Borrowed Beauty

*Posted by Kirk Spencer

Borrowed Beauty Crows FeetRecently I heard something about the college football championship.  It wasn’t anything about the game itself, but about one of the player’s girlfriend.  Evidently a football commentator made some shockingly inappropriate and controversial statement about her during the game.  He said—on national television—that she was pretty.  And then he added insult-to-injury by suggesting that her beauty could be attractive to the opposite sex.  And here’s the worst part:  The commentator implied that the opposite sex might seek great heroic acts (like becoming a quarterback) to win the fair maiden’s hand.  Well, all heck broke loose and many people were offended…  although no one, that I’ve heard at least, has explained exactly why they were offended other than saying it was “heteronormative” and “creepy,” followed by a reference to the commentator’s age (73).  Well I know what “creepy” means, but I was in the process of looking up “heteronormative” when the network quickly (and “sincerely”) apologized.  And the pretty girl in question said that she didn’t think it was “creepy” (though she didn’t comment on its “hereronormativity”).  She said she thought it was “nice.”  (And it certainly was nice that the commentator’s comments made her a twitter sensation.)

I thought about speculating on why such a statement would be so offensive, but after all heck breaking loose and many people being offended, I am afraid that I might write something offensive.  So I decided to change the subject to something less controversial (I hope)—The subject of how Beauty is just a breath.   Like a sigh, it is fleeting.  It cannot be possessed—as subject or object—no matter what a commentator might imply.   Even the Beautiful which “possess” beauty, really don’t.  Beauty is only borrowed.  For natural beauty (and the ability to recognize and enjoy it) is something built by our genetics and not the will of the possessor.  So if someone is proud of their beauty, then that pride is misplaced; and if someone values someone else more because they are beautiful, then that extra value is misplaced.  The credit for physical beauty (and the ability to recognize and enjoy it) does not belong to the possessor.  The glory goes to the Maker (or if you don’t believe in a Maker, the glory goes to some random and mindless “mating” of a nondescript survival instinct and a chance necessity of sexual selection which has evolved throughout the history of life on Earth).  The point is… if we see something beautiful, some work of art, we can appreciate the art—and the ability to notice and know beauty and the pleasure it brings—but the glory for the art should be given to the Artist and not the work of art itself.

The other day, my little “social butterfly” asked me if she could be in a beauty pageant.  It was an odd feeling, as a father, to try and answer such an innocent question.  I’m not sure I want my daughter to be in a beauty pageant.  I imagine it will be different watching my little girl walk across a beauty pageant stage… very different.  She’s proud of her outward beauty and draws self-esteem from it.  I have tried to tell her that her beauty is borrowed and that any glory for beauty and any thanksgiving for it, and for the ability to derive pleasure from it, belong to God.  Looking into her beautiful face, knowing that one day it will be wrinkled like mine, I try to tell her to cultivate the beauty inside, pure thoughts and godly choices and compassionate action—not what our genes (God’s thoughts) have made on the outside (that time and gravity will take away) but what our choices will make on the inside—the beauty we give ourselves (and others) by God’s grace and with His help—a gift (and beauty) that is everlasting, because we will, one day, give it back to Him.

Borrowed Beauty 

In mist frost
Behind each breath
Upon the silvered glass
Where every conceited sigh
Billows life that’s passing by
Until life-thread breaking ends
In silver hair and wrinkled skin
But beautiful smiles can fashion
Crow’s feet into angel’s wings
Which burnishing smooth
Bright golden within
A heart of wisdom
We give back
To Him

This entry was posted in Art, Culture, Philosophy, Theology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Borrowed Beauty

  1. Excellent insights, Dr. Spencer! Have you ever noticed how animals have no appreciation for aesthetics? Pigeons poop on statues. Dogs pee on trees. Birds only sing their particular song. My dog “sings” along with me, but he is severely tone deaf. Animals have no regard for beauty. It seems that only humans can truly appreciate the beauty of God’s creation, and because we are made in His image, we too try to create things of beauty. How do evolutionists explain that!

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