Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are You Beautiful?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. — Proverbs 31:30 (NASB95)

Over a five-year period, photographer Zed Nelson visited seventeen countries as he documented the global craze for beauty. In his book, Love Me, Nelson writes, "Beauty is a $160 billion-a-year global industry. Body improvement has become a new religion."– Joseph Stromberg, "The Distressing Worldwide Boom in Cosmetic Surgery," Smithsonian magazine, October 2012

Let’s face it. There is something to be said for beauty. Few of us are attracted to “ugly” nearly like we’re attracted to “beautiful.” It’s understandable that people want to modify their physical imperfections, even if it’s just temporary. Many are going for a more permanent solution. Plastic surgeons cater to an ever-growing number of people who want to be snipped, tucked, lifted, or modified in some way that will enhance the natural limitations of the body they’ve got.

There are popular TV shows about little children who are entered into “beauty contests” where they are dressed and painted to achieve results that are anything but “normal.”

In the South, there are many small towns that still have “beauty reviews,” or pageants meant to give budding beauties the opportunity to have everybody applaud the fresh face of youth.

Of course, this also means that many, many more people without the financial means to pay for surgery, or even to participate in the pageants, must sit at home and develop the sad idea that they’re somehow not “worth” as much because their looks can’t compete.

I’m not going to bother getting into a discussion about the merits or demerits of all this emphasis on physical beauty, or the potential damage it does to so many people. You can sort that out however you please. I will suggest, that while the Bible acknowledges beauty, and even uses the concept of beauty to describe wonderfully marvelous things, the Bible also cautions us that there is another kind of beauty that often goes unnoticed and undeveloped.

It’s what some call “inner beauty.” No, it’s not nearly as visually appealing, at least most of the time, and it can certainly be overwhelmed and clouded by all the emphasis on outward or physical beauty. Still, inner beauty is more important in the long run for one simple reason. Physical beauty always fades. Inner beauty never does. One beauty grows weak, the other grows stronger. One is temporary, the other really is permanent. Are you beautiful? How?