I’m Too Sexy For This Marriage

June 13, 2011

Is beauty really skin deep?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching a debate unfold on “Biblical” standards for beauty among a couple of bloggers I really respect…

Recently, Mark Driscoll, commenting on Ted Haggard’s infidelity, implied that women who “let themselves go” are partly to blame for their husbands’ behavior (he later apologized.)  Rachel Held Evans responded by saying that emphasizing beauty as a woman ages is a misogynistic, “unBiblical” standard for beauty.  Tim Challies fired back that outer beauty reflects inner beauty.  And Rachel returned the favor to Tim.

Here’s the truth:

No, outer beauty does not reflect inner beauty.  Being hot and having a great personality are two different things, so we can stop pretending otherwise.  However…

Beauty is not just skin deep.  It does reflect something inside.  And…

Yes, men and women, Christians especially, have a responsibility to keep themselves attractive to their mates.

Now that I’ve probably got you a little self conscious, here’s what I mean…

We’re Wired For Beauty

Beauty gets a bad rap.

We admit that we are obsessed with it.  But we admit it in a self-loathing way.  We love beauty, though we know it’s superficial and temporary.  We’re embarrassed to admit that we love beautiful people.  It’s like admitting you like the Black Eyed Peas.

We think that caring too much about beauty makes us shallow.  Yet we can’t deny it.  If we didn’t think it was important for people to be attractive, we wouldn’t even think to discuss it.  It wouldn’t occur to us.  The very fact that this discussion has happened proves what we know: that physical beauty is important.  As “evolved” and “enlightened” as we are in our twenty-first century, scientific, politically correct culture, our brains still respond primally, sub-consciously, instinctively to beauty.

Here’s To Your Health

Outer beauty doesn’t reflect “inner beauty.”  But a good chunk of beauty is not merely skin deep.

Think about people who don’t take care of themselves; people who smoke or drink too much or don’t eat right or work too much; people who don’t care about their bodies.  These people get sick often, age quickly, and probably don’t look as good as they could either.

Let’s say you’re married with a few munchkins.  Your first job is to take care of those people, put them before yourself.  You work and slave and sacrifice for them to the point of exhaustion and burnout.  You do nothing for yourself, and it shows.  You’re too busy sacrificing, so you have the perfect excuse to not be beautiful.

But how can you take care of them if you’re abusing your body to the point of illness, depression, and premature aging?  You can’t.  If you’re married, you have a responsibility to keep yourself healthy and not die before it’s your time.  A martyr doesn’t do a family any good.

So guys, get some exercise.  And your ladies will appreciate it if you had your prostate checked too.  Ladies, make time to have a bubble bath and some Jazzercise.  And there are only two boobs in a marriage, and hopefully one isn’t your husband, so get them checked out so you both can enjoy them as long as possible.

Get healthy for the sake of your helpmate.  You’ll probably look better too.

What’s Mine Is Hers

One thing that was brought up by Tim Challies was Paul’s command that husbands and wives shouldn’t be frigid with one another in bed. Why does he say that?  He reasons that if you are married, your body belongs to your spouse.

Rachel rightly pointed out that Paul’s advice doesn’t mention beauty.  But Paul’s point can be taken beyond making sure your sweetie gets some once in a while.  If I really submit my body to my wife’s authority, then of course I have a responsibility to try to be attractive to her.  She’s the one who has to look at this “physique,” (a term I use loosely on myself.)  When you make yourself more unhealthy and/or unattractive, it’s not just your body that you’re abusing.

Beauty isn’t about makeup or clothes.  It’s not about an obsession or measuring up to some standard of beauty or getting plastic surgery or getting attention in public.  It’s not about defying age. It’s about being as attractive and healthy for your mate as your genetics and age allow.

And remember the most important thing: beauty isn’t everything.  It couldn’t have been when my wife married me.

What do you think?  I’ve tried to approach this fairly and sensitively.  Is that a fair standard for beauty?  Do Christians have an extra burden to be beautiful, or is the mark of good Christians to be plain and piously “unconcerned” about the exterior?

73 responses to I’m Too Sexy For This Marriage

  1. “We’re embarrassed to admit that we love beautiful people. It’s like admitting you like the Black Eyed Peas.”

    LOL, Matt you are of course right, but black eyed peas? LOL

  2. It seems that a “debate” exists simply because it is easy to misunderstand terms and phrases. Matt, you do a good job of defining what each person might mean. I bet Tim and Rachel really do not disagree that much, but they are both focused on it.
    Jeremy @ confessionsofalegalist recently posted..I conformed to this world- Confession 63

  3. Most of the discussions around whether there is a Christian obligation to be beautiful have been focused around married people (which is of course an important aspect of it to discuss). However, there are similar ideas around to do with Christian singles.

    It this context the obligation to be beautiful comes with the “punishment” of singleness if you fail. I have read quite a few Christian books/articles/blog posts that suggest that as a Christian woman you should aim to get married and that to do that you will most likely need to look good and not be overweight. Some say it subtly, some surprisingly bluntly. I get that people are attracted to beauty (or that men are visually wired as the Christian relationship books say). However, the implication that you need to be beautiful is rather frustrating and problematic. Firstly, it can make marriage start to seem like a reward you earn for being good (ie. beautiful and skinny) enough. Then there is question of whether as Christians we should be trying to visually please someone we aren’t yet married to. There is also the dilemma of what it means to those of us who aren’t (and might not ever be) stereotypically beautiful or the “perfect” size. We’re left asking if we are failing at some Christian woman’s obligation to do the necessary things to “achieve” marriage and if we will remain single as a result.

    • “the obligation to be beautiful comes with the ‘punishment’ of singleness if you fail.”
      WOW! Great point!

      I recently watch a documentary on human attraction and whatnot. A bunch of people were “rated” by strangers for attractiveness – 1 through 10. Then they put the people in a room and had them “pair up.” Everyone’s goal was to find a mate that they found attractive. More often than not, people found mates in their same attractiveness range. The lesson I take from it? Be who you are, don’t try to fake it – if you are to be married, you’ll find someone who likes you.

    • Yes, this. Joanna, you took the words right out of my mouth!
      HopefulLeigh recently posted..Its Not Me- Its You

  4. When I was engaged to my wife, I took her on a tour of a battleship (I’m in the Navy…bear with me). While I was getting the car from the parking lot, some old guy struck up a conversation with my fiancee. As I was driving up, he bid her good bye and said, “Just remember, don’t get fat after you get married.” Of course she was furious. And granted, that old boy was from a different generation.

    The good news on that front is that BOTH of us let ourselves go, so it’s all even…except the health part.

    • I heard comments like that from other generations. Life seems like it was simpler back then, huh?

    • When we announced our engagement, my husband’s elderly uncle said, “Good! Finally a woman with some skin on her bones!”

      Over 20 years, through the ups and downs of baby weight, sickness, diets and setbacks, my husband has always told me I’m beautiful. I think THAT is the key to attractiveness in a marriage – a spouse who thinks you are already gorgeous inside and out and confident beauty it gives the spouse who hears it.

      • pin pointing what’s beautiful is something else. you may have put on tons of weight and still love beautiful and make others feel good and beautiful because you do take the bubble bath and jazzercise :) (totally loved that line!).

        The thing is that even skinny women may let themselves go. And even fat women can be beautiful by wearing what looks good on them and treating themselves kindly.

  5. It’s a really good topic. It is really about self (body) image. I like what Jeff Foxworthy says, “a woman that asks ‘Do I look fat in the dress?’ already knows the answer. My point is that most of us know what our shortcomings are in attitude,personality, physique – and even where we fall spirituality. Sure, some of us are damaged and can’t see ourselves, IE: anorexia, denial of addictions etc. I am sure we all have a little bit of that.

    The Bible is not specific about what that perfect man or woman looks like. So that is a moot point. It does say things like “we are the temple of the Holy Spirit” and that is a good sign to take care of ourselves in every way that we can.

    Let’s face it, the older we get, the less interested we are in looking good. We prefer peace over romance. It doesn’t mean that its all over in the beauty department (that’s what face lifts, hair color, and liposuction are for), it means that as we mature, we are looking for other aspects in a relationship. You just don’t know that at 20 or 30 and in some cases even 40.

    I am not going to disagree that when men and woman let themselves go it doesn’t impact their partner. It does. My wife and I both prefer each other when we are in shape. The decision to do so, is with the individual. I would also say that it is a lower priority for my wife than it is for me. It is one of the differences between men and women.

    Great topic Matt. In the end, I think our self-image has to come from Christ. If it is, then it won’t matter at all what others think.
    David recently posted..Its About Jesus- Not About Church! Stupid Things Christians Do – Part 2

  6. Interesting topic, this blog is turning out to be a pretty neat read.

    I’m not terribly familiar with Mark Driscoll outside of criticism of him on other blogs, but what I’ve read I’m not getting the best impression. Does this guy have any redeeming qualities?

    • I actually do think he’s a great communicator and probably a great pastor who tends to shoot from the hip when he talks in public, and that gets him in trouble. I’ve read a couple of his books, and I have a couple of friends who go to his church, and they think he’s good. I think he’s ministering in Seattle, a very “post-Christian” culture, and part of him needs to draw firm boundaries with the people he’s ministering to, but that black and white thinking doesn’t jive with a lot of people. That’s just a theory.

    • Generally he is a pretty good preacher and quite theologically solid. He does however have a habit of sometimes saying things that probably should have been left unsaid.

  7. Hi Matt,

    When it comes to beauty being skin deep, thank God I’ve got a thick skin.

    Of course, Ginny is the only person to have ever noticed this.

    Question about the importance of beauty:

    Isaiah said, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem”.

    Where does our concept of beauty fit into this?

    John Cowart

  8. So I definitely posted a bit about this on my anniversary with my wife. She taught me a while back that I’m supposed to CONTINUE to pursue her after marriage. Christians like to “say” that they continue to “date” their spouse after marriage, but we often forget that part of that dating ritual is pursuing your mate. And you have to be fierce about doing it, because you don’t want to lose them.
    Adrian W. recently posted..Woman Talk

  9. I feel like there are two separate issues here. One that is focused on the wife and the other on how the husband views the wife, and both are parts of a larger problem.

    If the wife has “let herself go” to a point of health problems, there are deeper issues to worry about, such as depression, insomnia, or just general marriage problems that need to be discussed. The husband should talk to his wife, put her health before his “need” of having a “hot” wife. His wife is in pain and he needs to be there for her.

    If the wife has gained some weight and isn’t in danger of any health problem and the husband is being a jerk about it, then that’s the husband’s issue. He’s being selfish, but also be dealing with the same issues of depression, insomnia, or general problems and then taking them out on his wife.

    Both of the scenarios deal with one spouse (possibly both) not fully submitting themselves to Christ, and each other. There are bigger problems than not having a “beautiful” spouse.
    Ryan Rushing recently posted..Osama Bin Laden is dead

    • My post on Challie’s article was to this idea…that if someone is “letting themselves go” maybe instead of focusing how she/he isn’t loving their spouse, they could look at how to love them better, I think a person is rarely intentionally letting themselves go, it seems like focusing on looks misses the bigger problem.
      Jenn recently posted..This is my review of A Thousand Sisters

  10. The first scripture that comes to mind is from 1 Peter 3:

    1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 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.

    It’s easier to improve my physical appearance than it is to change my attitude and behavior. I also think it’s easier to lose weight and throw on some makeup than it is to actually be healthy. I do believe that it’s important to take care of myself – to keep myself attractive and healthy. I will probably never meet the world’s standards of beauty, but that’s okay. I only need to impress my husband. I just hope that my gentle and quiet spirit (it’s a work in progress!) will be so attractive, he won’t notice the gray hairs, wrinkles, belly flab and the beard I’m trying not to grow. lol
    Sarahbeth recently posted..Rend Your Heart

    • I was waiting for this scripture to come up.

      Verse 3 says, Your beauty should NOT ONLY come from outward appearances. To me that means outer beauty is important. We see first with our eyes on our head and then with the eyes of our heart.

      For me, countenance is the key to beauty, both inside and out. A skin-deep beautiful person doesn’t look that way with a frown on their face and a less (typical) beautiful person looks absolutely radiant with a smile that comes from deep within.

      Great post Matt – always keeps us thinking and dialoging.
      Andrea York recently posted..Is worship more than songs

  11. Good stuff, Matt. I’m especially struck by your point that we’re wired for beauty– something I totally agree with. What occurs to me– and, honestly, what is hard for me– is that that wiring can get so messed up, that we can seek beauty in others and seek to be beautiful ourselves for so many wrong reasons. And when we do, we really mess up the reason we’re wired for beauty in the first place– namely, for God’s glory and our good.

    Thanks for this post.

  12. It seems that, as with everything else, the key is balance. Yes, it’s important to be healthy and to look after the body that God gave us. I guess if we can’t look after our body now, why should he give us a top of the range body in the new creation. And good health and good ‘management’ will contribute to good looks. BUT, as with everything else, it is easy to make good health and beauty an idol. Furthermore, it is important to remember that God has not created just one template for beauty and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One guy may find a particular woman gorgeous but another guy may think she’s just ok, and another might thing she is a complete mess. Everyone is right, from their subjective point of view.

    • Sure, and that’s why I think it’s important to be “healthy,” and being obsessed with beauty isn’t healthy. And we should be attractive ‘for our mates.” If your mate doesn’t care about your clothes or your hygiene, then it doesn’t matter if you give attention to those things!

  13. I liked that you focused on health. There are ALOT of beautiful people out there who use very unhealthy methods to be that way. I would way rather my husband eat a few less hamburger than put on a nice shirt personally.

    It’s like everything else and requires some balance and lots of love. If someone is “letting themselves go” I think it might be a sign of a deeper problem. I wonder too if some of the disconnect happens because when we are dating we try so hard to look a certain way and impress the other person, to the point that it just can’t be sustained in marriage, especially two kids and night shifts later.

    We are wired I think for beauty, but it’s funny, the older I get I find much different things beautiful. Give me a newborn baby covered in birth gunk and I really do think it’s beautiful…it make my husband want to barf…even if it’s his. I think the problem is a lot of people have trouble discovering beauty, and what they find beautiful and instead start to buy into what the world holds for standards of beauty.
    Jenn recently posted..This is my review of A Thousand Sisters

  14. You make an excellent point about trying to be as healthy as possible for our spouses (is the plural of spouse “spice”?) I’m not afraid to die, but I am horrified at the idea of living here on earth without Bob. It has recently occurred to me that he might feel the same way.
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  15. I stayed away from reading those posts because honestly from what I’ve read of her writing it seems Rachel Evans wants to be a friend of the world more than a follower of Christ. However, since you brought it up, I went back and read the passages and I think Tim really hit the nail on the head. Tim correctly states it’s the entire package of physical appearance, spiritual and physical health, etc.

    My wife’s not a fashion model (and she’ll be the first to admit that) but I think she’s beautiful. She doesn’t doll herself up after a long day of watching kids and that’s just fine. But when we’re going to spend time together, she takes steps to at least brush her hair and teeth. Little things that show her love for me and that reflects beauty.

    The definition of beauty needs to be the entire package and not just outer physical appearance as some want to do.

    And as for Driscoll, I don’t think he was wrong. Any spouse in a relationship that doesn’t put in the effort to show their spouse they love them is just asking for trouble. Repeated rejection of your spouse says they don’t really matter to you. You can’t then turn around and yell at them when they turn somewhere else to someone who says they matter. Sure, they made the choice to do it but you helped create the atmosphere where it happened. Quit trying to pass the buck and own up to your own responsibility.
    Jason recently posted..Day 163- Crappy words win the battle

    • Amen to your last point, brother! But it’s politically incorrect to place any blame on the victim, right?

    • I agree that spouses need to be pleasing for each other, but I think placing blame for an affair on the cheated-on spouse is a really slippery slope.

      So, if one spouse doesn’t put in the effort to show the other that they love them, they’re “asking for it” if the other one cheats?
      — first off, how do you define “effort”?
      You’re satisfied with clean teeth. Great. What if my husband’s unruly beard is driving me nuts-am I justified in having a fling with some clean-shaven stud? I mean, if my husband really cared about my feelings, he would’ve shaved that beard off like I asked, right?
      — and what about situations where one spouse can’t put the effort into showing love? If a guy’s wife gets a massive head injury and ends up severely disabled, is it okay if he cheats then? I mean, tracheostomies are kind of a turn-off and it’s not like she can really keep herself in any kind of shape anymore–would it be okay if he found someone else to meet his “needs”?

      As an aside, it seems kind of funny that Ted Haggard was used as a starting point for this–wasn’t his wife pretty good-looking?

      • Not only is she very attractive, but his affair was with a man. Maybe she just didn’t spend enough time pumping iron and a little too much time shaving.

        It’s not so much a slippery slope as a cliff that should be very well marked for those willing to think about what the signs mean.

        • Oh, right. I can no longer remember which were the “gay affair” guys and which were the “hot young mistress” guys, which is a sad testament in itself.

      • Gayle isn’t half bad. But her husband was also struggling with homosexual urges, so that opens a whole other can of worms. And I heard her talk at Catalyst last year, and she recounted how very quickly her husband’s screw up began to be referred to as “Ted and Gayle’s sin.” That’s going too far.

        And I think everyone can agree that injured spouses are the exception. No one is standing up for that tool, John Edwards.

      • Agreed. I don’t see the Bible giving that loop-hole. It didn’t work for Joseph when Pharoh’s HOT wife tried to drag the young stud to bed. His response was how can I sin against GOD, not how can I sin against my boss.
        Super lame logic here.
        And I’m hot.

        • No, the super lame logic is someone who says they can do whatever they want, treat their spouse like complete crap and then if they slip and fall pretend that it’s all their spouse’s fault.

          That’s the position of someone incredibly selfish.
          Jason recently posted..Day 173: Little God surprise

    • Taking responsibility is the issue. If a man or woman asks their spouse for some specific things (asks, as opposed to magically supposed to know them.), then both parties become responsible for negotiating the compromise. I lose 10 pounds, you buy me a new car – whatever it is.

      If partners are not allowed to bring up anything negative, then the potential for unspoken wishes, and unmet needs is not far away. Everyone comes to marriage with certain expectations, these are just some of them.
      David recently posted..Its About Jesus- Not About Church! Stupid Things Christians Do – Part 2

    • “Quit trying to pass the buck and own up to your own responsibility.”
      That same advice could be thrown in the lap of the husband whose wife is feeling so unloved that she doesn’t take care about her looks. It really becomes a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” argument.

      • I agree. Our kids’ godfather ended up having an affair after ten years of marriage to his wife. He tried to keep it a secret for two years. In those two years, his attitude toward his wife changed from showing respect and honor to giving her dirty looks when she asked for something, ignoring her in group settings, and making cutting remarks. His lack of respect in having the affair bled into his actions toward his wife. In his case, he eventually confessed it in counseling. He even admitted that his wife did nothing to drive him to the affair, it was a lust of the heart. I am not saying that all affairs aren’t rooted in deeper issues between couples. However, having an affair is not a solution and the other person should not be held responsible for their spouse’s infidelity.
        tandemingtroll recently posted..Happy Birthday- to my wonderful husband

  16. Great perspective here, Matt. I don’t have a problem admitting that I love beauty but for the record, I still loath the BEP.
    Tony Alicea recently posted..The Messy- Beautiful Church

  17. If Mark Driscoll would preach something besides the law (what ‘WE DO’), I will be shocked.
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  18. If we’re saying that healthy is beautiful, why is it never stated like that when (usually) women are being told to be attractive to their husbands? I try to stay healthy, I walk several miles a day and my “numbers” (bp, cholesterol, etc) rock. I wear roughly the same size I did when we were married, maybe up a size but not a significant amount. And yet I still hear about how women should be beautiful, that it is shocking when an attractive woman is single, and that we “owe” it to our husbands to dress a certain way or be provocative. I never hear my husband being told to wear his britches a little tighter, to flex for me, or to get a little man tan to improve his appearance.

    This is, in my opinion, a worldly perspective. I want to be attractive to my husband, but he irrationally keeps telling me I’m more beautiful now than when we married which is 1) clearly a lie (I have a mirror) and 2) clearly an indication that our estimation of our spouse’s appearance is based more on relationship than objective standards.

    Yes, we should be healthy. But that’s not what those people are preaching about, is it? It’s not like we have 75 greek words for beauty and we’re choosing the wrong one, in English “healthy” and “beautiful” are differen things. Often (not always) related, but different.

    • Women hear people advising them to “not let themselves go” much differently than a man does.

      Women are told from an early age that their value is how they LOOK. Men are told that their value is what they DO. So for women, the pressure to look good is always there.

      Men, consider perhaps the reason she’s “let herself go” is because she doesn’t have the time and money to go the salon, tanning bed, gym or shopping because she’s giving birth, breastfeeding, working outside of the home, cooking and running the kids to soccer. If you think that woman doesn’t look in the mirror and long for the days when she liked what she saw, you don’t know women. It’s often not “LETTING” themselves go so much as sacrificing for others that she puts herself last. If you feel your wife has let herself go, make sure she has free time to do the things she used to do to care for herself. You’ll both be happier.

      Secondly, men and women both see different people when they look in the mirror. Generally, pick apart what they see while men can pat a huge beer gut and still see themselves as a hot stud. I know that’s a generalization, but men just aren’t half as hard on themselves about their appearance. (See point #1 above.) When someone chubby like Mark Driscoll preaches about a woman “letting herself go”, he should be glad that his gorgeous wife doesn’t place such a demand on him.

      • * Generall, WOMEN pick apart

      • Amen and amen. Sometimes I feel like I’m becoming a feminist harpie when people are pretending their version of reality fits everyone. People are people, not a monolithic group that can all be addressed the same way. Beauty is a fleeting, deceptive, superficial thing when it’s measured against perfect, and does a huge amount of damage to girls who strive for it. When beauty is sought out as a result of relationship, it’s life giving and empowering. So tired of hearing people – cultural voices, Christian leaders, Muslim leaders, cult figures – all try to dictate how a woman ought to be, dress, look and think. We’re individuals put on the planet for more than an accessory. Just like men.

  19. Love how you “refereed” this discussion. Thanks for sharing, Matt. 😉
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  20. I have the body of a GOD!!!! (his name is budda)…

    I admit I love attractive people…(girls) Mostly my wife!

    She cares a whole lot about her image….ME….not so much…scruffy facial hair and over worn jeans…flipp flops and a t-shirt….and that’s my sunday best….not good…need to work on that….

    btw…” And there are only two boobs in a marriage, and hopefully one isn’t your husband, so get them checked out so you both can enjoy them as long as possible.”

    FUNNIEST LINE EVER!!!!! LOL…

  21. Matt, great topic and engaging post! I think you make several excellent points especially the section about raising “munchkins” and spouses that don’t care for themselves.

    It made me think of traveling on a plane and being instructed that in the event of an emergency you should put your own oxygen mask over your face before you do it for someone else – even your kids – to ensure that you are ABLE to help others.

    Similarly, I believe we have to be stewards of all the gifts that God has entrusted to us – mentally, spiritually and physically. To ignore any of them is to settle for less than God’s best for our lives.

  22. Way to walk right out into the mine field, Matt! Actually, I appreciated your approach to this topic– in that you: 1. Directed it equally to both husbands and wives and were 2. honest, but not unnecessarily offensive.

    I find this topic funny, because generally, it’s hard to find someone who DOESN’T want to be attractive for their spouse. Granted, wanting and trying are two separate issues. Also, I’ve had a weird experience with this and the church, but not with my husband. My husband thinks I’m as beautiful as they come, stretch marks and saggy areas from kids and all. And he’s not lying, he’s known for his frankness.

    Up until a year ago, we were on the leadership team at a para-church ministry. I was the assistant to the head of the ministry, and he required that I wear makeup, especially lipstick, to the office. Hah. When I was so stressed out from working in the office and I lost about 40 lbs, he and the other men at the ministry told me I looked great (a little inappropriate? Not sure…). My husband, meanwhile, could clearly see this was unhealthy and very kindly tried to help me maintain, if not put back on a few pounds. What I’d like to know is, why did my beauty, clothing choices, makeup, etc, matter to all these other christian leaders? The focus on it was sickening.

    And THIS, I think, is the problem. Is it really the husbands having issue with how their wives take care of themselves (or vice versa)? Or is it a few guys in leadership who like all women to wear lipstick and a skirt??

    • I would say that situation is completely inappropriate and unhealthy. Those leaders would never get away with such standards in the real world. It’s one thing to have a dress code. But those are always very general, not “thou shalt wear skirts.” Ridiculous.

  23. I think there are semantics at play here with words that need to be defined better. I’ll call them “inner beauty” (i.e., a “quiet and gentle spirit,” good personality, etc.), “outer beauty” (i.e., make up, stylish clothes, right hair cut, good hygiene, etc.), and “heath” (eating well, maintaining a healthy weight for your body type, no drugs, limiting alcohol, etc.). They all bleed in to each other, but at the same time are separate things.

    I think that maintaining each of these things in moderation is a good thing, but each thing could also become an “idol” if given too much importance in one’s life. As a believer, I hope I balance these out fairly well. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so it should be maintained in a healthy fashion (e.g., not with lipo or crash diets, but through moderate exercise and moderation in eating). My inner and outer beauty are the face of Jesus to the world. I want that to be (non-sexually) appealing. But that doesn’t mean inordinate amounts of time (and/or money) need to be spent on my face, hair, or nails. Or that I should let those things go completely in favor of cultivating my inner beauty (although I have to admit that I lean more toward the inner than the outer, firmly believing that inner beauty creates a kind of outer beauty).

    I think, as with most things, moderation is key. And that’s true whether you’re married or single.

    As for the “looking good for your spouse” side of this discussion. I think that comes naturally (as someone else commented, who _doesn’t_ want to look good for their spouse?)….but I guess I think that maintaining yourself to keep them interested/attracted puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. Maintain yourself because you love them and want to give them good things. But don’t do it to curry favor and/or keep them from straying (my guess is that this won’t do any good). Especially don’t do it in order to have a bargaining chip to hold over them and manipulate them with (e.g, “I cut my hair to make you happy, the least you can do is…”).

    My $0.02…

  24. In regards to the inner vs outer beauty dichotomy:

    There was a study done recently, where they had men look at photos of various women. They saw each woman twice- once with makeup on but just a neutral face, no smile. They also saw a second photo of each woman with no makeup on, but she was smiling. The men overwhelming chose the no makeup, but smiling women as the most attractive.

    Happiness and joy are pretty attractive.

  25. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/deeper-walk/blog/25895-the-heavy-yoke-of-beauty

    A very timely blog entry from Relevant. This is exactly what I mean. When my husband says “you’re beautiful” he means “I love you.” When people (society, men, church) define women by how they look it limits and blames them unless they’ve won the genetic lottery, due to no particular skill of their own. They are very different things.

  26. I really appreciate at how you attacked this, Matt. I had previously seen the blogs/discussions from Rachel and Tim and had not done any commenting, there seemed to be too much emotional extremes involved.

    You make some very good points and I think you approached a sensitive topic with sensitivity. We should try to maintain our health both for our families and because we should take care of the bodies God gave us.

    I couldn’t agree more with those that commented that most spouses, who love their spouse, WANT to look good for their mate (and therefore probably try to in their own way). Something else I read somewhere was that we should pray from the very start of our marriages for God to make us attracted to the qualities our spouse has. It makes it much easier to be attractive to your hubby if you have a big booty and he LIKES big booties. We like to think that we are born preferring a certain type of beauty but that is usually just society’s influence. We can change what we prefer or ask God to make our spouse beautiful in our own eyes. I question my own beauty all the time but under the gaze of my husband’s eyes I know that I am the most beautiful woman in the world (because I am the most beautiful woman to him.)
    Carla recently posted..Sunday Schism Vol IX- Can you lose your Salvation Are you going to Heaven Probably not

  27. “The very fact that this discussion has happened proves what we know: that physical beauty is important. As “evolved” and “enlightened” as we are in our twenty-first century, scientific, politically correct culture, our brains still respond primally, sub-consciously, instinctively to beauty.”

    I think physical beauty is important to us because it is important to God. There are few truly ugly things that He has created, at least the stuff we see on a daily basis.

    The discussion between Rachel Evans Held and Tim Challis seems more like splitting hairs. I remember having an argument with a friend over some theological concept and in the middle of it, I realized that we were saying the same things, but because the different words we were using had different connotations for us, it felt like we were saying the opposite thing. That was the first time God told me to stop arguing. It was very humbling and I did apologize to her since I was the one being bullheaded.

  28. Physical beauty is important, although we wish it wasn’t. Doors open for attractive people. People are kinder to those who look good. You feel better about yourself and are happier if you are more confident about your appearance. I teach my kids that looks may not have true value, but they can’t ignore the importance of looks in life and should make an effort to take care of themselves.
    The Good Greatsby recently posted..Please Cast Me in The Great Gatsby Movie

    • As the great theologian Jim Gaffigan says, “Good looking people have it a lot easier. When a good looking person smiles at you, you think “Oh, how nice!”, but when an ugly person smiles at you, you think “What does HE want!? Get away from me, weirdo!”

  29. Respect for others begins with self-respect.
    vanilla recently posted..Napoleon and the Owl

  30. Wow,so many comments. This is obviously a topic that affects everyone. I like the distinction between attractive and healthy. Many years ago, before we knew Christ, my husband harassed me about my weight. I would lose it then it would come right back on. I remember telling him that I CAN’T lose weight.Fast forward years later, after accepting Christ, he quit criticizing my weight, even though it continued to gradually increase. Then came a health problem which cause the doctor to check my thyroid. Yep, I had an under active thyroid. My endocrinologist estimated that it had started after the birth of my last child, and he was then 23 years old. Yes, that was right, I had been fighting my weight for 23 years and I was not physically capable of losing weight. I was so relieved when I was diagnosed that I cried when I took my prescription to the drug store. Why did I not go sooner to be checked? I did not want someone to think I was looking for an excuse. That pride cost me years of what could have been healthier living. I now am working on losing weight,yet again, but I know that when my husband says he loves me and I look great, he means it. He knows that I have not “let myself go” but that I am fighting a continuing battle that I sometimes win and sometimes lose. I am grateful for a husband that loves me in spite of what size pants I am wearing today.

  31. Dude, really?!

    Now I have to read other Blogs to get the full effect of this topic =S

    BUT…IMHO, you have done the topic a certain political correctness, compromise-reached sort of justice.

    It is, as with many topics, complex, sensitive and perception may play a factor.

    Having typed that, good read! Thank you!

    God Love You ♥

  32. You’ve done this topic better then most who dance around the subject as if it’s sin. I’m recently divorced and so tired of men with big ole bellies asking me out. My desire is for a man that is fit but does not have to look like rambo or the rock. But I want to be attracted to the guy I am with, and not keep bumping into his belly all the time. Plus it also leads to health issues later on and immense snoring issues.

    Having said that. I do what I can to keep myself in shape. I’m also almost 52, and if I can do it I expect the man I am with to do it as well.

    Thanks for speaking up and speaking real! Love starts eye to body, then eye to eye and then so on as you get to know each other.. rarely does it start eye to heart.

  33. Great post at I’m Too Sexy For This Marriage | The Church of No People. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful info specifically the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  34. We may be wired for beauty (which I can’t deny but do not like…as it reeks of shallow-ness to me), but: believe it or not, love can happen from the inside out. I know because it happened to me: http://lovingfromtheinsideout.blogspot.com.

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