A song by Joy Williams popped on the iPod shuffle rotation and is this week’s iPod Devotional. The lyrics resonated after reading a story about a dating service for “beautiful” people. In a press release that seemed to be designed to generate moral outrage and (surprise) free publicity the company announced that 30,000 “ugly” people were being removed from the site. A hacker’s virus had allowed unattractive people to get through the screening process. So I had a chance? These poor souls could access counseling to deal with not being beautiful enough to make the cut. I would suggest that you might need counseling if you even applied to this site and not if you are drummed off of Narcissism Island.
I am not listing the name of the site because I suspect this is a publicity ruse. But the business of dating sites for attractive people only is real. Most of us deal with appearance issues at some point. I wish I had more muscle definition. Correction. I wish I had some muscle definition. I have dealt with other self-esteem issues. I regret that I don’t have a better academic resume. I wish I had finished college. But more and more I am understanding that none of those appearance or resume issues define who I am. The song “We” reminds me that all of us have issues to work through.
She's independent and beautiful
Wish I could be like her
She's got the girls and the boys
So wrapped around her finger
Rumor is she's some kind of dream
Nobody knows she cries herself to sleep
I wrote a couple of years ago about the tragic lives of so many Playboy centerfold models. A disproportionate number of women who have posed in Playboy magazine have died tragically before the age of 50. Automobile accidents, drug overdoses, homicides, a plane crash — all have claimed the lives of Playmates. What caught my eye was a comment from a photographer for the magazine.
“It’s sad how many girls we’ve lost,” said Peter Gowland, who photographed a number of centerfolds for Playboy in the 1950s and 60s. “It’s a curse to be beautiful,” Gowland said.
No, Mr. Gowland, it is a gift to be beautiful. The curse is young women being exploited for their beauty by self-centered men. The curse is believing that your significance and value is found in being an object of lust for selfish men. The curse is sin. It is a curse to define yourself only by a temporal asset. You were created to be in fellowship with your Creator. Any other pursuit is, to quote the wise king, folly.
Joy William’s song continues.
He's on the top of the social scene
He's stylish cool and clever
He's got a cool attitude that screams
He's got it all together
You'd think he's addicted to himself
But he wishes he could be someone else
The chorus reveals the truth.
We are not that different from each other
We just want somebody to discover
Who we really are when we drop our guard
We want to be known. We want to be loved even when the unlovable parts of us are known. That cannot be found at a dating site for pretty people. That, in my experience, is found in relationships of trust in a community of grace. That happens when Christians realize who they are because of their relationship with Christ. More and more I believe that so much sadness in the Christian community is because we center our identity on something other than Christ.
I have been mulling over some seriously head and heart messing stuff from Tim Keller. Keller wrote a thought provoking definition of idolatry and how we can substitute even good things for God.
“Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” (Tim Keller, “Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age,” www.thegospelcoalition.org)
That is disturbing for a guy who was taught from childhood that sin is a list that included but was not limited to movies, liquor, cigarettes, dancing, long hair and rock and roll. Tim Keller’s definition of sin takes all of the fun out of self-righteous comparison and judging.
Paul wrote these words to the Church at Colossae on the topic of idolatry.
“Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Colossians 3, NLT)
It is a hard truth to admit that we often worship the things of this world because they really can be good things. God in His loving grace does not desire for us to be deprived of good and pleasurable things. He simply wants us to place them in proper order. Later in the passage Paul gives one key to avoiding idolatry.
Put on your new nature, and be renewedas you learn to know your Creator and become like Him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.(Colossians 3:10-11, NLT…take a moment to read verses 12-17 to see what the results of this action might look like)
That is the missing ingredient for so many followers of Christ. They forget who they are. They forget they have a new nature. They forget they are cherished and forgiven by God. They forget they are saints. Living out of those truths is were beauty comes from. You can have your Botox.