What Does The Bible Say About Physical Beauty?
Does the Bible say much about beauty? Is it good or is it bad?
Like a Flower
Beauty is wonderful but it is passing. Just like the grass of this summer it is gone shortly after its cut. It simply blows away into the wind. Indeed, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8) so why not consider “that women [and men] should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (1st Tim 2:9) and of course this applies to men as well even though few men wear pearls. The point is that the most beautiful adornment is within. What you see in the mirror every day is slowly changing over time and there’s nothing you can do to change that. Just as Isaiah wrote “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field” (Psalm 103:15) as we “are dust, and to dust you [and I] shall return” (Gen 3:19) but thankfully, God has not left us to be simply recycled and become compost for the cemetery. Job understood that “after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26) and that is every Christian’s hope.
A Deadly Beauty
In nature, a lot of predators live by deception. They look like something desirable and when their prey comes near, they are taken out for dinner! That is the idea about what Solomon wrote; “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” (Prov 6:25). Job, like all humans, had issues with the natural tendency to lust in the heart so he made a covenant with his eyes before God to not even look at a young woman (virgin) (Job 31:1). Job knew even then that only the marriage bed is undefiled (Heb 13:4) and kept a deliberate check on his “eye gate” through which most of the lusts of the heart pass. Like the male or female prostitutes, they can look beautiful or handsome on the outside but on the inside there is no beauty to behold, no beauty of character, no beauty seen by God “For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well” (Prov 23:27) and this pit could mean financial ruin which is why “a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth” (Prov 29:3). How so? Because it may lead to a divorce and that cost plenty! Also, the risk for STD’s goes way up and can cost a person expensive, time-consuming medical care and treatment. It could even lead to sterility.
A Greater Beauty
Outward beauty is a gift from God and is not wrong as it said of King Ahasuerus’ wife, she “was lovely to look at” (Esther 1:11) but her beauty led to her downfall and removal from off the throne to be replaced by Queen Esther (Esther 1:10-22). He made mankind to enjoy beautiful things in nature. It is very natural to look at a beautiful woman or a handsome man. That is how we are wired. I have seen and am in awe of a beautiful full moon rising over the Rocky Mountains. There is nothing like it but as far as the physical beauty of a woman or handsome characteristics of a man, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov 31:30). When Solomon wrote that “beauty if vain” he meant that in the end, or at the end of life, it is vain (empty, useless) but the real beauty the “woman who fears the Lord.” The greatest beauty is inward just as Peter indicates; “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious” (1st Pet 3:3-4). That is what is precious and beautiful to God.
Beauty is really about a godly inward character. Inward beauty cannot be destroyed by time or circumstances. What is truly beautiful is a meek, humble man or woman of God that fears the Lord and whose heart is bent toward Him. God looks at the heart and not on the outside and He can see what we’re thinking, just like the Word of God does, because it reads our every thought, intention, and desire (Heb 4:12) and everything is “exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:13b). When God told Samuel “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him [since] the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” God was basically saying that He knows what’s ugly and what is beautiful inside of us but He had mercy upon us anyway and sent us His grace and now we see, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth” (Psalm 50:2). He is most beautiful; He is most lovely; even when we are not.
Article by Pastor Jack Wellman