Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gospel and the Beauty Myth

Keller offers another example of how the Gospel can apply to an issue in a fresh way by taking on our society's obsession with physical beauty.

Our society is obsessed with physical beauty, but most everyone knows we shouldn't be. But, even though we know we shouldn't care so much about how we look or other people look, we can't not care: it's just too overwhelmingly important in our culture. But the Gospel is that Christ has made us perfectly beautiful in Himself; in Christ, we are more beautiful than we could have ever hoped. By putting our faith in this, the power of our culture's obsession with beauty is broken.

1 comment:

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

It's not wrong to want to be beautiful or to love beauty in others and in nature. What's wrong is not knowing what beauty is, and that's part of our sinful state.

There's an Orthodox saying (which I used to like very much, but which I am liking less because of how it is being used as "bait" to lure people to Orthodoxy), that goes like this, "The world will be saved by Beauty."

Now what many people seem to mean by this, is that if we focus on the Orthodox tradition, emphasizing the beautiful in it (some say, "after all, whose worship is more beautiful than the Orthodox?" but I do not say this), we will somehow overcome the world, sin and death. If this were true, then the Hare Krishna temple worship would be a close competitor, and has either faith really "brought salvation to the world"? I would say not. Only Jesus saves, without qualification, and I have found more salvation sometimes in the plainest of places (and maybe in the ugliest of surroundings) than in some Orthodox services.

The Orthodox saying, "The world will be saved by Beauty," therefore can only be true absolutely, if by "Beauty" we really mean "Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church," whose Beauty overflows into His Beloved, producing such things as the Orthodox tradition with all its paraphernalia.

Jesus called Himself many things, "I am the Truth, I am the Way, I am the Life…" and yet we never hear Him say, "I am the Beauty." Instead, we read, "so disfigured he looked, we turned our faces away from Him…". Only in the Song of Solomon, and in the Royal Wedding Song of Psalm 45, do we catch a prophetic glimpse of Jesus as "Beauty," and yet we do.

I agree with your saying "in Christ, we are more beautiful than we could have ever hoped," and I have found others besides myself giving out the saying "There is nothing more beautiful in all the world than a man or woman who is obedient to Christ." Ultimately, in Him is the source of all Beauty, all Salvation.