Friday, January 24, 2014

Hot or Holy?

I recently polled my Facebook friends with the question:

Ladies, if you had to choose from these two options (no cheating by adding a third option), would you rather have your significant other say to you:

1) “Honey, there may have been other women prettier than you, but none of them could hold a candle to your virtue.”
2) “Honey, there were other women who might have been more virtuous, but their beauty simply could not compare to yours.”

Okay, I admit that it is not really a fair question.  No woman would like to hear either of those things.  Both comments would sting.  Neither is recommended for use in actual conversation.  Everyone wants to be found both physically attractive and morally good by their spouse.  That is certainly not unreasonable.  I believe my wife to be both incredibly beautiful and incredibly good.  I guess you could say that I hit the marriage jackpot!

However, if we are brutally honest then we recognize that we all have different sets of strengths and weaknesses.   That means that my wife made a set of value judgments when she chose me.  There were other men that had strength in areas where I have weakness, and I had strengths where perhaps other suitors had weaknesses.  She had to decide what things mattered most to her in a mate.  Fortunately for me, she decided I had enough of the qualities that mattered that she chose to spend her life with me.

What made my question unfair is that it was either/or when it might realistically have been both/and.  But one does have to be more important than the other.   My Facebook friends unanimously agreed that being considered virtuous was more important than being considered pretty (although both would be preferred).   Now this is not a scientific poll and there are glaring weaknesses.  Being a minister, a great percentage of my friends are religiously minded.  Being in my mid-30’s, a large percentage of my friends are already well established in committed relationships and are no longer looking to attract a mate.  Perhaps given the public nature of the forum, nobody would want to choose the more shallow-seeming answer that physical beauty was more important.  But for whatever the reasons, the answer was resounding: Women care more about being seen as virtuous than pretty.

But is this the answer that comes through most clearly from Western society?  What would society be like if everyone universally valued the inside more than the outside?  What would popular magazines promote on their covers – how to be hotter or how to be holier?  If people viewed their virtue as more valuable than their exterior beauty, then would modesty ever be a problem?  What about premarital sex

As far as I know them, all of the women who responded to my question are good women.  I do not doubt their answers at all.  I only wish that what is universal in their answers was actually universal in our world.  I think women and men alike would be not only holier, but also happier if it was.  One of my friends rightly pointed out, “Beauty I have little control over, virtue is what I CHOOSE to be.”    

Those of you that have influence on young people, take every opportunity you can to reinforce that message to them.  Help them to value their choices more than their genetics.  Remind them to prize inner beauty, both in themselves and in others.  When that is universal, what a world this would be!