The Importance of the Physical

I wrote recently on the drive that men have in sexuality. When I’ve discussed valuing the women in our lives with Christian men, I seem to get one reply often. When the topic is discussed between Christian men and women, this same point seems to come up too often and it honestly concerns me.

Christian men will tell me what makes a lady beautiful is on the inside and it is not in the physical appearance. Christian women will complain that men will only want to date beautiful women. Isn’t it what is on the inside that really matters? The physical will fade after all.

Now we all know the physical isn’t everything, but we as Christians must admit that it is important. I will say this as a guy. I know some people, and I think perhaps women most on this, will hate it as soon as I say it, but I just happen to think that some women are more attractive than others and I find that important in selecting a lady to be my wife.

Please note also that I did not say it is the only thing. We have to realize though that this is what people notice first about us and we need to be taking proper care of our bodies in presenting qualities that a mate will prefer. This doesn’t mean going anorexic or something. Too many women are beautiful and deny it and we men can’t stand it when they do such.

What is my main concern? My main concern is that we are being gnostics in our approach to the body. The body is not everything, but it is something. It is part of the creation of God and he made it to be good. The way a woman’s body is designed was meant to be attractive to the male and vice-versa. Let’s look at some Scriptural passages.

Ruth 3:

1 One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not try to find a home  for you, where you will be well provided for? 2 Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.

Notice what Ruth is told to do? Be as attractive as possible and go see Boaz. Now nothing immoral happened that night, but the beauty was noted.

1 Samuel 25:

1 Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah.
Then David moved down into the Desert of Maon.  2 A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. 3 His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings.

Note how Abigail is described. Intelligent and beautiful. (The same is said of Job’s daughters. No women more beautiful than they were found. Apparently, the Bible saw it as a blessing to have beautiful daughters.)

Proverbs 5:18-19

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love

A passage on the joy of romantic love in marriage as opposed to adultery. Physical pleasure is seen as a benefit.

Song of Songs 4

1 How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from Mount Gilead. 2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.

3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.

4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with elegance  ;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.

5 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle
that browse among the lilies.

6 Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh
and to the hill of incense.

7 All beautiful you are, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.

8 Come with me from Lebanon, my bride,
come with me from Lebanon.
Descend from the crest of Amana,
from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon,
from the lions’ dens
and the mountain haunts of the leopards.

9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.

10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!

11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments is like that of Lebanon.

12 You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.

13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,

14 nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.

15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.

The man here has no hesitancy in extolling the physical features of his beloved.

And the same is said in Song of Songs 7:
1 How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince’s daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of a craftsman’s hands.

2 Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.

3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.

4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.

5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.

6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
O love, with your delights!

7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.

8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,

9 and your mouth like the best wine.

What’s my point?

My point simply is that the physical does matter and physical beauty is a gift. It is not everything, but it is something. If we say “It doesn’t matter” then we are not having a Christian view of the body. We are having a gnostic view of the body. The body is good and was designed in such a way to attract the opposite sex and the bodies were designed in such a way to bring joy to themselves and each other in the marriage relationship.

My advice then? Don’t place everything on the physical, but don’t place nothing on it either. The person you marry will be the first face you see everyday. Make sure it’s one you want to see.

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