The question of the significance of physical attraction is often given less attention than it perhaps deserves. Believers will often have a struggle supposedly between the spirit man and the self. They know the Scripture warns against basing one’s decision entirely on physical qualities, but they also wouldn’t wish to get married to someone they don’t feel physically attracted to.
Many end up in either of two extremes. On the one hand is the beauty means everything kind of believer. Take Jeremy for example. He is so consumed with passion for this girl from his class he just can’t help it. She’s the finest thing that’s ever walked the surface of his earth. Her curves are meticulously molded, and her smile is so captivating you’d gaze at her as though she were a Monalisa portrait.
The only problem is this beautiful being Jeremy is obsessed with has some serious flaws. She’s not kind at all. At every date, her job has always been to sit pretty and enjoy Jeremy’s now running out pocket money despite it being obvious to the both of them that her family is wealthier and she receives close to ten times more money than Jeremy’s. Because everyone thinks she’s beautiful, she won’t hesitate to make everyone feel like a lesser creature. She’ll demand to be served and never once serves others.
“But she’s beautiful”, Jeremy thinks to himself. He doesn’t believe he’s ever going to find another like her if he lets her go. He’s found out that she flirts with other guys in campus, but “come on, how many men are as lucky as myself that could even say they’ve at least ever had audience with her to confess what they feel?” Few, because few would be as foolish as Jeremy. Unrelentingly he pursues, and ultimately marries her. You don’t have to be a prophet to guess that Jeremy’s marriage will be the worst frustrating thing in his life, unless of course the Lord divinely intervenes.
The other extreme is the believer who completely stashes away anything physical. Let’s use Audrey here. She’s this one lady who loves the Lord so much. Two men she’s been friends with for a while are locked in a contest jostling for her heart. Physically she’s more drawn to Omollo. He’s this well-built guy with a frame so imposing any lady would feel safe hanging around. He’s the emblem of charming. He makes Audrey tear, not because she’s angry but because he’s funny. He’s a believer, but hasn’t been one for long.
His rival, Ole Maning is no match for his physical qualities. Guy has ribs for a set of packs. He’s a dead serious type of guy who casts demons at the sight of a fly hovering above his tea. His passion for the lost has earned him the coveted CU chair position. Physically, Audrey finds nothing attractive about him. But she believes if her passion for the lost is ever to survive, she has to get married to someone who shares in the same. So the lanky Ole scores one of a lifetime on Omollo. He marries Audrey, but marriage for Audrey turns out disastrous.
In order to avoid the two extremes that cause marriage to be a dreaded horror for many, there are two helpful measures to take.
Look away from physical beauty
If you are the Jeremy kind of a believer, your only hope is to look away from that which snares you. This is not to suggest that you stash away physical attraction as utterly insignificant. This is to say that you look beyond physical attraction. This is to recommend that you place more significance on that which pleases the heart than that which pleases the eye. If you will, find in a potential mate something that pleases the Spirit within you, knowing that the heart is deceitful – Jeremiah 17:9.
King Lemuel’s mother did well to caution that “charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;” – Proverbs 31:30(a). You may not like to hear it, but the truth is that a horrible accident can easily take all what you find physically attractive in a mate overnight. But that’s not even what makes beauty fleeting and charm deceptive. What makes them fooling is how they easily blind from seeing the all too important inward qualities, whether good or bad.
My first dating relationship with my wife never led to marriage, but beautifully set us up for it. We broke up barely a month in. One contributing reason was that she didn’t find me quite physically attractive. I just wasn’t many things she wanted. Now we are married, and she has never stopped wondering how she just couldn’t see all the lovely things she sees in me now. It shocks me too that she finds me handsome and is crazy about it.
Of course I gained a little more weight and looked fairer when we got back together than the skinny guy she broke it off with. But the greatest reason for the change was her getting to know more wonderful things about me her outward focus had all along blinded her from seeing. I hope she saw a heartful of kindness that trounced anything a pocketful of money would have offered. Simply being genuine and sincere friends some many months after our break up allowed for that to happen.
It’s no wonder I am strong on people investing more in friendship. Nothing brings out the true qualities of a person better. It will allow you to see the good things in a person you may have otherwise missed out on, and so give them a fair chance. It will also bring out the worst about a person, and if the Holy Spirit still impresses on you to love them despite those then count yourself lucky and the love you have for them true.
It’s okay as a lady to feel drawn to that strong man who will protect you physically. Just be careful not to make that everything. Desire a man who will also protect you morally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. A man who will protect you from himself because he acknowledges that he’s a sinner and without Jesus cannot even love you. Desire a man who will charm you with more than words and treats. The kind that will charm you with sacrificial deeds of kindness, loving you the very way Christ loves His Church – Ephesians 5:25.
Men, if you must have a trophy wife, find one you will flaunt for her fear of the Lord and her deeds and not just her looks. She is truly beautiful when despite her head-turning beauty, her looks to you are the last thing you will praise her for. She has far surpassed that outward beauty with something far more precious in her. Lemuel’s mom continues to say, “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” – Proverbs 31:30(b)-31.
Your praise of her is true when it’s not new to others who hear. Maybe you praise her the most, but they praise her too at the city gate (at work, in the estate, in church, etc).
Don’t completely disregard physical attraction
Here is the standard Peter sets for women to work toward and men to trust God they’ll have as wives;
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4.
The reason I’ve used this verse in this second measure and not in the first is because it is one that has been commonly misused in discouraging people from placing any significance on physical attraction. That is wrong because Peter here is not discouraging anyone from being physically beautiful. He’s simply cautioning against overly emphasizing physical beauty. He masterfully chooses words that will communicate the exaggeration he’s warning against. Words like ‘elaborate’, ‘gold’, and ‘fine clothes’. These are meant to communicate the excesses of physical adornment.
So Peter is not saying “do not be physically beautiful.” He’s saying, “physically, in fact you are already beautiful. Don’t even work anymore trying to ramp it up. What you are to work for is that which no woman is naturally born with; but with the help of the Holy Spirit you can cultivate; a gentle and a quiet spirit.”
Therefore, physical attraction is not to be disregarded as though it were sinful. Charm is not deceptive and beauty is not fleeting until the attitude in the heart corrupts it. Until the bearer of beauty intentionally manipulates with it and her victim foolishly falls for it.
The very first reason why physical attraction shouldn’t be disregarded is quite obvious; it is how almost every relationship is initiated. Like the sound of it or not, the fact is no one marries someone they haven’t liked something about them physically! No one. Unless for other absurd reasons. Emotional attachments can never come without a physical appeal. If we don’t like them, chances are that date will never happen.
Man is a layered being, and the first layer we see is what will either invite us or turn us away, romantically speaking. That first layer is the physical person. Different things attract different people, and that explains why even though a man may not find some lady attractive, that doesn’t make her any less beautiful. He may not like her, but another man is dying to have her. Even though my wife is crazy about me, I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s a lady out there that wouldn’t stand me.
The only problem is when we stop at only being physically attracted and never take the time to know more about the person. This knowing a person is not something to be done in a relationship, but before. Vows, whether marriage or relationship, are to be honored – Psalm 15:4. And that is why you have to be sure before you make them. You will avoid stupid breakups if you only do this small thing.
The second reason why physical attraction shouldn’t be disregarded is the sincerity of praise. Consider what happens in the heart of the Beloved in Song of Songs as her lover praises her saying;
“How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing……… Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.” – Song of Songs 4:1-3.
You do not have to compare your mate’s features with a pomegranate she doesn’t even have the slightest idea about, but you still have to find things in her that in your eyes make her the fairest of women. Of all women on earth, in my eyes, my wife stands alone as the fairest. She has to know that, and she won’t know if I don’t say it. Now imagine me telling her those words without me believing them myself. She’s not dumb not to figure that out. And my efforts will hurt more than affirm her because they are nicely wrapped in pretence.
Praise gives confidence, both to men and women. Sincere praise, for that matter. Again remember, the world doesn’t have to agree with you that your man or woman is the best looking. All that matters is that you are convinced he/she is.
Judge fairly and with humility
“How about when we are not on the same spiritual plane yet I’m really attracted to him?” you might be asking. When I proposed to my wife, it went against an idea that had been subtly planted in me. I am a missionary given to full time ministry. Naturally I desired a lady who would share in my passion and so I confined my search within my small circle of missionary friends. But there weren’t many that I felt as attracted to.
Isla was far from qualifying. She hadn’t attended a single missions training nor been through any discipleship program. But I married her anyway; a decision some probably thought was a terrible mistake. Defiantly, instead of pulling me downward she has caused my ministry to grow in leaps and bounds. Oh what I would have missed out on if I had thought she’ll hinder my purpose and dismissed her!
When assessing anyone’s spirituality, you need to be careful that you do so with humility. Judge by the Spirit’s wisdom and not your own – Jeremiah 17:10. Your wisdom will perhaps tell you that the spiritually fit person is the one who has been saved the longest, prays the loudest and quotes the most verses. But God is pleased with the heart, and don’t be shocked if He thinks the person you dismiss as a spiritual baby might in fact be a spiritual giant in His eyes.
Should we not care that we share convictions, especially on important things like one’s calling with a potential mate? We should. It’s only unfortunate that in assessing this, we are prone to ignoring how convictions are built. Did you become passionate about the lost in a day? Convictions come from the much knowledge one is exposed to, and so do not weigh someone else’s convictions on the scale of your knowledge. Weigh it on theirs. Look out for obedience. Do not be excited by mere knowledge and talk. Find more pleasure in deeds.
How faithful is he/she with the little he/she knows? How open is he/she to learn more from God and live it out? In Isla I found one who was faithful with little and was willing for God to show her more and demand more from her; and I have never regretted choosing her. Hopefully all what I’ve shared helps you choose well. If you do, it will go well for your relationship and marriage.