“How do I look?” Part 6 of 7
To access all posts in this series, click here.
To recap, several months ago, Mary Kassian, Christian blogger and author of the best seller Girls Gone Wise, wrote a post entitled “What Not to Wear“, that started the fray. When Pastor Mark Driscoll twittered her “What Not to Wear” post, the Girls Gone Wise website got flooded with so many visitors that it temporarily downed the site.
Partly in response to the hullabaloo, Rachel Held Evans, a self described “Christ-follower” and skeptic, wrote a post entitled “Thou Shalt Not Let Thyself Go” which begins with a quotation from Pastor Mark Driscoll back in 2006, “A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”
Evans fallaciously concluded her post with the question, “Guys – What is your reaction to the suggestion that a wife’s changing body incites men to cheat?”
Pastor Challies, full time pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, responded to Evans’ post taking on the sometimes daunting task in our currently ultra-feminized and ultra-secularized culture of writing an article that specifically deals with how important appearance is in marriage while disagreeing on the whole with Evan’s sexist worldview.
In short, the entire affair was a bit of a firestorm in the Christian blog-o-sphere and the conclusion was heard loud and clear to the four corners of the internet: the subject of appearance — particularly female appearance — is utterly taboo.
So, I am about to talk at yet more length about that forbidden subject with neither a net nor a stunt double should things go badly.
Cannibals and Appearance Perfectionism
If one were to inform a cannibal that it is wrong to consume human flesh, communicating such a black and white concept might deeply offend the cannibal. The notion that the cannibal is somehow “wrong” challenges long held traditional values, personal bias, and widely accepted cultural conventions. The cannibal might raise a real ruckus as a result of some deeply taken personal offense. The cannibal might even take action to retaliate. The cannibal might call me names and question my heritage; might tell me that I have no basis for leveling the accusation since I have never personally eaten another person; might sputter and fume and spout hundreds of additional fallacious arguments.
None of that repudiates the truth claim that it is ultimately WRONG to eat people. The level of personal offense someone takes when presented with a truth claim does nothing whatsoever to invalidate the truth claim.
Pardon me while I deeply offend some cannibals.
In my opinion, this constant desire for physical perfection of appearance is a relic of Phase Two Militant Feminism, has everything to do with unhealthy body image, and is primarily meant to drive a wedge between men and women in the ongoing “battle of the sexes” because that battle is, and those wedges are, culturally useful to Satan.
That wedge helps to create TWO resentful individuals who generally despise each other instead of forming ONE united couple who love each other entirely, cleave unto each other, and enjoy an eternal bond in the form of holy matrimony.
Buying into the lie of appearance perfectionism to excess is evidenced by every parent of every 4 year old girl they ever forced to participate in a “beauty pageant.”
Those drums? Those are just cannibals. Ignore them. We don’t serve their kind, here.
Buying into appearance perfectionism to excess can partly explain eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, or obsessive dieting and pill popping. It is the reason for the pervasive narcissism that rockets the makeup, fashion, and “supplement” industries into billion dollar a year enterprises.
Depression over never attaining that mythical perfection of appearance helps explain behaviors like cutting, extreme piercing, abundant tattoos, elective plastic surgeries, and many other forms of self mutilation.
How about the GOTH look and other highly refined and specifically defined “non-conformist” looks to which participants must strictly conform as an outward demonstration of rejecting those who would conform to the appearance perfection lie?
The appearance perfection lie is peddled to women by preying on their natural (God given and designed) desire to look beautiful and be desirable for their husbands. The lie perverts that truth and is retold that unless women look PERFECT then all men will see them as ugly, unattractive, undesirable, common, and tiresome because of a few wrinkles, a few gray hairs, a few extra pounds, or a few stretch marks. The lie is that women must look PERFECT or else all males will view them as other than beautiful and desirable.
In my experience, when one hears a truth for the first time, it rings like a bell. There is a profound sense of realization. Epiphany. It is possible that part or parts of a jaded worldview are changed or discarded forever, and actions and attitudes in life accordingly follow. I am about to share just one of many profound truths that Militant Feminism doesn’t want females to ever, ever learn.
Modern girls — be very careful if repeating this in mixed company. You may have your Feminist Lifetime Membership downgraded or even revoked. Here it is.
Profound Truth #3: To normal, healthy men — women are pretty. Women are beautiful. Women are attractive. Women are desirable. Women are special. Women are lovable. Women bring joy. Women inspire men to greatness. You know something else? God made us this way and He did it on purpose. We are designed to see you as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” and that design drives us to let you be the impetus for irrevocably changing our lives. What brings men deep satisfaction is when we try and succeed at bringing you a measure of the delight that you bring us.
The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Affirmations
The Danvers Statement was prepared by several evangelical leaders at a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) meeting in Danvers, Massachusetts, in December of 1987. The entire statement is available here. The 10 affirmations are as follows:
- Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18).
- Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).
- Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).
- The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (Gen 3:1-7, 12, 16).
- In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.
- In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.
- The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18; Gal 3:28). Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community (Gen 2:18; Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15).
- Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.
- In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership (Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7).
- In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men (Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:11-15).
- In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission-domestic, religious, or civil-ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin (Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Pet 3:1-2).
In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.
- With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).
- We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.
With that understanding, then, does appearance matter in marriage?
Should refusing to take stewardship over one’s personal appearance — “appearance” as defined by whatever subjective standards individual married couples recognize — be considered sinful?
Though it sometimes depends, the real, very thoughtfully, very prayerfully arrived at, and very honest answer is — yes.
YES, appearance matters in marriage and failing to be a good steward can be sinful.
Not only does stewardship of subjective appearance matter, it matters in many ways and at many different times.
It absolutely matters.
Pass the people sauce.
I’ll conclude this series with tomorrow’s post.