God Made You Beautiful

God Made You Beautiful

My daughter turned nine last month. She is one crazy, smart, rhythmic kid. She got all of the best of both parents, and I have no doubt that when she grows into womanhood she is going to be outrageously, stunningly beautiful.

This is both a source of great joy and unholy terror. I know how our world views beautiful women, and the way they are both idolized and debased by popular culture. We elevate beauty to the point of worshipping it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the extremes aging celebrities go to in order to preserve their youth and their beauty. We do everything we can to stay young and beautiful.

At the same time, we expect beauty to be accessible to all of us. We tend to expect that beautiful people will share their beauty with everyone. It is just assumed that if a woman is beautiful or has a shapely body, she should share her beauty with the world.

Now in a sense, God gives us beauty for us to appreciate it. We should be thankful for women and their beauty, because God made women beautiful so men would be attracted to them and continue the multiplication of the human race.

At the same time, we need to understand beauty as what it is. A woman’s beauty is meant to be fully enjoyed by her husband. Everything about her that makes her sexually attractive is meant for him – not for us. Most pastors shy away from words like sexy, but I have no problem saying it. Women, you should want to be sexy. You should want to drive your husband crazy with desire for you. But sexy is for your husband – not for the world, not for every lingering eye and lusting mind.

The beauty of your sexuality (and it is a divine beauty) is meant for the one man you choose to live your life with, to give yourself entirely to.

When we tell women that it is normal and expected to flaunt their bodies before everyone, are we not giving everyone around them (male and female) permission to trespass on holy ground reserved for that most beautiful union – marriage? When we make sexy a part of our life beyond the bounds of marriage, aren’t we opening a secret garden for public degradation?

I know this makes me weird and slightly backward in most people’s eyes. I can live with it.

When I go to the beach, I don’t stay long. Do you know why? Because almost every women and girl on the beach is running around with her body exposed to anyone who wants to see. You know what happens in my mind? My mind, which is naturally and divinely designed to find the female body attractive, meanders off into secret longing. Longing becomes fantasy. Fantasy become covetousness. Covetousness becomes…

And that is wrong. It is sin. Those women’s sexuality – their bodies, their beauties – is not for me. My wife’s sexuality – her body and her beauty – is not for you. And when my daughter reaches sexual maturity, her body and her beauty is not for you either. It is for her husband – the man my wife and I pray for often, although we do not know his name.

God made my daughter beautiful. I know that one day, he will bring along that man who will become the steward of her beauty. He will (prayerfully) treasure her beauty that is entrusted to him. He will revel in it and be blessed by God’s handiwork. Until that man comes along, I have always encouraged my daughter to hold her beauty in trust for him.

Music Flashback

This is from November 2010, right before the merger. It is interesting in a couple of ways – not just how the stage and band has been shuffled and reformed but also the congregation that is gathered (although we can only see the backs of people’s heads).

I love our musicians and cannot wait until my wife is singing again!

A Strong Woman

Yesterday, during the message I noted that the Philippian church was started with women, and that among them was one particularly strong woman named Lydia.

All too often, people assume that Christianity is a male-dominated faith, but in reality, women have played crucial roles in its development at every stage.

  • Jesus’ mother Mary played a prominent role in the lives of his early followers. In the book of Acts, the author goes out of his way to note that Mary was with the disciples when the Holy Spirit fell upon the church at Pentecost.
  • A number of women – mostly the mothers and aunts of the disciples – are seen following Jesus in the gospels, including after his death.
  • Jesus’ ministry was mostly financed and provided for by women.
  • Jesus interacts with a number of women who become witnesses to his miracles.

Especially in Philippi, women were foundations of the congregation. Although there were clearly male leaders in the congregation at the time Paul wrote his letter – chief among them Epaphroditus (2:25) – the women were there at the beginning.

One woman among the others stands out to us, and that is Lydia. She is referred to only three times in the Scriptures, all in Acts 16. But it is clear from the references that she was a businesswoman of substantial means. She was used to getting things done and being forceful when necessary.

I think that many male church leaders are intimidated by women like Lydia. If we’re honest, men in our society still have something of a medieval attitude toward women. I don’t mean this in a negative way. It is just that in medieval society, women were treated as objects of affection. This is the source of chivalry – this idea that a woman is to be protected.

That’s all fine and good, but there is also something to be said for a strong woman. The woman depicted in Proverbs 31 is not a weak woman, waiting for a man to tell her what to do. She is a partner in her husband’s work. She is confident, strong, and fearless. She couples those attributes with wisdom and submission. The king’s mother concludes:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears YHWH is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

The word charm could also be translated “sensuality” or “attractiveness” and beauty has as much to do with the physical attributes of physical attractiveness. These things are not be denied (who doesn’t want their wife to be beautiful?) but they are secondary to her internal strength.

When we look at the way our culture views women – particularly young women – is there any doubt that more value is assigned to charm and beauty than it is to internal strength?

Give me a strong woman over a weak man any day. A woman who does not need to rely on charms and beauty to get ahead – a woman who is confident in who God has made her.