What does it mean to be a beautiful woman? One challenge is the subjectivity of beauty. As the saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” For some people, beauty is reduced to sexiness, especially with the growth of pornography in the culture and church. Pornography is not the only culprit in distorting beauty, but it is a powerful one. Husbands who watch pornography tend to compare their wives to a false image of beauty, and their wives are tempted to compete with these unworthy standards. The desire to be beautiful may be a common element of human experience, but it’s unfulfilling when it becomes a primary life goal. The world is unrelenting in offering advice and methods, but which one is worth our time and money? As Christians, we need to remember what true beauty is, which can be defined by God alone.
Here are a few observations on God’s description of a beautiful woman or wife. It’s not a complete list, but it highlights wisdom for single and married women. Often, we don’t realize how much we’ve accepted worldly standards of beauty until we study God’s perspective.
God says a beautiful wife isn’t consumed by how she looks or what she wears (1 Pet. 3:3). On the contrary, she has a gentle and quiet spirit that adorns her (v. 4). Her godly attitudes, words, and behavior make her beautiful. Godliness isn’t as noticeable as our clothing and jewelry, but it’s “very precious” to God. He notices and cares! And, godliness is beautiful because of its influence on others. In this passage, we learn that the husband could draw near to God because of the wife’s example. The way she carries herself makes the Christian faith more appealing.
Briefly, what is gentleness? First, it isn’t weakness or fear in confronting sin. Jesus was a gentle person, but he condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matt. 23). A gentle woman knows when and how to speak. She is strong and not easily provoked, because her strength comes from God. She also doesn’t nag (Prov. 21:9) or say everything on her mind. Interestingly, self-control and gentleness exist together and reveal the spiritual state of a person (Gal. 5:16-23). That’s why it’s very difficult to have self-control or desire godly beauty when our minds are filled with worldly messages.
Godly beauty is also unique because of its timelessness. It doesn’t fade. Age is not the enemy of godly beauty. Her beauty isn’t measured by a scale of sexiness. Some of the most beautiful women I know are not young or do not have toned bodies, but they are praised for their sincere faith, care for others, and wisdom. I want to be more and more like these women, because they imitate Christ. Proverbs 31:30 states, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Unlike worldly beauty, godly beauty promotes contentment. The constant effort to improve appearances or meet human standards become weaker temptations when we care more about pleasing God and living for him. In short, a beautiful woman is a godly woman.
While godly beauty focuses on the soul, caring for our bodies is good too. The body is a part of God’s creation. It’s not vain to eat healthy and exercise moderately if our motives are right. A healthy body will look different for each person, but the point is not to overlook our physical health.
Join the Conversation
The passages from Proverbs and 1 Peter that we’ve surveyed suggest some powerful and probing questions for us. How might you honestly respond to them?
- What kind of adornment is present in your life? Why?
- Do you measure your beauty based on your husband’s standards, parents’ standards, friends’ standards—or God’s standards?
- In what ways do you place personal preferences above God’s desires?
- Are you dependent on the Spirit to become more and more beautiful in God’s eyes?
- Are you critical about sin or personal preferences and desires?
- Do people comment more about your looks than godly qualities? Does that need to change?
- Whether single or married, how do you display gentleness at home, work, school, or church?
Perhaps this prayer might also be important for you: “Father God, forgive me for comparing myself to others. Give me a desire to be beautiful in your eyes and open my eyes to understand true beauty. Help my husband to understand as well (if married). In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”