Am I Really Beautiful?

If I didn’t hate the open letter model of blogging and internet communication so deeply, I would have begun this blog post, “Dear women’s ministry, stop telling us we are beautiful”.  The feminism movement and society at large have undertaken the impossible task of convincing every woman that she is truly beautiful in her own skin and the Church has jumped on this bandwagon in the spiritual sense.  Books have been written about how beautiful we are in the eyes of God, women have been empowered by believing the mantra that God has created us just how He wants us, and women’s groups are seeking to convince us that we are all special; we are all beautiful daughters of God.  The frills and the bows and the tea parties are all just as sweet as pie.

Now, I was an outdoorsy tomboy type growing up and while I love to get dressed up and wear my pearls I still prefer cool tones and minimalist decor and have never in my life been accused of being overly girly.  Thus the traditional mother-daughter, pink and lacy events have always been lost on me.  But this new movement of self-realization and self-empowerment for women is extremely dangerous at best – heretical at worst – and it is more than simple preference.  Here’s why:

We, as human beings, are not fundamentally beautiful and perfect “just the way we are”.  In fact, the entire message of the Gospel is that we are sinful, wicked, and damned without a hope “just the way we are”.  We are all born with a sinful nature and can only sin apart from God (Rom 3.23, 1 John 1.8).  This sin – any sin – is condemnable before God because He is perfect and just and therefore cannot overlook it (Rom 6.23, Ex 34.7).

“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good, there is not even one.”

– Rom 3.10-12

In order to understand God, Jesus and our eternal hope we must first and foremost understand this sobering reality about ourselves.  Yes, it is magnificently and beautifully true that God loves us, but He loves us in spite of this terrible reality and we must confess this reality in order to enter into right relationship with Him.  His love for us is not fundamentally based on who we are or what we have done.  His love for us is based on His goodness, His mercy and His glory.  We cannot earn His love, we do not deserve His love and we cannot make ourselves presentable to Him.  He makes us presentable and that is why we can – and must – come to Him “just as we are”.  We are hopeless and helpless without Him.

Thus when we understand the Gospel
we stop looking at ourselves and start looking at God.

It is not God’s primary objective to give us good self esteem.  It is not God’s primary objective to make us feel beautiful and valuable and warm and fuzzy.  It is, in fact, God’s primary objective to help us die to ourselves in order to look to Him and love Him and serve Him and others selflessly.

[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.”

 – John 3.30

The fallacy of focusing on “our identity in Christ” is that we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them back on ourselves.

Now, theologically and practically it is extremely important to understand our role and purpose as Christians and in Christ.  Much of the New Testament is geared towards explaining our roles in the body (the Church), in society and as individuals.  It is right and good to understand and receive God’s love and to therefore walk confidently in the identity of a chosen race and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2.9).  But we must always remember the purpose and end of these truths:  to bring glory to God.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not receive mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 – 1 Peter 2.9-10

Am I beautiful?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It is good and right to take care of ourselves physically.  Asceticism is not what God calls us to, but we as women should adorn ourselves well both inside and outside.  Sometimes we miss the word “merely” in Peter’s exhortation to women and convince ourselves that our physical appearance does not matter:

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

 – 1 Peter 3.3-4

The Proverbs 31 woman that we all idolize dresses well and takes care of her body:

“She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.”

“She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

 – Prov 31.17, 22

We must also remember that God has given us our physical bodies and we must take care of them and be good stewards of them.  But our goal must not and cannot be pride or finding our value in our appearance.  Our goal must be to bring glory and honor to God by how we are presenting ourselves and caring for our bodies and our souls.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Cor 10.31

Therefore, ladies, let us stop clinging to and trying to convince ourselves of the fact that God finds us beautiful.  Because we are only beautiful and lovely insomuch that we are in Christ.  When we are covered by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus, we are indeed beautiful before God but it is not because of our physical appearance and it is not because of who we are.  It is because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.  He does not want us to find our value or self worth in ourselves but in Him.  Let us stop looking at ourselves.  Let us get over ourselves.  Let us decrease so that Christ may increase.  Let us focus on Him.  Let us live to bring glory and honor to Him.


Why are we so consumed with beauty?


Last week Dove put out another feel good video about beauty.  The premise was simple.  They took two doors that were side-by-side entrances to buildings in major cities around the world and labeled one door “average” and the other door “beautiful”.  They put stanchions between the two to help people funnel into the door they had chosen, and then they interviewed women about the door choice they made.

Why are we so concerned about convincing ourselves and others that we are beautiful?  Dove continues to make these videos, there are continual facebook ads on the sidebar reading “redefining sexy”, and a push for plus sized models to be called simply “models”. We, as Christians, should not have the end goal of high self esteem, we should have the end goal of confidence in God.  We should not find our value in our appearance, but in our salvation and the transformation of our personalities and character by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible has a few very poignant things to say about beauty:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

– Prov 31.30

Beauty is vain.  Do you know why?  Because we came from ashes and to ashes we will return.  As we grow older, our bodies begin to deteriorate and the beauty of our youth fades away.  In Scripture this is actually considered an honor, but our culture values youth and immaturity.  We run from commitment, we shun the elderly, and we spend millions of dollars on beauty products and surgeries that help us look younger.  But even if we maintain physical beauty for the seventy five years that we have here on earth, when we die, we will become ashes.

“By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

– Gen 3.19

Beauty is vain because it is fleeting, and it is meaningless.  It fades with age and forever vanishes upon our death.


– 1 Peter 1.24-25

But the word of the Lord endures forever!  What is it about which God is concerned?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

– 1 Sam 16.7

God has created each one of us uniquely and individually, and He knows us fully.  He knows our physical appearance – counting even the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12.7), He formed our bodies while we were each still in the womb (Ps 139.13), and He chose His own before we were even conceived in the womb (Jer 1.5).  But more importantly, He knows our hearts, and He is concerned with the passions and desires of our hearts.  David, who was a handsome man, had many wives and immeasurable success and wealth was a man after God’s own heart because he loved God and sought to know and please Him.  Physical beauty, wealth and power were gifts from God because of his heart.  Paul, perhaps the most influential New Testament author, lived in poverty, with a malady of the eyes, and of modest stature and appearance.  No one would have considered Paul handsome, but yet he was one of the most dynamic men to serve the Church.

Beauty is a distraction. God has given us bodies, and expects us to be good stewards of them.  The Holy Spirit inhabits our bodies and they are called a “temple” because He resides in us (1 Cor 6.19).  We should well care for these temples that He has given us, eating well, practicing good hygiene, exercising, just general good maintenance.  We do not do that because we are vain and seek affirmation and attention for our appearance, but because our bodies are a gift from God and we want to honor Him with how we steward them.  If we are not faithful in the small things, how will He entrust us with the big things?

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

– Luke 16.10-12

And if it is our goal to know and honor God, we should try to understand what it is that He finds beautiful.  What does He find beautiful?

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

1 Peter 3.3-4

Notice here that Peter does not say we should not get dressed up and try to look our best.  He says it should not be only that.  Some people take the ascetic route and try to rob God of the glory of the beauty of His creation by purposefully not making themselves beautiful.  But God created the Earth in all of its splendor.  He created the sunsets, the oceans, the snow, the mountains, everything beautiful.  And He created us.  We should make ourselves look beautiful – for His glory and His honor.  Not for man’s approval.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

– Eph 2.10

God created us to know and honor Him.  He created us uniquely, and individually.  We were taught as children that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to be beautiful before God, we must love Him, be humble, take care of that which He has entrusted us (namely, our bodies – amongst everything else), and we must value the inner man.  Beauty is fleeting and beauty is vain.  Charm is deceptive.  But the woman who fears the Lord – she will be praised. Let’s stop focusing on making ourselves feel better by trying to convince ourselves and one another that we are beautiful.  Every woman has body issues.  Every. Single. One.  But our bodies are not the end goal.  They will die and return to ash.  Our souls will not.  Let’s focus on being women and people who love and honor God.  Be beautiful and healthy to the glory of God, but remember that God looks on the heart.

How much time do you spend getting physically ready for each day?

How much time do you spend getting Spiritually ready for each day?

Which do you think God values more?

Does Jesus want me to be frumpy?

No two-pieced swimsuits.


That was the rule growing up in my household.  I remember throwing a birthday party the summer before my fifth grade year and inviting everyone I knew, and shamelessly flaunting my untimely developed friend before my mom and asking her, “don’t you like her swimsuit?!”  This, of course, was one of the unthinkable legalisms imposed on me that stunted my social development and coolness-factor at school.  This was well before the days of tankinis and stylish one-peices with ruffles and stylish designs.  Yes, I was doomed to forever wear the sport style latex that you had to roll up your legs and perform gymnast contortions to adorn…but yet halfway through the summer the elastic would start to break down and it would sag and droop in all the wrong places.

I. Was. Glamorous.

But then once a year youth camp rolled around.  Included with the parental consent forms, basic instructions and required medications was the infamous dress code.  At youth camp, everyone had to wear a one piece swim suit.  I no longer was the odd man out!  All of the girls looked as though they were ready for a swim competition, and we all wore our oversized T-shirts to get to the pool (half of the girls wore their shirts in the pool) because of how unfashionable we were!  Shorts had to be at least fingertip length, no spaghetti strap tank tops, nothing suggestive.  My entire wardrobe fit the dress code at camp.  I never had to test my clothes.

But then I hit high school.  And the rite of passage to teenage years was the opportunity to go on mission trips.  Now this was a huge deal.  All of the girls would go out to goodwill and buy giant maxi skirts and old T-shirts that did not match because everyone knows that missionaries have no style, right?  Not only that, they wear clothes that are two sizes two big for them so that they do not cause anyone to stumble in any way.  And ugly maxi skirts that drag the ground and have no shape (with a pair of biking shorts underneath) with a frumpy T-shirt of course is the best way to portray modesty and sacrifice.  That is, after all, what we’re doing.  We are sacrificing ourselves for two weeks to go serve the poor.  So we will just leave those terrible clothes with the needy when we come home!

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.  Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

 – Matt 6.16-18

Do you know what Jesus calls people who dress modestly for camp and not for life?  Hypocrites.  We could read this passage from the sermon on the mount in this way:

“Whenever you [go to camp], do not put on [clothes that you deem appropriate for God] as the hypocrites do, for they [change] their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they [do something for God].”

How about buying yucky clothes to leave on the mission field?

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 – Matt 22.39

Do you know what Jesus says about giving away your clothes?  He says give to others what you would want for yourself.  Not your sloppy seconds.  Your dirty leftovers.  Love them as you love yourself.  Put their needs before your own (Phil 2.3-4).  To love the way that Christ loves, when we give away our clothes, we should give away the brand new ones that we just bought at the store, not the worn out ones that we will not wear anymore!  Or better yet, take someone to the store and buy them what they want!  Do you think that just because someone lives in a foreign country that they have no sense of style or quality?  If a person has no shoes, he will most likely be thankful to be given anything to cover his feet.  But what would it say to him if you gave him that $150 pair of running shoes that you haven’t even broken in yet?  He can break them in to fit his feet!  Is he worth a new pair?

But I digress.

Why would our clothing standards for a mission trip or youth camp be different from the rest of our lives?  My parents hit the nail squarely on the head.  And as a youth, at times, I hated it.  My shorts had to be a credit card length past my fingertips, and it was indisputable that I have long arms.  So much so that I basically quit wearing shorts (aside from athletic shorts for running) early in high school.  Why did they do this?  Because God is always watching and because I was always His ambassador.  Not just at Church.  Not just at youth camp.  Not just on mission trips.  And I need to seek to honor him in the way that I dress and present myself.  Always.  As I walked out the door, my dad’s admonition was always, “Remember whose you are”.

Cue: the cultural modesty war.  The Bible says that women should cover their heads and that men should have beards (1 Cor 11.5-6).  Our churches today consider those issues of culture that are not regulatory for believers today.  Today’s trends of the micro-mini skirt and transparent tops leave nothing to the imagination but are accepted by society in general as appropriate.

So how do we know?  It ultimately comes down to you and your relationship with God.  Can you wear that micro-mini skirt to the glory and honor of God?  Or do you wear it to show off your toned legs and nice spray tan, and catch the attention of men?  Do you honor your husband by showing as much flesh as possible when you go to the grocery store, the park, the pool or church?  Or do you keep yourself for his pleasure because your body now belongs to him to the glory of God (1 Cor 7.4)?

If I may make one personal suggestion, it would be this.  If you find yourself on stage at church in any leadership position, please make sure that your skirt is long enough that the audience below cannot see up it.

Always take it to God.  Would you be embarrassed for Him to return and for you to meet him face to face wearing what you are wearing, or doing what you are doing?  If you are raising children, instill these values in them!  To consider your three year old cute in her bikini, precious when she has a boyfriend in kindergarten and adorable when they kiss on the playground in second grade – who is to blame when she becomes sexually promiscuous at fourteen and gets pregnant at sixteen?  But to teach her the value of using her body as a tool to honor God by the way she presents herself, acts, and is sexually prepared for marriage is beautiful!

Let’s not be modest for modesty’s sake.  Let’s be modest for God.  Let’s present our bodies holy and blameless, without spot or wrinkle to Him.  As instruments for His service.  To His glory.  God clothes the grass of the field more beautifully than Solomon, the richest man who ever lived.  God also clothed Solomon, the richest man who ever lived.  God created the sunrise, the oceans, the mountains, all things that are beautiful and He enjoys beauty.  He never commands us to degrade ourselves or make ourselves ugly for Him.  Glorify Him in your bodies!  Be beautiful.  Not frumpy.  And be consistent!


I am not awesome.

Yesterday I saw a video making it’s debut into the social network system, and it is soon to be viral, I am sure.  It is posted on a faith oriented website and as the speaker opened his mouth to begin building up women, my stomach immediately dropped:

Here is the script of what this man says:

You are beautiful.  You are smart.  You are funny.  You are kind.  You are unique.  You are worthy of love and affection.  You are never too much and you are always enough.  You are precious.  You are a diamond, a rose, a pearl, the most stunning of all God’s creation.  You are worth more than you could ever imagine.

Worth more than the numbers on a scale, the hair product you use, or the shoes you wear.  More than how many girls wish they were you or how many guys wish they had you.  More than the price tags on your clothes or the percentage at the top of your math test, or even the number of followers you have on twitter.

Your worth surpasses all earthly things because in the eyes of the Lord God, you are loved.  And you are worth dying for.

Regardless of who you think you are.  Whether you are a model in a magazine or you model pottery with grandma.  Whether you are on the hot list or the not list.  Whether you are head cheerleader or a high school drop out.  Whether you are miss popular or you have never had anyone you have called  a friend.  Whether you love yourself and love your life or you can’t stand to look in the mirror and you feel like everything in your life is falling apart.  Whether you are such a winner or you feel like the world’s biggest failure, regardless of who you think you are, the reality is that you deserve someone who would give up their life for you because you are powerful and strong and capable.  Read about the women in the Bible.  Esther, Ruth, Martha, Mary.  These women changed the world forever.  And inside of you, each and every one of you is a woman with that same power and that same strength and that same world changing capability, and your responsibility is to find that woman and to set that woman free.  This is who you are.  And any voices in your mind that try and tell you differently are from the enemy.  And the next time you hear them, this is what you say, you say “Nuh uh, not me Satan, I am a daughter of the living God:  cherished, loved, and adored above all things by the creator of all things for the glory of Him who is greater than all things.  I am awesome.”

And please, don’t you forget it.

Women.  Please.  Do not buy into the lies.

Why?  Because the premise is fundamentally flawed.  Life, meaning and purpose is not about you.  It is about God.  It is all about God.  If you already believe all of these things about yourself, you are proud and deep in sin.  God alone should satisfy you, not confidence in yourself and in your abilities to “change the world”.  If you have no self esteem and think “woe is me” because you have no ability to change the world, you are in sin for lack of faith in God for His ability to work through you.  Either way, to look unto yourself for purpose, beauty, satisfaction, confidence, whatever – that is sin.

The Bible makes it extremely clear that in and of ourselves we are sinful, we are wicked, we are dead in our trespasses and hostile to God (John 8.44, Rom 3.10, Eph 2.1, Rom 8.7).  We are in desperate need of a savior!  But God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish (as we all deserve) but should have everlasting life (John 3.16).

Our confidence is not in ourselves.  Our confidence is in Jesus Christ.  Alone (Heb 4.16).  Apart from Christ, I can do nothing (John 15.5).  Apart from Christ, I can only sin (Rom 14.23).

The only statement of relative truth benefit that this man makes is “I am a daughter of the living God:  cherished, loved, and adored above all things by the creator of all things for the glory of Him who is greater than all things.”  But even in this, we must beware of the pride expressed therein:  we are not loved above all things.  We are loved as part of the bride of Christ, the body for which He died on the cross.  Yes, this is lavish, unmerited, godly, unfathomable, agape love which we cannot comprehend – but I am not #1 in His eyes.  He exists primarily for His own glory.  And saving us and sanctifying us brings Him glory (Is 42.6-8).  Collectively.  We are each a part of the body.  I am not God’s entire focus.  You are not the apple of God’s eye.  We, together, as a corporate body of believers, are His bride.

Esther, Ruth, Mary and Martha did not change the world.  God changed the world through Esther, Ruth, Mary and Martha.  It is most certainly not our responsibility to find the Esther inside of us, our responsibility is to love God fully.  With all of our hearts, with all of our souls and and with all of our might (Deut 6.5, Matt 22.37).

God might use you to change the world.  He might not.  He might send you home to your family to speak of His greatness with your immediate relatives like the demoniac at Gerasenes.  This man had been possessed for years, and Jesus set him free.  You probably remember the story; Jesus cast the demons into the pigs and they all ran off of a cliff and drowned in the sea.  The man wanted to follow Jesus as a disciple, and Jesus sent him home:

“Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

– Mark 5.19

Whatever God’s plan for our lives is, it is our responsibility to serve Him, love Him and trust Him.  We must look at and to Him, not ourselves.  It is only in and by Christ that we can approach the throne of grace (Heb 4.16).  Not because I am beautiful, or smart, or precious, or whatever else this man spoke to an empty auditorium.  Let us not build ourselves up for who we are, who we think we are, or who we want others to think we are.  Look to God.  Find your satisfaction, fulfillment and confidence in the blood of Jesus Christ.  Alone.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

– Prov 31.30

I am not awesome.  You are probably not awesome either.  But that’s OK, because Jesus is.  And that is all that matters.

Let’s talk about beauty.

Yesterday I read a blog entitled “How to talk to your daughter about her body”.  Nearly 1,000 bloggers had liked the post and 1,100 commented on the brilliance of said post.

The foundation on which the post was based was to avoid conversation about a young girl’s body, both positive and negative.  Advice like this was offered:

“Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.  If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that…Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.”

I wholeheartedly agree that our culture has over-sexualized women and that popular conceptions of beauty are unattainable for the average female.  We are not super models, we have normal bodies, normal hair and normal skin.

But I do not think that the solution to building up girls and women is to avoid conversations about their physical appearance.  Humanity has an affinity for beauty.  In nature, in art, in ourselves.  We find people beautiful, and God created us to enjoy beauty, as He Himself is beautiful (Ps 27.4, 96.6).

The concluding point of advice in the article was this:  “Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.”

This author is halfway there.  The best thing that we can do with our bodies is honor God.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, in reference specifically to sexual sin:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

– 1 Cor 6.19-20

We should be so consumed with our passion for God that we seek to eat, drink, work and present ourselves in such a way that glorifies God (Col 3.17, 23; 1 Cor 10.31).  Have you ever thought about that?  Laziness and gluttony are sins.  As are pride and vanity.  God has given us a gift in our bodies and to not take care of them physically is sinful!  But our mindset must be about glorifying God by eating well and exercising, not to look the way that culture tells us to look.  Because to keep our bodies in pristine shape and well groomed for pride’s sake is also a sin.

“For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”

– Phil 3.18-19

If our god is our appetite – in gluttony or self-discipline, or if our god is our own glory in our appearance for pride, then we have set our minds on earthly things and our end is destruction.

So what then?  We are to take care of our bodies and present ourselves in a way that glorifies God.  We all know that the religious fanatics do not wear makeup, have long, untamed hair in buns and rock the coolots and stand out like a sore thumb.  Right?  Wrong.  If God is the most beautiful being in the universe and if He values beauty, so can we.  For His glory.

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

– 1 Peter 3.3-4

Peter emphasizes the full picture.  The condition of the heart is that which can guide our outward appearance; both of which he values here!  Our adornment, when complete, is based on a gentle and quiet spirit which trusts and values and honors God coupled with the external adornment of braided hair, jewelry and dresses.  The adjective “merely” is stated so that we do not stop with the external, as is the temptation for many.

Most diet programs are narcissistic by nature:

“Become your own success story.” – Jenny Craig

“It’s your lifestyle, and your choice.” –Weight Watchers

“You lose the weight and not the lifestyle.” –LA Weight Loss Systems

“It’s for your goals, your hopes and your dreams. It’s for your health, your kids and even your career. Because when you decide to join a health club, or a gym, or whatever you want to call it, you’ve decided to get more out of your life period.” – 24 Hour Fitness

We as Christians should have a motto that declares that we are in shape and care for ourselves because we love God.  And we should value other’s glorification of God by their personal discipline and effort.  If your daughter is seeking to honor God in her body, compliment her heart and her body.  If she is not caring for herself or caring for herself with the wrong motives, live an example of godliness by caring for yourself and your body, and instruct her to do the same!

Be beautiful.  For God.