Week 21 in the year of our Lord 2021

Appearances matter (or do they?)

7 minutes to read

There should be no “meat-head” vs. “egg-head” dichotomy in a Christian view manhood. Strength and wisdom are friends, not enemies. The Christian man seeks to grow in both.

We’ve seen many denominations and churches that work something like the mafia.

Once you’re in, you’re a “made man.” You’re protected. That is…assuming you put “the family” first, and follow the chain of command.

You’ll be amazed what they’ll put up with if you do those two things.

But if you cross the church or denominational mob boss, or you get on the wrong side of the family, you’ll go the way of Luca Brasi.

Just like the mob, these groups use a lot of “code talk” and secret meetings. They hate transparency. That’s a strong tell that you’re dealing with a Christian mafia sort of situation.

Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

This text is easy for us to misunderstand in the modern day, where it’s always “what’s on the inside that counts” and “she should love me for who I am.”

We fall into the opposite ditch that ancient peoples did when it comes to external appearance.

They thought that appearance should matter more than it does. We think it should matter less than it does.

The temptation is to say: Sure, looks might matter to people—but not to God. So they shouldn’t matter to us.

Really though?

Think about the logical implications of that. Is finding certain attributes attractive a product of the fall?

Maybe some of them. But all? No…

God is the designer of our desires, and we naturally find His design desirable. We care about appearance because God made us to care. Our bodies are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

The fall has marred our design, but it has not obliterated it. The beauty of certain physical attributes still shines through, and we’re attracted to where that light shines more brightly.

Genesis 12 and 26 explicitly name Sarah and Rebekah as beautiful women. “Rachel was beautiful of form and face” (Genesis 29:17) The same was said of Hadassah (Esther 2:7). There was no man more handsome than Saul in Israel (1 Samuel 9:2). And Eliab, old brother of David, like Saul was tall and handsome.

Scripture openly and unashamedly acknowledges external beauty, and usually for the purpose of garnering our admiration in some way. It rejects the nonsense that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Not that there aren’t aspects of beauty that are subjective, or more to one man’s preference than another—but there are also well-known universal standards of beauty, and Scripture presupposes them.

Both sexes find symmetrical faces that reflect the average attractive. These factors seem to be related to perceived health and fertility. Their attractiveness makes sense in light of God’s command to be fruitful. We desire the things that help us fulfill our design.

In terms of form, attractiveness is driven by sexual dimorphism. Men are attracted to women’s breast, hips, buttocks. Women are attracted to taller men with a V-shaped body. These are tendencies which are again tied to fruitfulness. Men, in other words, find youthful fecundity attractive; women find powerful ableness.

To simplify it even more, men desire beauty and women desire strength.

It’s our nature. It’s our design.

Which brings us back 1 Samuel 16:7…

The purpose of God’s actions here is to draw our attention to a mistake that we make as a result of the fall: Our design leads us to associate beauty and strength with moral goodness.

The visible images the invisible.

Or…it should.

But because of our sin natures, this isn’t always true. You can be physically beautiful, but ugly in character. You can be physically strong, but weak in virtue.

That’s the point of 1 Samuel 16:7.

Saul was tall and handsome, as was Eliab. David wasn’t described as tall, but 1 Samuel 16 says he was “ruddy, with beautiful eyes and handsome in appearance.” And we know David could tussle. But God chose him over Eliab and Saul, because he had character that matched and exceeded his appearance.

It is unbiblical to say that appearance doesn’t matter. It does. External beauty and strength are desirable. However, Scripture teaches that both are fleeting. A pretty woman with an ugly heart is an ugly woman. As the old saying goes, pretty is as pretty does. By the same token, a powerful man without virtue is a weak man. Strength is as strength does.

Age reveals the real you.

New content this week: #

The second part of our podcast series on nice guys: Nice Guy-ism Part Two. Here’s a helpful snippet:

Here’s a simple three category paradigm for getting unstuck and taking action:‬

  1. There are things which have all ready been decided.
  2. There are things which you have control over. 3
  3. There are things which you have no control over but God does.

Here’s how you apply it…

The first step is to simply ask yourself to which category does this issue belong? ‬

C1 issues are things that can’t be changed: your birth family, nation of origin, height, past decisions, etc. These are things that have been decided by you (past actions) or God‪ (Acts 17:26).‬

Then there are C2 issues. ‬ These are things within your immediate control: aspects of your health (diet, exercise), aspects of your finances (effort, skills), attitude, friendships, theological knowledge, presentability, etc. These issues are “controllables.” ‪

The last category deals with things outside of your immediate control but not yet decided (in a historical sense). So aspects of the market, availability of a suitable spouse (to a degree), weather, etc fall into C3. You can’t directly act on these things, but God can.

So where does the issue/concern fall?‬ ‪

C1? You should ignore it (even prayer won’t change it) unless it has some relevance to a present or future issue.

C2? You should take direct action and do so immediately.

‪C3? You should take indirect action through prayer. God may act on your behalf.

I know this is somewhat reductionistic. The point of an exercise like this one is to direct your activity (be it mental or physical) towards a productive end. It’s easy to get stuck in the paralysis of analysis. This is one way to get unstuck and actually do something.

Notable: #

Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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