Physical Beauty – Reflections, Confession, and Forgiveness

Reflections

How do we celebrate beauty without lapsing into either pantheism or cynicism? This will take serious imagination, imagination fueled by reflection and prayer at the foot of the cross and before the empty tomb, imagination that will discern the mysteries of God’s judgment on evil and God’s reaffirmation through resurrection of his beautiful creation.
— N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

The Song of Solomon affirms the longing we have to be beautiful. With a lover’s eye for every feature, the poet describes the bride’s hair, teeth, temples, eyes, cheeks, neck, lips and [other more intimate parts]. The bridegroom’s features and strength receives similar praise. We may allegorize the Song, but why would God describe his bride in such blatantly physical and erotic terms if he did not rejoice in the physical beauty of His handiwork? God intended us to be as beautiful as this bride, and at the consummation of all things he will restore to us a beauty beyond what even poetry can hint at.
— Karen Lee-Thorp, “Is Beauty the Beast?”

“I am a woman who needs to be seen. I need it in a basic way, as in to breath, to eat…There is nothing like the mystery of an absent father to addict you to the loving gaze of men.”
— Nancy Friday, The Power of Beauty

Prayer of Confession of Sin

Beautiful Savior, You died to make me beautiful
one who was marred and made beastly by sin.
Late it was that I loved you,
beauty so ancient and so new, late I loved you!
Thus, I vacillate between
a monkish contempt of physical beauty
and a worldly addiction to physical beauty.
Unlike the patriarch Job,
some of us have made a covenant with our eyes
and we still gaze lustfully at others with whom we are not married.
Forgive us O LORD!
Most of us compare ourselves to others
and feel insecure, ashamed, and envious.
Have mercy upon us O LORD!
Some of us have a disdain for our bodies
that You knit together and fashioned.
Liberate us from such bondage O LORD!
Many of us have grown up lacking
that precious sense that we are beautiful
in the eyes of at least one loving beholder.
Give us a sense of Your delight, acceptance, and favor
through Jesus Christ our LORD. AMEN.

Declaration of Forgiveness         Isaiah 62:2,5

You will be a crown of beauty in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God…
for the LORD will take delight in you…
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

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