Beauty Defined

Beauty Defined

by Anonymous Warrior Poet | March 1, 2013

The other day, a friend and I went to visit the Apple store. When we arrived, I was reminded of why I don’t like going to the mall: the barrage of materialism, sexuality, and marketing was everywhere. While I enjoyed the Apple store, the walk through the mall to get there left me nauseous.

Beauty is constantly being pushed at us. Fashion magazines, cosmetic surgery, movies, television, and the culturally savvy masculine voice are all screaming, “You need to be more beautiful!” And yet the shape of beauty is constantly changing. In the 17th and 18th centuries beauty, success, and prosperity were measured by the width of the waistline – plump was pretty. In today’s culture, the mantra is, “the thinner the better.” Obviously, beauty must mean something more than a fleeting complexion or a lustful desire of what guys want a woman’s body to look like. How then are we, both warriorpoet men and set apart women, to understand true beauty, beauty as God intended it to be?

I love a good crossword puzzle, and the fun of thinking through different words that mean the same thing. According to my thesaurus, a few synonyms for beauty are: attractiveness, prettiness, good looks, allure, charm, appeal, grace, elegance, splendor, decorativeness, glamour, and perhaps my favorite: pulchritude. Growing up, I heard it said countless times: “Pulchritude is in the eye of the beholder.” 

But is it? Could it be that beauty transcends what you or I behold? What if beauty is bigger than appearance or personality? Look at how the concept of beauty is seen throughout Scripture:

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"Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!" (1 Ch. 16:29).

"Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness" (Ps. 29:2).

"Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth" (Ps. 96:9).

The essence of beauty is God. Why then does the psalmist declare the beauty of holiness? Because God is holy. He doesn’t have holiness, He is holiness. He is the full expression and fulfillment of holiness. Holiness is beautiful because God is beautiful.

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands" (Ps. 90:17).

"Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary" (Ps. 96:6).

"One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple" (Ps. 27:4).

"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty..." (Isa. 33:17). 

While it is true that there are several references in Scripture to the beauty of people and objects, the concept of beauty stems from the fact that God Himself is beautiful. The reason the people of Israel were considered beautiful is not because they were elegantly adorned or into the latest fashion, but because the King of all kings, the beautiful and majestic Lord Himself, dwelt among them (see Psalm 50:2, Isaiah 28:5, Lamentations 2:15, Hosea 14:6, and Zechariah 9:16-17). The Israelites were described as a beautiful people because a beautiful God inhabited them.

This is clearly seen in Ezekiel 16:14-15, speaking of Jerusalem: 

‘Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it.’

What may appear to be a shocking statement from the lips of God is actually deep sadness. God looks at Israel and says with a pained voice, “You were once beautiful; I adorned you with Myself and set you as a picture to the nations of what I look like. And your fame was known throughout the lands because of My beauty being displayed in and through you. But rather than continue to live in My beauty, you began to trust in your own and are now acting as a harlot.”

Ouch. Israel receives a heart-wrenching rebuke from the Lord for turning to their own perception of beauty rather than living in the splendor of His. What if beauty was never meant to be about us? I’m not suggesting that we stop taking showers, leave our homes unkempt, or start dressing in a shabby manner. On the contrary, our lives should be laced with honor and respect, but the beauty of them is all about Him, not us.

Peter makes an interesting statement when he writes, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:3-4). We are not to define beauty in how we look, act, or dress. We find our beauty and worth in the Person of Jesus. He is the standard by which all things are compared. When we find our place in Him, we take on His loveliness which far outshines our external physical beauty. It is Jesus shining through our lives that captivates the world and draws people to Himself.

In The Lost Art of True Beauty, Leslie writes, 

Women who exuded enchanting beauty can be found all throughout the pages of Christian history...[they] rejected the empty feminine charm of the world and embraced an altogether different kind of beauty – the beauty of Jesus Christ. They showcased femininity as God intended it to be in all its elegance, grace, nobility, and lasting loveliness...[God] created us to shine with royal beauty. Not to dazzle with a self-promoting beauty; but to be a sparkling reflection of the stunning beauty of our King. 

True beauty is found in Jesus. When a set apart woman is captured and captivated by Him, and her life is all about one thing – Christ – then to a warriorpoet, she truly is the most beautiful, romantic, and enchanting thing to behold. It is not about outward appearance; it is about the life which flows out of intimacy with the King. 

May I propose a new set of synonyms for godly beauty not found in your thesaurus? A captivating, set apart woman who is utterly beautiful is one who:

is consumed with intimacy with Jesus

consistently sneaks away to spend time with her heavenly Bridegroom

loves the least of this world, rescues the orphan, and cares for the widow

proclaims the Gospel with no thought to her life, comfort, or social status

lives with elegant modesty which dares not distract others or draw attention to herself

lives completely abandoned, poured-out, available, surrendered, and dependent upon Jesus Christ

As one of my friends said in a recent warriorpoet article: “I can’t tell you the beauty that is seen in a woman when she has been with the Lord, dwelling on His majesty and greatness.” 

Yes, it is true that the shape of worldly beauty continues to change. Women are bombarded daily with a thousand messages about how to look, act, and draw attention to themselves. But if you wish to live a beautiful, set-apart life, it can only be done in Jesus.

In light of this biblical understanding, I plan on marrying the most captivating and beautiful of all women – not because she turns heads or makes men stop in their tracks, but because she is so caught up in Jesus that His beauty has become hers.*