When I think of beauty I actually don’t think of either of these. This definition has been established by society and not what God intended. Like everything else that God created, beauty has been tainted by sin. Yet, as well, just like everything else, it can be redeemed. It is up to us, through Christ’s redeeming work, to take back that which Satan has tainted.
Having the blessing to work at a school where they teach grades k-12, I have seen and heard the ranges of what girls are being led to believe is beauty and what it takes to attain it. Even at the young age of 12, I am seeing evidences of anorexia glittered with the spices of vanity. But with what society puts out there for all to “admire” it is no wonder. Take for instance Carl’s Jr. and their horrendous commercials. Flaunting the body of a woman who probably hasn’t even eaten in weeks to practically make love to a hamburger just for the sake of enticing men to eat their food. What do breasts have to do with hamburgers? These disgust me and I honestly will never eat there ~ not that I did much before ~ which is precisely why they do it. They don’t care if they degrade women because women are not their market. What they don’t understand is that they are causing girls to starve themselves, hurt themselves, kill themselves all to live up to this sense of beauty that Carl’s Jr. is trying to entice with, just for the sake of a sell.
Sick, isn’t it? And yet countless companies do the same thing. Even ones geared towards women, i.e.: Victoria’s Secret. I used to ask myself why women even shop there ~ but it is an easy answer ~ they think by wearing these things they will be as beautiful as what Victoria Secret has deemed beautiful (maybe some like their product, but there are many great companies who make terrific undergarments. VS is not the only choice). We fall for it time and time again. We know it is wrong ~ yet we continue to strive to be the world’s version of beauty! Why? Because we all love the feeling of being wanted and admired. Who doesn’t like people thinking they are nice to look at? All of us, in some way, want to be admired.
When I was 12/13 I gave into this same view. I gave into becoming both anorexic and bulimic. I would hardly eat, so be starving so I would then binge and feel guilty so throw it up. I held this vicious cycle for 8 years, until I became a Christian. Of course, becoming a Christian didn’t cure me, but it convicted me enough to make me fight to change. Even today, I have to keep myself in check of what my thoughts and feelings are about what I look like. I refuse to let my life be held captive to the sin of worldly beauty. I have had to constantly remind myself of what godly beauty is. Now, being faced with the fact that so many young girls are dealing even more with worldly beauty I am saddened! So many times I feel I am trying to remind girls that it is important to look at what God calls you to be and not what the world calls you to be.
So what does God call you to be? What should our definition of beauty be? Let’s look at what the bible says:
God in His omniscience starts His word off with describing how the world came to be and then states it is “very good”. Even more so for man and woman Genesis says in 1:27 that God created man and woman in His own image! His OWN image! What creation ~ no matter what it looks like ~ could ever not love what is created in God’s own image! God’s image IS the definition of beauty!
Psalm 139:3-4 God continues to tell us that we are made beautifully. David says, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” God not only created us in His image, but think of the systems of our body and how they work! We are woven together in our mother’s womb with nervous systems, circulatory systems, cardiovascular systems, muscular systems, respiratory systems, etc. Our hearts beat, our minds think, our bodies feel. We eat food (yes – eat food!!) and take in oxygen in order to keep our bodies working the perfect way God created it to work. Watch a video of the amazing details of how we are intricately woven and you can’t help but be astounded by God’s work. How is that not beautiful?!
Now let’s look at 1 Sam. 16:7b “for the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Here we see that God never intended the definition of a person to be held in their outward appearance. Even though we are beautifully made in God’s own image we are not defined by that. We are defined by who we are in Christ. Our hearts are what ultimately define us. God sees our soul and who we actually are, not what we look like. And, let’s be clear here, the only one we should be worried about what they think of us is God. He determines our eternity! The people that surround us can’t touch our eternity and yet we give them more power to define us. 1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us essentially the same thing, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” Here God says that we are not to be “merely” concerned with our outward, but what is inside ~ what the heart looks like ~ who we truly are! The beautiful woman is a woman who seeks after God.
So does that mean we are not to care at all? No! As you see in the last verse it says, “merely”. Even though God does not focus on what our outward appearance is, there is a reason we were created in God’s beautiful image ~ to reflect the beauty of God. He blessed us in this created body and just like we should with the rest of God’s creations we are to take care of it. That includes eating the right food, exercising, being hygienic. As well, if we are to accomplish God’s great commandment to spread His word and further His kingdom and bring Him glory then we should represent ourselves in a reverent way. We are God’s creation! He wove us Himself and breathed our souls into our bodies. Therefore, we should treat our bodies with respect and love.
Too many times I find we are treating the plants of this earth far greater than our own bodies. Whether it’s in the clothes we wear, the food we eat or don’t eat, or how we represent the bodies that God gave us. Our bodies are not to be used for enticement and seduction, but for the glory of God. So when you walk out that door ask yourself ~ am I a good reflection of God? If you were to go meet Christ today would you be looking the way you do? You represent Him, do so in a beautifully godly way! Not for the world, but for God. Make your outward appearance a reflection of who God is making you on the inside.
To the other end ~ we are not to be vain about who we are. We are told several times not to make ourselves about the adorning of gold and braiding of hair. To not be vain in who we are and what God has made us to be. God’s place is for the humble. We are not to make ourselves stumbling blocks for others ~ whether to the lusts of men or jealousies of women. Present yourself and bodies as a living sacrifice to God ~ living for Him and not others.
Now there is one exception to all of this. As we see all throughout the Song of Solomon ~ there is one person we are to strive to make ourselves physically appealing to and that is our husbands. If God grants us a marriage then our adornments can be for him. We are allowed to seek love and companionship from one another. Women are called to be caring to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives. Our husbands will not only find us beautiful if we take care of ourselves in our bodies, but our souls as well as we strive to live a Christ like life. That is where he will find out true beauty as well.
There have been times my husband has said to me when I am all dressed up that I look beautiful, but there are times when he sees me loving on our children or ministering to others that he says he finds me even more beautiful. Our outward appearance will always be reflected of our inward hearts. You can be the most beautiful woman to look at, but turn ugly to all those who hear a vain woman speak. Your husband is not caring all about your looks, but who you are as well! Take care to be the woman God calls you to be, along with taking care of the body He gave you and your husband will always find you to be the most beautiful woman in the world! You will be able to please him with more than just fulfilling his lusts!
So what do we do then? When the world confronts us with a wrong definition of beauty? We redefine it, like we have with everything else the world tries to define. Our definitions come from God, not man. We cannot give in to society’s ideals of beauty, but what the Bible says about beauty. We can strive to be what God calls us to be in this amazing body God has given to us. This takes great strength as the world is sinful and diseased; sin will always taint the beauty God has created, but that is when we work to the end of what God has for us. His will is perfect! His purposes for you are perfect! His creation is perfect! He will always give you everything you need to help you complete the purposes He has for you!
So now how is beauty defined? Biblical Beauty: a. a person or thing God has created and redeemed; b. the inward heart covered by the blood of Christ. c. the sin stained person who strives to live as God has called. d. a person who carries the light of the Lord.
Let’s redefine it together!
About the author:
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her wonderful husband, Greg, her son, Justin, and her daughter, Katie.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, substitute teaching at her kid’s school and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshipping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.