Gilding the Pig

We see this every day in the popular media. Incredibly stunning women are stunning the rest of us with their scandalous behavior and jaw-dropping vulgarity. Sometimes it seems the prettier they are, the trashier they live and speak. We live in a time when the power lust seemingly promises to women is not only tolerated, it is celebrated. As I wrote this, the nation was shocked by the crude and offensive actions of a female star on live television. There’s no need to mention the details because, unfortunately, she probably will be upstaged by someone else in a few months and this particular episode will become a footnote in history.

Why am I sure of this? Because an astute observation in Proverbs notes that this lack of good judgment and modesty is not uncommon to women of any age. Proverbs 11:22 drives home this point with comic hyperbole: “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”

King Solomon wrote this proverb, and he, with his 700 wives and 300 concubines, would have the demographic research to back up his observation—as well as the hard-learned lessons about the corrupting influence of indulging himself with so many women. “No man ever lived who has had as much experience with women as King Solomon, who ‘loved many strange women,’” writes pastor and author Herbert Lockyer. “Solomon could be expected to say something about the vices and virtues of women, as he does, particularly in the Book of Proverbs. . . . In no other book in the Bible do we find so many references to loose women and grim warnings against any association with them, as in Proverbs.” 

What does indiscretion look like? We may compare ourselves with the woman in the latest media scandal and think we’re doing fine. But that’s not the standard for a godly woman. I’ve found invaluable advice in the points that Nancy Leigh DeMoss raises in her Portrait of a Foolish Woman, based upon the adulterous woman described in Proverbs 7:

The foolish woman in this passage approaches her prey with a bold greeting. She throws herself on this man—physically and verbally. She evidences the lack of discretion and restraint that is so common between men and women today. Even in church it is not unusual to see women casually, carelessly throw their arms around men. Such behavior may not have immoral intent, but it is foolish. At best, it pulls down appropriate restraints that ought to exist between men and women; at worst, it can lead to grave sins against God. . . .

The foolish woman is indiscreet—she talks freely about intimate subjects that should be reserved for conversation with her husband. One of the most disconcerting aspects of various highly publicized sex scandals in recent years is the open, candid talk about private matters that has been splashed throughout the news media. Explicit sexual language that was once considered inappropriate outside the bedroom has now become part of our everyday vocabulary. . . .  We need to teach young women that there are things you don’t talk about in mixed company. Indeed, there are personal matters between husbands and wives that should not be discussed even with other women.

One of my single guy friends once made this comment, and I noted it immediately: “When I see an outwardly attractive woman do or say something that is foolish or worldly, it is like a slap in the face to me. I can’t turn away fast enough. But when a godly woman does something to encourage someone else, I bless God for her and more than once such actions have caused me to consider her in prayer.” 

Inward Beauty: Precious to God, Attractive to Others

As attractive as that kind of appeal is to men, it is more important to consider how God views it. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” In this verse, we not only find a kind of imperishable beauty, we also find how God values it—precious.  

It may be hard to understand how a quiet and gentle spirit would make a woman beautiful. It sounds so mousy. At least that’s what I thought when I first read that passage as a new Christian. My views had been shaped by the temperamental divas of popular culture—high-maintenance, self-centered, dramatic women who seem to drag men hooked by the nose in their wake. These divas commanded attention—but a quiet and gentle woman? How could she be beautiful?