Catacomb Resident Blog

Body Boundaries

03 December 2021

One of the worst obsessions of Western mythology is the idolatrous reverence for physical appearance.

This has nothing to do with the wokie nonsense about "fat shaming" or anything like that. You'll see in Scripture that it was rare to even mention someone's physical characteristics unless there was something striking and memorable. King Saul was a head taller than the average Israeli, but it gave him the appearance of being regal without actually making his character regal. In the example of Absalom's long beautiful locks, it signaled his arrogance and bad character. The whole idea of caring overmuch about one's appearance indicated a wealth of insecurity that led to sin.

Charisma is a matter of personality, but can also be character. It does not depend on mere physical assets. Jesus was nothing remarkable to look at, but His charisma was undeniable.

The Hebrew standards of beauty reflected the broader cultural identity of the Ancient Near East. Men were ideally portrayed as simply imposing in presence. Only when the man-centered culture of Hellenism came along do we see an artistic obsession with sculpted ideals. The Hebrew hero was a man with functional legs, able to fun fast or march for days. It wasn't big beefy arms and bulging muscular shoulders; nobody paid much attention to such things. It was a question of what a man could do with his body, not what it looked like.

If you examine the longing descriptions of feminine beauty in Song of Solomon, it's almost comically different from what you might read in Western literature. Part of it is due to the way Hebrew people were expected to cover themselves, women in particular. Even the mention of covered body parts has more to do with the joy of access than what it looked like.

We cannot expect people to simply change their tastes. That sort of thing is deeply engraved on the soul. But we can and should recognize what a seriously defiled standard has been carved there. This is one of those little hints that reminds us just how essential it is we pull our children from secular conditioning, shielding them from the perverting influence of the world.

So, yes, Eglon's massively obese body was part of his undoing, making it easy to hide the fatal wound for a long enough time to rally the troops against his bodyguards. But a modicum of lard was hardly a negative physical trait in men or women. The ideal woman was a little chubby by our standards; being skinny was a bad sign of malnutrition. We cannot in good conscience promote an ideal standard of what people should look like under the Covenant. Even if we can't shake the standards already burned into our heads, we can confess them as sinful and start down the redemptive path to recognizing that God makes us in all shapes and sizes. Making evaluations based on what you see is a blatant rejection of the mystical standards of divine revelation.

It's one thing to know your tastes; it's another to be a slave to them. We cannot evaluate whether people are good or bad based merely on what turns them on. That kind of thinking leaves the door wide open to all kinds of sexual perversions. Just because your sexual tastes are conventional doesn't make you righteous. It's silly hypocrisy to restrict someone with different tastes that you consider perverse. If theirs are wrong, so are yours. If their obsessions can be denied, so can yours. Mere aesthetics is rooted in the fallen fleshly nature, so you cannot base your moral standards there. All fleshly desire is perverted.

The biblical standard ignores the question of our sexual fantasies completely; it's all about devoting yourself to what builds shalom. Learn to desire what God calls "good".

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