Redeeming Beauty

There are certain places and scenes in nature that captivate us. They cause us to be still, stand in awe and evoke an emotional response. When my husband and I were dating, we went hiking in Colorado for a week. One morning while it was still dark we hiked for an hour up a mountain to watch the sun rise. Suddenly the darkness was replaced with incredible light. Our surroundings became spectacular and words could not possibly capture what we witnessed. We just watched. That night, our group sat below the stars in those same mountains. Again, the stars were so brilliant and numerous that we were captivated just watching them. There was an enticing reverence. Worship followed in both thoughts and words. We were truly moved by their beauty.

True beauty is something that moves us and gives us an awareness of a reality that surpasses our own inclinations, our own agendas, even our own well being at times. It reflects power, hope, and promise. It moves us to be still and worship. Beauty points to us beyond ourselves to a beautiful, powerful, and good Creator.

Colossians 1: 15-20, states, “ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

At its core, beauty is found in the face, the reality, the person and the presence of Jesus Christ. All things visible were created by him and through him. He is before all things and in him all the things we see in this world that move us and give us joy at their sight are being held together by his goodness and grace. We fall down and worship because we are moved at all he has done and all he has provided. When we see something beautiful we are moved beyond ourselves and we are given the opportunity, by his grace, to see our Creator reflected in his creation.

Not only is beauty found in nature: sunrises, oceans, waterfalls, and the like, there is another part of creation in which physical beauty dwells and that is our own physical bodies. When we read the pages of Genesis we see that the triune God describes his creation as good. At the climax of the creation story he creates male and female and then declares the creation very good. (Genesis 1:31) We are the part of creation that is very good. We are the part of creation deemed fit to reflect his image.   There are many places in scripture where the beauty of a woman in particular is addressed.   Throughout scripture and history the body of a woman has been regarded and adorned to reflect beauty. We see where a woman’s beauty is exploited at the beginning of Esther and then subsequently used for good to ultimately redeem a people, we see how Abraham feared how his wife’s beauty would be perceived in Genesis, and we see a young groom delighting in the beauty of his wife’s body in Songs of Solomon. Each of these stories and more demonstrate a significant reality: A female’s body and physical appearance is something beautiful and captivating. (Proverbs ?)

When brokenness entered into the world, however, a woman’s body and the beauty found therein became distorted and its purpose distracted.   The brokenness of sin has deceived us and we often see our bodies as an end in themselves and as a project to be mastered.

The gospel redeems every aspect of our life including how we understand the physical beauty of our own bodies. It is a privilege to be a woman. It is powerful to be a woman. The sin of our culture and day is such that female physical beauty has become a tool to sell products, a marketing scheme to make women feel discontented with their bodies for profit, an opportunity for exploitation, and a project of perfection that has become all consuming. Being that sin is deceptive by nature, we have allowed the culture around us to redefine what indeed is actually beautiful as well as allow the culture to determine how physical beauty should be used and perceived. If the beauty of creation is to reflect something greater and to be enjoyed, we as women have both the privilege and responsibility to demonstrate and enjoy this beauty well and wisely.

I believe Christ desires to redeem physical beauty for his glory. That we would live in such a way that the beauty we have been given reflects the one who is before all things and who holds all things together. I hope this blog is a place where we can consider how to understand our physical bodies, our identity, and our purpose as women who reflect the image of God.