After some delays, we’re back to working on Mom’s beauty book. God has given us much grace and guidance in the past few weeks. And y’all continue to send us very helpful thoughts and questions. Keep ‘em coming! We have another question for you today. And again, if we use your story or comments in our book, you will receive a free autographed copy of the book when it is published. Thanks for your help and prayers!
How has the gospel transformed your perspective and pursuit of beauty? (Specific examples, stories, and Scriptures are most helpful.)
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10 ESV)
The latest news here is that Mom began work on a new book last week!
Her topic is “true beauty” from a biblical perspective. She wants to help women see through our culture’s false standard of beauty and false promises about beauty, so they might be free to pursue a beauty that is attainable, enduring, and precious in God’s sight.
I get to help her with this project, and we want to ask for your help too.
For us, book writing involves a whole lot of talking. We bat around ideas, consider all the angles, and even have a friendly debate or two.
And we want you to join our book conversation! We’ll post questions, and we’d be so grateful if you’d write in with your thoughts. (Please note: we may use your first name, so let us know if you want to be anonymous.)
So, are you ready to help us write this book?
Here’s our first question:
What questions or struggles do you have that you would like to see addressed in a book on beauty?
And can we also ask you to pray? Our hearts desire is that God be glorified in the process and content of this book. You’ve prayed us through one book already and we’d be most grateful for those prayers again. Thank you friends!
Spring is here and among the many blessings it brings is an opportunity to worship God for one of the many aspects of His character: His beauty. Not only is God “the perfection of beauty” (Ps. 50:2), He takes great delight in beauty.
All we need to verify this fact is to consider the beauty He has created all around us.
Think with me for a moment about the world God has created. Whether it is an elegant flower, or towering trees, or a meandering river, or billowy clouds or the majestic night sky, or the first purple crocus of Spring. Every time we stop and take in one of these breathtaking scenes on display in God’s creation, we can’t help but be convinced that He delights in beauty!
All because we are created in the image of our Creator, each of us has a propensity to make things beautiful.
This means that when we decorate our homes, or we plant a lovely flower garden, or add some form of beauty to enhance our surroundings we are actually imitating and approving the works of our Great Creator. We are imitating God!
Now granted, these activities can be sinfully implemented, but we must not overlook the fact that the essence of our desire to beautify comes from God.
John Angell James in his book, Female Piety, offers this helpful thought:
This taste [for beauty], however in many cases it may be altogether corrupted in its object, wrong in its principle, or excessive in its degree, is in its own nature an imitation of the workmanship of God, who, “by his Spirit has garnished the heavens,” and covered the earth with beauty.
Thus we shouldn’t automatically dismiss our “taste for beauty,” even though it is tainted by sin, because our “taste for beauty” is an imitation of the workmanship of God.
Rather, we must discover from God’s Word how to regulate and steward this desire to bear good fruit. How can we use our “taste for beauty” to glorify God?
This week we’re going to consider one small way to imitate God’s delight in beauty. So come back tomorrow to find out more.
Consider with me our culture’s physical beauty yardstick—for women then and women now as explained by author David Powlison:
A hundred years ago women might have compared themselves with the other ten girls in the village. Today, women compare themselves with pictures of the cream of the worldwide fashion industry.
And what ideal image does the worldwide fashion industry put forth as the standard for beauty by which today’s woman is to measure herself?
Well, take a look at what a group of professional hair stylists, make-up artists, and photographers in cahoots with computer graphics were able to create:
To think that women are striving to look like someone who doesn’t even look like herself. It’s absurd!
The Dove Campaign got it partially right—the fashion industry has certainly contributed to a distorted perception of beauty. And yet, their solution—“every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is”—is well-meaning and yet fundamentally unbiblical.
You see, women believe that physical beauty will make them happy, successful, popular among the women, desirable to the men – so they pursue it with a fury!
Physical beauty, however, does not deliver as advertised. Proverbs 31:30 reveals the falsehood and the futility of this quest for beauty: Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.
Even if every girl did “feel beautiful just the way she is,” it wouldn’t bring her true joy or lasting happiness or solve even one of her problems.
Truth be told, what we all deserve is not to feel beautiful but rather to be condemned to hell for sinfully seeking to attract the worship of our fellow creatures instead of living to bring glory to God.
God did not send Jesus to this earth to die so that women could get over their self-esteem problem and feel better about themselves. No, He sent his Son to die to rescue us from our sinful, futile quest for physical beauty and to reveal to us the satisfaction that comes from knowing God—whether we are beautiful or not!
What freedom and hope is found in Christ! We don’t need to feel beautiful about ourselves to find happiness! In fact, we’re better off not even thinking about ourselves. Rather, God has offered us in Jesus Christ forgiveness, hope, freedom from sin and a joy that never ends.
So while this little video effectively exposes the false front of beauty presented by our culture, let’s not look to Dove’s advertising executives for the solution to the beauty crisis. Rather, let’s join the campaign to tell others of the true freedom that is found in Christ!
Eating, thinness, and beauty are pressing issues for women. Bombarded by our culture’s image of the beautiful women, we can be obsessed with our appearance and preoccupied with food. Countless women struggle with eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia.
Whether you are obsessed with your appearance, or discouraged by constant dieting, or trapped in a cycle of bulimia or anorexia (or know someone who is)—this message contains vital truth for you! In fact, Dr. Welch’s wise, gentle, and prescient counsel is for all of us, regardless of our temptations. As we look to Christ, we shall be truly changed.
“Those who look to him are radiant,?and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 35:4
Happy Wednesday everyone! For Q & A this week, we want to comment on a question from a woman who begins by describing her experience:
“It just starts with some thoughts that you are unattractive and fat, then it took me to a place where I started to eat less and less, sometimes not eating for days at a time. When that wasn’t enough or the scale didn’t change, then I would use pills or make myself vomit. Now, sometimes I can go months without struggling this way but once I’m there again it seems hopeless, and I already feel defeated…I can never find any resources or books that are Christian on this type of thing so I was going to see if you knew of any or had suggestions.”
I respect the honesty communicated in this question. I have talked with different girls over the years who face serious temptation in the area of eating. Their desire for food or lack thereof has been an ongoing, difficult, and often discouraging battle. Many women struggle with sins of this kind, which reminds us once again of the truth in Scripture, that: “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.”
This verse goes on to renew our hope because: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond you ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” 1 Cor. 10:13.
While this temptation is indeed common, more help and truth is needed than I could possibly provide in a brief post. However, help is available, and I do want to recommend an excellent resource on this topic: Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
In this book, Mrs. Fitzpatrick provides biblical hope to those who feel “stuck” in ungodly patterns of eating by diagnosing the problem: remaining sin in our hearts. Eating “disorders” are not a disease from which we need to be healed, but rather sin from which we must repent and turn away.
But the good news is that Jesus died to free us from the power of sin and ungodly eating habits are no exception. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to fight our sin and experience the grace of forgiveness and change. As we humble ourselves before the truth found in Scripture, we will find joy and freedom.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:22-23
Our good friend, Dr. Al Mohler, writes with characteristic insight about cosmetic surgery on his blog this week. We thought it would be the perfect follow-up to Monday’s post on beauty. Make sure to read Dr. Mohler here.
For a girl who prefers warm weather, I’ve really grown to love the early September days in Virginia. It’s still about eighty degrees at two o’clock in the afternoon, but the humidity is gone, and a cool breeze blows through and it’s—perfect. I think the weather in heaven is going to be something like this.
And just as the birds know that the cool breeze means it is time to leave their nests and fly to sunny Sarasota, Florida (at least, that’s where I would go if I was a bird), I instinctively know that the time has come for me to pull out the fall clothes. It’s very important to have those sweaters out of storage, ready to be donned at the first sign of frost.
I inspected my autumn wardrobe last night, and to be honest, it seemed a little sparse. So I gathered up the gift cards to the mall I’d been saving since spring and called the numbers on the back—only to discover there isn’t as much money remaining on those cards as I had thought (Where’d it go? Has Jack been using these cards without telling me?).
What was really going on here? When you get right down to it, I can be ungrateful and dissatisfied with certain aspects of my physical appearance. I forget that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God Himself. And instead, so easily, so subtly, I can turn to the fashion industry to hopefully compensate for my perceived lack of beauty.
It’s a good thing Mom called today. She and Dad are on their way home from Little Rock, Arkansas where they have been speaking at a weekend retreat. And one of the messages Mom shared with the women was entitled: “True Beauty.” Just the mention of this message was a reminder to me of the truth it contains. It’s one of my favorites.
In this message Mom tells of Elisabeth Elliot’s interaction with the missionary, Gladys Aylward. Miss Aylward too was dissatisfied with her physical appearance. But she made a wonderful discovery. Here’s what happened:
“[Gladys] told how when she was a child she had two great sorrows. One, that while all her friends had beautiful golden hair, hers was black. The other, that while her friends were still growing, she stopped. She was about four feet ten inches tall. But when at last she reached the country to which God had called her to be a missionary, she stood on the wharf in Shanghai and looked around at the people to whom he had called her.
‘Every single one of them,’ she said, ‘had black hair. And every single one of them had stopped growing when I did.’ And I said, ‘Lord God, You know what You’re doing!’”
Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1976), 32.
Instead of grumbling because I don’t have the fall wardrobe I desire, I want to praise the God who made me, just the way I am. And while I’m still going to use the gift cards that God has graciously provided, I want to be more preoccupied with doing kingdom work, just like Miss Aylward.
The other night I saw a report about the trend among high school girls to request breast implant surgery as a graduation gift. It got me thinking.
Though we would not choose to walk out of our graduation ceremony and into the plastic surgeon’s office, I don’t think there is a woman alive who hasn’t wished she could change at least one perceived physical flaw. I probably think about it more than I want to admit.
When it comes right down to it, I don’t think these girls—or any of us for that matter—want a different body for it’s own sake. Rather, because of the sin in our hearts, we long to find happiness in the applause (worship) of others. We think beauty is our ticket to bliss.
But it won’t take us anywhere. Beauty doesn’t satisfy. Proverbs says that it is “fleeting” (Prov. 31:30, NIV). Charles Bridges elaborated: “Beauty—what a fading vanity it is! One fit of sickness sweeps it away. Sorrow and care wither its charms. And even while it remains, it is little connected with happiness.” (Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1846, repr. 1998), p. 627.)
This is why the well-meaning advice to simply “learn to love your body” doesn’t cut it. Even with supposed “Christian” packaging (“Jesus loves you just the way you are, so you should love yourself”)—it’s hollow. It’s an erroneous diagnosis. It doesn’t satiate our desperate, sinful thirst for attention. Even if it seems to for a moment, it won’t last. You might as well hand an exhausted marathon runner an empty water bottle.
But there is hope—for these high school girls and for every woman consumed by the quest for physical beauty. There is hope for me. For “[Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Because of the gospel, we can be free from this fruitless and rebellious search to find satisfaction in receiving admiration for our physical beauty. We can live for Christ instead. And thus our hearts can “be fixed, where true joys are to be found” (Book of Common Prayer, 1662).
So what difference should the gospel make in how we think about beauty today?
First, instead of complaining to the mirror about our imperfect body, let’s consider how we can live for Christ by trusting Him and serving others. True joy will inevitably follow.
And secondly, if we’re tempted to envy (or self-righteously judge) the beautiful, immodestly dressed co-worker, classmate, or fellow mom, for the attention they receive, let’s pray for them instead—that they too would find true joy in Christ.