For many women within the church, there seems to be a disconnect between the scriptures that speak of a woman’s beauty being found in her quality of godliness, and her desires to look beautiful. Surely, many know verses like 1 Peter 3:1-6, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, and Proverbs 31:10-31, which all speak to the quality of woman that young women and wives are to aspire to. They are qualities of virtue by godliness: contentment, hard work, meekness (strength under control), gentleness, patience, wisdom, dignity, charitableness, modesty, submissiveness and receptive to instruction, respectful, and causes her husband to trust in her completely.
Many of these should sound familiar to the reader (Galatians 5:22-23). The fruits of the Spirit are to be observable in all Christians, yet Paul specifically calls young Timothy to urge women to live in such a manner (see also Titus 2:3-5). Both Paul and Peter are found to state that a woman’s appearance should not be their primary concern. The assumption in the text is that women are generally more concerned about their outward appearance rather than the aforementioned qualities.
To our own shame, mankind has pushed back upon the biblical precedent, a notion of false beauty to behold. If we look to how culture has transformed beauty, we should easily see that what was physically adored in the past is not sought currently. Women in the Renaissance Period who were pale, had wider hips, curves, and for a lack of better terminology, meat on their bones, were more desirable than tanned, skinny, shapeless women.
In today’s culture, we see the most radical forms of beauty being mistaken for lust; the most prevalent form being pornography, which sets up unrealistic sexual expectations, degrades a woman and her beauty, and most importantly, degrades the fame and glory of God in His ordinances upon sex, marriage, and true beauty.
I work in an industry where I can easily see the affects of photo manipulation. You can tweak an image of a model in order to give her a “better” appearance. Beyond this, you can totally reshape the body to give a slender frame, long legs, a prettier face, toned arms, and highlight all the parts of the body that people are drawn to. In all aspects, modeling promotes an unrealistic beauty; there is rarely anything natural in the publication.
My wife works in an industry where the main goal is to promote this outer beauty. Her and I have had countless discussions on how she can best represent the gospel within this culture. Rather than remove her from this atmosphere, we have come to the conclusion that Christ can be well represented and made much of in an industry where He is believed to be almost non-existent.
There are many voices from within secular culture crying out about these things, yet the proper focus is never presented. They may echo, “Beauty comes from within,” but they never represent the full truth of the matter. In the end it still relieves one of any focus on true beauty; thus, beauty is subjective. Rather than elevating the body, they elevate the being of a person, exchanging one idol for another. It still remains Christ-less.
The point of all of this is not to diminish a woman’s physical beauty, nor is it to diminish the woman’s personhood and uniqueness. However, these are not primary agendas from the standpoint of scripture. Beauty is not found outside, or within the woman in her own merit, but within the aforementioned traits – IF the woman is in Christ. You can obey the scriptures in these ethics, yet forfeit salvation, and still be utterly displeasing in the sight of the Lord.
The crux of the matter comes when a Christian woman holds her physical beauty in more prominence than godliness. She spends time in front of the mirror to be physically presentable, changes her outfit a few times, and yet neglects her bible for the day. She presents herself before the church as a well-put-together woman, though she neglects the ways of her household. She speaks enough Christian lingoes to get by, yet she never grows out of adolescence in the faith. She efficiently hides her sins from view so as to appear as if she needs no correction in them, ignoring her desperate need for God’s continued grace in her. But hey, she looks great.
Both Peter and Paul combat this woman, namely, because beauty and charm is deceptive – but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30). Paul even writes to Timothy, “…on the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 7b-8). Read Isaiah 3:16-26 to get a great view of women who focused more upon their outward beauty than the desirable qualities given in scripture.
Rejoice in your femininity – especially in a world that is continually seeking to blur the lines of distinction in sexuality and gender. If you want to look pretty for the sake of looking pretty, if you wish to look pretty for your husband, there is nothing inherently wrong in this. But remember, scripture does not alleviate the responsibility for Christian women to be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. You can look pretty on the outside, and not be well within; remember Christ calling the Pharisees whitewashed tombs?
We are presently at war with culture. We presently will either believe these scriptures to be true, or we will still push to evidence the “perfectly beautiful woman” in a world that continually changes its beliefs in beauty.
Beauty fades and you will get old and wrinkly, end of story.
Girl, doll yourself up in the Word.