“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”
My young friend Grace is insightful beyond her 9 years. On the way to a bridal shower, I asked her what she thought of the recent Cinderella movie that my girls and I were about to see over March Break.
Her brief review caught my attention because, though she enjoyed the movie, she had this one complaint:
She wished the step-mother had been ugly.
The abundant physical beauty this woman possessed chafed Grace’s perceptive spirit because it was wholly inconsistent with the step-mother’s cruel character. Grace felt the beauty was wasted on a woman who, though she looked it, was not really beautiful at all. As the song goes, “She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way.”*
My mind immediately went to Prov. 11:22 because Grace’s frustration aptly illustrates the principle we find there. Like a gold ring to a pig’s unsightliness, physical beauty is ultimately powerless to compensate for gross deficiencies in a woman’s character. As appealing as the adornment of physical beauty is at first glance, it is rendered insignificant when a woman abandons good judgement in how she thinks, speaks and behaves. We’ve probably all seen it and it is an unfortunate waste. Like a pig wearing diamonds or a hog in heels.
But before we mistakenly condemn physical beauty itself, burn our mascara and don burlap sacks, consider this:
God never denounced physical beauty or the seemingly natural inclination for women to engage in the process of adorning. As a matter of fact, He uses its normalcy throughout scripture to illustrate some important spiritual matters, like God’s grace, salvation, marriage and the relationship between Christ & the Church. (Ezekiel 16:1-14, Isaiah 61:10, Ephesians 5:25-28, Revelations 19:6-8) And when the Bible uses this symbolism, it does so without condemnation or reproach for the practice of adorning.
Yes, physical beauty should never be our crowning feature and is far inferior to the enduring beauty that comes from good character (I Peter 3:3-4). And yes, it is riddled with dangers and misuses (2 Sam. 11, Prov. 7). And most certainly, God’s measure of a woman is her heart and not her appearance (I Sam. 16:7).
But let’s also consider that:
- Beauty in its many forms was created by God and as with all He created, pronounced good. (Gen. 1:31)
- Beauty can be a gift of delight to our spouse. (Song of Solomon 7:6, Prov. 5:18-19)
- And beauty can be leveraged for godly influence. (Esther2-9, I Samuel 25)
Physical beauty is not an enemy of true beauty, but it will either adorn it or masquerade as it.
One use of physical beauty is wise stewardship.
One is an unfortunate waste.
And that is the only time physical beauty is spoken out against – when it is deceitful. When it presents us as more beautiful than our character truly makes us. This is false advertising of the most disappointing sort.
The gold ring of physical beauty is not the problem.
It is the nature of one who wears it that renders physical beauty well-placed or wasted.
So let’s ask ourselves today:
- Do we use any physical beauty we possess to influence for good and draw attention to the God who transforms ugly hearts into hearts of beauty and grace?
- Or is our physical beauty a source of disappointment as people we could otherwise influence are repelled by the discrepancy between what they see and what we really are?
So friend, go ahead and wear that ring. Just preferably not on a snout or hoof.
*”She Ain’t Pretty” by Bryan Potvin.