Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Worldly thinking vs. righteous judgement

[Several years ago, while I was still hanging out on Internet Christian singles groups, one of the guys on a certain group volunteered the information that he wouldn't consider getting acquainted with an overweight woman. For various reasons, including the fact that I'd had several good friends who were overweight but of good character, I felt that his postings merited a response. If I were to write on this subject today, I think I'd word some things a little differently, but overall I can say that this old post pretty much echoes my current feelings on the subject: personal tastes and preferences are far less important than the standards that are revealed in the Word of God.]

Whatever the cause of weight gain might be for an individual (whether its due to a glandular disorder, carbohydrates, high fat, or whatever), it's important to put the issue in Biblical perspective. The first Scripture which comes to mind is, "Judge not by outward appearance, but judge rather righteous judgement." Elsewhere we read that Christians ought to cultivate inner beauty over and above their outward appearance. This is not to say that it's wrong to take care of one's appearance, or to be attracted to certain "looks" more than others, but rather that if we are to act in obedience to God's revealed will, we are to treat the person's heart as being far, far more important than his/her physical appearance.

Among men, there seems to be a tendency to judge women by their physical attributes. If a woman looks nice, we want to get to know her, but if we think she looks unattractive, we steer clear of her. It's quite understandable if unbelievers hold to such a priority, but in view of the Scriptures which I cited above, it's not only shallow but outright worldly and dishonoring to God if Christian men put physical beauty above spiritual beauty.

Oh, some of us love to rationalize our worldly thinking. "But maybe her unattractive appearance is a sign of spiritual immaturity." Yeah, right. The fact of the matter is that too many guys, including Christian guys, don't bother to get close enough to women who don't meet their ideal for physical appearance to learn the least little thing about their spiritual lives. Judging righteous judgment involves getting to know the person well enough to make an accurate judgment of their character. If you write a gal off because she doesn't meet your physical ideal, you are in no position to judge her.

"Her appearance shows that she doesn't care about her health." Although we ought to be good stewards over our bodies, and bodily exercise profits a little, an extra few pounds isn't necessarily a sign of an early demise. Whatever the reason may be for being overweight, the fact of the matter is that once you put on the pounds, it's difficult for many (most?) people to take them off and keep them off. OK, let's say it's a sin to be overweight. Gluttony is certainly a sin (although being overweight is not always a sign of gluttony). Isn't it just as much a sin to judge a person by outward appearance? Shouldn't we be gracious and patient towards those who are struggling with sin? Is being overweight a worse sin than, say, adultery or covetousness? If it isn't, then why is a woman's weight so often an unforgivable sin in the eyes of men, men who themselves are struggling with sin of their own, often the sin of lust?

Having said all that, perhaps I shouldn't complain. Maybe, just maybe, God is going to give me a woman with a beautiful heart, one who has been overlooked by lots of guys simply because of some perceived fault in her outward appearance. Maybe she's been hurt many times by rejection for the most superficial of reasons. "Why would I want to give her a chance? She's too fat/skinny/ugly/homely." Guys, if you want to pass over a potential gem because she doesn't look like a movie star or fashion model, go ahead, 'cause guys like me who are determined to make God's priorities my priorities in finding a mate are going to end up the winner. Although it's not wrong to be attracted to the outer appearance or to prefer certain "looks", bear in mind that if you make the outward appearance your top priority, you are thinking as the world thinks rather than like a Christian. You may prefer a drop-dead gorgeous gal with a cold heart, but I'm going to go for the gal who has a warm heart regardless of whether that heart is in a plain package or not, not because that's my preference, but because that's what the Bible teaches.

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