A Beautiful Woman Is a Person, Not a Body

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

“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” (1 Peter 3:4). I love this. Women, you are a person. You’re not a body to be gawked at.

I was praying the other day. At age sixty-nine, I am still a male, and males have a bent towards sexual attraction — looking at things we shouldn’t look at, or looking too long at what we might look at innocently, or whatever. I’m going to the airport and my eyes are flashing here and there as people walk by. I’m just whispering to the Lord, “God, help me to see women’s eyes.” When I say eyes, I don’t mean the makeup; I mean where the person is. “God, I want to see people, not bodies. Help me.”

Women need to hear — men, too — but women hear: You’re a person. Not a body to be decorated.

Once you have that straight, then the body will fall into line with appropriate clothing and appropriate makeup and appropriate hair and everything else. It’s not your God anymore. It’s no longer what you live for. Please, don’t live for that. Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. If “quiet” has a negative connotation for you, try the word “serene,” or “tranquil.”

Some women might complain, Women always have to be quiet. Women aren’t allowed to talk. I doubt that in this verse especially, those words would land on women with painful constraint, but rather with beautiful serenity, like a pond or a lake that is serene. It’s tranquil.

He goes on to say to these women, “Don’t be afraid of anything.” These are my kind of women. Fearless before American collapse. Fearless for your kids. Fearless in the face of difficulty at church. These are strong women, and the strength is coming from inside. The strength is not in being built up by attention from others. Movie stars are always trying to strike a pose with how sexy their clothes are, how sexy their figure is, how sexy their hair is. Why do they do that? Power. They know what men fall for or gawk at. Putting on a certain appearance feels powerful.

Holy Women Hope in God

Peter says power is good, and he tells us where real power resides. Power is in a person, in a heart. In a person or heart that is gentle, like returning good for evil, with mighty resolve not to do any more than Jesus did when he hung on the cross. Powerful women are quiet, serene, and tranquil in spirit, which in God’s sight is very, very precious.

Peter offers a reason for pursuing this kind of beauty and power: “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves” (1 Peter 3:5). He’s back to holiness. That’s our calling. Is that what you’re living for, women (and men)?

“The holy women who hoped in God . . . ” There’s the key. Do you hope in your husband’s approval? Do you hope in your husband’s conversion? Do you hope in men around you liking what they see? Or do you hope in God?

It does not mean you don’t want your husband to be converted, or you don’t want to have any influence over him, or that you don’t want people to look upon you with favor. It means you’ve got priorities here, and God is all to you. God is all. Your hope is in God. You’re getting your identity from God. You’re getting your satisfaction from God. You’re getting your hope and your future and your joy from God.

Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.

As part of this initiative, Desiring God is putting on regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. Below, you can find all the video from our Look at the Book weekend on 1 Peter 2–3. The clip above is from Part 12: The Beauty and Behavior of a Godly Woman (1 Peter 3:1–6).

Lessons on Living as Exiles

Part 1: A Realistic Book About Life Today (Overview)

Part 2: Getting Started in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:1–2)

Part 3: Imperishable, Undefiled, and Unfading (1 Peter 1:3–7)

Part 4: The Mind Serves the Heart (1 Peter 1:8–16)

Part 5: Faith and Fear Produce Love (1 Peter 1:17–2:12)

Part 6: Your Desires Want to Kill You (1 Peter 2:9–12)

Part 7: Submit to Laws for the Lord’s Sake (1 Peter 2:13–17)

Part 8: The Marks of Free People (1 Peter 2:13–17)

Part 9: The Horror and Hope in Slavery (1 Peter 2:18–20)

Part 10: How Do We Honor Dishonorable People? (Q&A)

Part 11: Christ Returned Good for Your Evil (1 Peter 2:21–25)

Part 12: The Beauty and Behavior of a Godly Woman (1 Peter 3:1–6)

Part 13: What Is Submission in Marriage? (1 Peter 3:1–6)

Part 14: Men, Love and Lead Your Wives (1 Peter 3:7)

Part 15: Bible Reading, Justice, and Marriage (Q&A)

Part 16: Broken Dynamics in Marriage (Q&A)

Part 17: Summary and Conclusion: 1 Peter 2:13–3:7