Commenter Object of Contempt made a great observation about romance, passionate love, and attraction in marriage being interrelated:
“I think, however, that it is part of the vows to do what you can to maintain passionate love. Being attractive is part of that. I also think it is possible to make yourself be in love with someone (having done it myself). There are limits, of course.Romance and passion are often dismissed in christian teaching about marriage, just like attractiveness and beauty are. I suspect this is partially the cause for the attractiveness issue.”
His concern that Christian teachings throw out or dismiss the importance of romance & passion, or attractiveness & beauty in marriage are well-founded. I’ve written before in Men Need an Attractive Wife, that:
Christianity sometimes overstates the importance of inner beauty, making outward care for the appearance to look like materialism and vanity.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain [or fleeting], but a woman who fears the Lord she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
If you take the time to really learn about the Proverbs 31 woman, she does not sound like a woman who let herself go after marriage. She made beautiful clothes for her family using expensive dyes that were usually reserved for royalty or nobility. She worked from early morning until late at night – and her husband sat with important men, bragging about her, do you think he would’ve bragged about her had she just let her appearance go? Obviously, she cared about what her husband liked as far as her appearance and presentation.
“Taking care of your appearance, exercising and making sure you look your best as a woman is not selfish, in fact, if you’re married, it’s selfish not to.”
Christians do tend to, like Object of Contempt pointed out, act like outer attractiveness is “optional,” and that inner beauty is the only thing that is righteous to work toward. He wondered if there was any proof that taking care of attractiveness, especially for a woman, was important to God.
I’m so glad someone asked this question, and I’ll do my best to give my own opinion here, but I’d really love for other people who may be reading this who feel they have a greater understanding of this complicated issue to add their thoughts in the comments (please 🙂 ). So without further ado, this is just one woman’s thoughts and advice, take it for what you will….
From Object of Contempt:
“And among Christian blogs, then I find many more posts that make it all about the inner beauty, and tear it (outer beauty) all down. These posts quote Peter and sound more spiritual and biblical, but I think they distort the truth by focusing on one verse.
How would someone show that God thinks visual attractiveness is important? How would someone show that God thinks passionate love is important? Does a woman have a perspective that needs a particular approach for it to be heard?”
I answered his comment below, but would like to expand on some of these concepts now that I have time:
“It really is a balance, but it’s true that the issue is complex – what matters to God. On one hand, when it comes down to it, He loves people right where they are – and every person, no matter what they look like, matter to Him and has great personal value! If a Christian is living their life, and haven’t grown in a certain area, He still loves them and values them.
But on the other hand, God does want us to be growing spiritually and becoming more complete/mature people, and a part of spiritual growth that Christians tend to overlook is how they are taking care of themselves physically.
Making themselves attractive, enjoying that process, nourishing the passionate love and attraction in their marriage are all holy and spiritual pursuits! God wants us to have life and life abundantly – Scripture even states that the reason He died was so that we can have complete joy – joy in it’s completeness. It is very hard to have that kind of abundant life and complete joy when a woman isn’t taking care of her health and fitness, creating a passionate marriage, and flourishing in attraction between her and her mate.
So God does care about those things in the long run, but they are of lesser importance compared to a person’s salvation and having “inner beauty” – which is character and integrity.
Those things always matter more to God, because they are who a person really is, and beauty eventually fades.
In my opinion, real beauty goes beyond skin deep, and is easily seen in the way a woman radiates joy and beauty from within, which has the power to change her outer appearance and have people drawn to her.”
A major part of spiritual growth that Christians tend to overlook is how they are presenting themselves physically, how they are taking care of the body that God gave them. We are stewards of our body, and although God ultimately cares more about our salvation and character growth and integrity, He does expect us to take great care over the body we’ve been given so that we can effectively do His will in our life. If we are running our bodies down, filling them up with too much food and not enough exercise, becoming overweight or underweight, we won’t have the physical or mental strength to do many of the spiritual tasks we’re called to do. Even spiritual things require a well-rested, well-taken care of body, otherwise our emotions (due usually to exhaustion or over-extension) tend to take over and we react out of shortened tempers, grouchiness, and feeling horrible. When a woman isn’t taking care of herself physically, it often has mental and spiritual ramifications that negatively affect her ability to minister to others God has put in her path, namely her husband and her children.
“Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Part of “honoring God with our bodies,” is taking care of them, and presenting them well.
When a woman is married, taking care of her appearance is important because it’s usually important to her husband. He was more than likely first attracted to her because of her appearance, not her personality… this isn’t to say that he didn’t come to appreciate her personality later on and love her more for it, but Christians throwing out the importance of her attractiveness in catching her husband is clearly short-sighted. Most single women who find husbands give some thought and devotion to their outward beauty and attractiveness, so it makes sense that the tools they used to catch a husband, should also be used regularly in keeping their husband during their marriage.
What I would want to tell a woman who has set herself as Object of Contempt put it, “against being attractive,” is that this isn’t about trying to change her into someone she isn’t or has never been! This is about a heart issue of wanting to pursue having a good marriage, caring about her husband’s visual needs of wanting to see her at her attractive, personal best, and doing what she should to create a romantic and passionate marriage!
A good guideline is to look at one’s wedding pictures, aside from normal aging, how far off are you from looking the way you did when you made your vows to do everything you could to make a marriage work?
We as women, usually take care of ourselves very well when single and as a result, we reap the benefits of our men lavishing their attention and romantic efforts on us. A major part of marriage is learning to work together as a team, caring for each other’s needs, and understanding that our actions are forever now tied to the fate of another person – we are responsible for them to a certain extent, and should live our life caring about how our actions affect them in their own life. If we clearly do not care about how attracted our husbands are to us, if we let ourselves go and demand he love us for “ourselves,” we are expecting him to feel the same romance and passion toward us as he did when we made efforts we aren’t making anymore. Of course he may still love us deeply, but God created men to be extremely visual, and if we don’t look appealing to our husband, if our appearance is negatively impacting the level of attraction he feels for us, then something needs to be changed on our part.
Loving our husbands means we care deeply about what he needs.
Sex and affection are critical to men, it is the way God’s designed them to be able to feel emotionally and spiritually close to us!
If we’ve let ourselves go and are no longer making any effort to be attractive to them or have a good sex life, or be affectionate with them, we are causing them to live in a state of emotional and spiritual torment.
This is serious, sisters, holding on to our “right” to be against being attractive for our husbands is selfish and only causes damage to our marriage, and damages the hearts of our husbands. It’s putting up a stumbling block in his way to experiencing closeness and intimacy with us – emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically.
It should remain obvious then, that if we care about our husband’s well-being, if we care about his needs and God-given desires, then we will also care about nourishing a passionate, romantic marriage, and staying attractive to our men.