A friend of mine sent me a link to this blog post, written in January of this year:
I’ll leave it to the reader to peruse its contents, but I will state simply that it is the perspective of a Christian woman on why Christian men often prefer physically beautiful women, and what a Christian woman’s response to this might be.
For a number of years I’ve been keeping the idea of a book in my head for “Confessions of A Christian Romantic” – a book that centers on the collision between idealism/romanticism and the belief in a loving, just, omnipotent and omniscient God that has a personal plan for your life and the implications for life and love.
Particularly in the modern world of the ubiquitous internet, dating and marriage has become a much different affair than what those but a generation ago knew.
But that will be a book written at such a time that I can write on this topic with someone who can inform the discussion from the other side of the gender divide.
But for Banei’s post, here goes:
1) We are all sinners; despite all our most lofty intentions and desires, our hearts are base and motivations admixed with darker things beneath the surface.
2) All that is good within us is ultimately redeemed, not the product of original “goodness.”
3) We are works in progress, lives colliding with other works in progress.
“Why are Christian guys looking for hot girls rather than godly women of character?”
This is an age old question, certainly present from 2000 bc and hence. The more generalized form is: “Why do guys look for hot girls rather than women of good character?”
In fact, the very phrasing, dropping further adjectives would be: “Why do guys look for girls rather than women?”
The very choice of nouns reflects a great deal of nuance – why do men look for young pretty things, rather than mature, insightful _women_?
This cannot be answered today in any definite way (after all, like all questions worth pondering, ready answers elude), but I think a little insight can be shed.
From a biological perspective:
Men look for outward signs of reproductive health – animals do it too. Symmetry, colour, muscularity, proportionality all imply health which implies fecundity. This data is reasonably consistent. We’re hardwired to enjoy beauty. Women too – in women and in men. Babies recognize beauty but days out of the womb. Physical beauty is the easiest thing to perceive in another person, and the first/quickest thing to find attractive.
Now this next perspective is not as well studied, but I think it follows logically.
The next thing that’s the easiest for a man to assess is charm. Charm is interesting, because, at least in the English, it can imply two different facets of attractiveness. Charm requires some combination of perceptiveness and intelligence, and is manifest in conversation (requiring the ability to perceive the desires and thoughts of the other, as to be able to later manipulate/influence) dress (implying either resources to dress well, or the cognitive ability to dress/select well.) Strangely, I personally read a lot into makeup – it suggests (only suggests~!) a great deal about the person, what style of makeup (revealing aesthetic moorings, and potential group-identity/affiliations), as well as the dexterity and artistic inclinations of said person, or at least their makeup artists. In a similar vein, musical ability is normally considered attractive by both genders – and I think it is because it communicates a combination of the same things that charm communicates.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (PRV 31:30)
The deeper truth here, for those that would desire to be wise, is that God looks beyond our “genetic potential” and to our hearts. Recall:
“6 So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.””
Samuel, like any of us men (and many women!) would love to pick a tall, good looking, strong man to be a leader or at least an ally. But God sees inside. A quick glance at the heights of prior presidents of the US reveals that they have nearly uniformly been of a significant height greater than mean, with several exceptions. We naturally prefer tall, stout men as leaders… but not God.
In the end, in verse 12-13, Samuel annoints a ruddy, bright eyed, good looking David to be the next king… So, a secondary point here is that God doesn’t judge by beauty – but neither does he condemn it. It is the heart that matters most.
As an aside:
16The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
18When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
This is a beautiful example of how God prescribed what nobility ought to be like: not too rich, not too materially blessed. He is to fear God and to not consider himself better than his fellows – he must obey the Law.
How different this is from what we tend towards as people?
We allow our heroes and great people to get away with all sorts of misdemeanors and selfish behaviour. We, as a people, have a tendency to idolize – and we erect heroes in sports, entertainment, beauty and power, allowing them to flout rules and mores. This is not to their advantage nor ours – not in the lens of eternity.
So – if charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting (and really, so much is said nonjudgmentally in that phrase), then what normally follows?
Depends on the man:
1) A man who simply (foolishly) loves beauty will be ensorcelled by beauty and that’s the end of it. Does any wise woman want to be loved by such a simpleton?
2) A man who simply (foolishly) loves charm (and/or intelligence/artistry) may be ensorcelled by these and that’s the end of it. See above for my comments.
3) A man who desires a woman of character, be he religious or not, will look for these things beneath the veneer of beauty and charm… Though this may take time, and he may be distracted by women who possess the former two in spades, but little of character. At some point, some such men may decide that they cannot trust beauty and charm and actively eschew those qualities.
4) Of course what man, whatever creed or code, would not prefer a woman that possesses beauty and charm and character (when alloyed with mercy and love)?
Indeed, some may not wish so scrupulous a character as it may thwart their own dark ambitions. On the other hand, character alloyed with unconditional love seems desirable in any situation… making me wonder is truly unconditional (truly blind) love objectively, immutably good.
On the other hand, what do women want (in this context)?
To be loved (sometimes worshiped?)
To have a man who is: “respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.”
Is good looking, hardworking, and charming undesirable?
Song of Solomon 1:16
“How handsome you are, my beloved!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.”
“3 Like an apple[c] tree among the trees of the forest
is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
4 Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
5 Strengthen me with raisins,
refresh me with apples,
for I am faint with love.
6 His left arm is under my head,
and his right arm embraces me.
7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.
8 Listen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
10 My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”
Within this passage she extols his virtue in contrast to the other young men who are but trees – he is an apple tree, providing food and sweetness. He protects, giving shade – he delights with his fruit, which is sweet to her tastes. He provides via fruits and foods in the banqueting hall – he loves and comforts, providing an arm for her to rest her head, and holding her with his right arm.
He is gallant, bounding over the mountains, strong and fast like a young stag. He is eager to see her, gazing through windows and lattice – he brings adventure, declaring that the winter is past – and it is time to explore the world anew “arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”
This picture of the lover may or may not be literally true, but it communicates a wealth about a lover ought feel – strong, gallant, loving, and leading somewhere. I think it rare that a woman would reject a man who can give her the sense of all of those things?
And admixed with all of this is entertainments ability to magnify (and many a times, distort) all these attributes and create new icons of that which we desire. And so, men and women find themselves wondering after icons that are synthetic simulacra of bits and pieces of what we find desirable, which alas, exist perhaps only very rarely if at all.
Men look for persons that exist rarely if at all. And sometimes women do the same…
“Why are Christian guys looking for hot girls rather than godly women of character?”
Some do look for hot rather than look for character. But some look for more. Some look for too much, and some look for too little (character).
The guys you gals should want, should be made of the same stuff you’re trying to be – full of grace, inner beauty and Christ. Don’t be distracted by the icing. It’s not good for either gender.
As to the rest of Banei’s post:
Thanks for providing such a great counterpoint. Inner beauty must indeed be predicated on inner-vision. Without seeing the debris/detritus and hypocrisy in our own lives, it is so very hard to objectively and compassionately enter into the lives of others.
As a final thought, a recent conversation made me pay fresh attention to:
Prv 31:15, 21, 27,
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
One of the characteristics of the woman in PRV 31 that is easily missed in the US is her concern for her servants. This is not a woman who bosses around her staff imperiously – her servants are well provided for, well fed, and well clothed. She is not idle, and whatever her mettle, she does not settle to lunch while her workers toil.