Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre tackle the sensitive topic of beauty in their book, True Beauty. The “benchmarks for beauty” are constantly changing and most of the criteria is propaganda which caters to worldliness. This book, on the other hand has a simple goal, namely – to point women to true beauty which is found in the pages of Scripture.
True Beauty challenges readers to see things from God’s perspective. Henry Scougal writes, “The worth and the excellency of a soul is to be measured the object of its love.” Herein lies the real value and beauty of a woman – as she contemplates and worships her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: “He is the ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty. He is the Author, Creator, and Bestower of beauty. His beauty transcends time and culture. It never changes and never fades.” Therefore, true beauty is not fleeting. True beauty is not bound by cultural expectations. True beauty is rooted in the radiant beauty and majesty of the living God. He is the most beautiful Being in the universe. Therefore, all beauty must be measured according to his design.
Mahaney and Whitacre alert readers to the final standard of beauty – which is found in Jesus Christ. Women, must therefore, develop a “taste for beauty.” However, “sin has blinded us to the beauty of God, and when we lost sight of this beauty, we lost interest.” So instead of delighting in God, we delight in other things – things that are in the final analysis, tantamount to idolatry. This fascination with the mundane, with anything less than God is nothing new. Israel struggled mightily with the sin of idolatry: “Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:11-13, ESV).
One of the central arguments in the book is that the “gospel of Jesus Christ transforms our taste for beauty … True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God.” And to behold the great God of the universe is to trust him implicitly. The authors add, “Apply trust in God, with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10) and you will not fail to become genuinely beautiful.” Indeed, this is the touchstone as Mahaney and Whitacre weave this important reality through the remainder of the book and discuss the relationship of beauty to hearts, bodies, clothes, trust, and work.
Frankly, I cannot say enough about True Beauty. It avoids the pitfalls of legalism and props up the pillars of a gospel-centered worldview. It is gracious and thoughtful in tone. It is saturated through and through with Scripture. It affirms beauty and challenges women to pursue the highest standard of beauty – which again, is the Lord Jesus Christ. My hope is that True Beauty receives a wide readership and strengthens and edifies a new generation of women who grow more beautiful as they pursue their Savior.
“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:4, ESV)