The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
Is it biblical to think that physical attraction must be a component of a godly marriage?
No, I don't think it is biblical to think that way. And I don't think it's rational to think that way either.
It would have two implications:
- No homely people, no plain people, would get married.
- Those who get married when they are pretty, and then change when they get old—lose their hair, get wrinkles, and get flabby—would fall out of love and would have no good marriages anymore.
I mean, that's just ridiculous. And yet I suppose the question is asked because there is such an emphasis, I guess, in our culture that if you don't look really attractive you're probably not going to get married. If you don't look really attractive, you're probably going to cause your wife or husband to go looking for somebody else. And there's a lot of books out there, I suppose, that say to a wife that you're going to lose this guy if you don't stay really pretty.
Well, she should try to stay as attractive as she can. But you can't put that on her. You can't make his faithfulness the outcome of her looks. That's just not the way it works.
We are called as men to be faithful the way Jesus is faithful to his bride. And his bride, frankly, stinks! We are not that attractive! He died to make us attractive, according to Ephesians.
I think when Jesus looks at us, if he doesn't look at us in himself, he's not going to be excited about this marriage feast at the end of the age.
The word "biblical" in this question is perhaps intended to take me to a text. And of course the text that comes to mind is, when it speaks to beauty, 1 Peter 3:3: "Don't let your beauty be the outward beauty of the wearing of gold, and the braiding of hair, and the wearing of clothes."
It doesn't say "fine clothes." It's just "clothes," so you know it's not an absolute, as though not wearing clothes is good thing. It means the jewelry, the hair, and the clothes are not the focus. And our culture needs to hear that unbelievably. Marriages need to hear it, men need to hear it. That's not the main focus of beauty. The focus should be the inner spirit.
So women should ask, "What kind of spirit should I cultivate for my man?" as well as, "How should I eat and dress and exercise for my man?" And the man should do the same: "What kind of inner spirit makes her flourish?" because there is a kind of spirit in a man that kills a woman or frightens or bores her.
And a man shouldn't mainly be pumping iron. Because, frankly, most women could care very little about what their husbands look like, unless they're just making fools of themselves. They want a spirit, a strength, a humility, a nobility. They want someone to pick them up and sweep them away.
In their worst moments women don't look at pornography, usually. Mostly they read novels about exciting romances, because their husbands are so boring!
And so it cuts both ways. I think we husbands should labor not so much with the outward man, and the women shouldn't labor so much with the outward woman. Rather, we should all cultivate the kind of beauty that we all deeply long for in relationships.
A marriage is a relationship. When you're old, gray, wrinkled, overweight (or underweight), squinty, bent over, and hobbling along, maybe you'll be holding hands at 85 because of the inner beauty.