When deciding to write this post, I realized that I would be embracing something that is not even completely defined or understood by the culture. It seems that everyone has their own opinion of what is beautiful and their own view on how you define beauty. It even seems — to me at least — that the subject of beauty has become all the more controversial over the past few years. This is due to the fact that beauty has now become a sociological, philosophical, and even a political issue.
I believe this is all down to how the culture actually defines beauty: “[what is] aesthetically pleasing to the senses or mind.” (Oxford English Dictionary) Liberals will argue that beauty is completely subjective to every individual, therefore there cannot be a standard of beauty. On the other hand, the conservatives will argue that beauty is clearly defined by the senses and the collective minds; in a sense, there is a shared understanding of what is aesthetically pleasing.
Now, some of you are probably wondering where I fall between these two camps, and I have to boldly say that I 100% agree with the conservatives… IF we talk about attraction. See, I think that the current argument over beauty is not an argument over beauty at all; it is an argument over what is attractive, handsome, and/or alluring. I think that there is definitely a collective understanding of what makes a man and a woman attractive, all based on biological and psychological needs that every human being has. However, if that is our perception and science of beauty, then I am afraid that the evolutionists are right: we are no better than the apes.
What is beauty then? I believe beauty has nothing to do with the physical body. Many dictionaries that I have researched such as Webster, Oxford, and Collins all put this one word as the second meaning to beauty: excellence. Excellence. Excellence! Think about that word for a moment! For something to be excellent, it would have to be good and perfect! It would have to exemplify this verse which says, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you… You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride…” (Songs of Solomon 4:7,9 ESV) Why does Scripture use this kind of language to describe beauty? I believe it is because beauty has nothing to do with the physical; it is something that comes from within a person’s heart. The groom didn’t say that her beauty captivated his eyes, ears, or sense of touch, but his heart, the door to his soul.
It is with this understanding that Moses sought Zipporah instead of her younger sisters, that Ruth fell in love with Boaz instead of continuing to be single in peace, that caused Issac and Rebekah to fall in love having never seen each other before, and why the Church is in love with our God, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ.
As a Christian young man, I realized that I can be deceived by how a woman looks on the outside. It’s partially why this culture makes so many blonde jokes; even this culture understands the concept of a woman being highly attractive, yet having little to no character or wisdom on the inside (as a disclaimer: that fact is not limited to blondes or women). That is why I made a decision a few years ago to refuse to court anyone unless she was someone I loved to spend time with, she had a passion for Christian theology (particularly Reformed), and loved God above all else. I knew that no level of attraction could compare to the heart of a woman who wanted to serve God above all else: that is who I would want to be my bride.
This meant that I would have to give up a few things. I decided dating around, pre-marital kissing and sex, and pornography had to be done away with in my life. I also realized that courtship is the biblical way to pursue a woman. Completely contrary to what this culture would have us think right? This culture believes that I, as a young man, should be free to explore (sexually speaking) and “try-out” different women. It also says it is “good” and “healthy” to be “curious” about sex and how it works, and watching porn “will help.” This is the sermon I’ve heard from my culture, my favorite movies, and even my sex-ed teachers, but it is not what God wants. God wants me to search for more than just the physical; He wants me to look into the heart of the beautiful woman I love and to see her as she is: a child in the eyes of God, a blameless saint of the Most High, and a conqueror in Christ.
I think Peter put it very well in his first epistle when saying, “Do not let your adorning be external… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV) Does this mean men and women can’t dress fancy or be good-looking? Absolutely not! I like to think that I dress well… sorta… kinda… maybe? Hopefully, I look handsome… probably not, but at least I hope so. The point of the text is not to say that we are not to have anything on the outside, but that every person should invest their time into making sure that their heart is in the right place.
My future spouse is going to inherit a lot more than wardrobe and my looks, she’ll also be inheriting the character that I have developed over the course of my life. I fight to make sure I have the best kind. Would I be glad to have a wife who is both beautiful and attractive? Absolutely, but above all else… beauty. Remember that the beauty of this culture is not a beauty at all, but a lie. The “beauty” magazines, salons, and products do not possess the key to attain true beauty. As Blaire Linne once put it, “…Beauty residing in the eye of the beholder is a lie. It is found in the Beautiful One — The Most High.”
As long as your soul finds rest in Christ, know that beauty is within your reach. Remind yourself that because of what Christ has done on the cross, if you consider yourself a saint, you possess beauty that would put the whole world in awe. It is not a waste of time to focus on the heart or to invest your time into your spiritual growth. I cannot wait for the day when I look into the eyes of my love and be able to confidently say, “You are altogether Beautiful,” knowing her godly heart and her unquenchable thirst for the Lord’s grace and purity.
Soli Deo Gloria.