June 15, 2021

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

What an interesting paradox.  We are told that the inside is more important than the outside and that bodily exercise profit little and yet we have to keep this body maintained and in order to point others to Christ we have to have some degree of fitness.

You see, it is all about our heart and our heart’s attitude, but a heart that has a desire to please God and bring others to Him will also want to take care of his or her temple so that it does not distract from the Gospel of peace.

We’ve spent a lot of time here at MInTheGap pointing out that the beauty we see in photographs is not real.  We’ve talked about how beauty pageants emphasize a wrong aspect of the feminine ideal, and I’m not taking that back.  But I fear that if we spend too much time talking down keeping our body presentable, we begin to encourage an apathy to good health and exercise to our own detriment.

What has gotten me thinking about this is an article by Garance Franke-Ruta in the Opinion Journal, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all that she is saying, she certainly makes this point:

What is clear is that, over the past century, American women have changed their shape. Most noticeably, they have gained so much poundage that, today, more than half are overweight and a third are clinically obese. The sharpest spike in obesity has come since the late 1970s. There are all sorts of reasons, of course–from the rise of corn syrup as a sweetener to the increased portion sizes of our daily meals and our increasingly sedentary styles of life. And yet the doctrine of “natural beauty”–so favored by the self-esteem brigades of the 1970s and still confusing women today–asks women to accept themselves as this unnatural environment has made them.

What the critics of the beauty industry further fail to recognize is that the doctrine of “natural beauty”–and the desire it breeds in women to be accepted as they are or to be seen as beautiful without any effort–is a ruthless and anti-egalitarian ideal. It is far more punishing than the one that says any woman can be beautiful if she merely treats beauty as a form of discipline.

Do you see the point I think she made?  I believe she makes a strong point here (and following) that beauty– and not the Photoshop variety– is a lot of work.  We shouldn’t be saying that we can all be a vision of beauty on the outside without work.  We Christians know that Proverbs 31 and the Peter passage I linked to at the beginning says that true beauty is from within– however, we must not kid ourselves into the place where we believe that we should just “come as we are” and “everyone should think I’m stunning.”

Neither should being stunning be our goal– since we are not to be drawing attention to ourselves.  I certainly don’t see anything wrong in being fit, presenting an attractive figure to our spouse, or any of that.  We need to have a good energy level to serve and raise children.  We need to have some strength in order to do things around the house, church or in service to others.  We just cannot let it elevate itself to dominating our lives (the 3 hours a day some exercise) OR say that we don’t need any of it.  For the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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4 thoughts on “Beauty is Only Skin Deep

  1. We are to take care of God’s gift. He gave us life and our bodies, and we must use these gifts wisely, meaning that we should take care of our health. Obesity is not healthy, no doubt about it. So one should not use the Bible as an excuse for not doing anything. Sitting in one place and stuffing one’s mouth with food is sinful.
    So – yes – the truth is somewhere in the middle. Beauty is only skin-deep, but let us not make this skin be accompanied with 5 inches of fat 🙂

    Merry Christmas Everybody!
    Eat with moderation 😉

  2. Actually, and I know this is an alternative view and must be tempered with love, I am waiting for the day when the church (as in peer pressure) views obesity brought on by out of control eating as a sin, equal to – say – drinking or smoking or bankruptcy or even gossip.

    And it goes for men as well as women, although we are the greater offenders.

  3. Doesn’t the Church already view gluttony as sin?

    Maybe, though, the issue is that we get fixated on the sin of others – and if we are all overweight then we cannot do that without fixating on our own sin. Much easier to worry about deceitfulness or sexual sin or something.

    But if we were more concerned about our own sin, and less about others, then yes indeed. We should care about our health, about gluttony, and how much (and what) we consume when others go hungry.


  4. It is a paradox, indeed. I remember a time when I wondered if I might be “sinning” by spending time being healthy. It takes time, you know, to “learn” to eat/be/get healthy. It takes time to go “counter-cultural” and NOT live on fast food or boxed food. It takes time to exercise. Would that time be better spent on praying, or ministering?

    Well, I figured out that I can pray while exercising. I can pray at ALL times! 🙂 I really, truly, came to a place that I could see the balance. I took the time to learn to eat and cook healthily. Once learned, it doesn’t take a huge time commitment – but it is a valuable thing to learn.

    It is not holy to be unhealthy – for then much time will be consumed with doctor’s offices and monitoring medication.

    It is also not good to spend a large amount of time consumed with one’s looks, or physical appearance. I think we do the best with what we have been given – then give it back to Him as an act of worship.

    If we do NOT take care of ourselves,we will not have much to give to others. We will burn out well before we need to, by the act of poor stewardship.

    I love this topic, and so many of the thoughts you bring up. Thank you all, and a blessed Christmas time.

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