Rape of Proserpina statue by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
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Everyone has a need to behold beauty. It is a value we hold just like honesty, wisdom, or integrity. People love and deeply desire beauty in their lives, and God in his great goodness created sex with the intent for it to be beautiful. That men may behold feminine beauty is a God-given, good, and natural desire. He made our eyes and senses to appreciate beauty, to enjoy all the pleasures he's made, and he wants each of us to be free to admire every kind of beautiful thing he created, including sexuality, and to give him praise.

There's little difference between admiring the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the starry night, a work of art, music or poetry, a flower, a mountain, or a beautiful woman. God is pleased with all kinds of beauty because he created it. Did not the same hand that created beautiful sunsets and landscapes and flowers for us to look at also create beautiful bodies? Likewise, he also gave us the freedom to appreciate each one and worship him with thankful hearts.

When God created everything, the last thing he made was the most beautiful, which is woman. And then he personally delivered her to the man, naked! Now, although appreciating female nudity was never a sin in the garden, did God tell us somewhere later that viewing it was evil? It sure wasn't in Matthew 5:28. That verse is about coveting. The answer is that he didn't. And he says we never should call it evil either (Isaiah 5:20).

There's something about a woman's beauty that captures the attention of men - and women. Its captivating allure compels men to stare incessantly, while some women also find cause to pause before being driven to jealousy. These seemingly universal responses have been the downfall of countless many, and almost nothing has power to stop it.

Having a strong sex drive and visually appreciating and praising God for the sexual beauty of others is in no way considered sinful anywhere in the Bible. So why is it that cultural morals tell us that looking at sexual beauty is generally fine for women, but often it’s not for Christian men? Are the flowers or the women looking at them exceedingly pure? Or are male God-given sexual lusts (desires) and the women men look at inherently evil? The truth is it’s neither.

Apart from the influence of religious human moralism, men tend to naturally find ways to appreciate feminine beauty, for better or for worse. The exception to their beauty seeking is to defer to the sensitivities of women who feel a perceived threat from it, especially wives. Ironically though, it tends to be women that have the biggest problem with female beauty. This may be because women stand to lose the most if legitimate threats from it arise. As a result, they may also be more prone than men to condemn and devalue their own gender’s beauty.

Many wives either openly or unknowingly resent, even condemn their husbands for noticing beautiful women. This should not be. Even God himself doesn’t do that. In condemning men for desiring sexual beauty, people also condemn themselves for desiring all other kinds of beauty. You can't condemn one and not the other. Simply put, you can't have it both ways. But while one spouse falsely condemns, they fail to see their own sin of unrighteous jealousy. It's really the jealous spouse who sins, not the looker. This is what we should actually be concerned with. In this context, our sin of jealousy is not like God's jealousy, but instead is based on our own personal morality, selfish insecurity, and tendency to be easily offended.

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Despite the dislike of some, God unapologetically makes it a point that we notice the physical appearances of certain female beauties. Not only that, but he intentionally gives attention to their looks by writing erotic poetry in none other than the Holy Bible. Why would God, throughout scripture, think it important to inform us of the sexual beauty of these ladies? Can you imagine the beauty of women such as Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Bathsheba, Esther, and the Shulammite in Song of Songs (what guy doesn’t get hard reading about her for the first time)?

But shouldn't we regard women simply according to their character and not their looks? Apparently not, according to God. Explicitly speaking, the Song of Songs isn’t much different from a steamy romance novel, which begs the question: If video were available back in the day, might God have put it in film?

As well, God's the one who gave us a sense for beauty, and then he goes to the effort of pointing out the good looks of these women. In fact, it's usually one of the first things he has to say about them. He's not referring to intangible inner beauty, that they tithed regularly, memorized Leviticus, or led a small group. When he says these women were "exceedingly" beautiful, it seems he apparently wants us to visualize them physically.

It's as if God is quite pleased to show off their sexuality. And because he’s not the one who started the purity movement, he sure isn't in any hurry to avert our gaze. If God really thought prudish purity culture was a good idea, why would he do all that? What religious audacity it takes for us to condemn our natural, God-given hormones to visually appreciate sexuality! Certainly, he doesn't mean that all visual sexual gratification other than that from a spouse should be avoided like a disease. We see absolutely no evidence of this in scripture.

Every wife must know that when her husband admires the beauty of another woman, it doesn’t automatically mean he no longer thinks she's beautiful, or that he is unfaithful. Neither does it necessarily mean that he loves her any less or that he'd rather be married to someone else. And although feeling hurt by him may be an initial reaction, just know that it doesn’t have to be.

Creation is full of beauty, love, and sex. God loves married sex and nudity and erotic literature and sexual lust (aka desire) and self-pleasure because that's how he created us. A person should be able to just look at a beautiful body, call it good and praise God. As well, the good Lord gave us our senses, specifically sight, and the wonderful lust to appreciate beauty.

To be clear, appreciating sexual beauty is not loving the things of this world that God warns us against, the things that pull us away from him. No, God gave us beauty so we can praise him for it. He's the one who meant for a man to have a penis and a woman a vagina, and he gave all of us the hormones we tend to fight against. He just didn't intend for men to religiously avert their eyes from beautiful women (or vice versa), and he never meant for us to fight a battle for purity. Jesus already did that for us. He frees us from moralistic guilt and shame, and for that reason, we can trust him.


Gian Lorenzo Bernini


Have some constructive feedback about this article?

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"The great artists of the past were aware that human life was full of chaos and suffering. But they had a remedy for this. And the name of that remedy was beauty."

Roger Scruton, Why Beauty Matters


"Physical beauty is something God gives you, not something to fear."

Jackopierce, Valencia