Through the blog of a friend, who belongs to a pastor’s wives blog roll, I’ve discovered a woman who is married to a Baptist pastor in Chicago. She is a completely different kind of Christian from me, and probably would not even admit that I deserve the title (and/or would pray fervently for my soul, if she knew about my spiritual state). Anyway, I appreciate her optimism and delight in the world around her, and her solid simple faith in the Bible as the word of God. These are all things which I lack, and while I am happy with my honest doubts, I fear I would look like a grumpy cynic were I to dismiss anyone else whose spiritual walk was not wracked with similar ambiguity.
This woman is leading a woman’s Bible study on "A Woman and her Appearance" which she posts on her blog. Basically, she has looked at various Biblical passages and come to the conclusion that God cares about our appearance, and He wants us to look beautiful and womanly. I, to put it mildly, disagree. In fact, the first sermon I ever gave at Ecclesiax (back in the days of innocence, before I became de facto pulpit supply) was about our bodies – about our need to accept them and then to move beyond them. If I believe anything about God’s interaction with humans, it is that He sees our souls, and that he wants us to do likewise when we look at other people.
I believe that every person has inherent worth, and a focus on beauty separates us from this truth. In our society, old people are considered ugly – but I can’t accept that God does not love old people, or that he wants women to try to hide the outward evidence of their life experience. Also, poor people are often not as beautiful as rich people, because what we consider beauty is a luxury taking time and money - Jesus was pretty loud and clear about his preference of the poor over the rich.
I do not embrace many absolutes in my faith, but from what little I understand about God, I am pretty sure He does not want me to put my energy into trying to be pretty.