Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beautiful for her husband?

Rachel Held Evans, also here, Tim Challies and Mary Kassian have been blogging about whether a biblical woman needs to keep herself outwardly beautiful for her husband. I don't see any reason why we cannot discuss matters of grooming and hygiene on the internet, but I think they are best treated in a more segregated forum. It has the feel of a woman's magazine, and I can hardly think of any way to associate this kind of thing with the Bible.

Rather, a Christian woman thinks of her home and children, and she cares for those less fortunate than herself. If she thinks also of pleasing her husband, that is only a wordly distraction from filling the day with those things that please God.

Kassian writes,
Human sexuality is a parable —a testimony to the character of God and to His spectacular plan of redemption through Jesus. This spiritual truth is so magnificent that God chose to put it on display permanently. Everywhere. Men were created to reflect the strength, love and self-sacrifice of Christ. Women were created to reflect the grace and beauty of the Bride He redeemed.
We need to be clear about this. This kind of theology has no origin in the Bible. In the Bible men and women are both "beautiful." Among those called beautiful are Sarah, Rachel, Joseph, David, Abigail, Abishag, Absalom and his daughter Tamar, and Esther. Also the king of Tyre. Ezekiel 28. The lovers in Song of Solomon call each other beautiful.

In the Bible, men and women are both called strong and mighty. Ruth and the woman of Proverbs 31 are both chayil, that is "mighty." In Proverbs 31 the woman also has strong arms.

But Mary Kassian writes,
I believe that men are “wired” to be attracted to beauty in women because our Heavenly Bridegroom desires the beauty of His Bride.
But the scripture says,
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30.
However, there is a spiritual beauty, the beauty of holiness and compassion. This is what makes us desire God.
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. Ps. 27:4.
A proper view of Christian sexuality does not require men to be the lords and redeemers of women, and women to reflect sinful lost souls. On the other hand, a healthy sexuality is one where each partner nurtures the other, and shelters them with their love.


G said...

Honestly, the characteristics I admire the most in my wife are her strength, love and self-sacrifice. I haven't had any need for "a pretty little thing" to partner with on the mission field for the last 20 years.

R.A. said...

Man this whole discussion made me sick. As if we didn't have more important things to talk about! I like how Evans tries to clarify what "biblical" actually is,

I think what disturbs me most in this "female outward beauty matters" ideology is that I keep hearing that women reflect the Church and that Christ is drawn to our beauty, as the Church. For instance, in the comments section Kassien said that Christ is enthralled by our spiritual beauty. I would have to disagree with her use of the word "enthralled" and with her statement altogether. God made us in His image and He chooses to love us, but He doesn't desire us for any beauty we have attained on our own. We are clothed in the beauty and righteousness of Christ. The current trend is to make it sound as if we're some great prize that God just HAD to have, when we forget that He went to the cross because of our ugliness. This whole topic has gotten so far off the track of what is actually biblical that it is beginning to feel heretical.

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen among young men in the dorm, men spend a great deal of time and effort in making themselves beautiful (haha) for the ladies they try to impress. I wonder if that's biblical ; ) Your conclusion was priceless. God bless.

Kristen said...

There seems to be a really backward idea of what Paul was really saying in Ephesians 5, that is pervasive in Christianity. Marriage is supposed to be a "picture" of Christ and the church. Therefore, men are supposed to be a "picture" of Christ and women of the church.

But the way Paul sets up the metaphor, this is backwards. The relationship of Christ with the church is supposed to be the "picture" that we look at in trying to make our marriages look like that. And the picture we are supposed to see was a particularly appropriate picture for married people in 1st-century Ephesus: the one in the higher position descending to "give himself up" in order to raise the one in the lower position up to be "glorious."

Instead we seem to think our marriages are "pictures" for non-believers to look at and be reminded of Christ and the church. That is not what Paul was saying at all, nor is it logical in the least. No matter how much we try to follow Christ in our marriages, they are always going to be but a poor picture. And then we take the opposite image than the one Paul presents: rather than the powerful one stooping to raise up the lowlier one, we think of the powerful receiving the service and obedience of the lowlier one. Again, this is not what Paul said.

In college I studied in depth how to read a passage of literature to grasp what was actually being said. I wish such a class were a high-school requirement.

Kristen said...

I might also add that when unbelievers do look at our marriages, the last thing on their minds is, "Wow, this is a picture of the way Christ relates to the church!" What they are thinking is, "This marriage is a picture of how Christians think men and women are to relate to one another." And if they see one in authority while the other obeys-- they're going to turn away in disgust from our religion. They're already doing so.

R.A. said...

I totally appreciate your comments Kristen. That's a really important point about how we're abusing scripture!

Donald Johnson said...

Yes, the comps get the mapping of head in Eph 5 exactly backwards.

diamondnell said...

"In college I studied in depth how to read a passage of literature to grasp what was actually being said. I wish such a class were a high-school requirement."

Me too. Along with a class in logic and critical thinking.

Kristen, do you have a book to recommend on reading comprehension?

Kristen said...

Diamondnell, I'm afraid I don't. The professors taught us how to read by having us practice the reading methods they showed us. There was no "how to read" textbook that they used.

The main thing I remember was simply learning to lay aside my own preconceptions and read as if I had no opinion about it. And then to ask myself certain questions like, "What patterns are here? What seems surprising or out of place?" Stuff like that.

Anonymous said...

I realized long ago when strip (no pun intended) comp doctrine down to it's core, it is about sex.