I’ve been thinking about externals. While it is true, and often rehearsed on this blog, that our inner beauty is far more important than our outward beauty, is there a sense in which our diligence to care for appearance reflects the diligence of our souls? Or is it the other way around?…Is my attention to my inner self affected by my attention to my appearance?
Perhaps it’s not so simple as to be either of these things. After all, it is absolutely true that faithful people come in all shapes and sizes, wearing all different kinds and qualities of clothing, with varied degrees of care for hair and make-up (or not). Further complicating the matter is the fact that different “looks” are attractive or unattractive to different people. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There are so many passages that make it extremely clear that God is not concerned about outward appearances. He looks on the heart (Proverbs 16:2, I Samuel 16:7). It’s the condition of the heart that matters to God. Period.
Having said that, though, I believe we have to concede that sometimes outward appearances are influenced by attitudes. We all know young people who choose to dress in disrespectful ways because they have prideful or rebellious spirits on the inside. We know people of all ages whose hearts are too focused on material things and that can be reflected in outward appearances. We know women who are always dressed modestly and, especially in our society, that generally is reflective of a willingness to please God. But can an attitude of carelessness be evidenced in our outward appearances? I believe it can.
I understand that the subject of this post is making me walk a fine line between being obsessed with outward beauty and simply trying to be/look one’s best. But I still believe that the way we care for our bodies, hygiene and dress is reflective of attitude.
I have known of some wives who simply stopped caring about the way they looked once they married. I mean, it was rather obvious. They stopped giving attention to make-up, let their hair become unkempt and gained lots and lots of weight. In these cases, I believe they either are failing to respect their spouses or themselves as God would want them to do.
I do not believe it is wrong for a husband to want to be proud of a wife’s demeanor and appearance. It makes me happy that my husband wants to take me along with him when he is meeting people for the first time. I appreciate that he does not like to do social situations by himself. When he tries to find ways that we can do these things together, it makes me know that I do not embarrass him; that he likes to introduce me to people—that he is proud of me.
I have never been a “trophy wife,” but I want to be my husband’s “trophy”. I want him to be glad he married me and I want him to be glad when he introduces me to people who know nothing about me but what they see and what they surmise by virtue of the fact that I am with him. I do not always succeed, but I want to be (and to look like) a woman who is trying to please her godly husband. If I wonder what he prefers, about my hair, my make-up, or my dress, I ask him. Then I try to please him. I want him and others to know that my attitude is one of pleasant submission.
That’s why I encourage women, first of all, to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, strength and minds. That love is the attitude adjustment that trickles down to finally affect the way we look. When we love the Lord, our hearts will call us to seek to please our husbands…to make them look at us and think “Isn’t she beautiful? I know she does her best to look pretty for me.”
Old fashioned? Perhaps. Biblical? Well, if the way I look is “one thing” among all the other things I decide or do, then I need to please my husband in that “thing.” Because I need to please him in every. single. thing.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing (Eph. 5:24)
Finally, let me add this: I understand that there are things your husband can do and/or say—even habits into which he can fall—which can make this diligence to be “pretty” for him a very difficult thing for you to do. But my scope, of course, does not include addressing men. I just write and talk to wives addressing our specific responsibilities in marriage.