Godliness, Appearance and Beauty

Article bZ

Godliness, Appearance and Beauty

Article bZ

Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads, "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time..." God our great creator, created the physical law (principle) of appearance and beauty. God created that beauty of flowers and peacocks which our physical eye can see, as well as that repulsive view of ugly and evil looking insects and reptiles which our eye also can see. Before man sinned and the earth was cursed likely their were no ugly and evil looking creatures on the earth. Many people, and not without reason, consider Angels to be beautiful creatures and demons to be ugly creatures possibly having fangs and horns. Following are several Scriptures concerning beauty; bZ-1

(Exo 28:2) "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." bZ-2

(2 Chr 3:6) "And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim." bZ-3

(Ezra 7:27) "Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:" bZ-4

(2 Sam 14:25) "But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him." bZ-5

(Est 2:7) "And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter." bZ-6

God in the beginning created a very beautiful world, which maintained a significant beauty even after it was cursed. Mountains, rivers, trees with beautiful leaves, and meadows with beautiful grass and flowers all contribute to the beauty of our present world. Appearance is not only an important attribute in God's creation but appearance is also a important issue in most everything that man designs and makes. Although some might try to imagine that the appearance of things is nothing and not noticed, one must admit that appearance plays a special role in how most everything is made including our clothing, our food, our houses, our other buildings, our furniture, or anything that we might have. bZ-7

In Old Testament times God was very interested in beauty. God was very interested in the beauty of the Temple, and it's related furniture and gave many commandments on how to make such things glorious and beautiful. Many years after the Temple was built God reminded His people how He at the beginning had called them out of great poverty and shame (likely as in Egypt) and then blest them with great riches, jewelry, silk and linen insomuch that they prospered into a Kingdom of perfect beauty (Ezek 16:1-14). 1 Kings 10:4-5 concerning the beauty of the Jewish Kingdom in Solomon's time reads, "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, {5} And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her." God in old times was so interested in perfection and beauty that He did not even allow anyone to be a Priest if he had physical blemishes such as being lame, or a crookback, or flat nosed etc (Lev 21:17-21). bZ-8

Although God in old times was very concerned about outward beauty as such, it is quite obvious that in the new era God no longer emphasizes a beautiful outward Kingdom and outward beauty as the old era. Note chapters 7 and 8 of article aM and chapter 4 of article bF and paragraphs aN 10-15 speak of this change. In the new era God's main emphasis is that one is beautiful inwardly, such as one having a pure heart and spirit. Although God in the new era no longer is so particularly interested in and concerned about outward beauty, yet He in our era of time still is not pleased when people intentionally try to appear careless, indifferent, lawless or evil. bZ-9

In considering the subject of appearance and beauty one should consider that Godliness, righteousness, blessing, and reward, associates with beautiful things such as to beautiful flowers, mansions and Angels. Heaven will be a place of such beauty! Yet sin, ungodliness, curse, and punishment associates with ugly things such as to thorns, horns, and evil looking creatures. One should also consider that, as Godliness associates with beauty, it also associates with light and white, and consider that as evil associates with ugliness it also associates with darkness and black. Considering these things Christians should be careful lest they in an erroneous way associate Godliness with making things unattractive, dark and black. bZ-10

God's real and long term plan for His people is to bless them with beauty. This is a truth that should not be overlooked or forgotten. Yet it is true that in times past when man put much emphasis on their outward beauty, while very much lacking inward beauty (such as having a good attitude and spirit), man's outward beauty became distasteful and repulsive to God (Ex 33:4, Isa 3:12-24). God also designed and planned that when men repent and turn from sin, they put off their outward beauty in showing their sorrow for sin, such as in putting dust and ashes on their heads and putting on sackcloth (Isa 32:11, Jer 4:8, 6:26, Joel 1:13). Revelations 11 speaks about the two witnesses of God being clothed with sackcloth for 1260 days or years. One should also realize that Jesus in Matt 11:8 and Luke 7:25 speaks somewhat negatively about soft raiment and living delicately as do the rich and those in King's palaces. bZ-11

Obviously Christians because of pursuing heavenly values and trying to help and save the many needy people about them, should not be seeking a luxurious and glamorous lifestyle as does much of the world and as is seen among Kings and the rich. Christians are to be fast and pray and be ready to endure hardness in their efforts for others and the Gospel. Yet does all the above mean that Christians are always to be clothed in sackcloth and always be making their lifestyle unattractive and void of beauty and demanding such lifestyle of one another? Should the Christian in being a light to the world, and endeavoring to save the world about them, advocate a particular lifestyle that intentionally avoids and dismantles beauty and rather makes things unattractive, dark, and black? This is a question that deserves a meaningful answer. bZ-12

Although Christians will not pursue luxury and beauty as much of the world does, yet Jesus did not say that His people would be know by a particular sackcloth lifestyle. Jesus rather said that His people would be known by their love for one another. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35). Although fasting has it's place, yet Jesus did not teach that His followers must always be clothed in sackcloth, but rather reveals that even in fasting one need not necessarily be clothed in sackcloth. Jesus said, "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. {17} But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;" (Mat 6:16-17). Note how Jesus in this situation encouraged beauty or attractiveness even in fasting. When the woman at Bethany anointed Jesus with the expensive ointment, Jesus did not reprove her for wasting this valuable ointment, but rather complimented her for her loving care for Him (Matt 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:3-8). bZ-13

The laws given to the Gentile Christians of the early Church were very simple and were far from being formalistic and legalistic (Acts 15:20, 21:25). Although Christians need to abide within the limits of their conscience, yet Apostle Paul clearly taught that particular differences are allowable among Christians, and taught that Christians should not judge and condemn one another in such matters. (Rom 14). Paul said, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Rom 14:17). bZ-14

Jesus rather than being legalistic, quite often reproved formalism and legalism. Jesus' emphasis clearly was not that His followers must intentionally make themselves unattractive and must intentionally possess the unattractive. Yet Jesus very much did emphasize that His followers must possess humbly like a little child and must love one another. Although Jesus emphasis was not that his followers dismantle and avoid beauty, Jesus very much did not want His loving and humble followers to compete with one another as in trying to be the most beautiful or trying to have the most beautiful. Christ's humble and loving followers obviously are not to exalt themselves or to compete with and envy one another in matters of beauty or money or anything else. bZ-15

Although Christians should not try to excel one another in being or having the most beautiful, yet such does not mean Christians need to intentionally dismantle or necessarily avoid all which can easily be beautiful. Beauty does have some place among Christians, even though Christians do need to be discrete about it. As Christians love one another as themselves, possibly some Christians who could easily be or have the most beautiful should at times refrain from easy beauty, to fit in better with the less beautiful, while the less beautiful could be more free to seek beauty and to utilize easy beauty enhancers to also attain significant or practical beauty. Christians need to be careful lest they offend one another in these matters and rather need to try to please each other in these matters. bZ-16

It is good and true that both Apostle Paul and Peter encouraged Christian women to strive for inner beauty of the heart and attitude, rather than strive for outer beauty of the body (1 Tim 2:9-10, 1 Pet 3:3-4). Yet one dare not overlook the fact that immediately after Apostle Peter advocated such, he then lifted up Holy women of the Bible as examples for Christian women to follow, which Holy women were very beautiful and were not careless with their outward appearance and even wore jewelry. They were so beautiful that kings desired them for wives (Gen 12:11-15, Gen 21:7-10). Although Solomon likened the beauty of a woman without discretion to a jewel of gold in a swine's snout (Pro 11:22) and spoke of beauty being vain, yet one dare not overlook the fact that the same Scripture context which speaks of beauty being vain also says the virtuous woman clothed herself and family in purple and scarlet (Pro 31:21-22 & 30). To speak bluntly if feminine beauty was totally vain, one should have no care at all about how his wife looks. His wife could have a very hairy chin, teeth sticking straight out, be tremendously overweight and barely look like a woman or even like a human being and it simply should make her husband no difference. Remember if beauty is altogether vain. Many Scriptures particularly speak of beautiful and fair women, which clearly reveals feminine beauty was noticed throughout Biblical history (Gen 12:11, 24:16, 26:7, 29:17, Deu 21:10-13, 1 Sam 25:3, 2 Sam 14:27, 1 Kin 1:3-4, Est 2:7, Job 42:14, Psa 45:9-11). bZ-17

It appears some women who are very taken up with jewelry, facial paints, and powders, really become less attractive as they begin to appear very artificial and synthetic rather than natural. The virtuous wife with inward beauty will kindly care about all her husbands desires, including his visual desires. Yet she will not be extravagant in seeking outward beauty and especially not in public as to draw attention to herself. It should be considered that some Christians who are very opposed to jewelry, yet freely braid their girls hair, although both Paul and Peter in speaking about inner and outer beauty, spoke negatively about braiding women's hair as they did about jewelry (note the words broidered and plaited pertain to braiding) (1 Tim 2:9-10, 1 Pet 3:3-4). Were Paul and Peter mostly reproving extravagate braiding of the hair and mostly extravagate use of jewelry? Note in it clear that Peter and Paul both reproved expensive clothing and such jewelry, and were encouraging women to firstly and mostly strive for inward beauty rather than outward beauty. bZ-18

Christians should endeavor to honor God with the beauty He has provided and created for them, rather than to honor themselves with that beauty. Christians should have beauty with the fear of God and thankfulness rather than beauty with conceit. Truly God has a good plan for His people in these matters! The world is full of jealously and strife as people try to exalt themselves above others in matters of beauty as well as everything else. Christians in keeping themselves unspotted from the world very much need to avoid such pride and competition in seeking beauty, but rather must love each other as themselves! What a good plan God has! bZ-19

James said, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27). Keeping one's self unspotted from this world is not merely living by particular lifestyle that avoids and deprives it's self of the many possibilities of beauty that God has made possible and are available in this life. Separation from this world, pertains to having different interests and goals in life than does the man of this world whose heart is set on earthly things, fame, and those things that are highly esteemed among men. Many things of this world that are highly esteemed among men are actually vain, yet simply sought after because they are popular, and possibly popular merely because of the influence of some popular yet carnal person. Too many Christians while being separate or different from the world through avoiding particular possibilities of beauty, yet in their hearts are conformed to this world as their affections are on earthly things and things that are highly esteemed among men. May we be unspotted from the world, in our hearts and by having our affections on things above, and not only through some particular traditions. bZ-20

Apostle John said, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:15-16). John in the above Scripture might be advocating that we should not appreciate or desire any of the carnal and vain things of this world which are highly esteemed among men and are an abomination to God, or John might be advocating that we must love Christ above all things in the world. In considering John's commandment to not love the world, one should consider that Jesus even said we are not to love our family but are to hate them (Luke 14:26), meaning we must give Christ first allegiance and love Him more than even our family and friends. Although Christians should not love or appreciate the carnal and vain things of the world and truly must love God more than anything in the world, Christians may yet be thankful for and appreciate the good and beautiful things in the world that God has created for them. John in the above Scripture was not advocating that Christians must make everything in the world ugly to prevent them from loving it. bZ-21

It is sad that many conservative Christians have taken a very legalistic approach with beauty. Such Christians will disallow particular aspects of beauty and disallow particular decorations which could easily create or enhance beauty, while they then in another way will still put forth great efforts into attaining beauty. Some Amish to avoid fancy and beautiful buggies must paint them black, but then they put 20 coats of black paint on them to attain the best possible black beauty. Some Mennonites do not allow particular enhancers of beauty on their vehicles, but then they will put great efforts and significant expense into having a beautiful and shining vehicle void of any dents or blemishes. Obviously such Christians are very concerned about and desirous of beauty and quite determined to get it, even though they might disallow particular convenient ways of getting it. Some Christians discourage putting shutters on windows which is a quite simple enhancer of beauty for a house, but they then might put in double windows, or add dormers, or various roof angles to beautify their house, which is much more complicated and expensive than having shutters. Many conservative Christians will disallow various quite natural yet attractive ways of combing their hair, and disallow particular types of attractive clothing, but then will put great efforts into trying to make themselves and their children attractive without those easy enhancers of beauty. With regards to some things they dismantle and avoid easy beauty while at the same time in other ways they diligently and freely strive to get it. It is very possible that some conservative Christians spend more time and effort trying to make things beautiful in their particular way, than many liberal or worldly people do, who do not try to avoid beauty and decorations at all. bZ-22

It is sad that some conservative Christians, subconsciously feel that they are a special light to the world by disallowing particular convenient and quite natural methods of attaining beauty, and then in another way and with great efforts yet attaining significant beauty. How ridiculous such must be in God's eyes. God's emphasis for His children is not that they must shun beauty, or that they must attain beauty in a particular or difficult way. God's emphasis for His children rather is that they posses humility of mind and that they love one another, and care for all man. Too many Christians by their particular religious laws and traditions, rather than being Christ's light to the world likely are a confusion to the world. bZ-23

Christians very much must focus on having their affections on things above, on humility of mind, on loving each other, and caring for the poor as they deal with beauty, rather than focus on disallowing beauty and particular decorations. The same pride, jealously, and competitive attitude can easily prevail among Christians, even though particular ways of attaining beauty might be disallowed. Christians should be careful and discrete in all areas of their lives. Christians in considering the many options of beauty that are about them should consider how it will affect others, and if the beauty involves expense should consider how much good their money could do in helping the poor rather than attaining a little extra beauty for themselves. bZ-24

James says, "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms." (James 5:13). God intends and allows that Christian marriage ceremonies can be joyous occasions where cheerfulness and joy are very present. It is quite clear that the Christian husband and wife who is to love and please each other should try to make themselves attractive to one another rather than as a tradition always wear clothes similar to sackcloth and intentionally make themselves less attractive to one another. bZ-25

Although John particularly teaches that we are not to love the world and the things that are in the world, yet the Scriptures emphatically teach that the Christian husbands and wives are to love each other. Considering that Christians are not to love the things in the world but are particularly commanded to love their husbands and wives, is it not much more proper that Christian husbands and wives make themselves attractive to one another, than that they make things of this world attractive, such as vehicles, houses, lawns, gardens, etc? Yet concerning conservative Christians such as the Amish it appears they intentionally must make their husbands and wives quite unattractive, while they yet may put forth much effort into making particular things of this world attractive, (such as their lawns and gardens). If husbands and wives (which are to be loved), must intentionally make themselves less attractive, then things of this world which are not to be loved (such as lawns and gardens), should so much the more be made less attractive. As the Amish women must generally be covered with black cloths, possibly their flowers in their beautiful gardens should also be covered with black cloths, and as the Amish husbands often do not much trim their hair and rather look very rough and unkept, it appears that their lawns and gardens should also be left unmowed and looking rough and unkept. bZ-26

One should remember that Paul said "Let all things be done decently and in order" One should also remember that it appears the Jews in King David's time normally trimmed their beards, and remember that Jesus indicated that the Jews normally look descent and orderly (2 Sam 19:24, Mat 6:16-18). An orderly and mowed lawn appears so much different than a lawn that never gets mowed and grows out onto the road! Does God want our appearance to be like an unkept garden, or like a lawn that never gets mowed and is allowed to grow everywhere? One should remember that God's old laws to the Jews strongly promoted cleanliness, decency, and order. bZ-27

The Amish for religious reasons advocate that men should wear special religious hats and have quite long hair. Often when Amish men take off their special religious hats you see long and sweaty hair. In considering religious hats, religious long hair, and the sweat therewith, one should consider that the scriptures speak of it being a shame for men to have long hair, advocate that men should not be covered when praying, while it is also interesting to consider that in the old era the Priests neither were to wear anything that causes sweat (1 Cor 11:14, 1 Cor 11:4-7, Ezek 44:18). bZ-28

Some conservative Christians require their women to comb their hair almost straight back and then hide by far most of it under a special cap of some kind. These should consider that Apostle Paul advocated that women's hair is both a glory and covering to her. It is quite clear that God designed and intends woman's long hair to compliment her beauty and be a glorious covering to her just like he put leaves on trees and petals on flowers. In considering how Paul spoke of woman's hair being a glory to her, one should consider that numerous Scriptures closely link glory and beauty (Ex 28:2&40, Job 40:10, Pro 20:19, Isa 4:2, 13:19, 28:1&4&5, 60:13). Exodus 28:2 reads "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." Woman's long hair very naturally provides woman with a glorious and beautiful covering for her head. Paul spoke of it being a shame to cut or shave off woman's natural and glorious covering of hair. bZ-29

In examining how Paul said woman's hair is a glory to her, one should consider that Paul also said that the woman is the glory of man (1 Cor 11:7). God created the woman to be a special glory and prize to man and created woman's hair to be a glory and quality to her. The glory and beauty of woman's long hair is an ingredient in woman being the glory of man. Even though Apostle Paul spoke of the woman's hair being both a glory and a covering to her, yet many Mennonite women most all the time pull their hair almost straight back and hide most of it under a special cap of some kind, as though their hair was a shame and evil to them rather than a glory and a covering. Thus their hair basically never acts as either a glory or covering for the woman. Most of their hair, by appearance may as well be cut off since it is all hidden rather than a glory and a covering anyway. Although many Mennonite women treat their hair as something shameful that should be beaten down and covered, yet many Mennonite husbands carefully cut, trim and comb their hair and leave it all exposed preparing it as a glorious covering to their heads. Thus among many Mennonites the man's hair is made more of a glory and a covering of the man's head than the woman's hair is made to her. It is remarkable how much a woman's hair has the potential to give glory to her appearance. Jewelry can give little glory and beauty as compared to what a woman's hair gives and can give. bZ-30

Various cultures for many years and still today dishonor and shame women. In India women are still quite shamed and dishonored. In past history in some heathen cultures women were to be veiled insomuch that only one eye could be free to see with. It is sad that although God created woman to be a special glory and prize to man and created her hair to be a special glory and quality to her, that even today many people treat woman and her hair as a thing of shame. One should consider that it is quite possible that God allows that men get bald headed rather than women, because He designed and intends woman's hair to be a more important feature to women than to men. Although woman initially led man into sin in the garden of Eden, and thus did bring a particular shame and lower rank upon the female gender (1 Tim 2:14), yet such in no way means that woman no longer is to be the glory and prize of man and that her glory (hair) must be treated as a shameful thing. Note the veiling of women is extensively considered in articles cS, cU, and cZ. bZ-31

In considering the appearance and beauty of people, clothing, vehicles, houses, lawns, and gardens, or any thing that is in the world, Christians clearly should refrain from following the changing and vain styles of the world which often arise and are highly esteemed among men and which might not even be beautiful but merely popular. May God help the many conservative Christians in our world, find the proper separation from the world, and without legalistically disallowing beauty and the blessings that God has created and intends for His children. Being different than the world dare not be the Christian's goal, but rather loving God with all his heart and loving his neighbor as himself must be the Christian's goal, as such will bless the Christian while making him different than the world naturally and rightly. bZ-33

May Christians realize that God's laws are good laws, for which cause King David often spoke about how he loved God's laws (Psa 19:7-11, Psa 119: 48&97&103&113&127&159), and for which cause Jesus said "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:32&36). Although God's laws do not allow one to do whatever he might want to do on the spur of the moment yet His laws are good laws and whose end is true freedom. bZ-34

Concerning many Christians, when good reason and intellect defends and supports their beliefs then they somewhat proudly feel these reasons are vital proofs of the truth of their Church's doctrine. Yet when good reason and intellect doesn't seem to defend and support their Church's doctrines then many Christians simply say their doctrines are not based on human reasoning and they cannot go by mere human reasoning. What many Christians don't seem to really realize is that if they don't need to give regards to honest human reasoning and to what it reveals, then man can reject any teaching that doesn't suit him even if the teaching makes honest sense. And further what many Christians don't seem to realize is that if not all doctrines need to make sense then Churches have the right to be divided and to have opposing doctrines because they simply have the option to choose different doctrines as the ones that really need to make sense. bZ-35

May we in defending our particular traditions about beauty and separation from the world beware lest we exaggerate the issues that suit us and minimize the issues that don't suite us, and thus be guilty of straining at gnats and swallowing camels. May we also remember that Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, and that it is quite impossible to be filled with the Spirit of Truth while we at the same time resist the truth. Concerning any of our particular doctrines may we beware lest we become guilty of loving and defending lies, "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." (Rev 22:15) In conclusion the writer would like to give just a few Scriptures. bZ-36

(Psa 34:8-10) "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. {9} O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. {10} The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing." bZ-37

(Psa 84:11) "For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." bZ-38

(1 Pet 2:1-3) "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, {2} As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: {3} If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." bZ-39

May God bless. Farewell.

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