Last night our television was on, but I wasn’t really paying attention to it. I did note my husband flipping through a report featuring an aging television star who has clearly gone through a number of facelifts—common among celebrities and the wealthy. Beauty is a very popular idol.
I have to admit that I hate looking in the mirror. Yet I know the beauty culture is the antithesis of God’s view of me. I would never have surgery simply to improve my appearance, but I still wish I could look better! The pull of beauty is so pervasive that it’s almost impossible for any of us to feel good about ourselves. I have to watch my thoughts to be sure I am not falling prey to the idol.
The culture defines us by our bodies rather than by God’s assessment, the truth of Scripture. In bowing to the beauty idol, women suffer from eating disorders and spend countless dollars on plastic surgery and recovery. And idols are never satisfied; they constantly call for more. We must buy newer clothes, get a tan, implant our breasts, diet, yada, yada, yada.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made” is God’s perspective. Psalm 139 says that he formed us and wove us uniquely. Each of us has body parts that we would love to change to become a “10”, but God made us each distinctive, one of a kind, both body and soul. When we don’t believe truth and fall for the lies of the enemy, we bow before beauty. We worship our false god with our time, money, and attention, unable to live the abundant life of faith.
So how do we overcome the cultural messages? We confess the sin of idolatry. We avoid as many of these messages as possible (magazines, etc.), replacing them with the truth of the Word. We learn contentment, believing that God, who doesn’t make mistakes, sees us as beautiful. We seek our identity in him, not in our physical appearance. We shift our focus to developing inner beauty and finding our sufficiency in God’s unconditional love.
How have you seen the idol of beauty impact the way you think about yourself? How do you avoid such messages?
This blog post originally appeared 2/21/2011 on Beyond, which is no longer online.