one is listening? Like men and women of the church hate modesty? I never used to understand why the topic not only made people uncomfortable, but in fact turned their stomachs. And not just women, either. I’ve seen quite a few men turn their noses up over modesty.
So, as usual, I began to analyze, study, and contemplate the reasons behind this response. My conclusions? Men and women hate modesty because they have been led to believe that modesty means you have to throw beauty out the window.
I’m serious. How many modest women do you know that are frumpy looking? Their hair is unkempt and their clothes are unflattering, but rest assured, they are modest! Furthermore, do you know how many of these women dress this way as a form of being “holy”? Think about it. They are told that to be Christ-like they should no longer be concerned with the way they look. Focusing on the body is, after all, sinful. I’ve been told this to my face before, so I know this thought process exists.
But here’s the thing. God never says “shun the desire to be beautiful, which is something I created in you, and you will be more holy”. This thought process not only sound works oriented, but it also reminds me of some cults I could name…
Don’t get me wrong, modesty is important. It is biblical, in fact. I’ll be the first to stand up and defend that one. But the church has been divided in half over this issue. Half the church ignores the biblical commands concerning modesty and the other half have become pharisaical about it, placing stipulations on women that were never part of God’s plan.
You know what I think is interesting? God loves beauty too, inner AND outward adorning. Think about it. We are surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. There is no real reason for the majestic peacock to have those fanciful feathers he struts around with, is there? He has them just because God loves beauty, diversity, and creativity. He painted every feather on the peacock for us to enjoy and marvel at His beauty, bringing ultimate glory and honor to Christ.
Or think of the chinchilla. When talking with a friend who has one the other day, I was reminded yet again how soft these unique creatures are. You literally want to melt into a puddle when you touch one of these little guys. Why does the chinchilla sport this fur coat that would make Cruella Devil salivate? There isn’t really a reason for him to be that soft and luxurious hair. It’s simply because God loves beauty, diversity, and creativity.
If you’ve ever studied through the book of Leviticus (is happy to finally say she has) then you know how many chapters are spent talking about the ornamentation of God’s place of worship. Everything is inlaid with gold. Vivid purples are complimented by gorgeous blues. Woods with unique graining are used and jewels encrust the adornment of the priest. God instructs his people so carefully as to the physical adorning of the tent, ark, and everything therein that it makes me wonder, why do we see physical beauty as a bad thing?
So, I have a challenge to make to you all today, ladies and gentlemen. In my searches through the scriptures I have found that beauty is not only a good thing, but that women should strive to be physically pleasing (men too, but that is another topic altogether). I would go so far as to say that women have a duty to be beautiful not only within, but without. After all, are we not God’s temple? If He took so much time to pour instructions into the care and beauty of His old dwelling place, do you think He no longer cares now?
God designed woman to be beautiful. Prepare yourselves, everyone, because I’m going to enter a taboo subject. Specifically, God designed woman to be beautiful in the eyes of man. That’s right, you heard me. Woman’s skin, hair and other features were created to be soft and appealing. Her body was fashioned to be attractive to man. None of this is a sin, as has been purported by certain factions of the church. Instead, it is just another facet in the beauty of God’s creation.
For all you single women reading, this means there is nothing wrong with you being beautiful. However! Single women need to be careful that their beauty does not become an idol. If a young woman is spending more money on clothes and beauty products than anything else, beauty might be her idol. If she has a bad attitude when having a bad hair day, beauty may be her idol. If she hurts her health (starvation, etc) to be beautiful, then beauty very well may be her idol. However, just because beauty may be an idol to some, does not mean that beauty is a bad thing or that women should avoid it.
Consequently, single women also have to beware the pitfall of feeling like we MUST be beautiful in order to win a guy. If you start thinking like this than you have lost your identity and what makes you you. Beauty is a part of you, not you.
Beauty isn’t only important for/applicable to single women, either. In fact, I would say it is even more important for a woman to be beautiful when she is married. Let me explain.
Wives should look beautiful for their husbands. Not only should they, but they should want to. A wife should keep herself clean, wear her hair and makeup( or no makeup, depending on her preferences) the way her husband likes. She should wear clothes that he finds her desirable in and scents he enjoys smelling.
It saddens me when I see wives who no longer care to be beautiful for their man. In the days before her wedding that woman probably primped and delighted in being beautiful in his eyes. Then after she has won him and grows accustomed to him being around all the time, she loses the desire to be beautiful for him.
Wives should strive to be beautiful for their husbands because they love him. Not because they want to bribe him, not so other men will find her attractive, and not because she wants to parade around with a haughty attitude consumed with herself. Just because she loves him.
See, from a man’s perspective, a wife’s effort to be beautiful for her husband speaks of her care and respect for him. Making a reasonable effort to care for and beautify herself is a demonstration of her devotion. In his view, a lack of effort in this regard demonstrates a lack of concern for him. Bottom line – whether we like it or not, it’s important to our guys.
Now, I know I said that I’m not really going into inner beauty in this post, and I’m not, but I can’t just leave you with all of this liberating information and not ground that. It is, after all, man’s sin which distorts beauty and causes something which is lovely to become unlovely.
Our self esteem should be anchored in Christ alone, not in how we look. It is in Him we find worth. If we are looking to bolster our worth in any other way then we will struggle with self image all our lives. Women have to be careful that they don’t allow beauty to become an obsession, because that is neither right, nor healthy. However, they also shouldn’t be called to deny part of what sets them apart from men. We should not be defined by our external beauty, but we should be able to embrace the fact that it is part of what makes us women.
And remember, everyone. Physical beauty is such a small part of beauty. It’s like a tiny flower in a garden. Beauty is a mother’s caress, an adoring wife, an honorable husband, and a loving father. It is a smile and laughter, kindness and courage. Beauty is the happy tear that falls when your first baby is born. Beauty is a sunset or the ocean tide revealing intricate shells along the beach. Beauty is a mountain rising higher than the clouds. Beauty is a thunderstorm with spidery tendrils of lightning reaching across the heavenly expanses. Beauty is the night sky littered with twinkling balls of burning gas. Beauty is a voice lifting praise to God. Running through the leaves. Winning a turtle race or smelling a campfire. Beauty is captured in the playful kisses of a puppy dog and it is encapsulated within leading a friend to Christ.
Here’s something I want you all to think about, in closing. Anyone ever seen a geode? They are beautiful inside, aren’t they? I mean, breathtakingly stunning! These rocks are easily identifiable once they are broken open, but how many of you have seen a geode’s outer shell? I have. In fact, I have harvested over one hundred pounds of geodes with my Daddy and brothers and was featured in a magazine called Rock Talk. I can tell you, geodes are ugly when you first find them. In fact, most people will throw out a geode because it is such an ugly looking rock, never knowing what is inside. If you know what you are looking for then you can snag the goods, but if not, you will never take the time to carefully unearth that awful looking rock, cut it open with painstaking precision, and view what is buried inside.
How many people pass over gems because they can’t get past the rough, unattractive exterior? I posit that part of our job as Christians in the call to not hide our light under a bushel is that we don’t hide behind our comfortable, invisible exteriors. As Christians, shouldn’t we desire to attract people in order to share with them the Good News of Christ? How can we do that if we are the geode hiding our inner beauty away from the world? Would we not rather be a diamond who reflects the glory of God in all our facets, both within, and without?
Oh, and feel free to comment, guys. I am always open to someone challenging me and holding me accountable.
Oh, and feel free to comment, guys. I am always open to someone challenging me and holding me accountable.