“And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” –Ezekiel 16:14-15
In general, there are two ways in which a girl’s insecurity will play out. One, she will be shy, she will hide her body, and she will silently hate certain parts of herself, her physical features, her personality, etc. The second way in which her insecurities will play out is that she will do the exact opposite–rather than hide herself, she will overexpose herself, either by dressing immodestly, or being overly flirtatious.
Now one might think that the second behavior is just the opposite of insecurity. If anything, it would seem to emit confidence, not doubt or fear. But on the contrary, this second behavior stems from the exact same source as the first–a lack of trust in God. Rather than trusting in God for value and worth, these girls trust in their beauty.
Before I explain exactly what I mean by the phrase “trust in your beauty,” let me back up for a moment and explain what the above Scripture has to do with the topic of insecurity. When you read it, you probably thought it was a little out there, if not a little harsh. Well, to give you the context for it, the whole of chapter 16 in Ezekiel describes God’s faithfulness to Israel, and Israel’s subsequent unfaithfulness to God. Israel was alone and naked, but God clothed her and made a covenant commitment to her, enrobing her in precious garmens and jewels, cleaning her off so that she was as pure as snow, and making her His. Unfortunately, Israel repaid God by taking those gifts of grace and using them for her own selfish ends. Rather than remembering God’s faithfulness and worshipping Him for it, Israel began to trust in the gift, rather than the Giver. Israel turned those gifts into idols to be worshipped, served, and used to gain glory for herself, rather than God.
Not only is this passage extremely challenging to Christians, since everything God does for Israel is exactly what He does for us, but I find the specific imagery of chapter 16 to be particularly challenging for women. Oftentimes we as women feel tarnished by life, taken advantage of by the people in our lives, worn and ragged and alone. But God chooses us for Himself. He picks us up, cleans us of our dirty past, clothes us in beautiful robes and makes us into precious princesses. He makes us feel desirable and adored. He makes us feel beautiful.
But just like Israel, we begin to trust in our beauty, rather than the God who made us beautiful. And this brings us back to my original point. Almost every woman, at some time or another, is going to trust in her beauty, rather than trusting in God. Now we typically think only those women who are extremely flirtatious or exhibitionist struggle with it, but the temptation is there for all of us. Just because you don’t think you’re a super model doesn’t mean you are innocent of trusting in your beauty.
For some of you, the act of trusting in your own beauty will not display itself until a guy starts to show you attention, perhaps only flirting with you or showing you attention, or perhaps pursuing you in a dating relationship. But no matter the circumstances, there generally comes a point at which every woman is tempted to trust in a guy’s attraction to you, rather than God’s perfect timing for you. There is something exciting and even intoxicating about having a guy show you attention, so rather than sideline that feeling in favor of seeking God’s will and trusting in Him for affirmation, we run with it. We love the fact that a guy finds us attractive, even if his attraction is based on superficial things, so we rely on that feeling to satisfy us. And it is in that moment that we are trusting in our beauty, rather than God.
In this way, we must not deceive ourselves into believing that just because we don’t think of ourselves as “beautiful” doesn’t mean we won’t be tempted to trust in our beauty. In chapter 16 of Ezekiel, beauty is defined as that element that attracts others to Israel and brings glory to herself, so for us, beauty can be thought of as any element of ourselves that attracts people to us. And while beauty can be a very good thing since God is the one who makes us beautiful, we must ask how we are using our beauty. Are we attracting guys for our own selfish ends so that we can boost our own self-confidence, or are we using our beauty for the sake of glorifying God? That is indeed a convicting question for me.
I just found your blog a few days ago and I love this post. I was actually just praying about this issue…I was wondering if it was vain to thank God for beauty. Then I was thinking that I can be thankful that God made me beautiful, but I’ve been guilty of using that beauty for my own advantage. I even use it to get people to come to church! I do have a question for you though…how can we use our beauty to glorify God? What are some practical ways we can actually do that?
That’s a great question! The important thing to keep in mind in how you use your beauty is to make sure it’s being used within its proper context. For instance, flirting with guys or dressing in a way that gets attention, just for the sake of getting them to go to church, would be the wrong context for using our beauty. Why? Because your beauty is ultimately pointing people to you, not to God. The purpose of beauty is to point back to God, so we have to make sure our approach to our own beauty is thoroughly Christ-centered.
How, then, do we use our beauty to glorify God? A couple ways. First, it’s fine to look nice and do subtle things to enhance your exterior. God made your beautiful eyes and skin, so it’s fine to celebrate those. As long as we are not over the top or immodest, I firmly believe that people can look at a beautiful woman and praise God for her beauty. I know guys who have thought that before. So as long as you are not doing it for the wrong reasons (ie. vanity, needing attention, or some other emotional crutch) there is nothing wrong with accentuating your outward appearance–as long as it doesn’t supplant the importance of having a beautiful interior, and as long as it doesn’t distract people from God, it can be a great reflection of God’s beauty.
Second, the fullness of your beauty is to only be experienced by one person, and that is your husband. He is the primary person who gets to experience your beauty on such a physical and intimate level. So within the bounds of marriage you will definitely be glorifying God with your beauty, and in a very physical way at times. But until that day, unveiling your beauty in all its fulness is inappropriate.
In a sense, I think we glorify God with our beauty by guarding our beauty as a precious commodity. If we just hand it out to everyone (ie. dressing immodestly so every guy can ogle our bodies) then we cheapen our beauty, and treat the image of God in us as having little value. That said, if we guard our beauty, and only fully unveil it in marriage, then we are actually glorifying God with our beauty, because we are treating that God-given beauty as a priceless reflection of Him.
I know that’s a lot, but hopefully that helps…
Thank you so much for this post. I also have the same question as Hannah. I read the response you gave her but I understand there are practical ways to using our beauty to glorify God – but what are specific examples of those ways? I apologize, but since this is a new concept for me I need extra help visualizing what it looks like when put to practice.