Monday, February 10, 2014

the beauty series- part 2

These blog posts are coming from the notes I have used during the two or three times I've had the immense joy and pleasure of speaking to women in a seminar format. And coinciding with part 1 always comes this next part- part 2. It's time to head to the Bible to see what it says. Because that's where we check ourselves, right? That's where we take what we believe God has spoken to us; where we take what we know to be true of God and make sure it lines up with who God has said He is, in the written word. Because there will never be a contradiction between the two if we are believing the truth. 

In scripture, God told us that we can look at nature and see Him/know Him. So that's why we started there yesterday. There are several references where scripture tells us that creation is a testimony and reflection of God, the Psalms especially. I've always liked the way Romans 1:20 spells it out. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse..." And so, part 1 talked about what we know to be true based on 1)how God created us and 2)how he created the rest of the world.

But going beyond that, if we are going to talk about beauty, let's find the goods that speak directly to that- to beauty. Let's go to the One who defines beauty and see what He says. Let's begin with the question, "what does God have to say about the beauty of women?" That matters a whole heck of a lot. And let it be noted that we are talking specifically about outer beauty, here. Inner beauty is perhaps the more valuable one, I know many would argue, but I don't think that automatically negates or lessens our outward beauty. Nor our desire for it!! But to clarify, I'm not talking about inner beauty today. I think, ironically, that may be an easier battle to fight?

A scripture that I have often heard misused is 1 Peter 3:3-4. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." [NKJV] Well, shoot, as I type this I have have my hair done in the ombre style and I'm wearing, count them, s-e-v-e-n GOLD rings, a gold bracelet, and a gold watch. Whelp! Darn. My hopes of making it to heaven are squashed!

Juuuuuuuuuuust kidding. That verse isn't saying we can't wear those things. Peter, who most agree to be the writer, was speaking to wives about the way the respect their husbands and demonstrate God's love to them. These verses were NOT written as a correction for the way they were dressing. Purpose/intent of the letter is important! That tells us what we are supposed to do about it. The reason he mentioned the hair and jewelry specifically is because those were the status-markers of the time. The Egyptian women showed their social status by those two things (eh, we still do!) so Peter wanted to say, "Hey, that's not what is going to do it, girlfriend. You can't be Sassy McSmarty Pants as you snap at your husband all other times of the day, and then think your pretty face with that hair you spent an hour on is going to make him hear the angels sing. Your jewelry doesn't soften his heart or make you beautiful in God's sight. Your gentle heart does." 

Now that we know that verse isn't telling us we aren't allowed to wear jewelry or have pretty hair, we can move on. The rest of the New Testament talks about inner beauty and also gives personal (non physical) qualities men and women are to have when they are in positions of leadership, but that's about it on physical beauty.  

In the Old Testament, the book Song of Solomon [also called Song of Songs] has quite a few vivid descriptions of beauty that women possess, written through the eyes of a woman's husband as he delights in her. Hold on to your hat when you read this one! It will make you blush! But shoot, I think that's proof that women are created to be beautiful and to be desirable! I love that God made us to be found beautiful by our husbands. Meow!

Proverbs 31:30 says "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." That verse doesn't say "beauty doesn't matter" either, though. It says "your outward appearance is going to change, [Um, hello. Give birth to children and you'll see this happen! Or age past the year 21 and you'll see this begin. Can I get an amen?!] and the definition of what beauty is will fluctuate. It's the woman who points to the Lord who will forever be admired... who will be ageless." Take that, Maybelline.

And as I mentioned yesterday in Part 1, Psalm 139 talks about the way God made us, intimately involved in our design. You can read the chapter in its entirety by clicking HERE. This speaks to our misunderstanding that we are made imperfectly. On the contrary, God made us exactly the way He meant for us to be- height/hair/looks included! 

Aaaaand, thus ends your scriptural tour about beauty! 

Kudos to you if you stuck with me and didn't bail. I know that can be tough to wade through with your focus intact. But wait! Cool fact: sometimes what is missing from scripture is just as important as what is included! Do you know what we didn't find there? A specific definition or description of beauty. God never said "this height" or "this eye color or "this body shape" is the most attractive. If you go through scripture looking for verses on inner beauty, you'll see He is VERY clear about what was desirable on the inside....yet He isn't clear about what is beautiful on our outsides. Isn't that awesome!?!? I believe that's because there is no single standard of outward beauty. The way He made you is the definition He gave for "beautiful." No. Stop. Read that again. THE WAY HE MADE YOU IS THE DEFINITION HE GAVE FOR "BEAUTIFUL." Get that sucker and pin it on your heart!!!!!!!!!!!

So the way I see it, we can chuck OUR OWN definition of beauty and throw it right out the window! Beautiful isn't a cream, and makeup combination, or a sweater. It's not a size or a scale number or a skin tone. God spent time making our outsides, and we are all different. Dude, I think that is a cool river to dip your feet into! If our outsides didn't matter, if they weren't meant to be beautiful or special, why wouldn't we all look the same on the outside so that we were only focused on the inside? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we are to place our worth on our outward appearance! [a preview of tomorrow's post!] I'm saying our beautiful Creator spent time making us to look just the way He did. And that He found it to be beautiful. YOU are the package He shaped. Every part of you. 

And that's the perfect package to be. :) 

If you're just joining, you can read the previous posts in this series here:

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