Pretty Faces and Pretty Persons

By David Engelsma

Today’s society places a premium on pretty faces and attractive bodies and increasingly practices the philosophy "if you have it, flaunt it." Such an emphasis produces an attractiveness which is shallow and empty, devoid of inner values. As parents, we need to be concerned about the effect this emphasis is having on our children. Many of the problems we hear about today - sexual harassment, date rape, young women who suffer from eating disorders, promiscuity - are very likely connected to this obsession with physical attractiveness.

Perhaps, we all would desire our children to be physically attractive. But, have we ever explained to them that a pretty face doesn’t necessarily mean a pretty person? That a pretty face and designer clothing, in fact, are not even necessary? How much trouble and expense we often go through to try to dress up our children to show them off to best advantage? By doing this, perhaps without even realizing it, we transfer to our children some very shallow values. Even young children soon begin to realize what their Mom really values in them and soon being attractive becomes most important to them as well. Something is really wrong when even young children fret and worry because they are not as pretty or as popular as they wish they were or because they are not wearing the latest styles of clothing.

Do our children sense and experience a concern in us that the Lord would work in them that inner character which is truly beautiful. "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning... but let it be the hidden man of the heart,... which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:3-4). The blessing of such adornment can be found already in the first book of the Bible in the fascinating story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24.

Abraham had sent his trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. The Lord directed him to Rebekah whom the Bible describes as being unusually beautiful (Gen. 24:16). Keeping this in mind, notice what happens when Rebekah and the servant on their return trip come near the tents of Abraham, They notice a man coming to meet them.

"Who is that man walking in the fields, coming to meet us?" Rebekah asks. "That is my master, Isaac," the servant replied. Isaac! The man she had come so many miles to marry? What did Rebekah do? Did she say, "Oh there is Isaac coming? I’ve got to make a good impression on him and look my best. Stop the camel. I must do my hair, put on my newest, revealing dress, chatter and laugh and pretend to have a lot of fun to make this young man fall in love with me."

No, not at all! Rebekah did stop and get off the camel but it wasn’t to make herself as attractive as possible. Instead, she climbed off the camel and covered her face with a veil! Isaac came and took her for his wife while her pretty face was hidden from sight. He most likely had no idea what she looked like. That wasn’t important to him. Isaac had values that went deeper than exterior beauty. Isaac saw something in her conduct that was more important, something which revealed her inner character. It was this quality of godly modesty that served to confirm for Isaac that Rebekah was chosen of God to become his wife.

A reserved and modest character like Rebekah’s is priceless, going far beyond the doubtful value of a pretty face. Let us rediscover if necessary and foster at home and at school the fast disappearing virtue of modesty. We need more Rebekahs today, who when they see their Isaacs’ approaching, adorn themselves with modesty and sobriety.