What is beauty?

A young man fancies a young lady. What sparks his interest? Her mind, emotions, spirituality? What role does her physical body play? Is she pretty? But what is pretty? What is beautiful? “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” Plato said. What does the Bible say about beauty, what does God think about, “the beautiful?”

God’s creation is beautiful, according to Gen 2:9. Jerusalem is a beautiful city in Isaiah 52:1. The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19) and in a sense, God is beautiful. His favor is beautiful, His promise to His people is beautiful, His temple is beautiful. Christ had no beauty that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2) and at one point His body was broken and beaten, “unbeautiful.” Yet John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (and beauty).” Isaiah 33:17, “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty.” In Revelation 5:13, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, said, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” The beauty of God is not a physical beauty but something deeper, a theological beauty, declaring His glory. Is it the same with us?

We are made physical beings, and beauty is a thing. Beauty is more than swiping left or right on social media. The bride of the Song of Solomon is beautiful to her groom. There were women in the Bible described as beautiful, like Sarah or Esther. But there’s something more important, even deeper: piety, loyalty, zeal, fervor, spirit. An outer beauty is admirable, but an inner beauty, to work hard, to stand up for what’s right, to be dedicated, can be more attractive. The Proverbs 31 woman, who fears the Lord, who supports her husband and he can trust her, who builds her home and invests in the children, this woman is dressed in strength, even more attractive than a physical presence and adding to her allure. She might dress herself with cosmetics or jewelry, but, “women should adorn themselves with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10).” This is not sexist; a beautiful character displays a beauty that will never die, a gentle, quiet, loving spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:4).

Physical attraction is important, but something deeper is more important. Let’s be honest, physical appearance changes as the years go by. It plays a role but it’s only a component of the bigger picture, the whole person. Personality, opinions, convictions, beliefs, and faith are at the core, they even add to a physical attraction. You know, it won’t matter how pretty that girl is if she cheats on you. Is there real beauty inside, behind her face? “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:30-31).”